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sppunk

North to Alaska! Live from Volendam (and Vancouver) - May 22-29, 2019

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Day -2, Monday, May 20

 

First off, happy Victoria Day! 

 

When we woke, it was raining. As I type, it’s raining. But who cares? That’s why God invented North Face raincoats.

 

After breakfast - I had cinnamon-dusted pancakes for those keeping score - we took off for a walk to Granville Island. We might have gotten a little lost on the way but we had a fun time walking around the Molsen facility. Mmmm, beer. More on beer in a bit.

 

Once we finally figured out where we were, we were off to explore the island and public market. So much beautiful fruit, flowers, food stuffs of all types. We wandered around for a good while, checking out various boutiques and the boardwalk with terrific views of False Creek and downtown Vancouver. 

 

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All that looking and standing while the wife shopped worked up a serious thirst so off we went to Granville Island Brewing. Sure it was only 11:25 a.m. but that’s 2:25 p.m. back home so morning drinking is a-ok. I had a flight of four brews. All were good but I think my glasses had holes in the bottom, the beer quickly was gone. 

 

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After our liquid lunch, we took the cute little Aquabus ferry over to Yaletown to look at boats and find what to do next. 

We decided to make the most of the rain and head to Queen Elizabeth Park. What a fantastic public space! We walked around, saw many gorgeous flowers, said how glad we were we didn’t have to do the weeding there, and then went into the Bloedel Conservatory to check out its birds and more flowers. 

 

QEP really is a cool spot, we highly recommend going. 

 

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We took the subway back to Yaletown because we needed to ... get more beer. The rain picked up a bit so we scampered into Yaletown Brewing and people-watched while partaking in a nitro ESB that was quite delicious. 

 

Properly liquored up, my wife told me we needed to run to Michael’s to pick up something. Back at home she bribes me with Starbucks when I get dragged to a craft store. But here on vacation I’m a captive audience. (mumbles to himself)

 

On the way though I made it a point to hit up Japadog, a Vancouver institution. Japadog is a trailer that serves japan inspired hot dogs. Mine featured the pork dog, fried onions, seaweed, teriyaki sauce and Japanese mayo. Here, a photo is worth a billion words.

 

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Full of beer, pork hotdogs and some craft supplies I have no idea what they can be used for except in a medieval surgery, we went to Michael’s and then made our way back to the hotel for a little R&R before dinner. 

 

Dinner tonight was Salmon ‘n Bannock, an indigenous First Nation restaurant. This was phenomenal and I’m glad we went out of the way to experience this little restaurant. 

 

We had an elk steak, bannok (unleavened bread) with jam, a wild salmon filet and smoked sea lion. 

 

Yes. Smoked sea lion. It. Was.  So. F’n. Good. 

 

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If we die in our sleep tonight, know we went out happily. 

 

More tomorrow.  

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I’m so glad you’re enjoying my hometown of Vancouver even with the rain we had today.  We do have tons of great restaurants and eateries.  Glad you’ve sampled the local beer too! 

 

I love Little Mountain (QEP).  So glad you had a chance to see it.  

 

Have a great cruise.  I’ll be following your posts.  

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We are leaving from Vancouver in July and after seeing your pictures I wish we had more time there. I will be following you on this thread, have a fantastic cruise.

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Granville Island Brewing has the best fish and chips ever!!!

 

I am so enjoying your pictures and commentary.  I love that you adventure out the norm with your food choices!  Thank you for sharing!

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Good Tuesday morning. -1 day 

  SPPUNK should be in a room in that top shot and could’ve watched the Cunard MS Queen Elizabeth arrive this morning 

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Day -1, Tuesday, May 21

 

Realizing when you wake up it’s your final full day in Vancouver, depression can set in. To alleviate said sadness, the only cure is movement so that’s what we did.

 

Sidenote: I forgot to mention the Norwegian Epic was here yesterday. That might be the ugliest ship afloat. Dear God. 

 

After breakfast at the Pacific Rim - breakfasts have been incredible by the way - we took a taxi to the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia. Focusing on First Nation artifacts, this is a place worth venturing out of the way for in my opinion. The artifacts are terrific, our one hour guided tour helped us learn about the First Nation people which we knew very little about. And we were able to wander around the UBC - what a gorgeous setting for education! 

 

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We were well-prepared to figure out the bus system to a bakery on the east side of the city my wife wanted to visit but there were cabs there so we grabbed one. The gentleman was the kindest cab driver we have EVER had. Ever. We ended up asking him to wait at the bakery while she bought a pretzel and take us back to the Pacific Rim. 

 

Sidenote: the pretzel was meh, as was the chocolate chip cookie that somehow jumped into my hand there. 

 

Once back at the hotel, we went off for a long afternoon walk. We walked around the Coal Harbor seawall enjoying the views (and taking photos for our 2019 Christmas card), then walked back the other way to wander around Gastown again. I forgot the Olympic cauldron was here too. How fun! 

 

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From there we decided to walk up to the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. At $14 each we decided to bail and head back to the hotel. We knew the walk to the garden wouldn’t be pleasant, but the state of affairs on Hastings Street around Carrall Street is terribly sad. An open-air drug den with mentally ill or drug-induced citizens lining the sidewalks. It’s not a dangerous walk but isn’t pleasant. 

 

Having an hour or two to kill before dinner, we did what one does on vacation and had a drink. My Hendricks with lilet blanc, elderflower liquor and lime hit the spot.

 

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Dinner was at Miku, a sushi place that is well-regraded. We figured it’d be a sin to not partake in sushi while on Vancouver and boy were we glad we did. Outstanding. Just simply terrific sushi.

 

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Walking back to the hotel I was mesmerized by the sun reflecting off the five sails. This image sums up our three full days here in Vancouver, a city we can’t wait to come back to one day. 

 

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Tomorrow morning we walk the 150 yards or whatever and board the Volendam. The actual reason for this thread! 

 

The goal is by 12:15 p.m. to have a Wang Wang in my hand. Get your minds out of the gutter people, I mean the drink. 

 

More tomorrow - depending on the onboard internet. If it sucks I’ll be back Friday from Juneau. 

 

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OMG I never thought of Wang Wangs in that way!  I am damaged.

 

Have a wonderful cruise!

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Good morning! As I type I’m watching the elegant ms Volendam slowly back into her parking place at Canada Place. My next post will be from onboard!

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Looking forward to hearing of your embarkation experience, sppunk. I’ve only ever disembarked there but I’ve read all these horror stories about checking in.  So much so that I don’t really want to sail out of Vancouver.  ☹️

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Your dinner has my mouth watering!!

 

Wonderful report and great pictures.

 

Hope you have good internet on the ship so that we can get daily reports and pictures.

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2 hours ago, *Miss G* said:

Looking forward to hearing of your embarkation experience, sppunk. I’ve only ever disembarked there but I’ve read all these horror stories about checking in.  So much so that I don’t really want to sail out of Vancouver.  ☹️

 

I've sailed out of Vancouver many times and never had a problem. But I have never sailed from there at the beginning of the season which I think is when the problems occur.

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We were on the Volendam for thirty nights in February and March (San Diego to Lima, round trip), so I feel I know the ship like the back of my hand! It's a beautiful ship with with great crew members. The only problem we encountered was the ship's A/C: it was way too cold, no matter what time of day or night, from the Ocean Bar all the way to the main dining room (but normal everywhere else). I had to wear a sport coat to dinner every night to keep from shivering. Of course, in Alaska A/C shouldn't be an issue. Have a fun cruise!

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Sitting in the hall waiting to board. Took 24 minutes to drop bags, go though customs and immigration and be seated for boarding. 

 

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And onboard at 11:10 a.m. 

 

Easiest embarkation we have even had. 

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So glad our weather has cooperated for your sailaway!  Have a great time.  Glad you enjoyed our beautiful city.  

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3 hours ago, sppunk said:

Sitting in the hall waiting to board. Took 24 minutes to drop bags, go though customs and immigration and be seated for boarding. 

 

 

3 hours ago, sppunk said:

And onboard at 11:10 a.m. 

 

Easiest embarkation we have even had. 

 

Was Volendam the only ship in port today?  I know Canada Place has had some horror stories on long security queues/US immigration checks when multiple ships are in!

 

Regardless - glad you had a smooth start to your trip.  I look forward to following along, especially as I think you take great photos!

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Day 1, Wednesday, May 22

 

Greetings from onboard the Volendam! 

 

This morning we woke up just in time to watch the Volendam gracefully back into her parking spot at Canada Place. Thankfully no bumper cars today for HAL ships. The only other ship in port was the Island Princess, which we actually sailed in 2009 with my parents through the Panama Canal and it holds fond memories. 

 

We had a leisurely breakfast at the Pacific Rim and checked out around 10:15 a.m. 

 

Let me say this hotel went above our expectations and is one of the best we have ever stayed at. And we have been lucky to stay at many high-end hotels. 

 

The lobby is a hopping place that is a destination for locals. The rooms are large and comfortable. The views are unimaginable and the service is flawless. The hotel provides complimentary BMW bikes and BWM car services within 15 or so minutes of the hotel and we used both. A special and useful feature. It also features a brand new Toyota Supra on display outside the front entrance for those like me who love cars. 

 

If you are coming to Vancouver, stay here. Full stop. 

 

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We walked the 150 yards or so from the hotel to Canada Place. I have read so many horror stories we expected the worst. Turns out it was the easiest embarkation we have ever faced. 

 

It took us 24 minute for the moment we were at the port to when we were sitting in the lobby waiting to board. We boarded 15 minutes later and by 11:10 a.m. were in our rooms unpacking carry-ons. 

 

Once unpacked and room sanitized (and checked for bed bugs - we rip apart every bed in every room we stay in looking for them) it was off to find the dining room manager to tweak our Sel de Mar reservation and confirm our table which is a table set for four at the main seating is just for the two of us. It was! So we get to dine alone next to the window - small battle wins make life fun. 

 

So with that - Wang Wang time! And by 12:05 p.m. this was in my hand and all is right with this world. 

 

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We wandered around the ship and she feels like how even though it’s our first time onboard her. Smiling crew, a few familiar faces. It’s gonna be a great week. 

 

After exploring we got back to our room around 1:30 p.m. and our luggage was here so we unpacked and then hung out on our balcony for the next few hours until it was time for the muster drill and sailaway. 

 

What. A. Sailaway. I’ll post photos next post as it’s super slow cell coverage now. 

 

Here is tonight’s dinner menu:

 

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I’m positing early - I’ll recap tonight’s dinner tomorrow, Internet-willing. 

 

More then from the Volendam.

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Actually here are sailaway photos. Peace out, Vancouver. 

 

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