Sunday, April 13, 2008

Vancouver fun

There were a lot of good reasons to go on a little trip
1. Sara her annual an eye appt in Vancouver (she had her laser surgery there)
2. I finished my grant resubmission
3. Sara had an interview for a new job last week
4. My birthday is coming up
5. Sara gave a talk at work on trees (her first public speaking engagement)

That is really a lot of reasons...One of those would have been reason enough, and by the time we were on our way home, we had decided we shouldn't wait for a reason to go next time...we learned that fun was reason enough! Just wait until you hear....

Friday (we both played hooky from work) we left for Vancouver on the 7:30 am train. Sara loves traveling by train and this would be our first train trip together. The train is fabulous, there is tons of leg room, you can check in early and just hang out in your seat (we bought a bagel, asked for two cups of ice and had a little breakfast...Bloody Mary's travel well). We had seats on the west side of train and much of the route is along the water so the views were spectacular!

We arrived in Vancouver at 11:30ish and hopped on the skytrain and went directly to Sara's appt. early, but frequently, they will get you in for a check up whenever you show up. We had a couple cookies and instant coffee while we waited which served to stave off hunger pains until we could find a hotel and lunch.

Our plan for a hotel in Vancouver was to not have a plan. (This concept is foreign to me) We had looked at a few places on-line to get an idea of what we wanted, since it was partially my birthday gift, preferences for a room weighed in my favor.

Here are things I like in a hotel room:
A. Duvet and real linens
B. Not a lot of particle board furniture
C. Clean. Just clean. Period.
D. Fun (and safe) neighborhood
(optional things)
E. View
F. Quality soaps and lotions
G. Jacuzzi tub
H. Balcony
I. Reasonably priced

Things Sara looks for in a hotel room:
A. Cheap.
B. Fun (and safe) neighborhood
C. Pleasant smell

You can see how my having a little more say in where we stay was an extremely exciting prospect. We were looking for a place on Davie Street, the heart of gay Vancouver. There is only one large hotel on Davie, the Sandman Hotel (featured in the background at time 3:01 on the Go Vancouver video). We planned to try to get a good rate based on the fact that the hotel wasn't going to be full anyway and they would rather have us stay for less than not stay at all.

Truth be told, we aren't shark-like negotiators...but as it turns out, we are inadvertent negotiators. Sara started our "negotiations" by asking how much a room was...I interrupted and asked about a view. The oceanview room price seemed agreeable. We looked at each other and then I asked if we could see the room.

Bleck. Nasty bed linens, there was a separate bedroom but both areas had too much furniture in a small space, ok cleanliness, amazing view...overall ok, but not ideal for a birthday treat.

Back in the lobby, I ask if they have rooms with actual bed linens/duvets or at least where the space was all one room. "Yes, no oceanview rooms are available to show you right now, but we have a city view you can look at." She quoted us a rate $90 higher than the first crappy little room....which was about $50 more than we wanted to spend. The city view room would be $20 less. I ask if that is the best rate we can get...unfortunately it was. We decided to look. "Its on the 24th floor, just push 'PH' in the elevator" and I liked the sound of that!

That room had a higher end remodel which also translates to cleaner (surfaces, furniture and flooring that is easier to keep clean). The city view was gorgeous, the jacuzzi tub looked heavenly. I liked it. It wasn't outstanding, but it was nice. I told Sara I was willing to look at other hotels, for comparison. I didn't have to have this one, but it was nice.

Downstairs again, Sara tells the clerk that we liked it, but we think we will look a couple other places before we decide. That is when it happened.

Like magic, the price per night dropped $50! Sara looked at me...the room had almost everything now: Location, view, duvet, clean, reasonable price, bathrobes, jacuzzi tub, balcony and a pleasant smell. We booked it and went straight back up to acquaint ourselves with the space before we found a place for lunch.

Our room also had a kitchen and we were nextdoor to produce market and bakery, so on our way to an outstanding AND cheap Thai restaurant we picked up fruit and savory pastries for the morning.

The remainder of the day was spent shopping locally at Little Sisters Bookstore and on Robson street, followed by a long jacuzzi, some Canadian Whiskey, and ending with Haggen Daas and TV in bed.
The next day we slept in, had leisurely breakfast in bed, watched the sunrise from the balcony and talked about our day. We decided to check out, check our bags at the hotel and hit the shopping on Denman, follow it up with a walk through Stanley Park and end with more shopping on Robson before we headed back to the train station.

We forgot our camera, so you are spared more pictures. But the sky was clear, boats were out, people and we came by the heron colony in the park. It was amazing. The density of nests was incredible. And these are BIG birds!We watched for a long time, preening, chasing each other around, building nests, birds just chillin' with their homies. During our walk we saw quite a bit of wildlife. Herons, small children on bikes, swans, teenagers, turtles, lawn bowlers, and geese were just the few species that we lingered to watch in their natural environment.
After a wonderful day just wandering around, we returned to the hotel, picked up our bags and stepped outside and caught the bus to the train station. It was just so much fun...every bit of it was easy, fun, surprising and relaxing!
And despite it being a quick trip...having taken Friday off, means we have today to do laundry, watch baseball and compose ourselves for the week.


sageweb said...

At first I thought you went to Vancouver Washington. Then after clicking on the links you two ventured out of the country. Nice. I love Vancouver. I like the beer there too. At least when I was younger it was better, that as way before all the microbrews.

Great recap, and the train is a cool idea.

Jen said...

Vancouver, WA! That's funny!