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Old 06-25-2013, 05:12 PM   #107
zweihund
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Phew! We made it home. Started travelling at 8:40 Vancouver time (Monday am) and didn't get home until 2:30 am Florida time (Tuesday am). Here is my open letter to the Vancouver airport, and also to United Airlines:

Dear Vancouver Airport/United Airlines,
You both royally suck. Good riddance.
Sincerely,
Erica

I'm a JetBlue gal all the way...but sadly they don't fly to Vancouver. Which, I guess, means I won't be going back to Vancouver. at least by plane.

Today we made some progress toward diagnosing the mystery illness Izzy contracted during our vacation (it's a tradition - the kid is well all year until we are in the middle of the trip of a lifetime, then she's a listless sack of potatoes. Whiny potatoes.) She caught some virus that caused 3 days of fever and fatigue, and then a few days of mouth sores there is nothing worse than your watching your kid sob in pain, because a goldfish cracker hurt her gums. The doc suspects she picked something up in Vancouver based on the incubation time. Despite her illness, she had a great time. She's a trooper.

And then a few hours later, I solved the "mystery smell" in the house: a listless sack of rotten potatoes in the pantry. They dripped when I picked them up

Laundry is going, the hubby is out grabbing takeout dinner at Panera and Izzy is curled up on the couch watching Cinderella. All pics have been downloaded and most of the suitcases have been unpacked. I don't have time to start the full-on trip report just yet but here is a quick recap.

The good - amazing weather (hot!), fantastic photos (anyone have $1200 they can sling my way? Because I loved that huge honkin' lens we rented), great character experiences and wonderful food.

The bad - spent more time in the cabin than I had hoped to, due to a sick child. Also, the ports were crowded and many people were cranky - shopkeepers and patrons alike.

The ugly - see open letter to Vancouver Airport and United Airlines above, because I cannot stress how awful both experiences were. Vancouver has the most disorganized system for checking bags I have ever encountered, and the customs people made Isabelle break down and cry (because only in Vancouver do 3 year olds have to remove their shoes...it was hard enough to get her to put her beloved cow on the Xray conveyor, and the shoe thing sent her completely over the edge). And United....ugh....dirty tray table, delay after delay after delay (and two gate changes) and some strange flight attendants. Believe me, I like strange. I THRIVE on strange. So if I say they were strange, THEY WERE SERIOUSLY STRANGE. And not in a good way.

Sad that vacation is over, but happy to be home. Even if the house IS rocking ever so slightly. More soon! And pictures galore
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Old 06-25-2013, 08:02 PM   #108
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Welcome back! Sorry Izzy was sick but happy to hear she was a trooper. I hate rotten potatoes...Gag!!!! Ugh on the airport/airline issues. I hate United with a passion but SW doesn't fly to Vancouver either.

Waiting on you to recover and start your report!

Jill in CO
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Old 06-25-2013, 08:12 PM   #109
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Tell Izzy that Planky likes to stip naked and smile and run through the x ray machine while mooning the agent...

then again... he does that to supermarket scanners too...
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Old 06-25-2013, 08:48 PM   #110
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Oh no- so sorry to hear Izzy got sick- how awful for all of you!

Big boo on horrible airport and airlines!

Looking forward to the rest of report!
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Old 06-26-2013, 05:48 AM   #111
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Oh poor Izzy, hope she's better now. Looking forward to the TR.
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Old 06-26-2013, 09:05 AM   #112
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Sorry to hear about Izzy's yucks. Sounds like hand, foot, &mouth or herpangina. Both unpleasant but fairly common on the preschool set. Looking forward to the report!! http://www.cdc.gov/hand-foot-mouth/about/index.html
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Old 06-26-2013, 10:07 AM   #113
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Sorry to hear about Izzy's yucks. Sounds like hand, foot, &mouth or herpangina. Both unpleasant but fairly common on the preschool set. Looking forward to the report!! http://www.cdc.gov/hand-foot-mouth/about/index.html
That's what I was thinking too, poor thing.

Erica, sorry about your disappointing travel experiences. I am loyal to SW myself and as previously mentioned they do not fly into Vancouver so we will be flying USAir. I hate paying for bags!
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Old 06-28-2013, 10:10 PM   #114
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So I have not forgotten about this TR, I pinky-swear it. Lionel had downloaded the pictures on Tuesday, yes. However, a photographer cannot simply download photos and then post them - oh no. He must tweak and crop (and do other things that all sound like "whaaaamp whaaaaamp whaaaaamp whaaaa" to me) before they will be ready for the public eye.

I will refrain from rolling my eyes.

Actually, he is doing some pretty neat stuff with the pictures. In fact, when I look at the 2011 pictures which were all taken with the same camera but with a lens that did NOT have image stabalization....and which were not "developed" in his virtual lab (and don't call it photoshop because I got the daggers for that - same look I got when I referred to his army miniatures "little men")....well, I totally see the difference. And my eye is completely untrained. Give me a patient with a new spinal cord injury and I know what I'm doing. Ask me to analyze what is good and bad about a photo, and I'm liable to say something like "um, I like the colors?"

So there you go. An update will happen this weekend, and hopefully it will have been worth the wait.
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Old 06-29-2013, 05:06 AM   #115
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Hello fellow cruiser

Sorry to hear that Izzy got sick, hope she is feeling better now

We had the best time ever - loved every second of our cruise and wasn't the weather amazing!

Totally hear you about Vancouver airport. One of the prettiest but woefully disorganised airports we have ever visited. They had two security checkpoints out of a possible 12 open on Thursday and people were literally lining up all the way back through the land-side shops
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Old 06-30-2013, 03:01 PM   #116
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An update! A real update!

It began in Vancouver.

Actually it began in Orlando, dark and early. Our flight was scheduled for 7:30, which meant we had to be there by 5:30. AM. Other than not grabbing coffee until we were pretty much boarding the plane and Isabelle making the entire trip in all her red piggies-with-balloons pajama glory, the trip up was pretty uneventful. Oh wait. I did make a spectacle of myself by ordering a bean and cheese burrito on our layover - at 9am Phoenix time.

There is no photographic evidence of said spectacle.

We arrived in Vancouver around 1:30 local time and by 3:00 we were at the condo. Getting a cab was very easy – you simply walk out of the airport and get in the taxi line. Of course, there were five of us and five bags (plus carry-ons) so we had to have the attendant call a van. There was no extra cost and we waited for no more than 10 minutes. I wish I’d thought of that two years ago, I’d have been $100 richer. Or, let’s face it: I would have had an extra $100 to blow on drinks of the day. Bygones.

For families, I highly recommend renting a condo over staying in a hotel. We were in a beautiful 900 square foot space in the middle of downtown, walking distance to everywhere. We had two bedrooms with their own bathrooms, we had a little bonus nook room (which was great for stroller storage and extra bags), and a kitchen. The kitchen was great, especially for our early breakfasts. Everyone got up at staggered times, so having the convenience of fresh food (and coffee! God bless coffee…especially at 5 am) in the condo was priceless. We also had a TV with cable, wireless internet and a washer-dryer to boot. This was nice during downtime. My dad could rest, Isabelle could either watch cartoons or play with her toys and I could do laundry while Lionel surfed the internet. Wins all around. Really, the condo just took a lot of pressure off of us because we didn’t feel cooped up in a hotel room. Even in the nicest of rooms, I tend to get stir crazy.

Engrossed in strange Canadian cartoons - the living room.



Dining room view - now with more columns!


And all for less than any of the hotels or extended-stay suites we looked into. I think we paid $1200 CAD total, for four nights. We would have required two hotel rooms otherwise, and I’m certain we couldn’t have found a hotel in Vancouver that cost an average of $150 per night. At least not one we would have wanted to stay in. And the money we saved on breakfasts and dinners made it even more cost-efficient. We will certainly go that route again.

Stree view from the condo.


5 minute walk to the waterfront....which probably has a name, I just don't remember.


While the boys got settled with the wifi and Isabelle explored her novel new space, my stepmom and I headed to Safeway for some breakfast and snack stuff to keep around. We spent a whopping $100. Though to be fair, that doesn’t include the wine or beer we bought later at the package store ;-) Still - $100 covered us for an entire 4 days’ worth of breakfast and snacks, and two dinners. For four people and a preschooler. We saved $20 by getting a Safeway rewards card, which was free!

We spent Thursday afternoon through Monday morning in Vancouver. We weren’t nearly as jet-lagged as we remembered from 2011, possibly because we arrived so early in the day (last time we didn’t get to the hotel until 9 pm). Other than waking up early every day, we pretty much felt normal. I won’t do a play-by-play of every day, because I know y’all want to hear about Alaska…but here is a little summary of how we spent our time.

Friday we walked through Stanley Park, spent a few hours at the Aquarium and later took a little stroll around the historic part of our neighborhood. It rained briefly in the morning, which was the only rain we saw throughout the entire trip (with the exception of debarkation day). Lionel took lots and lots of flower pics. The “jellies” were mesmerizing, the sea lions were sassy and Isabelle was thoroughly enjoying wearing her boots which don’t see many days in Florida.

Flowers in the park...






Taking on the jellies - serious thrill issues, dude.


Sassy seals and sea lions.




I love the aquarium (it’s worth the price – and considering I live in Florida near all the theme parks, $25 per adult is nothing!), and the surrounding park is just beautiful. It is full of wonderful gardens and play areas for the kids.

The Marina.


Three generations in the park!


Saturday and Sunday we walked some more, both through Stanley Park and the bay. I was disappointed that the Stanley Park Trolley was not in season yet – it started the following week. WHAAAAAT? So despite walking what felt like walking through the entire park, we missed the totems AGAIN (we did try to find them, but the signs kept leading us down little paths that led to more little paths and we were starting to think we might be in a reality show titled “The Stanley Park Witch Project”).

Seems like a lovely place....TO DIE!!! Perhaps I am being a tad dramatic.


Walking to Canada Place was also nice, along the sea wall. We saw lots of neat little houseboats, ate some gelato (“Maybe the best Gelato in Vancouver” according to the sign – I’m not sure if they were being humble or if they’d just translated poorly), saw the Olympic torch (awesome) and the Digital Orca (strange) and watched the sea planes take off and land (very cool). We even saw a seal in the harbor “begging” for fish bits – a fisherman was cleaning his catch.

Begging seal - this was taken from my phone.


The Digital Orca. Weird.


Building "art" near the marina.


I have only two regrets about our time in Vancouver. And really, they are not so much regrets as just lessons learned.
  1. Walking all the way to Gas Town. I guess if you’re into little independent stores, the smell of urine and the most unimpressive steam-run device I’ve ever encountered, than Gas Town is for you. For me, it seemed like the dirtiest part of the city and was full of panhandlers and drunks and too-hip college kids. NOT my scene. And I nearly missed the clock altogether, because someone was standing in front of it.

  2. Not going to Victoria. We purposely left our Vancouver time unstructured, to provide some buffer for potentially jet-lagged adults and the whims of an out-of-her-routine three year old. In retrospect, however, I would have loved to see Butchart Gardens on that last day. It’s very close! I think we could have managed it without any fuss.

Warning: Steam Clock may appear more impressive in this image than in person.


That said, we enjoyed our “vacation transition” immensely. Lionel remarked on Sunday that it felt like we had already been on vacation for a week, offering some insight into how stressed we’ve been lately. Who knew? Well, that’s what vacations are for – unwinding. I can’t over-stress the value of unwinding BEFORE boarding the ship. It made it seem like two vacations in one!

Happy Jacques in the wild - notice how they smile and gratefully hug one another.


On Sunday, our last night in Vancouver, we scheduled Isabelle’s a phone call from Mickey. This is the first time we’ve done this. She smiled ever so slightly as she listened, but otherwise didn’t react. When we asked “who was on the phone?” she replied “Mickey” and went back to flipping the pages of her book. As if she talks to him several times a week, and this had just been another day. Because apparently if you grow up in Central Florida, you are jaded by the time you turn three.

"Make this quick, sport, I have a lot of things to do"


Next up: Monday, finally boarding the Wonder!
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Old 06-30-2013, 04:21 PM   #118
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Great pictures. What was the name of the place you guys stayed at?
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Old 07-01-2013, 06:52 AM   #119
Chilly
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Yeah you've started. I loved Vancouver, but agree about Gastown. You didn't miss that much with the totems so don't sweat. Love the photo of the 3 generations in the park.

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We had the best time ever - loved every second of our cruise and wasn't the weather amazing!
Really pleased to hear you had a great time Linda.
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Old 07-01-2013, 01:11 PM   #120
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Yay! It's started!

Love the flower pics!
Thanks! The hubs loves to take photos - every now and then I get a lucky shot, and I pretend it was intentional...but he gets credit for 90% of what you'll see in this report.

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Great pictures. What was the name of the place you guys stayed at?
The Pallisades - according to the man at the concierge desk, it is 90% residential and about 10% rental.

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Yeah you've started. I loved Vancouver, but agree about Gastown. You didn't miss that much with the totems so don't sweat. Love the photo of the 3 generations in the park.
Thanks! And good to know about the totems. We did see plenty in Ketchikan so we weren't too crushed.
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