But You Have Promised Me A Subtropical Paradise

Discussion in 'UK Trip Reports Board' started by dolphingirl47, Jun 16, 2013.

  1. franandaj

    franandaj I'm so happy, I could BOUNCE!

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    I am so far behind!!!!!

    I just finished your second day in San Francisco. Boy you packed a lot into that day! I'm so glad pictures are allowed at the museum now. I've been twice and still have yet to do justice to the rooms starting where the train is located. Good thing I can always go back!

    You'll definitely have to go back to SF and stay for a little while, there is so much to do there. I used to love going up for the day when I was a kid and especially a teenager with friends with cars and then my own car. So many great places to hang out and check out! I sense another trip to the USA coming soon!

    Great deal on the photo CD, that makes it so much better when you can save some money and get what you want! I'm hoping to have some time this weekend to read a few more of your updates. I haven't had much time on my computer to DIS, just the phone and it's so hard reading TRs with pictures on my phone! But I will get caught up!
     
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  3. Chilly

    Chilly RIP Tag Fairy

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    As always great FE gifts. Wish I was at Palo brunch now.
     
  4. dolphingirl47

    dolphingirl47 In Search of the Tag Fairy

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    Part of the problem with the hummus may well be that I am totally spoiled as I have had it so often freshly made in the Middle East. There is nothing better than some freshly made hummus with the traditional Arabic bread.

    The drinks were definitely delicious.

    I was so glad that they allowed photos at the Disney Family Museum as well. I really want to go back and spend more time there.

    I think we may be heading back to San Francisco and Seattle in 2015. Next year I am hoping to do a cruise in spring and then Disneyland, Aulani and a cruise on the Pride of America for my 40th birthday in November.

    I was so glad about the deal on the CDs. I could not have justified paying full price for both, but they are my favourite souvenir.

    Yes, I could just eat a Palo Brunch now.

    Corinna
     
  5. dolphingirl47

    dolphingirl47 In Search of the Tag Fairy

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    Day 11

    After a couple of lazy days, we were back on a timetable that day. I had set the wake up call for 7:00 AM and we got up and got ready. We went down to Triton's for some breakfast as soon as it opened. They did not seem to be in any hurry that day. Still, we had plenty of time, too, so it was all good. Graham had Coffee, Orange Juice and the Express, which consisted of Scrambled Eggs, Sausage, Bacon, Grilled Ham, Tomato and Hash Brown. He had also asked for some white toast. I had Coffee and Apple Juice. I could not make up my mind what I fancied, but decided to raid the kid's menu in the end. I had Dale's Omelet, which was filled with Sweetcorn and Turkey Sausage with a side of bacon and Hash Brown. I also finally gave in and tried the Peanut Butter and Jelly Typhoon, which is a Pancake with Peanut Butter and Jelly Drizzle and fresh Melon and Pineapple. This was probably one of the best breakfasts I ever had. It was also my first time for getting some Mickey head ketchup.

    Once we had finished our breakfast, we went back to our cabin to get the things that we needed for the day. By then, the ship had been cleared by the authorities and we headed for the gangway. There had been an announcement that complimentary shuttle buses would go regularly from the port to the Empress Hotel. Graham had a look at the instructions that we had received for the meeting point for our excursion and spotted that the Empress Hotel was one of the landmarks on the instructions. So we decided to get on the bus. This turned out to be a wise decision. From the instructions, it looked like the offices of the company running the excursion was virtually around the corner from the port, but in reality the Empress Hotel was not even halfway and it took a 10 minute bus ride to get there. While we were on the bus, we passed a 0 mile marker of some major road, a beautiful park and some totem poles. When we approached the Empress Hotel, this looked strangely familiar. It took me a little while until I realised that this looked very similar to the Hotel du Canada at the Canadian pavilion at Epcot.

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    Once we got off the bus, we started walking. I took a photo of the Legislative Building, which was just across the marina. This is a beautiful building. Throughout the walk, we stayed on the seafront, initially next to a road and then through a park. I think under different circumstances, the walk would have been very enjoyable, but it was drizzly and quite cool so I was just glad to finally get to my destination. One thing did wow us though. Unfortunately I did not take any photos as I did not want to get my new camera wet. A lot of the apartment buildings have very elaborate water features, often taking up the whole area in front of the building. I was glad when we arrived at the office of Orca Spirit. We had booked a whale watching tour on a Zodiac. A Zodiac is a rigid-hulled inflatable boat that is a light-weight, but high-performance boat that is often used by the coast guard, but also as dive boat or for excursions. We did an excursion with this kind of vessel on our Hawaii cruise last year and even though I can be nervous around smaller boats, I thoroughly enjoyed this. When we got to the Orca Spirit office, we were checked in and were told where the bathrooms were. We were also advised that the captain should be arriving soon and then we would be suited up. I did not like the sound of this at all. We both used the bathroom and had a look around the gift shop. Shortly afterwards another member of staff arrived and directed us to the education room and put on a film about killer whales. They keep the suits that we were supposed to wear in that room and after I had seen them, I was even less keen. Still, if this was what it took to get on the excursion than that was fine by me. There was suddenly frantic activity in the office and shortly afterwards the member of staff who had checked us in came to the room where we were sitting and asked if we would be willing to go on a covered vessel instead of the Zodiac if this should become necessary. We were not really bothered either way, but the other couple that were waiting with us were not happy. There was some more activity out front and then the member of staff who had put on the film for us came back and apologised profusely. Apparently there had been some kind of mix up with the roster for the person driving the Zodiac and he had not been told that he needed to come in that day. They offered that we could either go out on a covered vessel or they would rebook us for another day. Well, for us rebooking was not an option so we said we would be fine on the covered vessel. The other couple where severely unhappy, but in the end they decided to run with it as well. Some phone calls were made and arrangements were made for us to join another company who was just about to start a whale watching tour. Initially they were going to take us over to the dock of the other company in a mini bus, but then it was decided as the Orca Spirit dock was on the way anyway, the boat would come over to pick us up. They had to wait for a couple of people who were running late, but we were told that they would be there within the next 10 to 15 minutes. When the boat arrived there was a bit of a to do with a water taxi that was moored where it should not have been and was refusing to move. In the end they brought the tour boat around to the opposite end of the dock and we could get on.

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    When we got on the boat, we were welcomed and they explained where everything was. Apart from the Captain, they had two naturalists on board. There were two outside viewing areas plus big picture windows inside. There were also various hot drinks available that were included in the excursion price. One of the naturalists explained what kind of wildlife we could possibly see, which included orcas, dolphins, porpoises, sea lions, seals and bald eagles. The orcas were really what we came for as it had been my dream for a long time to see orcas in the wild. There are three resident pods of orcas around Victoria. We saw some stunning scenery pretty much as soon as we were clear of the marina. Graham had gone outside on the back deck as soon as we had cast off. I decided to stay in the warm for now. Soon we saw some seabirds and our first seals. I periodically joined Graham on the outside deck. At one point we saw something that looked very much like puffins. We asked one of the naturalists and he told us that they are auklets that are indeed related to puffins, but are a different subfamily.

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  6. dolphingirl47

    dolphingirl47 In Search of the Tag Fairy

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    Soon afterwards we approached an island with a lighthouse, apart from the fact that it was really pretty, I also saw my first bald eagle there. The eagle was a juvenile bird, which meant that he did not have his white head yet. He also had found himself a rather strange perch. He was sitting on a disused web cam. It was great to see a bald eagle so relatively close. Shortly afterwards we saw a pod of porpoise so we slowed down. Once we got going again we saw some California sea lions. Apparently don't come that far north normally, but it was a real treat to see them. There was one more area that they wanted to check out. On the way there, one of the naturalists pulled a huge piece of kelp onboard. He explained that this is edible and offered people pieces to try. I don't eat seaweed at the best of times so I declined. Graham tried a bit and said it was truly horrible. Soon we arrived at a whole chain of rocky islands. One of the naturalists told us that the orcas like to hang out there sometimes and we should know soon if there had been orcas in the area recently by the reaction of the seals and sea lions that live there. The sea lions in this area are Steller sea lions and they are actually native to British Columbia and Alaska. Well, the seals and sea lions were totally relaxed and sunning themselves so they would not have spotted an orca for at least a couple of days. Still, it was a real treat to see so many seals and sea lions. After we observed them for a while, we had to turn around and head back to the dock. We had not seen what we had come for, but we had seen such a wealth of fascinating wildlife that I had no regrets whatsoever. I thoroughly enjoyed the excursion. As a bonus, I got some nice photos of the Wonder on the way back.

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  7. dolphingirl47

    dolphingirl47 In Search of the Tag Fairy

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    The boat dock of the company that we had ended up with is very close to the Empress Hotel. This was fine by me as I really did not fancy the walk back. Near the boat dock there was a beautiful mosaic sculpture of an orca. I also got some nice photos of the Empress Hotel. We went to have a closer look at the Empress Hotel. This looked all very nice. In their convention centre I found some totem poles. This reminded me that I wanted to check out the totem poles in the little park that we had passed earlier. So we walked across to the park and I took a bunch of photos.

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    Graham suggested that we could have a look at the bigger park that we had passed in the bus. It had stopped raining so I was up for this. This park was so beautiful and there was some kind of festival going on there. I saw Canada Geese in their native habitat for the first time, but they were not very cooperative when it came to me taking photos of them. Those geese definitely knew the eternal rule that most birds seem to understand: if there is a camera pointing at you, wait until the person with the camera has focused on you and then either fly away or turn around.

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  8. dolphingirl47

    dolphingirl47 In Search of the Tag Fairy

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    After we had seen enough of the park, we had a decision to make. We could either walk back to the Empress Hotel and catch the shuttle back to the port or we could push on and walk back to the port. Graham reckoned that we were about halfway between the two so we decided to push on. We came past the Mile 0 marker again, which is the start of Canada's Number 1 Highway, which stretches all across Canada. We also got a nice view of the Wonder as we got closer to the port. When we got back to the port, I had a quick look at the gift shop there and then we got back on the ship.

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    Once we were back on board, we dropped off our coats and cameras in our cabin and then we went in search of some lunch. It was too late for lunch at one of the restaurants, but the food outlets near the pools provided. Graham got a Roast Beef Sandwich and some Pineapple from Goofy's Galley and then helped himself to some Coleslaw from the fixings bar at Pluto's Dog House while he was waiting for me to be served. I got a Cheeseburger with Fries from Pluto's Dog House. Once we had finished our respective sandwiches, I got some vanilla soft-serve ice cream for Graham and some chocolate and vanilla swirl soft-serve ice cream for me. We stayed outside a bit longer and watched the float planes land and take off for a bit and then we decided to head for the Rainforest Room. I picked up a blanket from the pool area to cover myself up with as it had been a bit chilly in there the last couple of days and then we went back to the cabin to get our stuff. I got changed and then got some cucumber water and settled down on a heated tile lounger with my blanket and read. Of course, I was so cosy that I fell asleep at one point, but I still managed too finish my book.

    When it was nearly time to leave Victoria, we got changed and I took out stuff back to the cabin. We then watched the ship leaving Victoria. It was interesting seeing boats and float planes together. At times it almost looked like water ballet. We had learned early in the day that the float planes link Victoria with both Seattle and Vancouver. I also got to hear the horn. I made the best of this as I had heard that they are not allowed to sound the horn in Alaska. So after this evening, I would only get one more chance to hear it. Once Victoria was well and truly behind us, we went to the cabin to get changed for Palo. Once we were ready, we went up to deck 10 and slowly made our way to Palo enjoying the beautiful scenery around us.

    When we arrived at Palo, we were welcomed and seated. This time round, we did not have a table right by the window, but we still had a good view. Mladen was our server again. Once we had settled down, he brought us some water and handed us the wine menu. Graham decided to go with a glass of white wine and I asked if they could do a Melon Mojito. This originally caused a little bit of scratching of heads, but I ended up with the best Melon Mojito I ever had. Next up was the Antipasti. We had Prosciutto, Bresaola, Parmesan Reggiano, Marinated Olives, Marinated Peppers and Sun-Dried Tomatoes with Garlic Pizza Bread and Grissini Sticks. While Mladen prepared our plate, a happy little accident happened. Some of the olive oil and balsamic vinegar that was meant to go on the Parmesan Reggiano ended up on the Prosciutto. This combination was absolutely divine. For our appetizers, Graham had the Tuscan White Bean Soup with Prosciutto and Parmesan Cheese garnished with Shredded Cabbage and Red Radishes and I had my favourite, the Grilled Portobello Mushroom and Polenta with a Roasted Shallot Sauce and a Parmesan Crisp. We both fancied some pasta so Graham had the Lobster and Mascarpone Ravioli with a light Truffle Burro Bianco and I had the Chianti Braised Beef Ravioli tossed in a rich Red Wine Reduction with oven-roasted Carrots and Celery. After we finished our pasta, we were given some lemon sorbet to cleanse the palate. Then it was on to the main courses. Graham had the Oregano and Parmesan Crusted Rack of Lamb with Sangiovese Roasted Shallots, Olive Oil baked Roma Tomatoes, Potato Pave and Herb Jus. I went with the Beef Tenderloin "Palo" Served with Palo Signature Barolo Red Wine Sauce topped with blue cheese and served with a potato and pancetta cake. For dessert, Graham chose the Panna Cotta with Strawberry-Basil Sorbet and Macerated Berries. I decided to be adventurous and went with Palo's Homemade Tiramisu after Mladen had mentioned that they had changed the recipe on this and recommended this. I was still not wowed and was glad that he also brought the Zabaglione with Sangiovese-infused Berries made with Marsala Wine and Biscotti Chips. We were full to the bursting, but we still had one last treat to come, the Scropino Venetiano, which consists of lemon sorbet, vodka, Prosecco and Calvados. We were offered coffee, but we declined. To make this dinner even more magical, we were treated to a gorgeous sunset. Graham actually went outside a couple of times to take photos, but I made do with taking photos through the windows.

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    Once we had settled our bill and said goodbye to Mladen, we headed back to the cabin. Before the cruise, I had been absolutely determined to finally make it to Till We Meet Again. I figured with us not having to pack or worry about putting our luggage out, this would be my best opportunity. When we got back to the cabin, it was still nearly an hour until this was due to start. Graham got ready for bed. I had kind of counted on him being there to take photos. I did not fancy going by myself. So I sorted out the stuff that we would need the next day, set the wake up call and then got ready for bed, too.

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  9. tiggrbaby

    tiggrbaby <font color=deeppink><marquee>We must work harder

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    Lovely pics! Can't wait to see what you take in Alaska!
     
  10. dolphingirl47

    dolphingirl47 In Search of the Tag Fairy

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    Not long now. I have our first day in Vancouver to post about, which I will do on Thursday and then I will start on Alaska.

    Corinna
     
  11. Pinkocto

    Pinkocto DIS Veteran

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    Sorry you didn't see the orcas, but it still sounded like a great tour.glad you were still able to enjoy it :)

    A lovely day all around topped off with a delicious Palo dinner!
     
  12. jedijill

    jedijill <font color=red>Chiefs fan living in Bronco countr

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    What Pinkocto said! :thumbsup2

    Jill in CO
     
  13. jenseib

    jenseib Mommy to Claire

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    What a fun day. I would be going picture crazy too with all the wild life. Too bad you didn't get to see the orcas, but sea lions are cool! I would love to see them in the wild.
     
  14. Chilly

    Chilly RIP Tag Fairy

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    Sounds like a lovely day.
     
  15. dolphingirl47

    dolphingirl47 In Search of the Tag Fairy

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    It would have been wonderful to see orcas, but I still really enjoyed the excursion without it and seeing all those seals and sea lions was a bonus.

    I will never forget my first time that I saw wild sea lions. We were on the gangway at the Port of Los Angeles waiting to get on the ship and there were two swimming between the dock and the ship.


    It was :thumbsup2

    Corinna
     
  16. dolphingirl47

    dolphingirl47 In Search of the Tag Fairy

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    Day 12

    Mickey called us bright and early at 6:30 in the morning. In the paperwork that we had received it stated that we could get off the ship as early as 7:00 and we wanted to make the most of our time in Vancouver. We gathered together what we needed for the day, let our stateroom host know that we were heading out as he had requested us to do and then we headed up to deck 10. There had not been any announcements yet that the ship had been cleared so we figured me may as well have a look at what was expecting us. I also wanted a photo of the bow of the ship with the flag flying, which has become a kind of tradition. First impressions of Vancouver were very positive. The port is very centrally located and we had a great view of the Vancouver Skyline. The surrounding countryside also looked rather pretty. Once we had taken a turn around the ship and taken plenty of photos, we headed down to the atrium to check if we could get off the ship yet.

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    When we got to the atrium, people were getting off the ship. It was a strange sight. At this point it was people getting off that had opted to carry off their own luggage and many people had plenty of it. There was quite a line, but it seemed to be moving quite quickly. So we decided to get in line. It felt odd just having my handbag when everybody else was having multiple pieces of luggage. It took less than 5 minutes from getting in line until we were off the ship. On the gangway we were intercepted by a member of port staff, who wanted to know where or luggage was. We told him that we were getting back on the ship for the second half of the cruise later that day and that we were just doing the tourist thing for a few hours. We wished us a good day and let us go. As we entered the terminal building we were intercepted by another member of staff. She asked us if we knew where we were going. We asked her where we could get a coffee and where the tourist shuttles went from. She gave us directions. There happened to be a Starbucks right outside the terminal. She also asked if we already had our tickets, which we did not. So she recommended that we would check with the tourist kiosk as they usually sold tickets at a bit of a discount. We thanked her and headed off in the direction that she had indicated. It was only once we were outside the terminal building that I realised that we had never gone through immigration or had even shown our passport.

    Once we were clear of the terminal, we headed straight to Starbucks, which was actually even closer than it had sounded from the directions. We were both ready for a coffee and something to eat. Graham got an Americano and a Lemon and Cranberry Scone and I had a Cinnamon Dolce Latte and a slice of Lemon and Raspberry Loaf. They had very limited seating inside, which was all taken, but there was plenty of seating outside. As it was a beautiful morning and also quite mild, it was actually a pleasure to sit outside. We took our time over breakfast. I had brought my iPhone and made good use of the free WiFi to check my emails and update Facebook. As we had been outside the terminal so quickly, we still had some time. We explored the Canada Trail, which is a walkway that runs alongside the terminal building. There are all kinds of educational displays in this area that cover the history of Canada, the different parts that make up the country and the people that live there. The walkway also provides some gorgeous views. The most impressive thing though was that the walkway runs really close to the ships. This is not a restricted or controlled area, but is open to the general public. Yet the Wonder was so close that it felt like we could almost touch her. Once we had seen everything there was to see in the area and I had taken some photos, we headed back to the front of Canada place.

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    I have to say at the planning stages; Vancouver was the city that inspired me the least. For all other places we visited on this trip there were multiple things I would have loved to do and I had some trouble to narrow this down to what I could realistically do in the time available. Vancouver was a different matter. There were a couple of things I quite wanted to see like the totem poles in Stanley Park and the Gaslamp District. Neither of those would take the best part of the two days we had available. So I figured the best option was to get a two day ticket for one of the hop on hop tours as the ticket was valid for two weeks. On the first day in Vancouver, I had pretty much planned to just do the complete loop on the first day with maybe a quick stop at the totem poles and then get off at nay points that had taken our fancy on the second day. About two weeks before we were due to leave for this trip, something else caught our eye, the Capilano Suspension Bridge. I am sure that I saw a trip report about this about a year ago and I could not imagine ever doing something like this, but the photos that I had seen online looked really promising and they also have a free shuttle from the port so we decided to run with this.

    According to their website, the first shuttle was scheduled to depart from Canada Place at 9:00. The tourist kiosk that was recommended to us was still closed, but various representatives of the different tour companies appeared at about 8:30 and we bought the tickets from one of them. 9:00 came and went and there was no shuttle. I asked the person who we bought the tickets from and she said the first shuttle was due to leave at 9:30. She also pointed out a member of staff from Capilano Suspension Bridge who had just arrived. We both went for a quick bathroom break and then we went up to the member of staff. The shuttle arrived shortly afterwards. Normally the shuttle stops at 3 different hotels after leaving the port, but every seat was taken by the time we left the port so we went directly to Capilano Suspension Bridge. In the end we did not arrive much later than if there had been a 9:00 shuttle that stopped at all points. On the way we got a good first impression of Vancouver. We drove through Stanley Park for a while and I realised just how big this is. We were also able to add another suspension bridge to our collection. To get to the Capilano Suspension Bridge, we had to drive over the Lionsgate Bridge.

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  17. dolphingirl47

    dolphingirl47 In Search of the Tag Fairy

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    Soon we arrived at the Capilano Suspension Bridge. It is hard to believe that this is so close to a major city. It seems to be a million miles away and although I don’t think that Vancouver is a very polluted city, the clean air was really obvious. The shuttle parked very close to the entrance and as we already had our tickets, we did not have to stand in line. We checked out the map and then Graham went to the bathroom while I admired the totem poles. Once he got back and I had taken plenty of photos, we checked out the map that was in this area to get our bearings. There are essentially three big attractions in the park: the suspension bridge itself, a treetop adventure and a cliff walk. Apart from this there were a nature boardwalk, a raptor centre, which is open only seasonally and some smaller areas of interest. Most of the points of interest were on the other side of the suspension bridge so this is where we headed first.

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    Neither Graham nor I are particularly good with heights. I am usually OK with relatively big heights as long as I am enclosed by glass or a railing, but cannot cope at all with even the slightest drop when there is nothing between me and the edge. Graham however, is perfectly fine with this as long as the overall height is not too much. I am also not to keen on things that swing or bounce. So this was definitely challenging both of our comfort zones. I was actually pretty OK when we walked across the suspension bridge when we first arrived at the park. There were not that many people about so the bridge was relatively stable. There were also plenty of very thick cables between me and the valley. I even was brave enough to take my hands off the cables a few times to take some photos. Graham was also pretty OK with the experience.

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    When we arrived at the other end, we were glad to have solid ground back under our feet. So before taking on the next aerial adventure, we decided to explore the nature boardwalk. The park around the Capilano Suspension Bridge is actually classified as a rainforest. I have always associated rainforests with a tropical climate, but apparently there are also temperate rainforests. It was fascinating to see all the huge trees, but also the different plant life that grows on the forest floor. There were signs around at regular intervals that explained what we were looking at. We had been instructed before we got off the shuttle to hug a tree before we left the park. Graham made good on this while we were in this area.

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  18. dolphingirl47

    dolphingirl47 In Search of the Tag Fairy

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    Then it was time to go up in the world again and do the Treetops Adventure. This consisted of a network of small suspension bridges and viewing platforms high up on Douglas Firs. Some points on this attraction are as high as 100 feet above the forest floor. This is the first attraction of this kind in North America. I absolutely loved this. Each individual suspension bridge is quite short and therefore quite stable. Being quite high up over the forest floor provided some fantastic views. Graham was not quite so keen, but was also glad to have experienced it.

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    After we finished the Treetops Adventure, we had a look at the surrounding area and came across a rather special tree. Grandma Capilano is a Douglas Fir that is over 1300 years old and at 250 feet she is the tallest tree in the park. This is seriously impressive. We also had a look at some of the ponds in this area and then it was time to head across the suspension bridge again. This time round it was much busier and therefore the bridge bounced a great deal. I did not like this one little bit. I most certainly did not stop for photos this time, but I took off and crossed the bridge as quickly as I could.

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  19. dolphingirl47

    dolphingirl47 In Search of the Tag Fairy

    Joined:
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    28,370
    By the time we got back to the other side, it started to rain. The rain was not particularly heavy and I suggested that we have a look around the gift shop and see if this would blow over. Well, there was nothing in the gift shop that caught my attention and it had not stopped raining either. We still decided to do the last of the major attractions, the Cliff Walk. The Cliff Walk is a narrow (in some places only 50cm wide) semi-circular walkway that is cantilevered and suspended around the cliff face. In some places, platforms made from very strong glass allowed views straight down the canyon. I had thought that this what I would struggle with most, but actually the walkways being so narrow with good solid handrails on either side definitely helped and I really enjoyed this. The stairs at either end were hard work though.

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    Once we had finished the Cliff Walk, we decided that we had seen enough and headed for the exit. Near the exit they had a table set up where they were giving out certificates of achievement. I could not resist. Apparently the certificate gives you bragging rights for two years and it was free. We did not have to wait long for the shuttle and on the way, we did drop off people at one of the hotels. So we got to see a bit more of the city centre including the main shopping street, Robson Street. I also saw a Lush shop and made plans to visit this during our second day in Vancouver.

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  20. dolphingirl47

    dolphingirl47 In Search of the Tag Fairy

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2007
    Messages:
    28,370
    When we arrived back at the port, we decided to do a bit of research for our second that in Vancouver. This time round, we would have our luggage to worry about as well. We decided to check with the tourist information inside the conference centre at Canada Place if there are any left luggage facilities at Canada Place. Unfortunately there are not. We did however find out that there are left luggage facilities at the Pacific Central train station where we would get our train to Seattle from and that we could get the Skytrain from the nearby Waterfront station to get to Pacific Central. We decided to walk over to the Waterfront station to see if we could work out the fares and the network. This all seemed straightforward enough, we had been told that we needed to take the Millennium or the Expo line and which station we needed to get off at. This only was 4 stations away from Waterfront and in the same zone. We also figured out that there was a different entrance that at lifts so this seemed quite straightforward.

    Once we knew where we need to go the following week, we decided to have a look at the Historic Gaslamp District. Historic in this context needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. I had the feeling that the only thing that may have deserved this label were the gas lamps. All but two of the original buildings in this area were destroyed by the Great Vancouver Fire. The area seemed to be made up of restaurants, bars and nightclubs and shops selling tourist fare covering all levels of prices and quality. There also seemed to be beggars at every corner. Maybe I would have felt a little bit more positive about this if the weather had been nicer, but somehow I doubt it. There was one interesting thing in this area though, The Gastown Steam Clock. The steam-powered clock is the most famous landmark in the Gaslamp District. The clock was built to cover a steam grate, which is part of Vancouver's distributed steam-heating system. There is actually something slightly cynical about this as the clock was built to prevent street people from sleeping on the spot in cold weather. Still, it is very pretty.

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    Around 12:30, we had enough of the rain and we started to feel hungry. So we headed back to the port. There were two ships in port: the Disney Wonder and the Island Princess. We entered the port and there were signs for both ships, but they were all pointing in the same direction. So we asked a member of the port staff where we needed to go. She explained that there was just one line for both ships to clear security and immigration and that the line would divide after this. The line was huge and did not seem to move much. It was about an hour until we were finally through security. Next up was immigration. As all the ports would be visiting are US ports, we had to clear US immigration in Vancouver. This seemed a bit strange. Immigration was quite smooth and we got a second US stamp in our passports. So the passport stamp count now stood at Canada 0, USA 2.

    Once we were through immigration, the then separated the lines. It was great seeing somebody with Mickey gloves pointing us in the right direction and to hear Disney music again. They were very keen to direct us to the normal Castaway Club check in, but we headed to the Platinum and Concierge check in. I have to admit up to this point I had never seen the point of this perk, but looking at the line for the Castaway Club check in, which was huge, and only having one family ahead of us in our line, I cold definitely see the benefit. Once it was our turn, it was a quick and easy process. They already had our photos and passport verification on file and we did not have to fill out the health questionnaire. It was just literally a question of confirming we were there and printing our new Key to the World cards. The only hold up was getting the lanyards. The person was frantically trying to find the lanyards and eventually came back with one silver lanyard. I pointed out that we were Platinum and therefore our lanyards should be black. She looked very relieved and told us that she knew were those are. She got us our Platinum lanyards, we thanked her and were on our way.

    When we got to the area where they had set up the backdrops for the embarkation photos, there was no line at all and we were directed straight to a photographer. It then only took a short time to get on the ship and be announced. We were then directed towards Parrot Cay. I was relieved that this was still open. At one point I even wondered if Beach Blanket Buffet would still be open by the time we were back on the ship. When we got to Parrot Cay, they then tried to redirect us to Beach Blanket Buffet with the excuse that there was a wait for a table at Parrot Cay. I explained that I had to be somewhere at 15:00 and that I would not make it if I had to go up to deck 9 for lunch. She then said that we could check at the podium and we were seated straightaway. Graham had Salad, Peel and Eat Shrimp, Roast Beef, Mashed Potato with Monterey Jack Cheese, Mixed Vegetables, Grilled Spicy Chicken, Pork Schnitzel and a Lemon Cream Puff for dessert. I had Strawberry Soup, Pork Schnitzel, Grilled Spicy Chicken, Roast Beef, Mashed Potato with Monterey Jack Cheese, Macaroni Cheese, Penne in Provençal Sauce, Mini Corndogs, Spaghetti and Meatballs and Chocolate Cake for dessert. At some stage during lunch, our server Jorge caught up with us. We had not seen him since Saturday so he just wanted to make sure that we were OK. We told him that he had a great time and would see him at dinner that night. By the time we had finished our lunch they had started to clear up.

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    Next up was our forum meet. Fortunately we did not have far to go as the meet was only in the Promenade Lounge. I expected Graham to head back to the cabin as he does not normally attend events like this. However, he decided to come with me. There were quite a few people that had already done the Repositioning Cruise with us and there was also a couple that we had met on the Hawaii cruise last year so there were plenty of people to catch up with as well as faces to put to names of people that I had communicated with online over the past year. Time absolutely flew and soon it was time to say goodbye as we needed to drop off our stuff for the safety drill. When we got back to the cabin, I quickly checked that we had all our excursion tickets and then it was time for the safety drill.

    One thing I was impressed with this time round is that just before the safety drill was due to commence, our cruise director made an announcement that was broadcasted into all cabins and public areas with the sort of general announcements that are normally made at the end of the safety drill. This was a much better way of doing this. At the end of the announcement, he then asked us to proceed to our assembly stations. Initially this seemed like a much better organised experience as well with everybody being asked to line up by size. Unfortunately there was a rather large group of late comers that then just stood in front of everybody else. There were some fairly young kids and also a boy with special needs who did not cope at all with being fenced in amongst people that were much talker than them and not really being able to move. So there was a lot of crying and general restlessness so yet again I did not hear much of what was being said. It turned out that our Palo server Mladen was one of the crew assigned to our assembly station so we chatted to him for a bit when the safety drill was over.

    After we had said goodbye to Mladen with the promise that we would be back at Palo later in the week, we headed up to deck 9 to watch us leaving the port. By then the rain had got much stronger and they actually had to move the sail away party to the atrium. We headed all the way forward to just above the flying bridge. We were sheltered from the rain there and had a great view. It was not long after we got there that we started to move away from the dock. The Captain sounded the horn. This time it was actually needed. Vancouver is a very busy float plane airport and there were constantly planes taking off, landing and moving into position right by the port. Still, we managed to get clear of the actual port without getting tangled up with any of the float planes. The scenery around Vancouver is very pretty and we enjoyed watching this as we sailed past. We had one last suspension bridge to sail underneath, the Lionsgate Bridge. This is not quite as pretty as the Golden Gate Bridge, but still impressive. Again the Captain sounded the horn and this would be the last time on this trip that I would hear it.
     
  21. dolphingirl47

    dolphingirl47 In Search of the Tag Fairy

    Joined:
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    Messages:
    28,370
    Once we were clear of the bridge, I headed down to the atrium to get a photo with Captain Mickey. The line moved quite quickly and fortunately this was a sign of things to come for the rest of the cruise. When it was my turn to see Mickey, he was very excited to see me again. He twirled me around the atrium and I got a few hugs and kisses. I never did figure out who Mickey's special friend was, but somebody obviously had got to know me quite well during the first cruise.

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    When I had said goodbye to Mickey, I went back to deck 9 to join Graham. A few other people had found this spot as well and it was actually quite crowded. While I was downstairs, the rain had got even stronger and there were waterfalls coming down from deck 10. This reminded us of the morning we arrived in Hilo on our Hawaii cruise last year. Still, we were out of the rain and the scenery was still pretty.

    A little while later I headed back to the atrium as Goofy was out for photos. Again he seemed very happy to see me and we had a wonderful interaction. With him I had a suspicion, who his special friend is. When I was finished with Goofy, I spotted that they had some props out for the white backdrop. So I headed there next for some photos. Some of them were quite energetic, but I had great fun.

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    When I went back to deck 9 to see Graham, they had roped off the whole area where Graham was I had to go up to deck 10 to see if he was still down there. He was and made his way to where I was. One would think that before they roped off a whole area, they would check that nobody is on the other side. We went back to the cabin and got changed. We had a card from Karl Holz, the president of Disney Cruise Line, behind our fish thanking us for our repeated custom and for doing a back to back cruise. I know that they print probably thousands of them, but it was still a nice touch and one of the little things that make Disney Cruise Line so special.

    We still had a little time until it was time for dinner so we decided to get some photos done before dinner. We did the wallpaper backdrop first and then headed over to the white backdrop. The photos that were taken there are probably my favourite photos of the holiday.

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    Once the photos were done, it was time for dinner. We were in Triton's that evening so did not have far to go. We caught up with our serving team. We had not seen them for a couple of days and they wanted to know what we had been up to in the meantime. That night, the rotational menu for Triton's was served. Graham had Escargot, French Onion Soup, Lobster and Three Cheese Macaroni followed by Grand Marnier Soufflé for dessert. I had French Onion Soup, Tomato and Basil Soup, Beef Tenderloin with Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes, Bacon-wrapped green beans and Mustard Madeira Jus and Grand Marnier Soufflé for dessert.
     

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