"I'm the best at what I do. But what I do isn't very sensible."
I spent most of the last 3 months of 1999 in Canada, courtesy of my employer who sent me over there to swap techniques and generally find out how things were done in the Calgary office.
While the essential reason I went over there was work, that's not to say I didn't have chance to see a bit of the Canadian countryside - while I didn't do any driving myself (the combination of driving on the "wrong" side of the road and ridiculously sub-zero temperatures dissuaded me) I did manage to get out and about nonetheless.I'll put in some stuff about Calgary itself soon, but for now I'll do a quick write-up on Vancouver - mainly because I'll never hear the end of it from Rhi if I don't get something on the Web soon!
Quite independently of the trip to Calgary (several years before I eventually went over there, in fact), I'd "met" Rhi (Rhiannon Boyle) on the Neil Gaiman fan NG, alt.fan.neil.gaiman. I don't quite recall the order of things, but at some point it became clear that Rhi lived in Vancouver, I was going over to Calgary on an extended work visit, and as these were so close (in Canadian terms) it really would be worth seeing if we could meet up at some stage while I was in the country. (And for anyone thinking "Tsk, bloody email date merchants!" I'll quickly add I was looking forward to meeting Rhi's husband Craig, too...)
So, after I'd spent a few weeks in Calgary, shaken off the jet lag and phoned Rhi a few times to make sure she hadn't gone and hid on discovering I had actually made it over to Canada, we arranged for me to hop over the Rockies on the long Remembrance Day weekend.
After I'd made it over there - 12 hours later than planned, owing to Air Canada hopelessly cocking up my flight (and that of several dozen people (not) on the same original flight) Rhi and Craig met me at the airport, we picked up my luggage - which had thoughtfully been left in an unsecured and unmonitored corner overnight - and headed off to Chez Boyle.
The first afternoon I was there (after flying in that morning) we popped over to Granville Island, for a bit of serious touristy shopping. This is a very "arty" sort of place, full of craft shops and galleries (and a brewery!) and things like that. While a lot of the really nice stuff was out of my price range, I did manage a fair bit of shopping - and got introduced to maple syrup sugar sweets - and completely failed to take any photos at all. So no piccys of this place.The next day we all went to...
If you're a keen skier - which I'm spectacularly not - you may well have heard of Whistler. It's one of those big popular resorts that's allegedly quite In, if you know what I mean. I'm not sure I'd know In if it bit me, but I can certainly confirm it's expensive which is definitely one of those things In places are known for.On the way up to Whistler we visited Brittania Mines (see thumbnail to right), a now defunct copper mine that had one hell of a capacity in its day. Nowadays it's partly a tourist attraction - although in mid-November we were sadly too late to get a tour down into the mines themselves - and partly used by the film industry. A lot of the spooky "empty factory"-type scenes in The X-Files were filmed there, and there's a good number (20-odd) of signed photos of all the stars that have visited hanging up in the shop's lobby.
And so on to Whistler itself - at some stage here we called in on a few waterfalls, whose names escape me (Rhi, help!) but they were very tall and very watery and very fally, which is all you can ever really want from a waterfall in my opinion.
The town (village? resort?) of Whistler looks rather Alpine on the whole. Maybe that's deliberate, or maybe there's just a particular design of building that works well up cold mountains.
Sunday we (Rhi and I) had a little wander through some of the older parts of Vancouver (see below), and for lunch popped in to (up to) the Top of Van restaurant.