My brother's blog entries about the cruise with pictures:
The ride was fairly smooth, and we landed a tiny bit early at YVR. I got to use my NEXUS card to skip the tiny line, scanning my retinas and then grabbing my suitcase and heading out to catch the Canada line downtown without having to talk to anyone. Turns out that they add on a $5 surcharge to get on the train at the airport, so it was $8, but still way better than taking a cab or two buses. Sue texted me to say she was going to meet me at the station near the hotel, and I made my transfer to the Skytrain and rode a couple of stops, a bit jet lagged/tired/stunned at being engulfed in the crowds of teens out partying on a Friday night. Sue was walking down the stairs as I got to my stop and we walked the couple of blocks to the Georgian Court Hotel, settling in on the "women preferred" Orchid floor. Sue had been in charge of finding us a hotel since she knew the city better, and I was happy to splurge a bit on a nice one for two nights (I justified a lot with it being my birthday on Tuesday). We were both a bit hungry so we went downstairs to the hotel restaurant and got some food and drinks - the classic and the strawberry (?) mojitos were good, and started off my vacation drinking on a high note. :) I managed to stay up until about midnight and then crashed hard. The hotel room was very comfortable.
I headed back to the hotel for 6pm to meet up with Sue and we took a
couple of buses, through Stanley Park and into West Vancouver to go to Salmon House on the Hill. She'd
recommended their cookbook to me a few years ago and I'd wanted to eat at
the restaurant on previous visits, but didn't have the time to make it out
to where it's located. It was a bit of a hike but worth it, even with the
pouring rain. They gave us a window seat and we could watch the shipping
in Burrard Inlet as we ate. I had:
The appetiser sampler (split with Sue): smoked fanny bay oyster (huge!), smoked salmon wrapped scallop, salmon and prawn spiring roll.
Alderwood grilled prawns, salmon, halibut (yummy!).
Chocolate silk cake with raspberry coulis (just a smear). This was amazingly delicious, though I had to split it with Sue, it was so rich.
The rain was heavier when we went out to wait for the bus back, we saw it going out the way we'd come on it, but it turned out that it went back along a different road and we were out of luck. :/ We went back into the restaurant and had them call us a cab (we might have snagged someone else's, oops). We ended up waiting over an hour after we finished eating, we could have had another glass of wine or a cocktail. Ah well. I was edging into food coma and still a bit jet lagged, so I punted on the vague plan to go out for a cocktail after getting back downtown.
We had no problems finding our cabin, it was right at the stern of the ship on deck 2, with a nice big window (as I'd requested). I unpacked my formal clothes so that they could hang up and get some wrinkles out, and then we went to rustle up food and relatives. Dad said they'd be on the Lido deck (8) by the pool, so we took the stairs up. We found them inside as it was a bit chilly with the roof open. I had sushi and a sandwich for lunch and was better able to face the prospect of being on a boat for 7 days. The ship had instituted a no self service for 48 hours to try and limit germ vectors, and there were hand sanitiser stations *everywhere*. Plus the room TV was showing a video that included proper hand washing techniques. I accepted the brain washing and kept my hands as sterile as possible. :) We walked around the ship for a bit, getting the layout - the Sports deck 9 was mostly open to the air, and led up to another higher platform that was at the bow end of the ship but edged in by smoked glass, so the view wasn't as good, though the wind shield was appreciated. Then we went back to our room and found Marc and Katherine - their room was just around the corner from us, right next to the door outside. I unpacked a bit, and then went up to the Lido deck again. Mom was napping, I had some ice cream while Marc and Katherine ate lunch (they'd been late enough that the lines were mostly gone and they'd breezed through). The ship held a life boat drill at around 3 or 4pm, we gathered (sans life vests) under our life boat and watched a demo. At around 5pm they cast off, we could hear the workers one deck below our rooms and went out to see the lines dropping from the stern. I grabbed my camera and went out on deck to take pictures with Dad and Sue. The Century had cast off just before us and we followed her out of the port of Vancouver and under the Lion's Gate Bridge. We had a police boat escort all the way out as well. We passed huge bright yellow piles of what Sue told me was sulphur, and cruised past the area where we'd been for dinner last night. It was a bit windy up there once we were under way.
Dad had made a reservation in the formal Rotterdam dining room for their anniversary dinner. The dress code was smart casual, so I changed into a skirt and blouse and was the second one to get to the table. We had a window seat this time, and we could see Vancouver Island as we cruised past it. Sue and I had ended up getting our parents the same anniversary card, I was wondering what was up when she offered to let me sign hers. :) All the food was included in the price of the cruise, but we had to pay for alcohol I think I covered the wine that night. I had the mozarella and tomato salad, a cold mixed berry soup that would have made a great dessert, and salmon with tomatoes and capers (I think I ate salmon every day, sometimes twice a day, the whole cruise, it was glorious). It was still fairly early once we were done, we were able to catch the 8pm show in the Mondrian Lounge, a ventriloquist comic who was a bit mean to audience members. I perched on a stool up in the balcony, it was shaking just a little from the engine vibrations. M&D went downstairs to get real seats. I ended up staying to the end of the show despite not planning on it, then headed up to deck 9 and the Crow's Nest bar before the bingo started up. I chatted with two Filipino bartenders, and got a good Pimm's and St Germain cocktail. I also was convinced to sign up for the mixology course they were holding the next day. Back to the cabin where I finished unpacking. We pulled the single beds apart and Sue tracked down a room steward to get more linens. I was in bed and pretty much asleep by 10:30pm, well on my way to catching up on my sleep.
After that, it was time for me to head up to the Crow's Nest for the
Mixology course I'd signed up for. Regular drinks were running around $7, and
we were going to mix and taste three for $12.50, so it was a decent deal. And
fun. :) Rebecca was leading us in toasts and Rolly and Eric were mixing for
us, giving us pointers on bar tools and such. I didn't really learn anything,
except how you're supposed to separate a Boston shaker into two pieces (hit
with the heel of your hand in the small gap), but I wasn't very good at it.
The drinks we tried were:
The 0010 Martini, with a Grand Marnier rinse, Tanqueray 10, Vox vodka, and an orange twist. This one was my favourite, despite the vodka, I think because we left the Grand Marnier in the glass instead of just rinsing. :) I ended up ordering this one off the bar's cocktail menu later in the cruise.
Chocolate cocktail, where we drew designs on the inside of the glass with chocolate syrup. Sweet, not something I'd go for first but tasty.
Espresso martini with coffee bean garnish. This was surprisingly tasty for me (I don't like coffee).
I think I stayed a bit beyond the class to drink a glass of water, then went back down to the Lido pool and did a short intro to Tai Chi class with Dad and Katherine. The lifestyle coordinator who was leading the class rubbed me the wrong way a little, she had a sing song quality to her voice that came off as condescending. An older Chinese woman was following along right next to me, her movements were beautiful. I found it a bit hard to get into the flow since we were right in the middle of the deck, but being able to look out over the passing water as we did it was nice.
Dad had made a reservation for us for a formal dinner in the Rotterdam dining room for 7:15pm, so I popped into their cabin to borrow the lint roller that I'd asked them to bring along (emailing them while in transit as I saw that the white boot bag was shedding all over my suitcase). I wore my new DK dress, sleeveless with a full skirt, with my Kambriel stormy weather shawl draped over it, and Fluevog Mini heels. The heels were nice and stable despite some rocking, but I did spend most of dinner feeling queasy. Marc and Katherine dropped by Sue and my cabin for me to tie Marc's tie, I did a decent job of it, but I need to get back in practice. Kat was wearing the necklace I'd brought back from Patagonia for her, and I had put on the custom made one I'd ordered in the same style. :) We tried not to sit/stand next to each other too much. :) We met up with the parental units at the lobby of the restaurant and had a bit of a wait (people watching was fun, everyone interpreted the formal dress code a bit differently). It turned out that we'd been given a reservation out of synch with the seatings, someone came by to ask who'd set it up for us. I ordered the seafood cake (a tasty expanded version of a crab cake), a pear and fennel and salmon salad that didn't quite meld together, and then the quail, which was a bit dry. We had a sweet Reisling with the meal, but conversation lagged a bit as most of the kids were battling seasickness. I walked outside to get back to the room in order to get a breath of fresh air, but it was still pretty early so I went back out (I saw a tugboat peeling off as I went out at the stern, it was brightly lit and hard to miss). I went up to the Crow's Nest, but people were smoking and I didn't want to trust my nausea to that atmosphere, so I headed back. The outside decks were closed to due high winds, tape stretched across the door ways. :/ I was in bed by 10:30 again, but the rocking of the boat was worse. The front desk was giving out free sea calm/meclizine, and I ended up taking one to sleep. Any worries I had had about being bored on the ship were gone at this point, the schedule was so packed that I had lots of choice as to what I could do. They would give us a schedule of events the evening before so you could check off what you wanted to do, Sue kept yelling at me for stealing ours, I tended to do last minute what do I want to do now choices. :)
The bus looped around to the other ship and then through downtown, the driver pointing out the governor's mansion and a few other sights along the way. We found out that the road we were on went for about 45 miles and then stopped, the city was hemmed in by sea, forest and ice. I thought that they probably don't have a lot of long distance cyclists there (it looks like RUSA only has Anchorage based events). :) The rain petered off as they let us off in the parking lot of the visitor center and mostly held off the whole time we were there, score! I grabbed a paper map and we eventually got headed out on the easy walk to the glacier viewpoint near the falls. I'd wanted to do the longer hike along the ridge line, but the timing wouldn't work out well. We stopped at a photo point and saw lots of icebergs in the lake, and continued along the sand and dirt trails toward the waterfall, Nugget Falls. It was huge and loud and threw water all over the place, it was awesome. We had a pretty good view of the glacier too, but the dynamic falls took up a lot of our attention. :) Plus the light was filtered through the heavy clouds, so the glacier couldn't shine. It did have that lovely blue-green ice colour though. We retraced our steps after taking pictures and the others used the restroom at the visitor center while I took a quick hike up the ridge trail, East Glacier Loop. It was pretty muddy and the rain was starting again, so I only went 10 minutes up and then back again. The way was mostly lined with these huge maple leave shaped leaves on spiked stems, that I later learned are called devil's club. I passed a group coming down, they said that they didn't have food or water and didn't make it to the glacier viewing point, saying I could if I had three hours to kill (I had my camelbak with hiking supplies in it, and my hiking boots and rain coat). Ah well, if there's a next time I'll try again, and all of us but Sue would get our challenging hike in soon enough. :) A shuttle bus was waiting at the stop as we walked back into the parking lot at around 3pm, and we were soon back at the ship stop.
I decided to run around downtown a bit before our (updated) Salmon Bake departure time of 6pm (I think). I had looked up the locations of two book stores and found both of them easily, but neither had copies of the book I was looking for (it was published that day, so I wasn't too surprised). I bought myself a lovely warm big chai (tea on the ship was only available in small cups, next time bring a travel mug!) to offset the chill of the rainy day, but couldn't get my phone connected to their free wifi network. Back to the ship, I think I had time to run to my room to drop my camelbak and maybe change into another layer of wool to keep warm at the outside buffet.
The family congregated under the shelter on the pier, the rain was coming down again. Marc and Kat gave me a Glacier Smoothie pack with soap, lip balm and lotion (good stuff!). The bus was a school bus with Salmon Bake painted on the side, and the driver told us stories of growing up in the area and catching a big fish. He told the same stories on the way back too. :) All the buffet stations were under tents, and when the rain let up enough, most of us walked the little way up the river to see the falls and rusted mining equipment there. The salmon was amazing, in a sweet and smokey sauce, I went back for seconds. The chicken was a bit dry, but the other stuff I tried was okay to awesome (the dessert was great, self served from a raised house shaped box). I snagged us a spot under a heat lamp, the damp chill was hard to ward off despite hot drinks. There was a guy playing guitar and singing for our entertainment. Right before leaving, I took advantage of the marshmallow roasting sticks and reverted to childhood. :) We were all getting chilly when I noticed a flash of the bus colour and we all made it back on that one and to the ship again. I think I indulged in a hot shower and then put on warm tall boots and a long sleeved dress to stay toasty.
We all met up in the Crow's Nest for my birthday drinks. I had the Tanqueray 0010 martini in full size and it was good. We did the movie soundtrack trivia contest since it was going on while we were there and we had a ready made team in place. :) Marc got a bit upset at the answers, he was sure of the Gladiator theme, but I'm certain that it was just a matter of the same song being used in multiple movies. Fodder for discussion at least. :) Then we moved to the Ocean's Bar (there were a lot of bars on the ship) so I could try their martinis (different menu). I had a raspberry with pear vodka drink that was too sweet for me, the drinks were more club drinks than craft cocktails. We all went over to the Mondrian Lounge to see if Marc and Kat could get picked for the Marriage Game that they were doing. They were beaten out by a couple on their honeymoon, so I left to go back to the Crow's Nest. It was time for kareoke and the singers weren't bad. Then a Motown band took the stage. I had a south seas aviation (prefer the classic), and a red stag derby (very strong!). I think I was sitting at the bar and then it might have been then when a guy from Vancouver approached me and we ended up chatting in seats facing the water (we'd undocked at around 9pm, a bit early to try and avoid some weather - there were rumours of excursion goers who would have to catch up with us later on since they were delayed by weather). I went back to the Mondrian Lounge at 11 for the Filipino Crew Show, I think I found the family again and found out that M&K got pulled on stage when the newlyweds refused to answer the more invasive questions in the game. The crew show was beautiful, I liked the single singers a lot, though the group dances were neat. Straight to bed from there, by midnight.
I was pretty hungry by the time I got back, despite taking advantage of a granola bar snack while wiating to climb, so I went to change into dry clothes (my hiking boots were filthy) and to stuff myself on the Lido again. Sue was off visiting freinds who lived in Skagway, but I found the others and convinced Dad, Marc, and Katherine to go with me on a "real" hike, up a 20min long steep section up the ridge line near the boat, then around a Dewey Lake if we had time. Through some miscommunication, we ended up missing each other and Dad and I waited for a while before deciding that they'd not come. They'd left before us, thinking we'd left. Oops. In any case, we walked down the dock, over the tracks, along a stream, and up into the woods. There was a waterfall running down into the stream, but we soon split off from it. The trail switch backed up the ridge, it was a bit of a challenge, but really really short compared to the stuff I've done in NH. :) We were soon on the level area near the lake and decided to try going around it. I kept checking with Dad that he was okay with it, it was a 3 mile loop or so, but we kept going. We started in the middle of a side, and we finally rounded the narrow end to do the other long side, passing over a wooden bridge that went over an outlet to a hydro facility (we could see the sign from far away: Danger, Swift Water, Falling Hazard). Dad had just disentagled his umbrella from between a pair of close growing trees, and I was trying to find where the trail continued, when I spotted some people coming toward us. It was Marc and Katherine! They'd decided to circle the lake the other way and were a bit cranky since it had been rougher than expected, and they were out of water. We shared from Dad's bottle and decided that we'd turn back along the way we'd just come since it was the shorter and easier trip. I was only a bit disappointed not to cirumnavigate the lake, throttling back the temptation to go on with mental reminders of NH. We took it slow heading back, we had lots of time, though we did pass a woman and a boy who were motoring, trying to finish the hike before their ship sailed. My knee was starting to complain a tiny bit on the way down the steep section, and Dad stumbled and cut his finger on the rock face next to the trail. I started keeping an eagle eye on him, I've returned him to Mom injured a few too many times already. :)
Instead of heading straight back to the ship, even though I was kinda soaked and miserable, I decided to take a look at downtown Skagway, since I was there. It was still raining, and not a lot of people were around. I treated myself to a pair of huge truffles and almost lost them as the box started to disentegrate in my damp camelbak. The climbing guides had said that the jewelry stores were owned by the cruise ships, and would pack up and ship out once the last of the ships left, so I ended up avoiding them. It was a bit of a long walk back to the ship, and I was so so glad to take a hot shower and change into dry clothes (oh, I think this was when I did the long sleeved dress + tall boots outfit). I was dry and ready to head up to the Crow's Nest in time for the Cocktail Triva Contest. Rebecca was running it as well, and I took a seat at the bar to join in. I ended up pairing up with a couple from near Stratford England who were next to me, and the beverage coordinator for the ship was leading a team of ship's officers just down the bar. :) I think I misheard Rolly when he said that happy hour was ending, I thought he meant that it was going to start soon, so I didn't order a drink right away. I was doing really well on the questions, only really stumped by one (a geography one), and my team mates and I each got half of the bonus question that propelled us to the win. We got ship pins for our efforts, and the fun of beating the bev. coord. :) I later heard from Rebecca that another team complained about our win, saying we'd cheated somehow, but she reassured me that it was just sour grapes. We'd even swapped answer sheets with the bev. coord. so we could mark each other's answers, and it was the 5 point bonus question that decided it. Anyway, it was fun, and I found out that the bev coord had a place in South Boston that he lived in 6 mo out of the year. We talked a bit about Drink in Fort Point (who served me a stinger made with cognac, though the trivia question answer was brandy, and I make it at home with cognac as well, so I think that was just wrong) and I think it was him that I gave a list of good cocktail bars to. He asked if I was a bartender, too, second time that's happened. I eventually ordered a drink and ended up hanging out chatting with people for hours. Paul, web developer/pilot from Vancouver and I hit it off well and that was when we watched the ship departing from Skagway as we sipped our cocktails. I had a tom collins and a rosemary lemon drop, and Paul bought me an Alaskan ice tea (blue, but nice, though at that point I was tipsy enough to only finish half of it). It was around 8 or so and I thought I should eat something approaching supper, so he asked me if I wanted to check out the Rotterdam dining room to find his friends, Tim and Mary(?) who lived in his apartment building, as well as their friend from Colorado. I perched as the fifth seat at the table and just had the duck entree, I wasn't horribly hungry. They were all neat people, conversation flowed well (helped I'm sure by the drinks I'd had :) ). Despite all that, probably due to starting early, I'm sure I was in bed by 11. The ship was starting to rock a bit, so at 10pm I took some meclazine to hopefully let me sleep through the night.
I had lunch with Dad on the Lido deck, then went to read for a while in the Explorer's Lounge (I think I sat with Katherine for a while). My book wasn't really keeping my attention, I was soon heading back to the Lido and grabbed some tea with Dad, Mom and Sue. From there I went up to the sports deck to wander around and enjoy the outdoors, as I think it had finally stopped raining by then. At 3pm, Sue and I met up in the Rotterdam dining room, upper level, for their afternoon tea. The theme was Indonesian tea today, and we had some nice flavoured green teas. I skimped on the passed sweets, still a bit full from lunch. It was nice to get a good amount of tea though, with larger mugs on offer. :)
Dinner than night was formal again, and Dad had put in a reservation for
5:15pm. Afternoon tea was so recent that it was becoming clear that I had
scale back on how much I was eating. But that intent didn't hold up to the
tempting food on offer for dinner. I'd put on my raw silk sleeveless dress
with a beaded capelet over it, and managed to walk in my high heels despite
the ship swaying quite a bit. We were all (er the youngun's anyway) a bit
queasy. I had the duck fois gras pate, four mushroom soup, tuna steak, but
then could only eat part of the mango sundae I got for dessert. I was
pretty dizzy by the time we finished. I went back to my room and took more
drugs for it, laying down for a little while. That wasn't really helping
too much, so I went back out, via the deck on level up to get some air.
Coming back in at the bigger stairway, I found a "closed" ribbon strung
across the passage inside the door and a sign up saying that the decks
were closed due to high winds. Oops. I don't think they ever put up a
closed ribbon on the door near our room, it led into a sheltered aft deck,
though going up the wood stairs to the promenade deck was a bit tricky if
it was wet and windy. In any case, I was in again, and made my way to the
Piano Bar to listen to the guitar player/singer with Marc and Kat. Sue
joined us after a little while as well. I was a bit surprised at how much
people were talking, it was a tiny space and there was a real live human
performing for us, but people in the audience were still engrossed in
their own conversations that would often rise above the singing.
Sue retired after the guitarist's set, but Marc and Kat and I wandered up to the Crow's Nest for the Dance Through the Decades night. They started at around the 50's I think, spent way too long in the 70s and picked mostly stupid songs for the 80's (that we were holding out for). I danced to a Billy Idol song, I think Geraldine from Mixology was there with her family as well. Rolly was behind the bar and he mixed me up an Aviation. Marc and Kat left before I did (after we were making up stories about a probable first date between a male ship's officer in uniform and a cocktail dress swathed woman), I stayed to have a Gibson (I should have specified the type of gin) and to listen to the DJ set for a while. I think I was there from about 10pm to 1am. I think that was the night when I saw the single senior guy (who used a walker with amazing agility to get up and down the stairs) dancing with two or three different women.
After lunch, I joined Rebecca who was coordinating a napkin rings and wine charms craft session in the Explorer's Lounge. A large group of mostly women were gathered there for it, I mostly strung up beads on my own, making four neat little cocktail charms on metal hoops, with the Holland America crest on a flat metal piece in the middle of the beads. I had a colour scheme in mind for each one and ended up with some beads left over so I donated them to another table of crafters. The napkin ring didn't come out so well, it was made by braiding ribbon together (a UK woman asked how I was plaiting it), but the colours I choose came in ribbons a bit stiff for the application. It worked well to string up my charms though, and I planned to bring them along for when Marc and Kat shared their bottle of champagne that they'd won at the Marriage Game. I met up with the family at a small table in the other part of the Explorer's Lounge area and we played some Trivial Pursuit in teams, adding and subtracting players as people dropped in or out. The ship was still rocking enough that Marc and Kat didn't want to drink champagne though.
We had a family dinner in the Rotterdam again, with fairly long waits between courses. I felt bad for all the staff who's leave had been cancelled (I'd spotted various staff in civvies heading off the ship in Skagway and Juneau), and I was in no rush. I had the salmon pate and sushi and seaweed salad to start, then miso salmon in tomato broth for my main course (delicious), and had just enough room to enjoy the cheese plate. The captain had offered everyone a free glass of champagne as an apology for not docking at Ketchikan, but I skipped mine. He also announced at one point that another ship had gone in to try and dock and "something that shouldn't have happened, happened" but I never heard any details. After dinner, we decided to do some laps around the deck, which was finally open after a day of closure due to the high winds. Sue was out first, she did a lap before I joined her, then we did a lap before Marc and Katherine joined us. They peeled off first, after Sue did a lap backward with us trying to steer her. It was a bit odd walking outside in the dark, with the deck lit dimly and not being able to see much going past us. We were going fairly slowly to kill the hours we were supposed to have been docked in Ketchikan. I did the four laps, 1 mile, but started feeling a bit ill and ended up climbing into bed early. I think something in the dinner didn't agree with me, but I didn't throw up at least. I might have taken another Gravol Ginger to try and calm things down a bit. I read for a bit and finally finished the first of the books I'd brought.
I was still on the fence about attending the last mixology class in the
Crow's Nest, my stomach wasn't quite recovered from the previous night,
but I decided to head up at 3 and observe. Then they weren't sure if
they'd get enough people signed up to hold it, so I signed up after all
and had a blast. They let us measure out some of the ingredients, and we
were shaking again this time too. Geraldine was next to me and Rebecca on
the other side, and Eric and Rolly were behind the bar again. I ended up
staying until 6pm, talking with various people who came by, trying to
sober up mostly. :) I also saw more orca off the starboard bow. The class
- lemon drop
- something else, need to check my notes
I don't think anyone had done all three classes so no diplomas were handed out, but I had fun and enjoyed the drinks and the company.
I'd made a reservation for myself at the Pinnacle Grill for that evening at 8:30, wanting to splurge a bit and use the refunded kayaking excursion money on a "fine dining experience" (there was a surcharge for eating there, maybe $25?). So I actually had some time to kill before dinner. I know I found Paul from Vancouver at one point and asked him if he wanted to join me and he did end up doing so but not eating. The reservation caused me some grief, since Sue was reserved in the Rotterdam and the crew were all very confused about the two people in a cabin not eating together. Hrmph. I went back to my cabin and changed into a skirt and blouse and did the bulk of my packing for tomorrow's debarkation. Then I went up to the Explorer's Lounge to meet up with the family to finally have the champagne that Marc and Kat had won. We were cruising along Vancouver Island at this point, trying to figure out when we were going to pass Comox (going slowly to kill time still). The Adagio Strings quartet was playing, so we were pretty quiet while enjoying the drinks.
At around 8:20, I headed over to the Pinnacle for my dinner, realising that the reservation was a bit late for my stomach (they'd offered me two times and this was the better one). The service was impeccable, they assembled my lobster bisque table side and offered me extra lobster if I wanted it. I had a glass of Reisling to join Paul in his cocktail. For my main course, I had the broiled lobster tail, deshelled tableside. Dessert was a set of 3 creme brulee servings, all having a good crust (skipped coffee one one though).
After dinner, Paul and I went our separate ways, and I went to the Mondrian Lounge for the 10pm show, "Unforgettable". It was a collection of classic songs sung live with a little bit of dancing, lots of memories came back to me, and Mom loved it. The female singer/dancers were festooned in sparklies, I wondered if the jewelry shops had lent them some diamonds for a final push to sell more stuff. :) The guys were smart in suits, it was fun to watch them. After the show, what else, back to the Crow's Nest. :) I treated Mom and Dad to drinks, Appleton rum was on offer and Dad wouldn't turn it down, and I think Mom had wine. We were at a table to the side, but Rolly and Eric waved hi to me as I came in. :) I tried the sunscicle, it was better than I expected. Mom and Dad had been talking with someone and found out that the "brighstar 34nn" announcement that we'd heard during the night was, as I'd thought, a medical emergency. Someone had died aboard the ship the night before, they were 57, very overweight and it had been too quick for a medical evacuation. Wonder if the ship has a morgue? :/ With all the seniors on board, I would be surprised if they didn't. It was our last night on board, so it was a little bittersweet, but the DJ was playing some good 80's rock (finally!) and I danced a bit. Oh, right, it was this night that Geraldine was there with her family. Mom wanted to pop into the casino for a bit, but they'd closed it down (wonder if it was because we were back in Canadian waters? we'd done the time change already I think), so she and Dad headed off to bed and Marc and I hung out for a while chatting. He was going to go off and take pictures of the interior spaces of the ship, especially of places where he'd spent a lot of time writing. I went back to the cabin and finished packing my suitcase and then put it outside the room door before heading to bed. There were piles of luggage around the stair landings, the crew was taking extra pay to stay up all night and collect tagged luggage in advance of debarkation. We also put out the room service request tag, Sue was dithering over her choices so I ordered for both of us.
I think I made my way to Granville Island first, walking all the way to pier where the little boat would take me over (not sure if there was a way to walk over the bridge). After paying for a day pass, it rankled a bit to pay so much for a return ticket on the ferry, esp for a 30 second ride. I got the return ticket to save a little at least, but I think it was still over $5. I was pretty hungry by the time I got there, and it was raining fairly heavily. It was crowded with tourists, I'd forgotten that it was Sunday, and it took me a few circles through the market to find Granville Island Tea Company. Once there, I restocked on blueberry green tea and found that they had a Monk's Blend that was almost the exact type that I remembered from the long defunct Nine of Cups Cafe in Toronto. I've been looking for that specific blend and have gone through so many different Monk's Blend variations over the years that I was overjoyed to find something so close to my memories. From there, I waited in line to get a spinach stuffed bagel for lunch and shared a table with a pair of women to wolf it down. I spent some time wandering around looking for a present for the woman who had promised to take care of my office plants for me, and finally found a full soap shop accessible outside the building. I found a rain in Vancouver bar for her, and picked up a small earl grey bar for myself. It was raining intermittently now, and I decided to head back over to the main part of downtown.
I took the water shuttle back again, and then walked back, window shopping and actually shopping in places. Sue had given me the name of the store where she'd picked up the dress she got for Marc's wedding, Blushing Designs Boutique and I tried on a lovely polka dot dress, but it didn't flatter me 100% and for $200 it needed to. :) I picked up shampoo at a London Drugs (going to a second one to try and find the special the first one had sold out on), and had a hot drink and some wifi at a Starbucks to dry out a little. The rain was really random, with bursts of sunshine at times as well. I ended spending a lot of time in a Le Chateau when I spotted an awesome 50's inspired dress that would be perfect to wear for an upcoming wedding. The large didn't flatter me, but the medium fit like a glove. Then I started looking at skirts and found an awesome wool blend one with a ruffle at the back, and then a prefect dress shirt, with some stretch and an extra snap to keep it closed over my chest. The final bill was scary, but I loved all the pieces. The guy who was helping me ran off for a bit as I was getting rung up and returned with pealrs, a cherry print scarf and a white tie to accessories, and I had to tell him that I had all I needed at home. :) I'd been wearing my patent leather Fluevog boots and had come out wtih them plus a dress at one point to check the view in the bigger mirrors, and I think that caught his eye. :) After all that I realised that time had gotten away from me and I'd still had my phone on airplane mode. Sue would have needed to get her luggage from the hotel by now, but luckily when I switched the phone to accept phone calls, there wasn't anything waiting. I was starting to drag a bit, so with all my bags, I headed back to the SeaBus terminal and made my way back to the hotel.
They'd put our luggage in the room when it was ready, but let Sue in to get hers before I got back. I used the business center (a room with a computer in it) to try and check in for my flight the next day, but something had gone wonky and I ended up having to call Aeroplan to sort things out. 20 minutes at roaming rates were going to hurt, but everything was fine in the end excpet for my nerves addled stomach. I decided to walk around the area near the hotel and find somethign to eat, and stumbled across a Burgoo. I'd tried to eat there on a previous trip to Vancouver, but the wait had been too long. In this location, I was able to walk up to the bar and get a seat right away. I ordered their "tastier chicken", a ceasar salad, and a strawberry lemonade and it was good. A trio was playing live music in the corner as well, and though I was tempted by their cocktails, I held off with the intention of going to one of the craft cocktail bars I'd looked up in Gastown.
Back to the hotel, and the rain seemed to have mostly stopped. It was getting a little bit chilly though. I changed into a dress and my fall jacket + scarf and went back to the Seabus terminal at about 9, wringing every last cent out of the day pass. :) I had a hard limit, wanting to catch the last Seabus back at around 11, instead of having to take two buses around, or a taxi, so this was a lightning strike. I walked from the downtown terminal into Gastown and made it to the Diamond by 10. A lovely man named Henri was mixing up concoctions behind the bar, and when the offerings on the menu didn't appeal to me, he made me a drink with the guidance of gin, citrus, and egg white is okay. I guess the egg white was the tip off that I knew what I was doing, he made me a bitter white lady: gin, amaro montenegro, lemon, egg white, cointreau. He wouldn't tell me what it was until I'd had a sip, and he came out from behind the bar to talk to me about it a little. It was delicious. I was enjoying myself enough to put in a second drink order, for the Jersey on the menu. I asked him if it would work with Buffalo Trace or Basil Hayden's and he said that it was made with Buffalo Trace, along with malbec, tuaca (got to taste this alone when I asked what it was, and it made me order the drink, delicious), aromatic bitters, and an oj twist. I think I got asked again here if I was a bartender, but nope, I just explained that when I saw a cocktail that looked like an odd combination of things I just ahd to trust that the bartenders had put together something delicious and try it. It was about 10:45 I think, and I just had time to speed walk back toward the Seabus terminal and catch the last ferry. Of course it was running a bit late, so I got to sit and sober up there. So many rides on boats that day didn't help me get back my land legs, I was swaying at times while standing still to pay for things. :) I think I stayed up and read for a little bit, but it had been a long day and the bed was comfy.
I still had a bit of time, and wasn't too soaked (thank goodness for my wool hoodie), so I poked around in the market and stores under the hotel. I had a big warm bowl of soup at Soup Miester, and I found a beautiful lace dress on sale for $29 that fit perfectly except for the straps needing to be shortened, and nabbed it. I left the hotel at 2, and changed my clothes at airport, before checking in. I was sure my suitcase was over weight, so I found a stand alone scale and repacked until it was okay. I had to use my green card to get through immigration this time, using a Global Entry kiosk, since the NEXUS one was out of order. I had a fishburger and poked around trying to find a book store inside the terminal, but no luck. I had a fair amount of time to wait, but I was ready to head home and didn't mind.
The climb out of YVR was bumpy, but there was a new wave station on the inflight radio so I listened to that and relaxed. I watched a bit of the TV shows that they were playing on the overhead monitors as well. The transfer at SFO was easy, but I was unhappy on the red eye to Boston. They kept the TVs on all night and since I had an aisle seat (granted with an empty middle seat), I couldn't block otu the flickering light, even with sunglasses on. :/ I was almost crying from tiredness, a sleep mask is mandatory next time I do it on a United flight (Air Canada has been fine for international over nights).