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Day trip to Vancouver—Pixar Exhibit @ Science World

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Jun 23rd, 2018, 04:06 AM
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Day trip to Vancouver—Pixar Exhibit @ Science World

I woke up early (very early) in the morning and thought “today is a day for an adventure”, and ran off to B’ham Amtrak station. I bought a ticket...and then realized I’d misread the schedule, and I’d have about 3 hours less than planned..and then realized the train was running about 20 minutes late..and waited. Ah well, for Amtrak, that’s situation normal, and it meant I had time for a coffee.

The train is part of the fun. I was lucky enough to snag a waterside seat, and even better, that seat was next to a pair of hilarious BFFs and a fabulous service dog, on their way to an Alaskan cruise. They shared their red vines and we chatted for the whole trip.

I had a few tourists ask me about the crossing on the train, so I’m thinking that may be a common question. Entering Canada, the train goes straight through to Vancouver. You then go through customs. Coming back is a little different—will get to that shortly.

There were 200+ people on the train. Business class and handicapped disembark first, so business class does pay off. However, it’s really not a bad wait, and definitely better than border crossing in a car or bus. I usually drive; this was actually my first trip completely car free. This turned out to be very easy since Science World is within walking distance of the train station AND it has its own stop for the light rail system. I hopped on public transit to get food downtown, and then I went back to Science World for the afternoon. My hunt for onigiri was not successful, so I ended up eating at meat and bread. More or less hipster sandwiches, very limited menu. Maybe 2.5 out of 4 paws. The meat could be better, but it’s definitely a step up from subway. It’s just not in the realm of excellent deli.

The only negative aspect of not having a car is that transit takes a little longer than I had expected. I probably could have gone to Granville Market if I’d been driving but I didn’t want to risk missing out on the Pixar exhibit or missing my return train. But I also know from experience that traffic can be bad and parking can be hard especially if you are unfamiliar with Vancouver, so it’s not necessarily a significant downside. It was definitely really nice to not have a car in downtown Vancouver.

Science World is the main reason I’m writing this report! I was impressed. It’s definitely a step up from Seattle’s PSC, which I don’t generally recommend to tourists. Science World’s permanent exhibits were a lot of fun, and very hands on. It has a great sustainability exhibit, with an outdoor educational playground space. My main complaint about PSC is that it’s not great for older kids. Science World does a good job at reaching all audiences. The gift shop could be better, if only for their bottom line, but no one goes to a science center for that. The Science Behind Pixar is the reason I went. If you’re in Vancouver this summer and your kids are interested in STEM, this would be a great exhibit to catch. I will say that I don’t think this is an exhibit for really small kids, and I wouldn’t pay the supplement for anyone younger than ten. It does have some great visual stuff that little kids would enjoy, but the meat of the exhibit is surprisingly in depth in terms of math, computers, and lighting.

I headed back to the train station a little little early because I was tired. And that was lucky. The Amtrak official in Bellingham had told me that there was no cutoff boarding time on the return leg. Untrue. They want you to fill out your customs form entirely before going through passport control, so first, you need time to do that, and then they also close the entrance 10-15 minutes early.
And then for some reason they also stop the train at the border for another check, but I think that’s more Ag than customs. My best guess is that it’s easier to do that way than process everyone in Bellingham, because that’s a tiny station? I don’t know. Anyway—never take an Amtrak agent’s word for something. Double check everything.

Anyway- it was a glorious day in the sun, and while I enjoy Vancouver any time of the year, summer is its best season!
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