Vancouver Mini-Trip Report

Dec 29th, 2006, 06:54 PM
  #1  
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Vancouver Mini-Trip Report

Just a short trip report of our trip to Vancouver from Dec 26 to 29. First, the border crossing. We went on I-5 through the Peace Arch. What a waste of time…. Guess we’re supposed to feel safer? We spent 1 ½ hours going ½ mile at the border on each side. Our timing was bad, I guess – got there around 2 PM going north and about 12:30 PM going south. Who knew? The oncoming direction had no backup either way. FYI, we saw how cars cheated, avoiding part of the wait. The cheating lane is on the right, called "Nexus," (for pre-approved vehicles) and drivers with cahones zipped down the Nexus lane and worked their way back in to the stalled traffic lanes close to the border. We observed another cheat. On the way from the Canada into the US, you can go through the duty free parking lot and make a lot of headway. For such a long wait, we expected at least a body cavity search. ;-) Instead, we were asked a few questions and waived through in about 15 seconds.

Back to Vancouver. We stayed at the Wedgewood Hotel. The rooms were lovely and service excellent. The food in the Bacchus, the hotel restaurant, was wonderful. The hotel is located in the downtown hub near the Sutton, Fairmont, and several of the other big hotels you read about. We have stayed at the Fairmont before and it was also really good. We chose the Wedgewood for the romantic ambiance.

We’d consider staying at the Wedgewood again if we choose to stay downtown. We might also consider the West End, especially if our next visit is in the summer. It’s closer to Stanley Park, which is fun with bikes. I don’t think you’d survive on a bike in downtown. There’s lots of traffic, but more than that, there are so many pedestrians, I don’t think there is room for bikes (hardly even for cars!). I think I know what Hong Kong is like after being on Robson Street during the Boxing Day sales.

From our hotel, we were able to walk to the Art Museum (good Emily Carr exhibit right now), the movie theaters, the Cin Cin restaurant (which was great), and to lots of stores. We took the car to Granville Market and the UBC Museum of Anthropology and drove around some neighborhoods just to get a look. We tried to drive through Stanley Park, but it suffered the same wind storm we had in Seattle a couple of weeks ago, and many of the magnificent trees were downed, so most of the roads through it were closed. They call it the “Stanley Park Storm” in Canada. Don’t know what it will be called in Seattle. (We’ve been to Stanley Park before and know it is a wonderful park. We hope the roads can be reopened soon so people can enjoy it again.)

Winter break is a great time to go to Vancouver and Victoria, as prices are low at the hotels. The weather is usually decent, or at least no worse than Seattle. A couple of years ago we went to Victoria by ferry and had a lovely time. It was a lot easier crossing the border on the ferry. If we go to Vancouver again at this time of year, we may take the train. You don’t really need a car, and the border crossing is a total waste of time.
Orcas is offline  
Dec 30th, 2006, 06:14 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Just FYI, you picked a particularly busy time to cross the border at the Peace Arch crossing. Cross on any holiday and it will be extremely busy. Regular weekends are fine. It also helps to cross first thing in the morning. You can also take the truck crossing, which often has shorter line-ups.

In short, any travel around Christmas time is going to result in delays.

I crossed a few weekends ago and only had to wait 10-15 mins both ways.

Glad to hear you had a good time here though!
Heyblondie is offline  
Dec 31st, 2006, 08:15 AM
  #3  
 
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We just came back from Vancouver yesterday and the wait was about 35 minutes around 2 PM, but that was after we went to the duty free to get our GST back (had to take advantage of the great Boxing Day sales up there, so we had lots of tax to claim!). So it probably would have been an extra 15 minutes or so if we hadn't gone to the duty free. We noted that the highway sign said the truck crossing wait was 50 minutes, so about the same if not worse.

Going in to Canada we cross at 8 AM or so on Sat the 23rd and we were the only car there! I've never had that happen before, it was rather nice ;-)!

That's too bad about the Nexus line cheats--they need to make it a restricted lane with barriers I guess.

NWWanderer is offline  
Dec 31st, 2006, 10:27 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2003
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I'm not sure that the people you see cutting into line are 'cheats'.

Clueless Yes but I have seen newbies make honest mistakes.
Sam_Salmon is offline  
Dec 31st, 2006, 11:52 AM
  #5  
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I probably view them as "cheats" because that's just what I will be tempted to do next time, now that I know there are no barriers between the Nexus and regular lanes...Actually, we may plan to leave a lot earlier, instead of lounging away the morning. Also, we might try for a different border crossing.

It's so maddening....As European countries drop their borders for people from the EU, we raise them with Canada? It's simply ridiculous. I don't feel more secure. Just more inconvenienced, but what's new?
Orcas is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2007, 12:46 PM
  #6  
 
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I'd be careful with that "cheat" - if the border guards notice you, they'll turn your around and make you go back to the end of the line again (this has actually happened to someone I know) - they dislike cheaters as much as everyone else in the lineup.

Glad you enjoyed the city!
BikerScott is offline  
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