Day 98 – 11th April 2020, Homeward Bound

welcome home sign

This morning found us at the Novotel T1-3, which is close to LHR terminals 2 and 3. After a good nights sleep, we headed down to the lobby, checking out the arrangements for breakfast. Sitting on a lobby table were multiple identical brown bags, each of which contained:

  • Container with cornflakes
  • Container with a veggy sausage and scrambled egg
  • Brown roll, butter and jam/marmalade
  • Individual portion of cheese
  • Utensils and napkin

In addition, they had tea, coffee, milk and juices. Just grab a bag, tea/coffee and milk, and return to the room. They also had a microwave available to warm up the sausage and egg. All in all, not a bad brown bag breakfast.

The Toronto flight departed at 12:05, so the others were picked up from the hotel at 09:15, so Judi & I headed down to say our goodbyes. We did capture a final photo, but unfortunately, we didn’t have a camera or laptop, so didn’t get a copy. At 11:00 we returned to the lobby, for our 11:15 pick-up. Cruise Consultant Charaine was flying to New Zealand from T4, so we brought her with us, convincing the van driver to head to T4, after dropping us off.

AC B-787

AC B-787 Dreamliner

Arriving at T2, we were met by the same chap who escorted us through T5 yesterday. Wow, the new T2 is a vast improvement over the original terminal built in the mid-1950’s. Opened in 2014, it is named the Queen’s Terminal. We were escorted through check-in, security and then the extensive hike to to the furthest gate in the “B” zone. Kudo to Viking for providing such excellent service.

As we reached our gate, the Toronto flight was pushing back from their gate, right on time. We read Kindles at the gate, until boarding our B787-900 commenced, about 50 mins before scheduled departure. We were fully loaded and pushing back about 5 mins early. With only 1 or 2 flights per hour, we taxied directly to the end of the runway, being wheels up about 6 min after our scheduled departure time. LHR is often up to an hour between push back and wheels up.

Air Canada B-787 Business Class Seat

Photo courtesy of “Travel with Grant”

The Air Canada flight was OK, we like the Business seat layout better than BA, but we find the BA seats more comfortable, especially when the A-380 flies to YVR during the summer. Since these are exceptional times and full service is curtailed, I am only providing brief notes, not my usual in depth flight review.

Similar to yesterday, the only drinks served were bottles of water, with snacks provided about 1/2 hr after take-off and again about 1 hr before arrival. Between those snacks, all we received was water.

  • Snack # 1:
    • Corn and lima bean salad, with a little lettuce & dressing
    • Quinoa and chick pea mixture
    • Brown roll
    • Chocolate cake
  • Snack # 2:
    • Bag of apple slices
    • Granola bar
    • Banana bread
    • Roll
    • Cheese

While not the usual standard of catering, the snacks were fresh and edible, keeping the hunger pangs at bay.

On arrival YVR, we had multiple levels of Government checks to go through, prior to entering the arrivals hall:

  • Health Canada – they set up office on the overhead walkways, with about 8 agents, shortly after departing the aircraft. Each individual or family group received an individual meeting with a single agent, ensuring each agent was > 6′ apart. We submitted the form we received on board the aircraft and then discussed quarantine arrangements and any assistance we required.
  • Customs & immigration – normal YVR process
  • Health BC – effective 10th April 2020, British Columbia requires all returning residents to submit a quarantine plan. We submitted the form online and developed a written plan, which we provided. Once reviewed and approved, we departed the airport.

Outside at passenger pick-up, our son and DIL brought 2 vehicles, leaving 1 of them for us to load and drive home. Once home, we started our 2-week quarantine period, but received a welcome sight. We can’t get hugs for 2 weeks, but the sign is safely attached to a bulkhead.

welcome home sign

 

Pre-Spring Visit to Victoria

Already the middle of March, but due to our dreadfully cold winter and frequent snow storms, the tulips, daffodils and other bulbs have not even started to poke through the ground. A most depressing situation, especially since we were cutting the lawn in February last year. What better time to spend a few days in Victoria, BC’s coastal sunshine capital. This year, our plans were to visit the Parliament Buildings, Provincial Museum, craft breweries and partake in Afternoon Tea.

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Vancouver’s Stanley Park – Bright Nights & Christmas Train

bright-nights-main-entranceStanley Park’s miniature railway, a favourite attraction for kids of all ages, has been a Vancouver icon for over 50-years. Opened in 1964, engine # 374 is a miniature replica of the Canadian Pacific “steamie” engine that pulled the first` cross-country passenger train into Vancouver, in the late 1880’s. The original engine is displayed in the Roundhouse located on the old Expo 86 land on the shores of False Creek.

Bright nights is a seasonal attraction hosted by Vancouver Park Board and BC Professional Firefighter’s Burn Fund. It comprises lighted displays around the station and an amazing light display along the train tracks. Entrance to the station plaza is by donation, while the train requires a ticket purchase, which is highly recommended in advance.

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Capilano Suspension Bridge – Canyon Lights

canyon-lights-drone-dec-2015This was our 3rd venture out into a bitterly cold wintry night (-6C/21F), this Christmas Season, to view the Canyon Lights, at the Capilano Suspension Bridge, North Vancouver. We had intended to take my dad, grandson and daughter-in-law, but our grandson had a bad cold and fever, so Judi stayed at home with him. While we have visited the suspension bridge many times, normally when hosting friends/family from UK, this is our first visit to the Canyon Lights display, with this being the 11th season for the display of lights. It certainly won’t be the last.

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Enchant – Vancouver’s Christmas Light Maze & Market

enchant_poster_11x17_10xWelcome to our 2nd Christmas Light adventure; heading out on another uncharacteristically bitterly cold December evening, we visited Vancouver’s newest Christmas attraction – Enchant Christmas Light Maze and Market. Billed as the world’s largest Christmas Maze, it comprises 55,000 square feet of lighted sculptures, with a market featuring local vendors and a dozen food trucks. An interesting combination and even kid friendly.

The media hype has ensured that almost everyone in Greater Vancouver knows about the new attraction. Based on the media reports and the content of their website, we eagerly awaited our visit.

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Vancouver’s VanDusen Botanical Gardens Festival of Lights

vandusen-walkway-around-lakeWith our kids approaching their mid 30’s, it has been way too many years since we visited the plethora of Christmas light attractions, in and around Metro Vancouver. However, this year we have a number of reasons to get out the house and enjoy the light displays. My dad is visiting from Scotland, our daughter-in-law is spending her first Christmas in Canada and our grandson is almost 2 yrs old. All great reasons to play tourist in our own backyard.

Many have said Vancouver is a no fun city, but in our experience, we could not disagree more, as we thoroughly enjoyed most of the attractions.

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Hells Gate Airtram & Fish Ladders

Hells Gate upper station and tram enrouteYes, this post will focus on the amazing Hells Gate Airtram and fish ladder, but first a little background on the preparation and start of our 2016 adventures. The planning and organising is complete, summer is upon us and after an 18-month hiatus, Judi and I are back enjoying the RV lifestyle.

On completion of the dealer service, we towed the coach out to Camp Bridal near Chilliwack, where my dad joined us for 5 days of cleaning and testing all the systems that hadn’t been used in 18 months. Fortunately, everything is in good working condition. After 5 days, we returned home, taking my dad to the airport the following day, for his return flight to UK. The next morning, June 15th, we packed up the truck again, taking the 3rd full load of “stuff” out to the coach. An hour after arriving at the campground, everything was stowed, the coach was hitched to the truck and we were off to enjoy our 2016 RV’ing adventure.

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Road to Whistler, BC – Sea to Sky Hwy

A week after we returned from Hawaii my dad arrived from Scotland, coming over to spend time with us, but really to see his great-grandson. He will be back again in December to spend Christmas with us. Yes, 85 and still regularly flying around the world. During his visit, for a few days we wanted to play local tourist, something we have sadly omitted these last few years.

Where better than British Columbia’s world renowned skiing destination of Whistler/Blackcomb. We spent a fabulous 4 days at one of our timeshares in Whistler, but this post will focus on the journey up Hwy 99, which locally is known as the Sea to Sky Hwy.

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Royal Roads – Military College or University

Royal Roads Hatley Castle 23We recently spent four days at our Worldmark condo in Victoria, with good friends Richard & Karen. With no time constraints for the return, we decided to complete a circuitous route through the western suburbs, along the coast to Port Renfrew, then across the mountains and up to Duke Point Ferry Terminal. One of our stops was at Royal Roads in Colwood, which is currently a University, but in previous years hosted one of Canada’s Military Colleges.

For an additional challenge, I signed up for the Writing 201 Course at Blogging University and this week’s challenge is to find a different angle, while creating a post, or re-writing an existing one.

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