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Canadian Rockies Adventure - Day One

Westin Grand Vancouver Day One - Vancouver
433 Robson St Day Two - Kamloops
Vancouver, BC, Canada Day Three - Jasper
604-602-1999 Day Four - Jasper
Day Five - Lake Louise
Westin Grand Home Page Day Six - Banff
Day Seven - Calgary

Saturday, June 24, 2000

We truly "did it up" for this trip. We have so many destinations we hope to travel to, and we didn’t know if we’d ever get the chance to "do" the Canadian Rockies again, so we decided to "kick it up a notch" (a nod to Emeril) for the entire trip. We left Philadelphia early Saturday morning, and flew First Class. Had to make a stop in Chicago and change planes to our final destination of Vancouver, British Columbia. Total flight time was slightly over 6 hours. Because Lori travels a bit for work, she has learned to appreciate First Class (blame Keith for introducing her to it). To differentiate vacation from business, we make every attempt to upgrade flights whenever we are on leisure time. First Class is especially appreciated on flights of this length. We really enjoy First Class in the morning...breakfast always seems to be the best meal the airlines serve, and drinking champagne with it sure doesn’t hurt.

We arrived in Vancouver in late morning. It was the first time in Vancouver for Lori (2nd for Keith). Vancouver’s airport is beautiful and clean, with plenty of space. As we moved towards customs, we noted that Vancouver took the time to actually provide an elevated walk with soothing flowing water and exhibits of early natives of the area.

Customs was quick and painless, and we grabbed our luggage. Lori changed some American money for Canadian (the exchange rate was a very favorable $1.44 CAD for every $1.00 USD). and found a taxi immediately. Keith asked the taxi driver how much to the Westin Grande, and he said, "about $25." We were immediately impressed by the cleanliness of the taxi. Sure enough, about 20 minutes later, we were deposited in front of the Westin Grande for just under $25 (plus a tip). We arrived at the front desk, not sure if we could check in so early (around 1:30 p.m.). We were about to get our first dose of Western Canada hospitality. The woman at Registration beamed at us, welcomed us to Vancouver, checked the availability of our room, proclaimed, "Excellent," and smilingly sent us off to our suite, along with some basic instructions regarding the hotel.

Our suite at the Westin was beautiful. The hotel was only a year old, very high and narrow, with only about a handful of suites and rooms on each floor. We had a living room complete with a beautiful wood entertainment center that took up one complete wall. It opened to reveal a black wet bar and stocked mini-refrigerator. There was also a large TV with a wireless keyboard whereby the guest could access the Internet (for around $12.95 per day). There was even a fax machine. The bedroom was comfortable and included a queen-size bed with down comforter. The bathroom was beautiful, with a black tile heated tile floor (Keith discovered that).

As soon as our bags were delivered, we changed into our bathing suits and went to the outdoor pool and spa, located on a terrace on the 3rd level. There was an employee manning a small bar, where Keith ordered Granville Island Pale Ale (a local microbrew) and Lori had some local dry Riesling. It was a beautiful day with low humidity. (We are from the Philadelphia area, probably one of the humidity capitols of the western hemisphere, so we are amazed by low humidity.)
Later in the day, we sought the expertise of the concierge for dinner. The hotel had what looked like a nice restaurant, but we wanted a little local flavor. The concierge recommended Cin Cin, about 6 blocks down Robson Street. We took our time strolling down the street, and found the restaurant around 5 p.m. It was located on the 2nd floor, with a nice view of the street. We had a table out on the terrace, where we could peoplewatch to our hearts’ content. We ordered a cheese appetizer and grazed. The food was wonderfully prepared, and the service was excellent. Keith was happy when he could end his meal with some nice grappa. The food was Italian, but with more of a nouveau, west coast influence. We walked slowly back down Robson Street, and stopped into some stores. We were surprised at how long the sun stayed up, now that we were further north, and close to the summer solstice. We ended up at a bar on the first floor of the hotel (but not connected to the hotel) called Voda. It had a most interesting interior, with rock contained under wire fencing and water flowing down the wall behind the bar. We had a drink or two, then returned to the lobby bar of the hotel. We had one more drink in the lobby, and marveled that it did not start to get dark until after 10 p.m.

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