It’s December 23 and we’re leaving Seattle to go visit the Gray’s in Vancouver.

Dec 23, 24 & 25

We get up really early. Really, really early. As in “good night” early. Not even the streets are there yet. It’s 3am and we’re heading to the airport to leave the car and back to Seattle’s beautiful, XXth century King Street train station. Designed by the firm Reed and Stem, who acted as associate architects for the design of Grand Central Terminal in New York City, the station was part of a larger project that moved the mainline away from the waterfront and into a 5,245 foot (1,590 m) tunnel under downtown — and after going through restoration in the past few years, it looks truly amazing.

It’s not until we reach the man in the counter that we’re told about our European fail. I mean, americans will mistake kilometres and kilograms, but we failed with the… wait for it… 12 hour clock! Our train was actually booked for 6pm, and that is obviously 18:00, not 06:00. All I have to say is: don’t leave to others what you could have done yourself, so no whining — just change the ticket and we’ll wait for the next train. No business seats now, though.

Once in Vancouver Jim and Jane Gray warmly welcomed us and we headed for lunch at Bridges, in Granville Island. A bicycle ride around Stanley Park and a surprise evening were next in turn.

Christina and Jon have paintings hanging here. Isn’t that cool?

In the evening, Jane took us to the Festival of Lights at VanDusen Botanical Garden. 1.4 million twinkling lights decorate the garden during the winter holidays. A magical place indeed.

On December 24 we visited the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia and learnt a bit about traditional First Nations and contemporary Northwest Coast cultures, but had to wrap up quickly to pick the ferry to Bowen Island.

Bowen Island is an island municipality, part of the Greater Vancouver Regional District. There is regular ferry service from Horseshoe Bay, as well as three water taxi services. The population of 3,402 is supplemented in the summer by roughly 1,500 visitors. About 500 workers and over 200 students commute to offices and schools on the mainland each day. The indigenous people of this land are known as Squamish (or Sḵwxwú7mesh in their language).

The island remained a wilderness until 1871 when homesteaders built houses and started a brickworks, which supplied bricks to the expanding city of Vancouver. Over the years, local industry has included an explosives factory, logging, mining, and milling, although there is no heavy industry on the island at present.

Although no bears can be seen in Bowen Island —specially not in winter— the views from the terrace were so stunning that you could stay forever gazing at the horizon, Cypress Mountain ski area, right, and the Pacific Ocean’s sunset to your front. And yes, I say ‘although’ because it would’ve been just perfect to snap a picture of a bear, but Jim still claims to have seen whales.

Staying in Christina’s and Jon’s bunky was sensational. They both designed, planned and constructed the detached visitor’s house with so much care for detail that I could have spent the entire stay just taking pictures of it. All rooms are open. In every sense: inwards and outwards. The whole space is framed with full sized windows and french doors and no curtains whatsoever. I just loved how the very same moss from the rocks outside made up for the walls of the cute apartment.

And finally Christmas Day came and we celebrated together with Jim’s family Canadian style — I guess — crackers, chimney, eggnog and all. First time in many years I got to hear my childhood carols!

NEXT STOP: LOS ANGELES for X-mas night!


Photographs are mine. Panoramic views are vierito’s

Author: Bea Cabrera

Freelance Filmmaker with a passion for big cities, snowboard, cinema and a weakness for the smell of freshly ground coffee. Engineer & Graphic Designer in a previous life, loving and living both: art and technology.  

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