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Reports

Sunday, 23 February 2003
--> West End, Vancouver, Canada (day 4)

It is Sunday today and this last day in VancouverI took a bit of time for myself. Hostess Gail Edwin gave me all freedom for that, as she would go swimming with her brother and little children.
We had our breakfast fairly late and made it a spontaneous brunch, with chilli con carne with organic nachos! Very good! Around 1pm we heard a lot of people below, at the beach side. From upstairs we couldn’t see it al that well, because of the trees, but yesterday I was tipped by the lady at Global TV, that there would be a peace demonstration on the beach.

A NUDE peace demonstration to be exact! So there was a good reason for us to go down and take a peak. And of course, take some photographs. ;-)

The demonstrators had to be lucky with the weather, because some 45 of them were sun baking in the nude against a grass hill, while they all formed a peace sign. It was interesting how they attracted so many media, and of course that was what it all is about. However I can’t understand the meaning of ‘Bikes, Not Bombs’ yet.

When Gail went out swimming, I finished my weekly chronicles and decided to get on the road. I could borrow Gail’s sport bike and took it out in the winter sun.

I have already seen downtown Vancouver, walked through the West End, but one thing I had not seen yet and that was Stanley Park.

One of the world’s great urban spaces, Stanley Park is Vancouver’s green heart, helping lend the city its particular laid-back character. At nearly 1000 acres, it’s the largest urban park in North America. The ocean surrounds it on three sides, with a road and parallel cycleways/bladeways/pedestrian promenade following the sea wall all the way round the peninsula for a total of 10.5 km.

And that is the route I cycled today all the way. I dressed warm, but soon found out it wasn’t that flat everywhere and I really had to step on it hard a few times. I wish I had not worn my winter coat.

Because of the view of the city and across the water to North Vancouver and the three mountains in the back, this sweaty trip was worthwhile! The interior of the park is nearly impenetrable scrub and forest, with few paths and few people.

The peninsula was partially logged in the 1860s, when Vancouver was still a twinkle in the eye, but in 1886 the newly formed city council – showing typical Canadian foresight and an splendid sense of priorities – moved to make what had become a military reserve into a permanent park.

As a result its remaining first-growth forest of cedar, hemlock and Douglas fir, and the swamp now known as the Lost Lagoon, were saved for posterity in the name of Lord Stanley, Canada’s governor general from 1888 to 1893, who dedicated the park “to the use and enjoyment of people of all colours, creeds and customs for all time.”


For this sportive occasion I did not take my camera with me, so you have to ‘see’ Stanley Park on its websites.

When I got all around the park in about 1.5 hours (I had a few breaks to enjoy the views) the sun had gone down (excellent sunset behind the Gulf Islands!) and was on my way back to the apartment. The trip had done me well, I still have red cheeks when I write this report!

There, Gail and here brother, his wife and their three kids were just on their way to have ice cream and they waited for me to join them too. In their car I caught my breath again from all the cycling.

We drove to a very special ice factory, east of the city centre, just passed Chinatown. This is where the husband and wife team Vince and Giuseppina Misceo (from Italy of course) indeed run the most famous ice cream factory ‘La Casa Gelato’ of the Northwest. Even Americans drive all the way to get a few buckets of their favourite flavours.

And it’s the amount of flavours what the fuss is all about. There are some 198 flavours available in the back, but Vince says there are a total 300 tastes of gelato, sorbets and yogurt in the house. Only what’s in the store, changes every day.

So there I was, with Gail, her family and three kids, in ice cream paradise. Have you ever heard of the ice cream flavour curry, garlic, wild asparagus, or peanut butter? Mr. Vince even invents everything himself with all the natural ingredients. The story goes that nobody is allowed in the actual factory, only he and his wife, not even the scooping personnel.

Pre-tasting on a little spoon is for free, so of course I had to taste ‘spicy mango’. Boy! I thought my tongue was burning. I you think ice cools the tongue down again, don’t continue eating this stuff. You have to be very tough to handle this! I eventually ended up with real Canadian Coffee crisp and Amaretto ice in my scone.

Back home again, it was time to prepare for tomorrow. I will be hitchhiking on Highway 99 as I will be on my way to the northern small town Squamish.

Good night West End Vancouver!

Ramon.