May You Live in Interesting Times! – COVID 19 and Travel – Part 2 – Surreal Visit to our Favourite Canadian City

We have been to Vancouver to visit the kids many times before, but this trip felt and was very different.

Once we landed at YVR and picked up our checked bag, we headed for the Skytrain to downtown Vancouver. Social distancing was already startubg to happen in Vancouver and we kept space between us and our fellow travelers. We also Purelled our hands frequently, after touching anything new. We were booked on the Via Rail train for our March 23 return trip, so at least we would not be going back through YVR airport. More on this later.

Disembarking at City Centre station, we walked 15 minutes to B & K’s apartment, stopping only for coffee supplies at 49th Parallel Roasters and at Tartine for a sour cherry pie. After all, we could not arrive empty handed. K and Benji greeted us warmly, but there were no hugs and no touching. This made us sad, but none us were taking any chances.

After dropping our bags, we headed out to walk Benji, while we awaited our son’s arrival home from work. Once we were all together, we tried to fall into a normal routine, but it all felt slightly out of step to our previous visits. Oh, we had a few laughs and at the beginning, we were still able to dine out in some of our favourite restaurants. We just chose our times and seats more carefully and the Purell bottle was always handy.

Nonetheless, we were determined to make the best of our situation, under these new circumstances and at least, we were there to make sure our kids were prepared for the coming storm. We came bearing hand sanitizer, wipes and masks, all of which were no longer available on store shelves in Vancouver. Our parental coaching as to how to deal with the situation, while not always well received was well meaning.

Over the next two weeks, we went for long walks on less crowded West End sidewalks and empty Stanley Park paths, did some off hour grocery shopping and cooking for the kids, took public transit and ate out less frequently and even then usually take-out, had game and TV nights. As Via Rail service updates came in, we began to wonder how or if we would get home.

Some observances of the situation while in Vancouver:

First, the good:

  • Residents were doing far less panic shopping in Vancouver than back home in Edmonton. There were lots of supplies including TP on the shelves.
  • Stores were a bit more crowded than we would have liked, but people were respectful of others’ space.
  • Social distancing was starting to occur on sidewalks and on the minimal public transit trains and buses we took.
  • In the building elevator, everyone kept their distance or waited for the next elevator, rather than crowding in.
  • In checkout lines, people kept their distance and customers were encouraged to use “tap” pay systems rather than cash.
  • Restaurants had notices posted to show the extra cleaning steps they were taking.
  • Coming back from an outing, one day, an innovative homeless person surrounded by pigeons, advertised that he still had plenty of pigeons for sale.

Now, the not so good:

  • Out walking one morning in the strong late winter early morning sunshine, a pedestrian ahead of us sneezed. We were horrified to see a 3 foot radius droplet cloud surrounding her. We moved to the sidewalk on the other side of the street.
  • Many people were still coughing into their hands and then continuing on as if nothing had happened.
  • People were still spitting on the sidewalks. On our last morning, a city worker did this right in front of us and another pedestrian went ballistic on him. Habits are hard to change, but this should never be a habit in any case.
  • Joggers were employing what I call the “farmer’s handkerchief” nose blow while still jogging. I mean no disrespect by the term, but, this habit has to stop.
  • Any cough, sneeze or sniffle on a bus or train caused an immediate shuffling of passengers from one seat to another.

Our kids managed to take a short break to Whistler while we were there, as we were happy to look after Benji. While they were away, the news came that our train home had been cancelled. Hmmmm. It did not thrill us that we might be 4 people and a dog trapped in one small apartment, if we had to self isolate. While the kids were sad we would be leaving sooner, we opted for an earlier departure on March 18. I booked a rental car for a one way drop and a hotel in Valemount for the night. Now, we just had to hope rental cars were not cancelled and province boundaries would not be closed to travel.

In the meantime, I will leave you with these photos of our trip. I promise more Vancouver posts in the future, not talking about COVID 19.

Cleaning notices on Paramount Fine Foods
The West End at cherry blossom time. Beauty in tough times
Science World along False Creek
Misty morning in the West End
Tatlow Trail in Stanley Park
Sunset on English Bay
English Bay – the tide is out
Lots of ships waiting for loading in English Bay
Benji at Lost Lagoon
Skyline gleaming at sunset
We were almost the only ones walking on the Lion’s Gate Bridge

18 thoughts on “May You Live in Interesting Times! – COVID 19 and Travel – Part 2 – Surreal Visit to our Favourite Canadian City

  1. Your pictures and the ones yesterday captured on the news show a different story. Hundreds, literally, out walking on the sea wall. Sitting in big groups, picnics, playing sports together. It made me sad, and very disappointed, that these people were so disrespectful of the health of our entire nation, no world. Sad times indeed. I hope the city I live near does not flock out on our +9 day that is coming but I won’t know as I will be at home. Staying away from all. Doing my part by doing just that. Sorry if it sounds like a rant but I just can’t believe people ☹️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yup. As we left, people were still going to work. Now that many of them are off work, I think they think that they can take time for recreation, without following social distancing rules. This, as well as the attitudes of spring breakers in Florida and the dog park users in Edmonton and elsewhere not only make me sad, they make me angry. This cavalier attitude may not infect or kill the young folk, but it may infect or kill their parents and grandparents. I thought our youth had more sense than we did, but when they say “Let us handle things our way.” I have great fear for the future. Expect a big jump in #s as the spring breakers come home. Do not be sorry for your rant. This is the new reality and we either succeed together or fail together. I vote for the first option. I just went shopping during Sobey’s Senior Hour. I never thought I would be happy to be over 65. Stay well Bernie and tell it like it is. Allan

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Remember what it was like to be a teenager and feel like nothing could harm you? I have one and it’s a constant struggle to remind her that it isn’t just about her and that her inconvenience at not being able to see her boyfriend or go to a friend’s birthday party is nothing in the face of people dying. She’s a good kid, and in the end she gets it, but she’s still going to sulk about being kept home.
    So I am not surprised by the apathy of the spring-breakers, but angry at the parents. Who is funding the party? Most of those kids are still in college and financially dependent on their parents.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed. Many adults do not get it either. Question is, why did Florida wait so long to close the beaches? We have towns in Alberta straight up telling people to stay away and turning them around when they get there. Being off work gives everyone more time to think about how to fill the time and many people are making bad choices. This is not a vacation. Maybe, all of us will be a bit more thoughtful when we come through this test. Stay well T. Allan

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This time last year I was planning my trip to Vancouver. I now feel incredibly blessed that I did get to visit before the world changed. And I loved it. Thanks for the great pictures and reminders of this lovely city.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m glad you had an opportunity to visit your family in Vancouver before the whole world is forced to go into lockdown! Many people are making bad choices in Ireland too, the beaches are overcrowded and so are the little towns. Many people are looking at the current situation as a vacation where they do as they please, which is shocking. Thanks for sharing Vancouver photos, I still think it’s the most beautiful city in the world. Stay safe 😊 Aiva

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Aiva. It was sad not to be able to hug our kids, but we have to take this seriously, so things will get batter. The problems of too many people on beaches happened in Vancouver over the weekend, also people flocked to the mountains in Alberta. I do not know how you get people to understand that over reacting will help things get better sooner. As to Vancouver, you are correct, it is a beautiful city and in time, I will get those posts out there. I just thought I should interrupt my winter posts with COVID posts. Will return to winter, then finish Ireland and then on to Vancouver. Stay well. Allan

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Surprised to hear that there was toilet paper on the shelves. It’s become a rarity here in Toronto. Glad you had the chance to check in on your kids and to bring them some essential supplies. Hope you’re all healthy and well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We were shocked as well, as it was already disappearing in Edmonton when before we left on March 5. We walked into several stores in Vancouver on March 6 and there was still plenty. Back home now, we still can not find any. All is well thanks. I hope you are also well. Thanks for reading and commenting. Allan

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Great post it is a beautiful city. My husband and I visited when we lived outside of Seattle. I love the colors. The photographs of the water your little doggie too. So adorable. Nice skiing where your children went. I have been skiing there as well. Sounds like everyone had a good trip. Love and blessings to you both. Love Joni

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. The beauty was still there, even under these trying times. Very colourful in spring with all the blossoms out. Our kids did not do any skiing and in fact the ski hill shut down due to COVID on the Sunday. It was a good trip, except for the fear factor and lack of hugs. Stay well Joni and thanks for reading and commenting. Allan

      Liked by 2 people

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