O Canada! O US of A!

The Good Friday holiday meant a long weekend. I too a couple of days off work and we headed out to the west coast to visit Chandrika and Satish and their two beautiful children. We knew the flight would be long, cross country trips are not cheap, so we decided we will take an additional stop and save some bucks!

All that would go wrong went wrong. After a delayed flight at Philly and a missed flight at Atlanta, luckily we slept at a hotel – courtesy Delta. We arrived at Seattle 8 hours later than we should have, meaning we lost 1/2 a day of time there. The Boeing mueseum was very interesting, higlighted by the Concorde and JFK’s Air Force One. The Seattle Space needle was like any other high rise tower and their decks. The evening time was nice though from the top. The dinner at Chutney’s in downtown Seattle was excellent and the fare was just $$. We spent more time and money on parking in downtown.

We headed out to Vancouver next morning. The two hour trip was marked by me entering the Nexus lane, not knowing what is a Nexus lane – just followed the car. The Immigration woman officer was pretty rude, making me wonder if she treats all visitors the same way, putting them off.

The lunch at Planet Vegetarian was one of the best in recent times – very healthy and unique. Finding parking was a challenge in downtown Vancouver, sight a slick Ferrari and an Aston Martin.

The Stanley park was picturesque. The one hour carriage ride was pretty cool – I mean the weather was colder and breezy, luckily we had thick blankets provided by Reno’s and Clipper’s master. The horses were nearly seven feet tall, and Clipper was just back from a vacation and was trying to trot all along. The carriage-woman said the horses do about 4 trips a day and work for about seven months in a year. Rest of the time they go on vacation to some farm. I wised I was a horse.

The Rennaisanse in downtwon Vancouver was grand, though construction was no exception here too. The view from the room was awesome, the reception and the people near were very French. Vikas had a ball at the hotel. We stepped out to the harbour behind. This is one place I loved – the water, the sidewalks, the pavement, the boats, the snow-capped mountains on the other side. The evening was developing and the kayakers were practising; amidst the stark silence of downtown and the water-side, I could hear the faint orders and the oars flapping.

We found Naam – a vegetarian restaurant that was Mediterranean, Indian fusion. We had to stand in line, extending to outside the door for about 1/2 hour to get in. The owners didn’t have a system where we could leave our names. The wait was well worth it. I had a Strawberry-lassi and Buddha’s delight? The food was excellent though too many – a little inspiration from south of the border, I guess.

The walk in downtown Vancouver was very enjoyable at night time. Lots of people, truly Vancouver was a cosmopolitan city with a lot of young population on the streets – I thought mostly student population. After quite some waling, we retired into the room.

Next day we thought we will take the plane ride or the ferry ride, but ran out of time. We started heading down south to Portland, thinking we will stop at the Glass Factory near Tacoma or Mt. St. Helens, but we were in for a long wait at the US border.
The display said a 2 hour delay, we ended up waiting more than 4 hours before we got clearance. It was a frustrating way to start the holidays for many. Here is a tip or trick as you might see it – Next time there is a wait at Peace Point for US crossing, remember to drive straight to the duty free shop (on the right lanes or shoulder!) – from there you can get back into the lane.

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