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About martincath

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    YVR & PDX
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    Travel, eating, eating while traveling;-)
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  1. Dunn's I wager - personally I'd suggest La Belle Patate on Davie, as it's not really much further to walk and the poutine is vastly superior to Dunn's. I've also never been a huge fan of Dunn's smoked meat to be honest, despite making a huge deal about their hand-carving it's just not as flavourful IMO as Lester's or Schwartz' back in Montreal. Smoked Meat really isn't a Vancouver specialty so if you've had it before in Quebec or even Toronto I wouldn't recommend it here, though if you've never had it so wouldn't know the difference you might like it just fine - if it's primarily the poutine you're after then LBP do actually serve a very authentic basic product as well as a plethora of variations, and when you fling smoked meat into gravy & cheese you don't pick up on the subtleties so much πŸ˜‰
  2. If I'm understanding your situation correctly there's nothing else that we can suggest on here for you to resolve matters. I think Flatbushflyer gave you the skinny about the system change on the duplicate question - i.e. that now instead of GOES you need a Login.gov account, but that only happened a couple of years ago so with GE cards having a 5 year duration you should not have needed it the previous time you applied/renewed which would have definitely been through GOES. Unless you had some other reason than GE to have acquired an account on login.gov the logical deduction is that your current attempts to sign up have gone awry - and it's definitely going to be DHS, who run login.gov, rather than CBP who you need help from. I reused the same email account that I used with GOES to register on login.gov just this year for my own NEXUS renewal, as did my wife for hers, and neither of us had any problem doing so - which means there isn't any problem reusing the email account listed on the old GOES system with the new one that could be falsely triggering a 'this email is already registered' flag. Even if you're being super-careful to follow the instructions now, odds are very high you did something wrong the first time around - and that's now biting you every time you try to do it right because you have a partial account set up. Unless you got the secondary login verification info - a code texted to your phone - first time around, then you definitely did not follow the instructions completely and once you have an email listed on the system as in process there's simply no way that a secure website is ever going to let you reuse it without manual intervention after verifying you are really you in some other manner. Actually I do have one other idea - set up a brand new email account with Gmail, Yahoo etc. and start again from scratch...? We're using free web-based email accounts for ours so there's certainly no issue with them, although I think if I were you I'd still want to tidy up the partial accounts for the entire family even if a new email does let you start over, even if just to ensure that come renewal reminder time you get an email sent to an account you actually check regularly!
  3. A cab certainly wouldn't cost an awful lot, but better value might be making use of local transit - the 19 bus goes right into the park and several others have a stop just outside it. As long as you have a device with WiFi, you can make use of the free citywide #VanWiFi network and easily orient yourself using mapping software (Google has had people walk and bike around with cameras for Streetviews of non-vehicular paths, and also fully-integrates our transit system so it's a good one-stop-shop for deciding if you want to walk a part of your route or hop on a bus instead). I concur with Milhouse that what you've mentioned certainly sounds quite feasible, but I'd be concerned that the foot combined with long walks precruise might be problematic, as you won't know if or when it might become troublesome. That makes me inclined to start with bus or cab into the park as you proposed so that from there everywhere else you go is city streets therefore easy to find cabs & buses if DHs foot starts to niggle. One option to consider - can you both ride bikes? That will take an awful lot of stress off DHs foot, speed your movement, and still allows you to go anywhere that you would on foot. You can sign up for MobiBike - the local bikeshare - for just a day (24 hours - so good next calendar day too) and then have unlimited hops of 30mins or less. Given how many of their bike racks are scattered around - including multiple inside Stanley park these days - it would be very feasible to cycle from rack to rack, walk around a bit, grab another bike and continue to lather, rinse, and repeat your way around town. They come with helmets - use them, it's the law even on dedicated bike paths. Not knowing exactly where you'll be at what time it's hard to push for any specific resto/pubs - but honestly the standard of food in even pretty mediocre chain pubs here is perfectly decent, with things like local salmon, halibut & chips and various Asian dishes the norm across the board. If you're not picky, you'll do fine in any random pub - but if you are on or around the Seawall come dinner time you may as well have a view while you eat! Tap & Barrel are steadily building a deathgrip in the local 'pubs on Seawall with a patio' niche, but fortunately they've also got the best pub grub menu around - despite their many and huge patios giving them a license to print money (even decidedly mediocre food sells if you have a view to go with it) they revamp the menu completely every 3 years so it always stays interesting. If you're feeling a little swankier, Cactus Club Cafe is a 'casual fine dining' chain that has branches at both Coal Harbour and English Bay with views - and no pricing bump compared to their other branches locally (there's another just up the street from your hotel for example).
  4. No worries - and if that transfer is with any mainstream cruiseline, cancelling it will likely net you a refund of $25-29 per person... Could be worse value than from the Wall though - I know of folks who paid to be transferred from the Pan Pacific Hotel, and the walk from there involves just going downstairs!!! πŸ˜‰
  5. ^As long as there aren't any stops, yes, you'll always Preclear... but if there is a stop in Victoria (or any other Canadian port) before you head to the US, no Preclearance. IIRC a 3 day cruise to LA won't have time to make any stops unless it's a really, really fast ship so they should all Preclear πŸ˜‰
  6. That someone is very sensible - unless you have non-stop flight options to YVR, going via SEA it's just as easy to fly to YYJ and then you avoid all the wasted time on ferries (or extra cost on floatplanes/choppers, which are not cheap at all these days). I always suggest folks do exactly this (or fly home from YYJ if they want to do Victoria after their cruise), as well as getting out of Victoria itself to some of the other parts of the Island (for which a rental car is basically a necessity, as transit sucks as soon as you get out of the Victoria area). The comments about busy ferries, and the small-but-still-present risk of a breakdown or even weather-based cancellation, are absolutely valid and definitely make 1 night in Vancouver precruise the sensible option too. They do run full around the holidays - and while foot passengers can pretty much always squeeze on to any ferry departure (it's folks with cars who have problems without a reso) if you were considering a one-way car rental and driving yourself over on the ferry then I would regard a reservation as absolute necessity around July 1st. The BCFConnector coach is likely just as cheap if there's only 2 of you - cars become cheaper when you pack them with bums on all seats though, as well as adding some flexibility. With 3 nights post-cruise in Vancouver you can fill your entire time downtown (or using provided shuttles to places like Grouse & Capilano) but depending exactly which of our many sites you want to visit, another one-day car rental might be advantageous to get you around the more suburban areas where parking is much more affordable and transit involves long trips with connections. Incidentally, the fireworks in Vancouver are actually better than those in Victoria on Canada Day - Victoria may be the seat of provincial government but it's tiny compared to Vancouver and has a ton of retirees who can't stay up late and complain about noiseπŸ˜‰ If you flipped your trip and did Vancouver pre- then Victoria post-cruise (and flew home from YYJ/Clippered back to Seattle) it would also be more efficient, as you'd eliminate the risk of missing your cruise by starting in Vancouver.
  7. With a midnight departure OP could stay in Butchart until kicking out time, wait an hour for a cab to arrive, and still make it back to the dock by the usual '30 mins predeparture' time so personally I'd find a DIY cab based trip to be extremely low risk if they port at 4pm. 4pm arrival is very tight for the 5pm CVS shuttle though, even if they queue up at the gangplank before anyone else there's still the minimum 10mins by cab/30mins walk to the Empress. The 7pm shuttle makes for just as short a visit as ship tours tend to be, so I would agree that shuttle is not the right approach on this visit. Car rental might also be viable if OP is willing to risk dropping keys in the slot without getting an inspection done on return - I think it's been a few years since I can recall any fake repair scams happening in Victoria πŸ˜‰
  8. Canadian debit cards are commonly taken (Interac is the name of our most popular debit payment network) but foreign debit cards will need to have Visa or MC processing capability so it depends on his bank. I can also promise that Credit Cards do exist even if he doesn't believe in them πŸ˜‰
  9. Clifton Hill is about the only street in the world that makes the Vegas strip look classy πŸ˜‰
  10. The ticket vending machines certainly do. As to 'tapping' - if your Debit card can use Visa or MC systems to be processed (pretty common - check your card for the logos) then it may well work for that too, but if it doesn't there will be a machine to buy the ticket very close by at any SkyTrain station.
  11. Rather than clog up Terry's thread with more and more ancillary info, I'll point you over to the most-relevant Vancouver board (West Coast Departures) for any further questions, where I'll be happy to go into any details you like (and some other locals and past visitors will also). But since I'm already posting I may as well answer this Q! All the major car rental companies have downtown offices so go with the best price on the day unless you have some loyalty status with a particular firm. Costco tends to offer the best prices across the board - if you're not a member, Kayak has excellent tools to compare multiple rental companies in the same city at once which saves a lot of time checking 4+ individual company websites!
  12. If it's not a late flight, yes - anything leaving YVR in the morning/early afternoon. Just like in Vancouver CBP at Toronto do not operate 24/7 shifts so they're done by about 9pm EST. Later flights will be effectively a Canadian domestic transfer then do US immigration on arrival at their first US airport.
  13. Maybe I'm unusual in preferring Winter to any other season at the Falls! But we usually visited in late Jan or Feb, when there was always some freezing, rather than December where statistically it's unlikely. Being the only people in sight, surrounded by trees literally encased in a coating of ice from the spray freezing over and over, huge columns of ice at each side of the falls, and sheets of floating ice occasionally crashing over the Falls was a mindblowingly beautiful experience and we returned almost every year we lived in Toronto to repeat it (it was never quite as good as the first time, but it was still good!) BUT - even with that strong preference in mind, 3 days is 2 days too many in winter!!! Whoever put this plan together has either done zero research, or has looked at only one thing - the relative cost of hotels in Niagara and Toronto. Any time we chose to overnight in winter we paid less for the hotel than we did for a good lunch, as the number of hotel rooms is based around summer peak visitor numbers and unless it's a big concert night even the casinos are running at low occupancy and a lot of small family hotels simply close down for big chunks of time. The cheesy crap that ruins the Canadian side is still open - casino, waxwork museum, Ripley's Believe it or Not and the like - but yes, all of the good stuff like Maid of the Mist are done, even the wineries around the region are hunkered down trying to keep their vines alive over winter. So while I'd encourage you to spend one night in Niagara and take the train to New York if train rides are a thing you enjoy (unlike the UK rail system, snow is something that Amtrak and VIA actually know exists and plan for and very rarely does it impact the train), I'd link this with a cruise in Feb myself... and I would strongly encourage booking this independently and staying 2-3 nights in Toronto then only heading down to Niagara for one night. Oh, and unless you're confident driving on icy roads a rental car may not be the best idea, despite the flexibility - stick to trains (VIA will get you to Niagara from Toronto).
  14. Agree with all the above - if you are cabbing to Butchart, play it safe and ask the same cabbie to come back for you if you have a good idea of when you want that to be; if not, then take note of the cab contact number and call one when you are just about done. If it's a really tight timeframe for getting back to the ship, you could even consider paying the cabbie to wait outside for you - that works out to a hair over $30 an hour (waiting rates, like transportation rates, are set by law so everyone charges the same) so with a cabful of folks ends up still being potentially as cheap as the CVS shuttles and almost certainly still cheaper than a ship tour. As to Uber etc., even if the legislation does go through in September that means it will be in the current proposed form - which means nobody who isn't already a licensed cab or limo driver can possibly work for Uber etc. This will make for a very slow launch compared to other jurisdictions where almost anyone with a license is a possible driver. Additional wrangling as to who can drive means additional debate on the law means further delays... and it's something that was already supposed to happen a couple of years ago but hasn't so I'll be surprised if it happens in Sep.
  15. Sorry to jump onto Terry's thread, but since you've asked some info that he can't provide this seems like the right place to supply that info for you! Depending on your tolerance for walking uphill, the best transit option varies from grabbing a cab at the nearest SkyTrain station, King Edward (the Canada Line to the airport runs under the hill); connecting to a bus at King Eddy and then walking less uphill from the closest bus stop on Cambie into the park or even less from Midlothian Ave on the other side; or if you're in good shape just walking from SkyTrain (in which case the next stop southbound, Oakridge, involves less of a hill than King Eddie and only an extra 2 mins on the train). Google Maps fully-integrates our transit options, walking, and bike paths, so it's much more efficient to use than the official Translink trip planner (which also uses less-accurate algorithms for walking between connecting services than Google does). Plug in your hotel, or whatever other tourist site you're planning before/after QEP, to this map (currently set for Canada Place on the current date), adjust the time/date to when you're planning for, and it'll auto-adjust to the relevant schedule frequencies. Coming back into downtown, a bus then SkyTrain means you have to buy two tickets - you can't transfer FROM buses to anything else with a bus ticket even though you can transfer from anything else TO a bus, so unless you have a Day Pass that lets you seamlessly connect between all transit modes you may want to walk downhill to King Eddie or Oakridge and board SkyTrain rather than waste $3 each riding a bus for a really short distance first. Personally though, I'd suggest renting a car for one day and combining QEP with MOA (and possibly also the Beatty, botanic garden, rose garden, Japanese garden and maybe even some other museums too which are also out at UBC - the rose garden is actually on top of the closest car park to MOA!) - parking is pretty cheap at QEP and UBC, and the sheer convenience of your own car for getting to both these places compared to buses (UBC has no SkyTrain) could easily save you a couple of hours on transit. Cabs from a downtown hotel to QEP to UBC and back to your downtown hotel would probably run about $100 total between meter and tips, so a day's car rental, a little gas, and a few hours parking will cost you much less (unless you pay for the extra CDW insurance etc. - get a credit card with that included if you ever rent cars abroad, it'll save you a ton!) While in downtown Vancouver a car adds more expense and hassle than it does convenience, Steveston (where most Vancouver whale-watches go from) is another 'car for the win' location - if you whale-watch from Granville Island with Wild Whales you don't have that concern, but the Gulf of Georgia Cannery museum in Steveston is also superb. If Grouse is your only North Shore plan then no car needed thanks to their 'free' shuttle, but if you were considering Capilano bridge too then I'd suggest a second day of car rental could also be worthwhile as you could then visit Lynn Canyon instead saving ~$90 right off the bat for 2 people compared to Cap (Lynn is a hassle to get to on transit, involving at least one change of bus and a bridge or Seabus trip so ballpark 1hr15mins each way from downtown, but is both free and more pleasant than Cap due to minimal tourists, an ecology station manned by park rangers, and far more spectacular white water in the canyon below the bridges - this and QEP are the 'not secret at all but still it's almost all locals and their guests who visit them' places I always take visitors to). There's also another angle when you're doing whale-watching and the floatplane to Victoria - do your whale-watch from there or on the way there. It's cheaper to do out of Victoria, and more companies do it - the whales are most often closer to Victoria than Vancouver or Steveston so it's more efficient for them, less fuel to find them. There's also the Prince of Whales 'fast boat from downtown Vancouver to Victoria or vice versa' service which combines en route whale-watching with transportation, and then you can fly back - if you did want to whale-watch in Vic this is the most efficient way to combine it in terms of timing, and given how pricey floatplanes are these days it's usually also cheaper than a floatplane ticket. ~$230 for the boat ride compared to ~$130 for a whale-watch and it's near impossible to find floatplanes under $100 each way these days. PoW also combine Butchart visits with their boat trips - Butchart has their own dock that you can bring a boat or floatplane into, instead of arriving at the front gate with the peons in buses πŸ˜‰
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