I left beautiful Victoria early yesterday morning at 8 am and took the Pacific Coachlines bus/ferry combination back to the mainland. It was another gorgeous day and I spent the entire ferry ride on the top deck soaking in the scenery and the sunshine. At about 11:30 I exited at Broadway and Cambie as the bus driver had advised me and caught the 99B bus to the University of British Columbia campus and arrived about a half an hour later. First I found the student union building where I picked up a bus map and a campus guide. Then I asked my way to the student residence where I was staying and checked myself into a comfortable reasonably priced student room that is part of a 6-unit apartment at a very affordable C$38.00 a night.
After dumping my luggage and getting changed I had a few hours until check-in for the Servas conference and I decided to use the time by renting a bicycle at the local university bicycle co-op to explore the area on 2 wheels. I rented a mountainbike and started heading west to North West Marine Drive which is the road that is parallel to the coastline, but the view to the ocean is obscured by dense forest. In various areas trails and steps lead down to to Spanish Bay.
I then cycled eastwards and found a beautiful lookout spot from where I could see the mouth of the Burrard Inlet and the mountains of North Vancouver. The university grounds in this area have several mansions that are surrounded by gorgeous flowers and this is a just a superbly scenic area. From there I took NW Marine Drive down towards Spanish Banks and kept cycling eastwards past Locarno Beach and Jericho Beach which is a recreational paradise. The water level was quite low, however, and people had to walk out quite a while over the sand to reach deeper water. After a couple of hectic days I figured I deserved about an hour of downtime and bought myself an icecream which I savoured sitting at a bench while observing the action on the beach.
Of course after this little respite I had to cycle all the way back up, which ended up not being as bad as expected. The campus of the University of British Columbia (UBC) is a beautiful facility. It is very expansive with a large number of mordern buildings interspersed by green zones and parkland. UBC is home to about 45,000 students and it is the 3rd largest university in Canada. The UBC Campus is also the home of the world-renowned UBC Museum of Anthropology, the Nitobe Memorial Gardens, the UBC Botanical Garden as well as the Rose Garden & Chan Centre. The First Nations Longhouse serves as a gathering place for native students and features sculpted log poles and various pieces of First Nations art. UBC also houses the largest university bookstore in Canada as well as the Astronomical Observatory, located beside the UBC Geophysical Observatory which monitors earthquake activity.
My first outing on the bike gave me the lay of the land and a first glimpse at the Vancouver skyline which certainly has one of the most stunning locations of any large city I have ever seen. I am glad I had a bit of a chance to explore it before I return back to the student residence to get ready for the Servas Conference.