Vancouver to Saltspring Island - A Grand 3 Month European Tour on an E-Tandem - CycleBlaze

July 14, 2018

Vancouver to Saltspring Island

A funny thing happened a week before we flew home. We were notified by Booking.com that our accommodation at the airport had closed down. We had booked a room at a very inexpensive guesthouse in March and were so pleased at our savings. Richmond is full of megahomes that have been opened as guesthouses and are run by Asian owners. It seemed like a good idea, but we have learned not to go this route again. Our quandary is that in the summer, the prices for a hotel room triples and we have to get a room as we will arrive too late to get a ferry home. Luckily, the normally very expensive Fairmont at the airport is out of reach for us, but we benefitted from a time limited special - a sharp reduction in the cost plus a 20% discount for BC residents. What a relief. We paid less for this luxurious, super quiet hotel than for the other hotels in the area. 

Can't wait to check in, have a bath and tumble in to bed. Home sweet home at the airport.
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From the overhead walkway to the hotel, you are literally above the check in area for international flights..
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Jet lagged but rested from a good sleep - we are off to find the bus which will take us to the Tsawassen ferry terminal.
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The magnificent and iconic First Nations jade sculpture is always a welcome sight at the airport in Vancouver.
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Pacific Coast Lines offers excellent service from the airport to the ferry terminal. They will deliver our bags to the van for the ferry and we can walk on the ferry unencumbered.
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This view of the magnificent Mt Baker tells us that we are home.
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We are at Tsawassen ferry terminal with the Coast mountains in the background. We do prefer to travel slowly - whether by bike or on the water. It seems to suit us better.
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We are on the slow route to Salt Spring Island, stopping at the other Southern Gulf Islands of Galiano, Mayne and Pender. We'll find a quiet place to curl up and read or sleep, whichever comes first.
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Couldn't resist another view of Mt. Baker.
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We are coming home to hot, sunny weather. What a beautiful day to be on the water.
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This photo is for the Reitz family - as we explained, the Queen's photo is displayed in most official buildings and on the ferries. As a member of the Commonwealth, she is our Queen, the "Queen of Canada".
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We are almost home - we have entered Long Harbour of Saltspring Island which is where the ferry dock is located.
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Long Harbour ferry terminal, Saltspring Island
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I think I can see Kurt waiting for us at the dock.
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....and there he is - a welcome sight.
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Our ferry run from the Islands to Tsawassen is a new vessel, the Salish Raven, and it was built in Gdansk Poland.
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Home at last - our good friends picked us up. Holly, Nina the dog and Kurt have kindly picked us up.
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Steve Miller/GrampiesI much enjoyed this homecoming tale, which parallels what we have done so many times. Homecoming begins a golden period, the few weeks between absorbing the luxuries of home and the onset of wanting to get going again!
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5 years ago
Charmaine RuppoltGreat reading your journal entries of your LONG trip! Very interesting and I see some places I'd like to go to as well that you visited. :)
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7 months ago
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Wendy BeaudoinWe have just finished our cycling tour in Europe, doing the Munich to Venice route, as well as Slovenia and Croatia. We loved every minute of it, but are now thinking about what to do next year. We are considering staying in our own country for a change, and doing some of the Route Verte trails in Quebec. I discovered your blog from 2010, so I was wondering if you might be able to make some comparisons between cycling in Europe and in Quebec. Is the infrastructure in Quebec as good, in terms of separate bike paths and quiet roads? How about places to stay and restaurants when you get out of the bigger cities? I notice that you are camping while we would be hotelling it, but any information you could give would be appreciated. Thanks.
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5 years ago
Barry BartlettTo Wendy BeaudoinHi Wendy,
Our trip to Quebec motivated us to travel in Europe with our bike.
We met many cyclists from France that summer and we realized the potential of travelling in both places. Quebec has a European flavour in the cities mixed in with rural Fresh Canadian appeal in the countryside.
We really enjoyed the city of Montreal and were so surprised and pleased to find the infrastructure for cyclists well established. Quebec has been so far ahead in its vision for cycling and we can only imagine that it has improved in the past 8 years as well. Coming from British Columbia, we were blown away by the abundance of dedicated cycling paths which made us feel safe and welcome.
We rode dedicated cycling paths in the Eastern Townships, Petit Train d'Nord to Mont Tremblant and Lac St Jean in the north. A highlight for us was riding the old road "Chemin du Roi" along the St Lawrence from Montreal to Quebec City. As it is now a secondary road, we found the traffic good and respectful - no problems.
Lots of B&B's, motels etc are available. We did both camping and hotels, and found the infrastructure to be good, mostly with cyclists in mind. There is a cyclist approved system of rating hotels that you can get info on as well.
Highly recommend corresponding with the Route Verte organization as they can send you great resources. As well, we visited their head office in Montreal which is a great place to go - excellent (Bikeline type) maps, etc, advice, accommodation info, etc.
One note about Lac St Jean - "Blueberry Route" is that it was mostly cycle paths with some road riding, but what we found was that it doesn't predominately follow the lake. Nonetheless we enjoyed it.
Ironically, we have just been discussing figuring out a time to go back to Quebec. We are thinking of riding in Quebec and then carrying on to the Maritime provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and PEI.
Hope this helps. Feel free to correspond if you want to talk further. You have spurred me to dig out my maps etc and look at the area again.
Regards
Mary Ellen and Barry
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5 years ago
Wendy BeaudoinTo Barry BartlettThank you so much for your very informative message. It sounds like Quebec will definitely be our cycling destination next year. We have the Cycling Guide for the Route Verte and are busy comparing the routes to the ones that you took. We’ll definitely include the Chemin du Roi since you mentioned it was a highlight.

As you said, it is always such a pleasure to ride on designated cycle paths and quiet roads. We are sort of neighbours—we live in Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island—and we certainly wouldn’t consider our area to be cycle-friendly!

I may have more questions as we get further into our planning. I’m too lazy to write a blog, but I certainly appreciate the information we have gathered from those who do. For example, we’ll be looking for those chocolate blueberries!

Thanks again,
Wendy
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5 years ago