How Do We Get Out of Here? - Grampies Go Valencia to Paris: Spring 2024 - CycleBlaze

February 5, 2024

How Do We Get Out of Here?

Sometimes when we look to book airflights, there is something reasonable that leaves from the Victoria airport. More often the only affordable choices are out of Vancouver. To get to Vancouver it's a matter of taking the ferry, followed by a bus and then the "Skytrain" to the airport. The Victoria airport, and the ferry terminal are close to each other, so getting to one is similar to getting to the other.

If we ask Google Maps how to get to the airport or the ferry, we quickly discover that despite our location on a developed corridor of the island that contains the provincial capital, public transit is all but non existent. 

Feigning innocence, I just asked Google Maps to get me to the ferry. The reply was that if I want to walk for 31 minutes, starting in a couple of hours, I can reach a bus that will begin the process. About twelve hours later I will be at the ferry terminal, for the approximately three hour process of taking the ferry, bus, and train to arrive at Vancouver airport. I will be there in time for many afternoon flights toward Europe.  The Google routing wants me to take a ferry across to Saanich, where the main ferry terminal is. The cause of the delay is that the ferry does not run at night. As far as I can make out, Google wants me to sleep on the bench by the ferry.

Twelve hours before the pre-trip can sort of start?
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Sue Price🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣
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2 months ago

Ok, I'll be more reasonable, and start my travels in the morning. Google now wants only three hours to get me to the ferry. But I'll get there either almost tomorrow night, or at best by noon. That wipes out getting on any flights to Europe tomorrow. So I guess I'm sleeping at an expensive airport hotel, and leaving the next day?

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You don't have to follow the intricacies of this (non) transit system to see that public transit is really not an option here. Taxi? Yes, but well over $200, and even the taxi has limited times when it will do this trip. 

That, of course, leaves us with the classic lift from a friend. We have been lucky with our friends, who are always willing to help out. But with the amount of back and forthing we seem to want to do, we are getting increasingly shy about asking them.

That's where a tip from the Price's could be a real game changer. Remember that ferry we saw at the Victoria inner harbour? We had never heard of it, but it runs a passenger service from downtown Nanaimo to downtown Vancouver. The ferry is one of a pair of aluminum catamaran fast ferries, operating under the name "Hullo". They were built in Vietnam to a Dutch design. 

The Hullo ferries
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Karen PoretYour “Hullo” is also your “Goodbye” transport..Safe travels you two!
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2 months ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesThanks Karen. To bed now, and tomorrow is the off.
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2 months ago
Sue PriceJust saw an article that Hullo are now allowing you to reserve a spot for larger luggage such as your Bike Friday cases!
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2 months ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Sue PriceGood to know. We will keep it in mind for our next Mexican adventure.
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2 months ago

Seeing these ferries here is strange, because 20 or so years ago, three aluminum catamaran fast ferries, called the FastCats, brought down the government of the day. The idea then was to foster local aluminum production, aluminum fabrication, shipbuilding, and ferry transit, by building these things locally. The projected $200 million cost eventually ballooned to $400 million, and then the ferries had frequent mechanical failures. They are currently docked in Egypt, and looking for bids on $15 million. But hey, if fast ferries are back, we could hop on board.

What the Price's figured was that we could drive our van to Nanaimo, leave it at their place, and take the Hullo to Vancouver downtown. The dock is at Canada Place, where there is a Skytrain station. So just like that, we could be at the airport. Unless these Hullo things also end up for sale in Egypt, we could be quickly out of here and again on our way to Europe at the end of the summer.

Bonus:  Schwalbe Marathon Plus

I watched a video recently from some world travelling cyclists on the subject of tires. They affirmed that the Schalbe Marathon Plus, or the Tour, is the best touring tire - with long life and with puncture resistance. But they felt that after about 6,000 km the puncture resistance drops a lot. We have not found a problem with punctures on ours, but after 10-15,000 km, we got to thinking we should change them anyway. 

We put an order in with a Canadian company we had not heard of before, called FortNine, for $Can 65 each, including shipping.  This was just over a week ago, and they landed here today! I had been worried that if the wrong thing came while we were away, we would be beyond the return period by the time we got back from Paris. But here they are, and they are perfect. The photo below will mean little to most readers, but for those with Bike Fridays or other 20" arrangements - like on trikes - I bet this will quicken the pulse a little. Even in Germany, if you really need one of these it can be a struggle. But here are four of them. Hang on, while I check my pulse!

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Andrea BrownUgh, my nemesis.
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2 months ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Andrea BrownBecause they are hard to get on and off when changing a flat? These are 1.75 which is fine, but at some point we had 1.5's which were a serious struggle. Fortunately we seem to not get too many flats and have good tire irons (metal, not plastic) so even when a flat occurs it is just a pain, not a total disaster.
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2 months ago
Andrea BrownTo Steve Miller/GrampiesHonestly we’ve never had a flat with one. We had a tube fail at a seam once, that’s it. But when they’re new, it’s a two person job to wrestle them on.
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2 months ago

With everything packed and us only leaving tomorrow, we looked around for a nice chore. It turned out there really was  a goodly amount of garbage stored up, so a trip to the dump could be a good idea. Of course, we also liked the idea because it was less foggy, improving the eagle watching possibilities.

At the dump, while I dragged out the garbage bags, Dodie went off with the camera in search of eagles. This was literally as easy as falling off a log, because the dump continues to boast hundreds of them. A fellow nearby commented that coming from Ontario, he had not realized that the dump here could be such an exciting place. By rights, those eagles should be on a salmon stream, and no doubt they will be, but that is in the Fall.

They really are magnificent birds!
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The juvenile eagles always seem tolook raggedy. Here is one hanging out with some ravens.
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Ravens and crows are not the only black birds at the dump. Here are a male and female Brewer's Blackbird.
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There is no shortage of Brewer's Blackbirds!
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There are of course many gulls as well. It seems to us that there are several species, but we will leave sorting that out for another time.
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Ravens can be very big.
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Although these are clearly juveniles, it does not mean they are babies. It can take five years for them to have white heads.
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This could be a family photo - Mama and Papa, kids and an uncle?
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