I picked up my ticket from the Greyhound ticket office just the previous night at the Pacific Central Station because I do not want to risk and be denied from boarding the bus that was scheduled to depart by 5:15AM for Whistler. I booked the ticket online, which is cheap, for only CAD13.65.
There were a few of stops along the way. In one of those it was queer for me to see the familiar name of "Quiapo" which reminded me of a popular bargain market in Manila with the same namesake.
The way to Whistler, BC was very smooth and scenic. I was a bit sleep along the way and I can't help but stay awake to witness the beautiful scenes enroute to the famous mountain and ski resort.
After 2.5 hours of road travel, the bus finally dropped us off right in front of the Whistler Vistor Centre, the jump off point for Whistler Blackcomb. I haven't planned any activity for that day because the website says there are a lot of things to do here so I just walked in, browsed a few tour offerings and brochures lying around and decided to just avail of the "1 Day PEAK 2 PEAK Alpine Experience" package that included the lift rides up and down the Whistler mountain and the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola ride from Whistler mountain to Blackomb mountain and back.
I went around the place and realized that it was still too early and that the place was almost empty. I see a few others jogging around or sitting in a cafe having breakfast.
I have been told that Whistler, BC, being a ski resort and because of its close proximity to Vancouver, BC, will be one of the venues of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. A few construction sites, like this one for the Winter Olympic Celebration Plaza is on full swing as of my visit.
There were also other Olympic venues around here and some of them were already done. In fact, there's a tour just for these but I opted not to take part because of limited time I got.
Around 10:00AM, the facilities started to open for public and as soon as they allowed us to queue in the line for the lift going up to Whistler mountain from Whistler Village, I readily jumped so I can get up as soon as I can.
Because it was still early, the queue was still short and I only had 5 minutes of waiting time. By the time I went down that afternoon, I saw that the line mazed out very long at the outside of the building. It was the last weekend for that summer (August 2) so it was still peak season and the extreme heat the past few days made everyone want to seek refuge and look for a cooler place.
A gondola can fit four people, but there were lots of cars available so they boarded only 2 people each.
I am afraid of heights so I rather get into a gondola than use the chair lifts going up. The ride going up Whistler mountain took around 10 minutes with the Village Gondola (there were two Gondolas serving Whistler, the other is Excalibur Gondola), with a stop halway through.
The last stop to the top is on the Roundhouse Station.
The view from the Roundhouse Station in Whistler mountain was spectacular and amazing! For someone like me from the tropics, such view of the alps with snow tops is always a welcoming treat!
A new attaction, the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola recently opened last December 2008. This gondola serves riders from Whistler to Blackcomb and back.
There are 28 gondolas and 2 of which are glass-bottomed (silver cars). I was lucky to arrive at the queue just in time when a glass-bottomed gondola is about to arrive so I didn't have to wait long.
The trip from Whistler to Blackcomb mountain took around 11 minutes non-stop over a 4.4km distance.
Welcome to Blackcomb
a mini "inukshuk" made by 2 kids in less than 5 minutes!
I took the Alpine Walk Trail in Blackcomb mountain. It was supposedly an hour's worth of walking trail but I took time to appreciate the place so I was there longer. The views from the trail and the surroundings are awesome and breathe-taking!
There were some animal sightings along the way. I'm not sure but I think this is a racoon or something. There were also birds, and good thing, I didn't have any bear-sightings! :)
A little more than halfway through, I started to grow tired because I have been carrying around a backpack for I'm going directly to the airport right after. I also have with me some food and refreshments I carried on from Vancouver so I can do some picnic-style snacks. Later on, I saw this sign that made me hopeful and rejuvinated.
Most of the time I was in the ski resort, I just sat down, relaxed and enjoyed the view and the surroundings, breathing fresh air and appreciating the beauty of the place. Later that afternoon, I took the gondola down to Whistler Village and somewhere in the middle, it suddenly stopped. I was alone in the car at that time so I felt a bit scared, but I took the chance to ease things up and take photos of myself instead
the gondola was stopped at this moment
Minutes later, the gondola started to move again so I was relieved. As soon as I reached the village, I looked for a comfortable place to eat, settled and had my late lunch that afternoon - beef burritos!
After having lunch, I went back to the bus station to board the Pacific Coach bu that will take me straight to Vancouver International Airport. It's a bit pricey for CAD51.45 but it is very convenient.
the bus, during one of its quick stops
en-route to Vancouver
We had a brief stop for comfort break in Squamish, British Columbia. I stopped to look around for interesting pictures to take. For the whole day, I've been clicking my camera non-stop!
The route by itself going back to Vancouver is scenic. We passed by bays, mountains, rocks and even waterfalls along the way!
As we got near Vancouver, a number of signs for the 2010 Winter Olympics can be seen. Clearly, the city is getting ready for the big event!
And then we finally reached Vancouver International Airport..
This was a backpacking trip so I packed light and preferred not to check-in anything because I will be charged USD15 for a single bag. However, I had a few miniature toiletries that I want to bring along so I scouted the stores in the terminal for a TSA-friendly resealable zipper bag. A few interesting artworks are scattered and here are some just to name a few:
The Spirit of Haida Gwaii, The Jade Canoe,
Other totems and sculptures
The plane bound to Seattle-Tacoma was late for an hour and had a few problems like airconditioning. As soon as I arrived in the airport, I took the public transportation (bus route 174) to Seattle, WA which had lots of stops. I had to go down to University Street station then transferred to another bus because I am bound for Redmond, WA. I was amazed however that the buses used the same lanes as the light rail trains do. As always, I planned my trip itinerary via the dependable and efficient website of King County Metro Transit.
This was the bus with a route number of 174 from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. I didn't realize it is dual-powered and is ran by electricity when inside the tunnel via the wire overhead.
a Sound Transit commuter light rail train