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martincath

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About martincath

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    YVR & PDX
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    Travel, eating, eating while traveling;-)
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    NCL
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Alaska

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  1. Sort of - the Punjabi Market, while arguably as much Pakistani as it is Indian, should hit the spot. Most of the 'Indian' restos though are closer to or in downtown, just like all other genres, as folks from the 'burbs don't live at high enough density to support more than a handful of places. The ones in the market are generally better-priced than downtown, and you'll find more local-locals and way fewer tourists than in, say, Vij's (which consistently wins all the awards going for local Indian food, despite being an unabashedly inauthentic experience - French-Indian fusion would be a more accurate description). Personally though I'd be heading to Broadway or out Kingsway rather than down Main Street for most other Indian foods - there's no other Indian 'hood, but you have a smattering of really tasty options scattered around some of the foodier blocks, like House of Dosas at the edge of the Fraserhood (our most Vietnamese area, but a good mix of all sorts of grub) and some interesting 'historic fusion' options, where Indians settled long ago and modified their cooking/influenced local cuisine (there are several Malaysian and a few South African restos for example - unfortunately good British style curry is nonexistent!). If it's a more general 'spicy saucy food to dunk bread in' that's wanted, I'd suggest Ethiopian might work as well too (and of course West 'Indian' food checks off many of the same boxes too - we don't have a deep scene, but we do have a couple of decent restos). TL;DR - Punjabi Market is the only 'Indian' neighbourhood and is the best bet for shopping, but depending what your rellie wants to eat it may not be the best place to eat, so lemme know if they have any specific desires. Edit - especially if it's clothing rather than food or knick-knacks they want to buy, Surrey is actually a better bet these days. Newton is becoming the 'new little India' of the region, just like Richmond is way more Chinese the the old downtown Chinatown. There are a couple of malls/shopping areas that might be very relevant, e.g. around the Scott Road SkyTrain station.
  2. That's definitely the combo of WestCoast HOHO (LandSea has just 15 stops, so it's easy to spot which is which), a SkyTrain ticket, and a CDS luggage transfer. In total those cost about (all CAD) $60pp, $3pp, and the luggage is a fixed $40 for up to 4 bags - so US$120 or less is a fair price for two folks but if you're solo that fixed price luggage service bumps the price up. Still, if they're charging the $99-129pp that I've seen it go for in the past though, you're being totes scammed even as a solo!
  3. Don't show up 3 hours early at YVR, unless you're coming from a cruise ship on a day with 3+ of them in port. Especially don't show up that early for flights at that time of day!!! The key factor most folks don't know about Canadian Preclearance airports is that CBP do not work all day - they only have two shifts, starting at 4:30am and ending at 8:30pm. The first 10mins or so is a meeting, so nobody gets processed either. Lack of knowledge about this, combined with the very-commonly-known advice to be 3 hours early for international flights leads to a huge lineup of frustrated people in the wee small hours who have flights at 6, 7, even 8am (because some folks like to be four hours early 'just in case'). It takes a while for CBP to clear that backlog of folks once they do start working - which is why personally we show up on the first SkyTrain of the day for a 7am flight. This rolls in at 5:09am, so by the time you walk across into the terminal and drop your bags, get through Security and hit CBP it's more like 5:30am (we have NEXUS these days, so Security is always quick). OP, if you don't have Global Entry or NEXUS I'd suggest rounding back your arrival time to 5am (Edit - since you are cabbing, if you get your hotel to arrange one for you ask it to be there by 4:30am as there's no traffic at that time of day). You'll take a little longer than we do to get security-screened, and since you won't be familiar with YVR it'll take you a little bit longer walking around as you'll have to look for signs, but I'd still ballpark you being through Security and lining up at CBP within not much more than 30mins of arriving. The initial backlog will now be gone, peak passenger load won't be for hours, so you'll most likely be through CBP in under 15mins even if you haven't used the kiosks before and have to read all the screens carefully. By 6am you will probably be queuing up for your last Timmies.
  4. I'd agree that SkyTrain is usually the fastest method to cover the distance and it's definitely the most consistent - no traffic at all and completely automated so the 26 min journey almost always takes exactly 26mins. But you may have to wait for the next train (frequency usually ~7mins in the mornings) on top of the short walk so there is some variability; since commuter traffic doesn't clash much with a ride to YVR as they're going the other way, if you see the wait for cabs is minimal it will be generally faster end-to-end to jump into two cabs. The biggest issue with cabs is the bottleneck getting into Canada Place - so the queues can easily exceed an hour once a lot of folks are off the ship - rather than the travel time (Edit - and since you actually gave your date, on a Sunday you have no commuters and minimal traffic so a cab will beat SkyTrain almost every time IF you don't have to wait in a long queue...) Given you mention having fogeys though, your issue is going to be with self-disembarkation - but if you can spread bags around your group so that all your bags can be handled, then you can be among the first folks off, will avoid the hordes at baggage claim, and remove any risk of your bags being mislaid or taken by someone else in error. If you plan to use SkyTrain then you MUST be able to self-disembark (if you can't roll all your own bags from cabin to curb, you can't roll them from baggage claim to SkyTrain either and there aren't any porters to get you to the train from the pier...) so that should be your plan. Regardless of cab or SkyTrain though, you want to be as early as possible getting off to give yourselves some padding just in case. Take the first available disembarkation slot - stack the odds in your favour on the off-chance that there is some uncontrollable annoyance on your date like someone in your party winning the 'random extra search' lottery at the airport 😉
  5. Unless they have so much luggage they're physically incapable of moving it by themselves they'll be fine. The Canada Line uses different rolling stock precisely because it was designed from the ground up as an airport service - fewer seats per carriage, massive legroom, and space under every seat for a large bag. Since one terminus is ~300 metres from the pier and the other is at the airport, there's also no risk of not getting a seat whichever direction you're traveling in. I'm 6'1", 250lbs, and can fit myself, a 28" roller and a carry-on or backpack into my seat without impinging on others and my knees aren't even close to touching the seat ahead of me. I agree that there are ports where cruise transfers make sense - though I've yet to find anywhere that two people can't save money by taking cab/uber/private shuttle compared to cruise buses. But in Vancouver, with the airport and pier so close and with excellent transit connections it's always a ripoff, we're just talking about what degree you're being ripped off. Even solo travelers get screwed by cruise transfers - you can take a local shuttle for $18 or less into town from airport hotels, and even heading to YVR (which charges hefty fees to transport companies for access) it's $23 or less including booking fee, with discounts for seniors/kids too (and another ~25% off for Americans). That's 'have a beer at the airport' level savings even for one person 😉 For folks in couples or family groups, the lack of any discount for bigger numbers just makes the pricing more and more egregious...
  6. First - the specific HOHO mentioned directly above no longer exists. Second - there are now two companies operating, so frequency depends which the excursion uses (in Summer, theoretically that's 20mins with WestCoast and 30mins with LandSea). Third - sounds like the package that several cruiselines started offering a few years back, which is a greatly-overpriced version of things you can book independently. If it's costing you more than US$100 for a couple, you're being ripped off! Fourth - it's much, MUCH better to do this yourself because you can spend longer downtown and you won't end up stuck at YVR hours before your flight, eating way overpriced airport dinner. Downtown luggage storage is dirt-cheap ($5 per bag at the Pan Pacific hotel, directly above the pier) and HOHO tickets are going for <$60pp. Transport to airport afterward on your own schedule would cost $2.95 on SkyTrain, or ~$35 in a cab. And all those prices are in Canadian, so discounted by ~25% in USD! There's an even more convenient service that will ship your bags to YVR from the pier - $40 gets the first 4 bags sent. If you wouldn't take transit because your bags are too much hassle, using this enables you to transit bag-free - and total cost compared to a cab and downtown storage usually ends up about the same total price. Whether you send bags ahead or stash them at the hotel, either way enjoy your day downtown HOHOing around, then go have dinner when the HOHOs stop (by 6pm), and only then head out to YVR. Flights after 9pm don't Preclear as CBP stop working at 8:30pm! This means that the time needed to get to your gate drops - and combined with a late evening flight means that you could probably push your arrival as late as 9pm without any risk of missing your plane (if you have Global Entry or NEXUS you can shave it even tighter as you'll get priority at Security). I would never arrive more than 2 hours pre-flight for a flight at your time, even if Preclearance was actually going to happen. NB: this does mean you will be processed for immigration & customs at your first US airport - which will suck, as they're always horribly understaffed but that's something you need to raise with your own government!!! 😉
  7. I couldn't agree more with the posters indicating to cancel the transfers - they're not just horribly overpriced but also add no convenience. This isn't the US, so you have immigration/customs to do on disembarkation and again at the airport before boarding your flight - which means luggage out outside your door does not magically appear at your destination airport carousel. You have to collect it yourself in the terminal, take it to the bus, then at the airport drag it to bag drop yourself too (CBP link a photo of your bag on the conveyor belt to your boarding pass, so when you're making your customs declaration you see your bag displayed on a screen - if they don't like your answers/randomly select you for extra screening the bag is diverted to be opened, if it's all hunky-dory then the bag is released to the baggage handlers). So you pay extra for absolutely nothing except delays waiting for buses to be loaded with other people & bags. Take a cab, take SkyTrain - heck take a limo as that works out cheaper with as few as three people!!! Spending the savings on porters in the pier and airport makes it even easier than the cruise transfer, and even with generous tipping 2 people in a cab will still pay less. I do agree that too much time at YVR isn't particularly sensible, and that pricing of food & drink especially is jacked-up compared to same restos downtown, but it's a much more pleasant place to kill time than most airports. The public observation lounge is probably the easiest place to just chill with baggage if you're too early to check it (lots of seats, views of aircraft including free telescopes); we also have tons of artwork on display, many of which are before Security; ask in advance and you can even join a tour of the pre-security interesting parts of YVR...
  8. Hmmm - northbound means you're leaving from Vancouver, so in case you're not just new to cruising but also not familiar with Canada in general/Vancouver specifically, typical mistakes n00bs make locally are: a) not spending enough time here (we have more people and stuff to see and do than every AK port put together, and it's mostly discounted heavily compared to AK prices); b) buying cruise transfers (which are criminally overpriced as per person they usually charge the same as your own taxi or about double that of local shuttles - a group of 3+ people SAVE money by taking a frickin' limo!); c) renting a car - while useful for out-of-town trips, generally more of a hindrance than a help in Vancouver proper as we have no highways, limited and expensive parking, endemic theft of and especially from vehicles, and many downtown hotels don't even have car parks; d) throwing around USD cash without knowing the actual exchange rate (lots of places happily take it - but give you a very padded exchange rate that makes credit card Foreign Transaction Fees look positively fair); e) rarer now, but some folks are still stuck with credit cards lacking a chip - and even Chip & Sign cards are much less useful than true Chip & PIN, as the latter are often the only cards taken by machines (no human operator means nobody to be able to override the system default and let you sign instead of inputting a PIN); f) forgetting to tell your CC provider that you're traveling abroad (also becoming less troublesome as the US banking system grudgingly enters the 21st century); g) probably the least common but by far the most disruptive - not having your ducks in a row in terms of documentation/different definitions of Criminal offences to enter Canada (the classic being 'DUI = often merely a Misdemeanor in the US but will now prevent you ever being allowed to enter Canada without filing paperwork for a pardon as they are Serious Crimes up here') If you have fallen into any of these traps OP you have time to sort out everything before cruising except the last one - you're hooped on that unless your cruise is in 2020, so fingers crossed your whole party are very law-abiding!
  9. martincath

    NZ Visa?

    Yup, US citizens exempt from eTA up here - our tourism sector was already crippled enough by the US-driven WHTI changes ~a decade ago, some Windsor casinos & steakhouses lost over half their customers, so any Canadian-controlled policy tends to err heavily on the side of 'make life as easy for Americans as possible so they keep bringing us lots of their silly green money 😉'
  10. That's a much more succinct summary than my waffle 😉 And yes, I recall also that it was the first 'bro-fest' of Bolsonaro & Trump where this idea was floated - I was just a bit surprised to see it actually going through without the requisite 'tat' from the other side (including Canada, although we did put Brazil onto a small list of countries who can skip the Visa if they're flying in for a vacation, just needing the eTA like all the Visa Waiver countries do)
  11. In the past they deliberately tried to make it exactly as hard as the US makes it for Brazilians to visit! I've known many Brazilians long enough to have heard all the tales of woe of the hassle of getting into the US; including several folks in TV/Movies who work in LA as well as Vancouver so have no option but to keep their US and Canadian visas up-to-date at all times. Apparently the standard Brazilian policy re: who needs Visas can be summed up as "whatever any country makes our citizens do, and whatever they charge, we use the same criteria of hassle and cost." The new Brazilian president is definitely changing things up (not even going to touch on for better or worse, but he's certainly a common topic of conversation among all the Brazilians I know...)
  12. Yup, we have a few, mostly around the airport. If you're looking to minimise costs then the cheapest deals are probably still at the Accent Inn chain - they have one close to YVR and another just east of Vancouver in Burnaby that I believe both do extended parking deals for up to 2 weeks. The YVR one has better transportation options though - the Canada Line works with luggage, whereas the Expo line which goes relatively near the Burnaby location does not (there's no luggage space at all in these carriages, and even if you travel offpeak it remains against Bylaws to put bags on seats or in aisles, though enforcement risk is low as there are no drivers). I'm not sure if anyone downtown offers this any more - parking is way more expensive than Portland due to all the water around Vancouver, land prices have been ballooning for years so even on-site hotel parking isn't guaranteed, let alone an extended period of your car taking a spot with you not actually in the hotel. The Coast Plaza was the last hotel I knew definitely offering it, and they closed a couple of years back.
  13. martincath

    NZ Visa?

    As stated above, the app isn't available yet. There's a signup link on the page though - give them your email and they'll let you know when it's available.
  14. martincath

    NZ Visa?

    Or you could go to the proverbial horses mouth and check directly on the NZ gov'ts page of Visa Waiver countries here. Which confirms that unless you plan to stay more than 3 months, you don't need one (but your passport must be valid for 3 months after your expected departure date rather than the date you arrive). But I think you're confusing a Visa with in-advance 'permission to enter' applications from Visa Waiver countries - NZ is bringing one of those in on October 1st this year, with the same name as the Canadian one right down to the capitalization (eTA). You WILL need one of those filled out before boarding your flight! Again, never use a third party website as at best you will acquire the correct permission but pay more for it, at worst you'll have your identity stolen - use official government sites ONLY. For NZ, that's here (a quite informative page explaining the new requirements, and when the system will actually be available - not until July, so anyone who has bought anything from a 3rd party app has been ripped off!) They also address the issue of folks arriving by cruise ship on that page - cruisers will need them, just like folks flying in. The only complication at the moment seems to be the new IVL (International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy) of $35pp - it's supposed to be collected at the same time as the eTA, so hopefully the eTA system will be up & running on July 1st otherwise folks who travel between 1 July and whenever the system actually starts might either get in free or have to stump up $35 on arrival!
  15. If you thought Granville was skeevy, it's just as well you didn't walk where I was warning about... 😉 Granville is our official downtown Party Zone - late licensed clubs & bars, drunken buffoonery a-go-go especially in the wee small hours after SkyTrain stops so folks hang around, being loud, waiting for the 'Vomit Comet' nightbuses - but still plenty of touristy hotels, condo towers etc. around. East of Victory Square, especially along Hastings, is where things begin to seriously decline - that's the heart of the DownTown EastSide, the poorest urban post code in the country, and the only hotel closer to the edge than the Ramada is the Victorian at the next cross-street. Don't get me wrong, as a tourist you won't be rolled for your wallet - we're still in Canada after all - but you can expect to see all the urban vices in plain sight pretty much any hour of the day. The biggest market for fenced goods used to be just outside the Police HQ, that's how much of a cr*p is not given - and the cops moved away before the market did!
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