October 2, 2004
I was walking around the harbor and enjoying the seaplanes coming and taking off. I was having a ball photographing them. I followed the path over to the Harbour Air terminal, trying to get some better, closer pictures of the planes. I went in to pick up a brochure and started talking with one of the ticket agents. She informed me that a Vancouver Panorama tour was leaving this minute and they had one seat open. She called the plane, held it, collected my C$75, and, before I could even think if I wanted to take the tour, I was sitting on the DeHavilland DHC-2 seaplane, ready for take-off.
The take-off was awesome; we built up speed on the water and lifted off right in the middle of Vancouver harbor. Soon we were high up over the city. The birds-eye view of Vancouver was incredible. We soared over the city - Vancouver place, the more industrial area of Vancouver, and off to the small islands of Vancouver, where spacious homes are built on private islands. When we came back after our 20 minutes in the area, we went right over Stanely Park and came back in for a landing - SPLASH - back home into Vancouver Bay! A thrill of a lifetime.
The plane was small, as it only holds six passengers, plus a pilot. One lucky passenger sits in the cockpit with the pilot. The seating is tight and crowded. It was a bit hard to take pictures, as the view is not unobstructed; there are wing braces and pontoons that are part of frame. The pilot does not do a narration, as he is too busy watching for other traffic, so you are not 100% sure of what you are now over and seeing.
However, even with those minor complaints, this is not an adventure to miss. You get a sense of the city layout, and see areas not even a boat can get you to. It's the only way to see the whole area.
After the tour, I talked to the staff and learned everyone's favorite tour is called Alpine Lakes and Galciers - it's an hour and a half tour of Mount Mamquam and a landing on a secret Alpine lake. The cost is C$199, and for C$45 more, you can add a delicious picnic lunch. I am hooked and can not wait to return to Vancouver to take this Alpine tour. You can check out more fun tours at Harbour Air. Once again, my impulsive nature has paid off.
From journal Meeting IGO UGO North of the Border