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A Brief History of the Double-Decker Bus

The double-decker bus is an icon to the sightseeing industry. While they are used all over the world, the most famous is the bright red buses in London. But how exactly did this bus become the tourist bucket list item it is today?

Well, let’s start our journey in 1828, in the streets of Paris…

The first double-decker was actually a two-level horse-drawn carriage pioneered by a man named Stanislas Baudry. Later, inspired by Baudry’s idea (and his success), an English gentleman known as George Shillibeer brought the ‘omnibus’ to London. Costing originally 1 shilling to ride, Shillibeer’s bus could hold up to 22 people.

In the 1920s, the first engine-powered version of the double-decker bus made its debut in London society. With a growing population, there was a desperate need for more buses, sparking competition amongst the many companies in the city. By the mid-1920s there were about 20 different companies with buses driving all over the city. The largest of these businesses, The London General Omnibus Company (LGOC), sought to differentiate from their competition and painted their buses bright red. At the time, I doubt anyone could have predicted the historical significance of choosing that one colour. In the 1930s the LGOC, like many other companies, merged together to became part of the collective London Passenger Transport Board. In the photo below you can see some of the different bus designs used over the years.

Demand kept up until the 1950s when the most familiar model of the double deckers emerged. The ‘Routemaster,’ was first constructed in 1956. This version had an open rear door entrance, which was quickly removed since people thought they could jump on and off while the bus was moving.

The main reason for their continued popularity was because the single-level buses simply couldn’t hold enough people, and the longer accordion version couldn’t handle London’s narrow streets. People also liked the viewing capacity and having open tops.

Even though the underground Tube has become many locals’ preferred method of transport, you’ll still see plenty of double deckers around London. Other cities also heavily feature them, such as Hong-Kong, Rome, Paris etc.

Who knows, maybe Vancouver will soon have its own double-decker buses driving along the city’s streets.

A Few Fun Facts

  • For any BC readers, here’s a fun fact for you: did you know that the first North American city to integrate a double-decker bus into their public transit system was Victoria, British Columbia?
  • England’s first licensed female driver of a double-decker bus was Phyllis Thompson in 1941.
  • The buses’ external appearance was updated again in 2012. This new look pays tribute to the Routemaster design but also includes handicap accessibility and green technology.

 

Sources

Tanner, J. (2016, November 1). A Brief History of Double Decker Buses. Retrieved from http://www.londnr.com/london-lifestyle/a-brief-history-of-double-decker-buses/

Birdie’s Perch. (2018). Double-Decker Facts & History. Retrieved from http://www.birdiesperch.ca/about-us-and-our-bus/double-decker-facts-history/

Tourism Experiences to Overcome Your Fears

One of the best parts of Halloween is a good old-fashioned scare. While haunted houses, ghostly tours, and Halloween themed attractions might be seasonal, we know a few experiences that will scare you all year round.

For our Halloween themed post, we’re going to be focusing on a few of the scariest tourism experiences in the world. These aren’t necessarily haunted or Halloween themed activities, but we can understand why some of these places can definitely leave people freaked out.

Prepare to face your fears as we explore these six unique experiences.

Warning: This post contains photos of spiders, heights, dolls, and abandoned villages.

In With the Spiders: Zoological Society of London

Anyone afraid of spiders may want to move on to the next item on this list. At the London Zoo, there is an exhibit that allows people to walk through a room filled with spiders. Now that doesn’t sound too bad, right? Well, these spiders aren’t in any kind of glass exhibit; instead, they hang along the trees and walls of the building. Technically, there’s nothing stopping one from crawling over your shoulder or into your pocket if they wanted to.

The exhibit is actually a fascinating educational display that showcases many incredible species. Poisonous spiders are not out in the open, which is comforting, but you may still want to shake out your coat before you leave!

Credit: mama_aylas_adventures via Instagram

                                      

Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge: China

If you can brave this next attraction, then I’d argue that a fear of heights won’t ever bother you again. Currently, China is home to the world’s longest and highest glass bridge. Hanging over the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon, this 430 meter (1141 foot) long bridge was built with transparent glass that sits about 300 meters (984 feet) above the canyon. And don’t worry, you can see everything below.

Online, you’ll find countless videos of people being dragged across the bridge by their friends, or visitors who clutch the handrails for dear life.

Paris Catacombs: France

The Paris Catacombs are probably the most famous attraction on this list. Featuring the skeletal remains of millions of Parisians within the walls of the cold, underground tunnels, this site continues to leave thousands of tourists unnerved.

There isn’t actually any sinister purpose behind the catacombs, which were built to reduce overcrowded graveyard populations that were causing public health concerns. Where it does get scary, however, is in the knowledge that for hundreds of miles, these tunnels snake underneath the entire city of Paris.

Nagoro ‘Scarecrow Village’: Japan

Nagoro is a small village in Japan. While very few people live there, it’s a huge tourist destination due to its other inhabitants. Should you find yourself wandering around the desolate streets, entering the local school, or venturing down to the village riverbank, you will be under the watchful eye of hundreds of life-size dolls – 350 to be exact.

The story behind this unusual location is certainly a sad one. A former resident, Tsukimi Ayano, returned to the village in the early 2000s after all but 20 residents had left searching for work elsewhere. Tsukimi created the dolls to represent each member of the village, long since departed. The eerie silence and loneliness felt while exploring the village, makes for a powerful and haunting experience.

Pripyat: Russia

Following one of the biggest nuclear disasters in history, the small town of Pripyat has been left abandoned since 1986. Tourists today embark on guided tours of this ghost town, visiting iconic locales such as the decaying ferris wheel and the Polissya Hotel.  Levels of radiation are thankfully low unless you go digging in the soil or trudging through the overgrowth. Reports of mutated creatures and ghost sightings are rife, with locals in the surrounding areas advising any curious tourists to stay away from the town after dark.

Credit: gamma_travel/claudia_neukermans via Instagram

Karni Mata Temple: India

There are rats, and then there are holy rats. That’s what you’ll find upon visiting the Karni Mata Temple in India which houses approximately 25,000 black rats. Also known as the Temple of Rats, people from all over come to pay their respects to the ‘kabbas’, another name for these holy rats.

Hidden in the small town of Deshnoke, rats live, eat and are worshipped here. While not for the faint-hearted, thousands of tourists visit this temple to witness the unique human-animal coexistence. Did we mention that visitors have to enter the temple barefoot?

 

 

Were there any places we missed? Let us know! If you’re looking for some local spooky tales, check out one of our previous blog posts featuring Vancouver’s most haunted spots. You can Read It Here.

Autumn Hikes Around Vancouver

Written By: Ryan Village

 

As summer winds to an end here in Vancouver, we welcome back the cool breeze of autumn and prepare for the snows of winter. Even though the sunshine may not be appearing as much around Vancouver, autumn is the perfect time to explore the many trails and parks surrounding the city while being sheltered by the beautiful canopy of changing colours. Immerse yourself in Vancouver’s vibrant coastal temperate rainforest by hiking some of its best trails through the eyes of a Vancouver native. Just don’t forget to bring a rain jacket!

Stanley Park

As the crown jewel of Vancouver, Stanley Park has been hosting and inspiring locals and visitors alike since its creation in 1888. Named after Lord Frederick Stanley of Preston, the sixth Governor General of Canada, Stanley Park boasts many activities and amenities including the Vancouver Aquarium, Brockton Point, Second Beach and more notably, the Stanley Park Seawall.

The seawall stretches for 9 kilometres/5.5 miles around the perimeter of the park, snaking next to the shimmering waters of Burrard Inlet and English Bay. It offers arguably the best view of the skyline of Vancouver’s downtown core as well as the North Shore Mountains, all on one multi-use path. The Bigleaf Maple and Black Cottonwood trees that border the seawall create a beautiful collage of colour as they bask in the autumn air. Other highlights include Siwash Rock, the Girl in the Wetsuit statue, and passing underneath the famous Lions Gate Bridge.

The seawall isn’t the only pathway that showcases the grandeur and beauty of Stanley Park; a huge network of trails cuts through the centre of the park amongst Western Red Cedar and Douglas Fir groves. Beaver Lake sits in the middle of Stanley Park and is a worthy destination. The lake’s surrounding environment showcase a range of flora and wildlife including salmonberries, sword ferns and its namesake beaver family.

Access to Beaver Lake can be gained from a multitude of trails but is easily reached from Pipeline Road or the Ravine Trail. The #19 bus, which can be caught along Pender St. in downtown Vancouver, travels into Stanley Park and stops along Pipeline Road very close to the lake.

 

Lynn Canyon

Located on Vancouver’s beautiful North Shore, Lynn Canyon is a stunning destination that showcases a quintessential British Columbian rainforest. The canyon itself features steep cliffs, gorgeous waterfalls and thick moss that hangs from precarious alcoves. A series of trails follow the rim of the canyon and attain destinations including the 30-foot pool, Twin Falls, and the main attraction, the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge.

Credit: thetravelling_two via Instagram

Entering the park is completely free. However, keep in mind that Lynn Canyon can be extremely dangerous, especially during wet conditions.  Stay on the marked trails and reference the onsite maps highlighting the distance to various destinations.

Upon arrival, start walking past the first parking lot, you’ll come across the Ecology Center on your left and a café on your right. The Ecology Center is worth browsing to learn about the local plants and animals. The suspension bridge is immediately across from the café. Once across, you can take a left turn which takes you to the pristine, calm waters of the pool. Or, you can take a right turn which takes you to the aptly named Twin Falls. Walking out and back to either destination will take about an hour.

Lynn Canyon used to be a local secret but has since become increasingly popular with both locals and tourists. It’s easily accessible by public transit; from Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver, which can be reached from Downtown Vancouver via the Seabus from Waterfront Station, take either the 228 or the 229 bus to Lynn Valley Center. From there, you can either take the 227 bus or walk the 15 minutes up Lynn Valley Road to Lynn Canyon. There is also plenty of parking in the park if you’re driving there yourself.

Quarry Rock

Quarry Rock in Deep Cove, North Vancouver, is another classic Vancouver hike. The trail to Quarry Rock traverses a gorgeous forest that sits on the north side of Mount Seymour. Huge deciduous trees dominate the landscape and the waters of gurgling streams bounce off the mossy rocks. Once atop Quarry Rock, a unique view of Deep Cove presents itself. Despite the geographic solitude of this granite summit, somehow, you’re only 2 minutes away from Vancouver.

It’s true that an inordinate amount of people frequent Quarry Rock in the summer months. However, it is a worthy autumn destination because of it’s amazing views and varied landscape. The autumn season is also sure to dissuade many parties from heading out onto the trail.

At the Gallant Avenue and Panorama Drive intersection in Deep Cove, the trailhead is 500 meters north on Panorama Drive. The trail to Quarry Rock starts on your left and is on the first section of the Baden Powell trail, a 48km/30-mile-long trail that traverses the entire North Shore. Continue following the blue and white Baden Powell markers for another 2km through undulating terrain until you reach the magnificent viewpoint. Round trip, the hike should take between an hour and a half to two hours to complete.

Taking public transit to Deep Cove from Downtown Vancouver takes about an hour but is easily doable. From Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver, take the 239 bus to Phibbs Exchange. From there, take the 212 or 211 bus to Deep Cove. There is also ample street and public parking in Deep Cove. Once you return from the hike, don’t forget to stop at Honey’s Doughnuts and Goodies in Deep Cove. Try the maple-bacon doughnut if available!

Remember…

Autumn is a peaceful and charming time of the year in Vancouver. Nowhere else is this change felt more than the trails and forests that encircle our marvellous city. There are plenty of other places to explore besides the ones mentioned above. Happy exploring!

 

Always remember to prepare when venturing out into wilderness areas. Bring food, water and clothing and tell someone where you’re going and when you’re expecting to return. Autumn in Vancouver also means shorter days, colder temperatures and more difficult trail conditions. Visit the Adventure Smart website to learn more about trip planning for any hike.

 

 

References

 

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