As we board the bus from our brief overnight in Vernon, it starts to sink in that this is the last time we will do what has become our early morning tradition of loud alarms, mad rushes to pack our bags, the quickest of quick breakfasts and the "don't talk to me before coffee" glance at our fellow Contikians. This little dance is inevitably followed by waiting for the last few stragglers to join us on the bus, when Alex plays our morning anthem of "Here's To Us" before proudly announcing (in his best Canadian/Australian accent) Good Morning, Contiki Family.
From here we have a 5 hour drive back into Vancouver where this all began 9 days ago. It's hard to believe how strong a connection you can make with people in only 9 days but we really have seen so many different sides of each other through the excitement and fear, sickness and health, smiles, laughs, and late night chats. As we farewell Dennis, our fantastic bus driver, it hits home that this is the start of our last 24 hours together here in Vancouver.
The next morning we head out to Capilano Suspension Bridge, which in itself is only vaguely interesting, but its the various attractions surrounding it which make this worth the trip up into the mountains.
After crossing the bridge (which can take a surprisingly long time with the number of people stopped to take selfies) we explore the Nature's Edge boardwalk and quickly realise that this walk below the bridge is much more interesting than walking across the bridge itself, and a much quieter place to take a photo.
We are also lucky enough to come across a bird show at exactly 10am by pure chance and get to hear about some incredible local wildlife.
The next walk takes us up into the trees for the Treetops Adventure walk, and it's immediately like being transported to Endor (minus the Ewoks). Many a good Star Wars pun is enjoyed up here while we fight our way past kids, parents and Han & Leia making out.
Once we walk back across the bridge we come to what is probably the most interesting part, a Cliff Walk on the eastern side which is narrower than the Treetops Adventure walk and a lot more exposed. From here you get a much better view of the bridge looking down the valley and really appreciate how far up we are and how tall these trees actually are.
Back in downtown Vancouver we have lunch and check out the Flyover video experience where we see both the "Flyover Canada" and "Windbourne" videos. I was initially sceptical as the Flyover experience I did it Helsinki was nothing to write home about, but these were actually fantastic and I highly recommend to anyone who will be in the area. Before we leave downtown we also check out the Gastown steam clock, which is exactly as underwhelming as it sounds.
After a powernap, a quick shower, and my last clean change of clothes its off to Granville Island where we take a dinner cruise around Stanley Park to watch the sunset. This is the ultimate in bittersweet moments as our little Contiki Fam group sits together and takes one final selfie, before we inevitably go our separate ways.
The cruise itself is lovely, the dinner is delicious, and we are lucky enough to see a pair of Orcas swim by as we head out.
As the sun sets over the water we all take turns taking various nice (and silly) photos at the bow of the boat. And just for the record, the door was big enough for both of them.
Back on dry land and our final farewell party night was at Good Co where they have $4 beers and arcade machines. Look its no Beercade back in Redfern, but the vibe is pretty great as we celebrate our new friendships in the best possible way... by beating the pants off them in Mario Kart.
As we sit around the next morning in the lobby of Hotel Belmont, no one really knows what to say, but its safe to say at least a few tears were shed. Just like on my European topdeck tour in 2018, I immediately became besties with the token Canadian on the bus, what can I say, I guess I just have a thing for Canadians? Overall we had a fantastic group of people to explore the Rocky Mountains with, and even Alex says that this has been one of the best groups he's had. While its sad to leave all these new friends, its great to think about all the new couches I have to crash on spread around the world. So while it's goodbye for now, it definitely won't be goodbye for long as I'll be sure to make plans to do more travelling and hang out with these fantastic humans again soon.