“As deep as oceans dive, as high as mountains climb”
After moving back from the UK, I vowed to myself that I would dedicate the next few years of travel into my own country (with a tiny sprinkle of the US) because at the rate I was going, I knew more about Europe than my own country. Lucky enough for me, my job allows me to travel throughout this wonderful continent and I always make sure to take advantage of it!
I have been to Vancouver a handful of times so thought it about time to say a little something about it. There are literally skads of things to do if you are staying in the city and a million more things to do outside of it. Lets go through the cream of the crop:
Cycling around Stanley Park – A highlight no doubt (if you get a chance to do it on a sunny day). You have such great views throughout the entire ride of vast mountain ranges or the glistening, crystle blue sea. It takes about 2 hours (if you are a frequent photo taker like myself) and is a very easy ride. There are a copious amount of bike rentals in the area and you should be able to hire one for about $20 for the 2 hours. Best $20 you will spend, I promise!
Squamish – A cute little town about an hour outside of the city where you will find ‘The Cheif’ and the Sea to Sky Gondala ride along with more stunning views for essentially your entire hour-ish ride there on the Sea to Sky highway. The views from the top of the Chief and the gondala are similar but your way there is VERY different. The Chief is 6 hour, 11k hike which is graded as intermideate and the gondala is a $40, 30 minute breathtaking ride to the top. Can you guess which one I did? The gondola, BUT there are a few hiking trails that are available at the top of the gondala as well as a suspension bridge (and a bar) that really added value to the whole thing. Regardless, whatever option you choose you will be left with breathtaking views.
Gastown – A great place for coffee, drinks, a night out, shopping… anything really! Just don’t get suckered into waiting for the Gastown clock to go off… it’s not worth it.
Joffre Lakes – This was probably the highlight of all my trips there! IT. WAS. MAGNIFICANT. The lakes are about a 3 hour drive from the city but you can make it worth it with a visit to whistler along the way. Once you arrive and park, you are only about a 2 minute walk to the first lake, utterly stunning but not worth the 3 hour drive. Hiking up hill for about 2.5 hours you get to the middle lake. This was my favourite of the three for several reasons; the wildlife will eat from your hand, the colour of the lake was much more of an intense blue, you have great views of the glacier, and there is a log floating into the centre that provides some spectatular photo opportunities! The hike to the last lake was a bit different. Essentially it was climbing up giant rocks all the way to the top. I personally found that much easier than the 2.5 hours of up hill hiking but going down, was a bit more challenging. The last lake was beautiful, but I went on a rainy day and the fog basically washed out any view that was there.
Granville Island– The perfect place to spend the afternoon. Essentially, it is an open market, with fresh food as well a fresh veg, bread, spices etc. We took the little boat taxi to the island and stopped for a bite to eat after cycling Stanley Park. We were lucky enough to be able to enjoy it on the sunny patio while taking in some live music. It was a great time to go because as well as having a later lunch, we were able to grab some fresh ingredients from the market for dinner that night. Defiantly worth a visit.
Scandinave Spa Whistler – This place was amazing! It was something that we decided to do a bit last minute and it was well worth it, especially as it was a grey day and much better spent at a spa than in a mall. These spas run throughout Canada in Old Montreal, Mont Tremblant, and Blue Mountain. For $60 you have unlimited access to the baths for the day which includes several hot and cold baths as well as a Eucalyptus steam room, a wood burning Finish sauna and several very relaxing spots to rest in-between each treatment including hammocks, terraces and outdoor fireplaces. I am obsessed with Scandinavian baths and whenever the opportunity presents itself, I am more than happy to partake. The great thing about this as well is you can spend half the day at the spa and the other half popping around Whistler village and the evening back in Vancouver.
Again, these are just some of my highlights of the area. There are a MILLION things to do like take the ferry or fly to Vancouver Island and spend a few days there exploring the national parks and Tofino (which was on my list, but time got the better of me). There are a tonne more hikes like the Grouse Grind, Dog Mountain, St. Marks Summit, Crown Mountain etc. They also have some great shopping in the area as well, from some great outlet malls and the newly opened Tsawwassen Mills (which I was lucky enough to visit opening week), as well as all the high end stuff downtown including a new-ish Nordstrom. There is also the option to pop down to Seattle for a few days which were were lucky enough to do, but this will be featured in another blog. There is just too much to say about Seattle!
Getting around the city is CRAZY easy as they have a rail system called the Sky Train that runs through most of downtown as well as to and from the airport. Unfortunately, they don’t have Uber in Vancouver BUT I do find that compared to Toronto cab rates, it is much more reasonable in Vancouver.
Unless you live there, you will probably never have enough time to take advantage of it all BUT at least you are now headed in the right direction!
Want to see a bit more about the trip? Take a look at the video HERE!