Vancouver, B.C

This is where our journey began. Our heads giddy full of wonder and expectation, and smiles stretching from ear to ear. We had six incredible nights in this city. Looking back, we probably could have been a tad more restrained but hey (less of the shoulda woulda coulda’s) we were off the scale with excitement and wanted to explore as much as we could. To say Vancouver is varied is the biggest understatement going!

Below, are our “best bits” of places we visited and a “top three tips” which we believe made our stay even more memorable and insightful. As well as this, I have included an “eye spied” section which exposes bars, restaurants and home furnishing shops I couldn’t help but take a shine to! So, let’s get to it…

Best Bits:-

1. Stanley Park

This was the perfect starting activity to our trip. You’ve got to experience it. We leisurely walked around stopping at various sights to see, but a popular option is to hire a bike. We were glad we decided against this, as it looked pretty congested with tourists and families and generally people who looked like they had never ridden a bike before! In contrast, walking appeared a lot more relaxing. The scenery is just staggering along the cliff side. Sea and beach on your left, woods to your right and in the distance mountains as far as the eye could see (harder for us with all the smoke from recent forest fires mind!) Still, it is quite special. We spent a good few hours walking around taking it all in. We passed Lost Lagoon walking through the park and ventured inland after a stretch of the cliff walk to find Beaver Lake. This was over flowing with giant, gorgeous lily pads. Hidden amongst the vast park it felt magical. 

Sea cliff walk, Stanley Park.
Beaver Lake, Stanley Park


2. Lynn Canyon

Around an hour out of town by bus,(depending on how far away the cheapest Airbnb is) you will find exactly the sort of place that drew you to Vancouver. The crucial difference here is that it is completely free! Unlike attractions like Capilano. Lynn Canyon was probably the best find of the trip. Even an old park ranger after we left confirmed our feelings, and told us to “sack off Capilano, it’s a massive rip off!” Lynn Canyon offers a vast area of forest for you to explore various trails- one all the way to Grouse Mountain if you fancy! It has a suspension bridge a 30ft pool and a 90ft pool for visitors to enjoy and admire the stunning views. The park opens from 10am to 5pm and there are toilets, a restaurant/ café and a gift shop before you enter the park. We had a great couple of hours hiking here; if not a little on edge at the thought of coming face to face with a bear… No bears were spotted on this occasion! 

Check out the link below for more info:- 

Lynn Canyon Park

One of the two pools!
Tall trees!
Looking down from the suspension bridge.
Another view from the suspension bridge.
 

You cannot miss out on this trip. Even the bus journey was a treat in itself. Winding its way through all the incredible (probably extortionately expensive) roads near Lynn Canyon. I would 100% live this side of Vancouver if I was rich! We even saw a young boy selling lemonade on a quiet lawned corner, what more could we have asked for?! 

3. Grouse Mountain

We had to physically challenge ourselves one day of our stay, you know us! 30,000 steps a day isn’t enough exertion… So if you’re a couple out for a challenge, get the ferry over to Grouse Mountain. Families go here too, so the level of difficulty can be adjusted to suit all levels of fitness- you don’t even have to hike up, you can take the sky ride both ways and enjoy the facilities without the breathlessness! I’m sure Oli and Lev would have happily done the notorious Grouse Grind if I hadn’t been in tow. Instead we conquered the (ever so slightly less challenging) BCMC trail. Just under 3km with 750m of elevation. Somehow (I’m blaming the boys) we managed over 3km?! Definitely an accomplishment and definitely deserving of a somewhat expensive beer at the top! They have lots to offer when you’re up there. Incase you didn’t spot any bears on the way up (again, we didn’t) they had 2 big grizzly bears in an enclosure. There was also a falconry and Lumberjack show for your entertainment. And of course, usually, the views are fantastic. But as we learnt from our first day, the forest fires had obscured that for our stay… Oh well! Our sky ride down cost around $15 each. You can buy different packages if the climb up isn’t for you. 

Check out their website below for more info:-

Grouse Mountain

The straggler…How annoyed do I look?!
Majestic owl at the falconry show.
Glad I didn’t see this Grizzly on the climb up!
Innuendos aplenty at the Lumberjack show.
No view on the skyride down!
 

4. Granville Island

A recommendation from the old park ranger! I’m not sure we would have known to go if we didn’t see him. This is a tiny “island” in downtown where you have to get a fun looking aquabus. You cross a 5 minute stretch of water to get there. Granville island is home to a huge undercover market with arts and crafts, grocery stalls, butchers, fishmongers, and artisanal food stalls which someone like me could really get lost in! But, alas, we’re on a budget so frivolous spending, plus the limitation of space in our backpacks stopped me. We raced around the island in about 30 minutes- mainly because I didn’t want any further temptation and the stark disappointement that comes with it! Also, we were tired from a full day of walking. There are however lots of skilled metal workshops and local artist galleries you can visit and even join in with if it took your fancy. As well as this, lots of lively bars and restaurants for you to indulge in and enjoy the atmosphere. 

5. West Van.

As the locals say! We ventured over here for pretty much one reason, pie! Savary Island Pie Company is an old bakery that specialises in, yep, pies! Savoury and sweet they’ve got it all. I had a slice of cherry pie with a cup of English tea, it was heavenly! You can also have a nice little stroll along the cliff side to walk off that pie, before getting the bus back to downtown. 

Savary Island Pie Company

My slice of sweet pie.

 

TTT’s (top three tips)

1. Do a personal food tour. Eat Poutine!! Go to Commercial Street and go wild. This was an awesome way to spend half a day. Places we indulged in I have mentioned in “Eye spied.”

2. Get to the free museums! We waited too long and didn’t anticipate a massive queue! Bummer. Every Tuesday entry is free/ by donation at: Vancouver Art Gallery (from 5pm), The Observatory (by the Space Centre) and Burnaby Village Museum.

3. Take full advantage of the public transport. The metro and buses are easy and are a great way to get to know all the areas of the city. Plus, on any normal day, I’m sure the views are incredible.

Eye spied.

Eat @:-

Baodown, Commercial Street.

Belgian Fries, Commercial Street.

Fire Pizza, Commercial Street.

Pekinpa, Gastown.

The New Oxford, on Homer, Yaletown.

(Sushi anywhere in Vancouver!)

Drink @:-

The New Oxford, on Homer, Yaletown.

The Boxcar, Main Street.

The Keefer Bar, Keefer Street near Chinatown.

Chill Winston, Gastown.

Interior Shop @:-

Kaikado, Water Street. 


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Looking forward to 2017

What a year already! If last year taught us anything it was, perhaps, to expect the unexpected. I think I might bear that in mind venturing into 2017!

It could be a good mantra to go by really, if you think about it. It might make you push yourself that little bit more and challenge yourself further than you could ever imagine. I’m not promoting complacency here though- nothing is ever handed to you on a plate. It’s time to be tenacious, keep your wits about you and embrace change. Shake things up this year and do something out of the ordinary. Why not set your sights on something you really want and do it. Strive towards that promotion. Organise that once in a lifetime trip. Sign up for that half marathon you were deliberating last year- or even a marathon! (You’ll be braver than I am!) I feel there’s an over-whelming sense of “anything is possible” for the year ahead.

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