Vancouver Vibes: Visual Guide
My first trip to Canada brought me to the city of Vancouver in the British Columbia province. Since moving to LA, I really wanted to visit Vancouver, especially since while living on the east coast, I never got a chance to visit Montreal or Toronto. So 2.5 years later, I made it happen. Labor Day weekend was approaching and I knew I needed to take advantage of the long weekend (travel often hack 101). Thankfully, Vancouver is only a short 2 hour plane ride away. I used the Hopper app (my go-to) to determine if I should book right away because fares were actually pretty good. So my flight was booked and I researched my accommodation options, Airbnb versus hotel. Hotels in downtown or in any hotspot areas were pricey due to the holiday weekend. Yes, it's Labor Day weekend in Canada too! So Airbnb it was. When traveling solo I fluctuate between renting a room versus the whole place. It ultimately depends on my length of stay, where I'm staying (Europe can be pretty inexpensive to rent the whole place), and if I have to share a bathroom. I found a newly constructed home (read: clean) that had a master suite with connecting private bathroom on the top level of 3 levels for rent. It was close to public transportation and they had a really nice high quality bike for my usage. Oh and the views were amazing. Great reviews so I was convinced this was the place for me. In the Kensington–Cedar Cottage area of Vancouver, the public bus took me straight into downtown in less than 20 minutes.
And I made sure I put that expensive bike to use. Turned out to be the favorite part of my trip. Vancouver highly encourages the use of bicycles so much that they have specific bike routes to help get riders where they need to go and safely. I loved it because it gave me a chance to exercise, see areas of the city that I couldn't see on the bus or train, and I could be on my own time schedule, i.e. not rushing to catch the 8:03 bus because the next one comes in a half hour. I rode out to the Olympic Village, Waterfront, Granville Island, and around the seawall. Along the way I stopped for lunch, snacks, coffee, and window shopping and appreciated this flexibility. I highly recommend renting a bike in such a city that embraces it and just riding out.
Prior to putting the bike to use I did a ton of walking through Yaletown, Gastown, and Downtown taking some time to see what this city had to offer as opposed to spending all my time doing specific touristy things. I wanted to walk through the streets with the locals like I belonged. At certain points I had no real end game or purpose. Just carefree wandering. (See what I did there lol.) I walked past the public library which is known for its resemblance to the Colosseum in Rome. I took advantage of happy hour and stopped into The Flying Pig for the best truffle mac and cheese. Sooo good. I ventured down Robson Street which is the gateway for Vancouver shopping. I got lost, found my way, then got lost again.
I stumbled upon one of the stops for the [free] Capilano Bridge shuttle bus. This made my future trip there very easy because I now knew exactly where I needed to be. Clutch for me because my sense of direction can be turned all the way off sometimes. I ventured out to Capilano on the Tuesday after Labor Day to avoid any major crowds. The holiday was over and kids were back in school so I only had to fight with other tourists to get my premium shots. The ride to Capilano was a quick 20 minutes away from Yaletown and the views on the way weren't too bad either. At one point you could see Grouse Mountain in the near distance (on the list for next time).
Capilano is known for its - 460 feet long and 230 feet above a river - suspension bridge but it offers more to make it worth the $40 admission fee. It's a park (that feels more like a jungle at times) with a cliffwalk above the canyon, treetop adventures in the rainforest connected by small suspension bridges, and a thorough history lesson behind the bridge and park shown through artifacts and murals. It took about 4 minutes for me to walk across the entire bridge and I will admit it was a little shakey and a tad scary. But on the way back over it was a breeze. Guess I just knew what to expect. However, if you are scared of heights, you might want to sit this attraction out. Tip: If you want a free, but not as grand (and probably less crowded) option, visit Lynn Canyon bridge.
So there you have it. A different take on how I conquered Vancouver. The visuals will help bring it all together full circle. The beauty and brightness of the Waterfront was one of my favorites to see. Granville Island Market was a booming popular area amongst tourists and locals for fresh fruits, veggies, meats. Think of your local farmers market times 10. Views of Canada Place and CN Tower lit up against the dark skies, and the lushness of Capilano Park. I miss this place already.
But on to the next! Which city in Canada should I visit next, Montreal or Toronto?