Greetings from the Pacific Northwest!
It was a cool and rainy but fascinating time in the heart of British Columbia. I had been to the eastern province of Canada before but this was my first time out west. It did not disappoint.
A few months ago I lucked up on a glitch airfare to YVR from LAX via Delta. I paid a whopping $5 one-way for this trip. Thank you, Delta! I'm glad it was dirt cheap because Vancouver is EXPENSIVE.
My time here was short, only a day and a half. I had originally planned to use this trip as a jump off to Lake Louise in Alberta but the itinerary didn't work out.
The few things that I did get to do were worthwhile.
My first stop was downtown to Canada Place. The Vancouver skyline is quite impressive. I wish I could have captured its beauty on a nicer day.
I spent a good amount of time in this area (hello free WiFi!). There are several shops and restaurants all over the place but watch your wallet. The USD to CAD exchange rate is okay but meaningless in Vancouver. Everything was expensive, especially food and drinks, my weakness.
I had a wonderful meal at Calabash, a Caribbean themed lounge that plays excellent music. I jammed good and ate good! After 7pm the downstairs turns into a club lounge. They play soca and throwback hip hop and R&B jams. Such a good time.
Canada Place is the jump off point for many of Vancouver's most popular activities. Here, you can catch a thrilling show called FlyOver Canada or jump on the hop on hop off bus. I'm usually a sucker for a good HoHo tour but it was rainy, and I rented a car for this trip.
I highly recommend FlyOver Canada, especially if your time in the country is limited. It is an extreme popular activity, and truly spectacular. I won't give its premise away ;-) but it's worth the money and the wait. If funds allow, pay for the fast pass, the lines are painfully long, especially on rainy days where tourists are looking for something to do indoors.
The Harbour Tower is within walking distance of Canada Place. You can ride up the tower, take in the sights from 80 feet high, and have a meal in the revolving restaurant (pricey). They do charge for admission to access the tower, and it's not included in the price even if you're planning to dine. Parking is also a bit of a challenge in the downtown area, but if you can manage a space on the street, it'll only cost you $3 for two hours, otherwise the pay lots are $15+.
Your admission includes a return trip at no extra charge for a night time viewing of the skyline.
From Canada Place, I was also able to catch a free shuttle bus to the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park.
I am terrified of heights, but I handled this well, and it is a must-do while in the region.
I rounded out the trip with a visit to Stanley Park. Even though it was raining, it didn't keep people from enjoying the trails and the sights that this park has to offer. You can rent a bike or get some serious cardio in and walk the trails here. Since it was raining and I was feeling sickly, I drove the car trail and stopped at vantage points along the way. There are several shops and cafes inside of the park as well. Admission is free, but if you plan to stay for a while you will need to pay for parking, otherwise you can just ride along and stop at your leisure.
All in all, I think the time spent was just right and of course, the price was!
The weather wasn't the best but it didn't stop me from sightseeing. If there were sunny skies I would have also added:
•Granville Island free walking tour
•Richmond Night Market
I'd also intended on visiting the Jimi Hendrix shrine (yes, there is one) but it was moved and is now under renovation.
Vancouver is very expensive but makes for a great, quick getaway, for perhaps a weekend. It was a three hour flight from LAX, and is two hours driving distance from Seattle. If time permits, definitely consider a trip over to Victoria, and if you're really lucky, add Banff and Lake Louise to your itinerary. Otherwise, visiting Vancouver's most popular sites should suffice for a nice trip.
, by Keish