Hanging out in British Columbia for a Few Weeks
Prior to our cruise to Alaska, we had almost 3 weeks to spend in Vancouver, Canada. The weather was spectacular: sunny days, low humidity and in the mid to upper 70’s.
For a slide show of pictures from this trip, click here: http://www.webetripping.com/Gallery_USA_Canada_Vancouver.asp
We rented an apartment for our stay with great views of the city. If you are staying over 2 weeks, this is the way to go. We were able to walk and bike to Stanley Park, Gastown, Coal Harbor and just about everywhere else. Here was our night-time view:
Vancouver City Tour
As we always do when we make it to a new city, we took a City Tour. This 4 hour tour oriented us to most of the sites and gave us a better sense of where things were and how to get around. The tour took us to Stanley Park, Gastown, Chinatown, Granville Island, and Queen Elizabeth Park.
Gastown in Vancouver
Gastown has a clock that runs entirely on steam. Notice the steam vents at the top of the clock. Very interesting!
During the tour, we saw this funky little home that is being for sold for just over $1 million. Check out the roof. Any takers?
Vancouver reminds me of New York City, it is a large city with great parks (Stanley Park in Vancouver is larger than Central Park in NY). However, it is very bike friendly, people are really friendly, and cabs won’t run you over. It has a penchant for art with many artistic artifacts scattered around the city.
We rode our bikes around Stanley Park. It is a 6 mile trip that takes you by Lions Gate Bridge. It was architected by person that designed the Golden Gate bridge. Looks similar, doesn’t it?
Outdoor Art in Vancouver
The art around Vancouver is fresh and cool. This piece was produced completely in aluminum, but it looks like wood.
This artist created figures of himself laughing in different positions. Too funny.
These Inuit statues are seen a lot around this area. It was common for the First Nation Peoples (aboriginals) to erect these statues for navigation and as a token of friendship.
Granville in Vancouver
Granville is a funky area that offers a farmers market, water side views of the city, cool restaurants, and handicraft shops. It gets really crowded in the summer and parking is hard to find, but the fresh fruit sold in the market is better than any I can remember having. Definitely worth the parking hassle.
Vancouver has one of the best aquarium’s I’ve seen. It has a really cool 4D movie theater that thrills all your senses. That includes 3D glasses, wind and water effects, and seat twitching to accentuate the experience. It also has an array of jelly fish, penguins, sea otters, and Beluga whales. This was the first time I had seen a Beluga whale in person, it was awesome.
Whistler, British Columbia
We also had time to visit Whistler. This is where the 2010 Winter Olympics were held. You can take the Peak2Peak ride to the top of Whistler, the longest Gondola ride in North America. Great views from the top.
The Grind at Grouse Mountain
If you like to hike and are up for a challenge, I suggest hiking “The Grind” at Grouse Mountain. The hike is only 2 miles, but you climb 2800 feet in altitude. When I heard about it, I knew I had to try it.
Everything I read scared me. Personal trainers posted that it was incredibly harder than they had imagined. Signage at the base of the hike said you do it at your own risk — it is not for novice hikers. Perfect!
Nicknamed “Nature’s Stairmaster”, it does not have any switchbacks. It is 1.5 to 2 hours of steady climbing stairs from bottom to top. No chances to give your legs a break with small slopes, it is steep and long.
Once I reached the top, I was ecstatic. I made it in under 2 hours (about 1 hour 50 minutes) and although it was strenuous, I handily conquered it. My cardio was good, never got too winded and I was not really sore the next day. My workout regimen paid off. It was so much fun, I highly recommend this hike if you are an intermediate level or better hiker.
Once you are at the top of Grouse Mountain, there are tree carvings, ziplining, movies, lumberjack shows, and great viewing points.
Things to do in Vancouver
If you visit and have extra time, there are tons of things to do in Vancouver. Of course, Capilano Suspension Bridge is a big attraction, see pictures below. But there are also other things to consider including:
- Vancouver Art Gallery
- Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden
- Museum of Anthropology
- Vanier Park
- Bill Reed Aboriginal Art Museum
- Seymour Valley Trailway (great biking)
- Canoe Rentals in English Bay
- Salt Water pools in Stanley Park
- Hiking Stanley Park
- Boat Rentals at Coal Harbor
We really enjoyed our few weeks in Vancouver and highly recommend it to anyone considering visiting the Pacific Northwest. Now on to Alaska!