Vancouver – Travel Review
by Grace and Robert Palin
After spending a good few months living on Canada’s west coast and exploring all that it has to offer, we managed to compile a list of all the great stuff to do in and around Vancouver. So here it is, just for you, the top ten things to experience in this great city.
10. Commercial Drive – The reason that this is at number ten is, although the street is fun to explore for a few hours, we personally feel that it just does not compare to other quirky little outlying parts of other cities such as London’s Camden Town or Toronto’s Kensington market. However, in a city full of chain stores, Commercial Drive’s name is one of irony. The street is lined with independent restaurants and boutiques, funky little second-hand shops and the odd free spirit.
9. Lynn Valley – This beautiful fairytale-like forest is a short bus journey into North Van from the centre. The trail starts as a free trip across the suspension bridge (an alternative to the Capilano Suspension bridge). A gushing waterfall leads into an aqua blue stream. This runs parallel to a labyrinth of tree roots and moss-draped branches. In turn, these entangle themselves amongst the fungi and tree stumps. All that is missing is a woodland elf.
8. Vancouver Art Gallery – The best time to go here is on a Tuesday evening where the admission is by suggested donation only. What is so great about this gallery is that it canvases many floors of wonderful art from throughout the years. It displays everything from turn of the century Quebecois snow scenes to Emily Carr’s enigmatic forest paintings. Furthermore, the top floor is rightfully dedicated to first nation art.
“Serene and scenic”
7. Halloween – A bit of a strange one and not necessarily a tourist attraction, but if you are there during this time then it is definitely worth checking it out as it is a scream. All Hallows Eve in Vancouver is more decorated than Christmas. This is proven when strolling through the suburbs. The streets are crammed with monsters, princesses and baseball players of all ages. You will also be shocked by the spooktacular displays of fake graveyards, scary projections and smoke machines in the front gardens.
6. Stanley Park and the Sea Wall – This can all be done in one trip, especially if hiring out a bike or a tandem. A journey can be taken through both the path that is nestled among the tall pine trees in the actual forest as well as the long wall that circles the woodland. Both are just as much as an experience in themselves and it is worth spending time exploring everything. The best time to go is dusk where the sun sinks into the ocean. A beaver or two might even show their heads at the Lost Lagoon.
5. Wreck Beach – A nudist beach in the summer but bare bottom free in the winter, this serene and scenic area where the ocean lays gently at the bottom of the mountains is perfect for a sunset stroll. We felt very Canadian when we sat on the huge logs. We watched the distant twinkling of the lighthouse as the ships drifted slowly into port.
4. Grouse Grind – As the name suggests, this is a grind and a half up a steep elevation of what feels like a thousand steps. Don’t think people are lying when they say this is hard work. However, if you do choose to take the hike route rather than paying for the gondola, it is well worth it at the end. The whole of Vancouver city can be seen as the river glistens and reflects the nearby forests and sky. The regular lumberjack show at the peak is an added bonus too.
3. Science World – Although mostly for kids, adults should not turn their noses up at this place as it is the most hands-on museum in the city as we discovered when we found ourselves waiting in anticipation for the kids to finish playing on the exhibitions so we could have a go. This museum is not only fun but it is also brilliantly educative in an entertaining way. After paying the $25 entrance fee, not only did we found ourselves catching a fire show but also finding out how much energy we could generate whilst running in a giant hamster wheel.
2. Whistler – Although not technically Vancouver, Whistler is well worth the 3-hour journey along the sea to sky highway, especially during the winter season where the snow-capped mountains dutifully look over the ice cold lakes whilst eager thrill-seeking tourists find ways to slide down the mountainside. One doesn’t have to be a skier to enjoy Whistler. There are plenty of scenic parks and trails to enjoy too.
1. Whale watching – Forget Halle Berry coming out of the ocean, there is nothing quite as exciting as seeing that first jet of water followed by a dorsal fin emerging from the deep dark sea in the form of a whale. The long day exploring the freezing cold Pacific is well worth it when you see that huge tail. It will have your sea legs jumping up and down with excitement.
So go! Enjoy Vancouver and don’t forget to pick up some maple syrup on the way, eh!