During my 9 week trip across the pond, I actually took a little trip across the border to Canada. I did have plans to stay in Canada longer and travel across to Toronto but things changed. I actually ended up doing a West Coast Californian Road trip. During my time in San Francisco, I took a short two and a half hour flight up to Vancouver.
Prior to my trip, I’d done a little bit of research for my trip using the Marco Polo Guides and I had one specifically for Vancouver and the Canadian Rockies which came in such good use. Although, I was staying pretty central in Vancouver at the Burrard Hotel, it took a while to catch my bearings. The city is quite spread out so getting about (especially as there isn’t Uber!) completely baffled me at first. Luckily in the Marco Polo Guides there is a big map, lots of advice on local transport and also, the perfect guide for spending three days in the city. The Three Day guide was really helpful as it picked out the cities highlights. Although I was actually on there for a day and two half days, I managed to get a few things highlighted in the guide.
When I landed in Vancouver, the weather wasn’t great. I was pretty much expecting very cold weather but it wasn’t even that cold. It was just wet and miserable and sadly it didn’t change the whole time I was there. I really did try and make the most of it. Armed with my brand new parka from Forever 21 and plenty of layers, I worked out that Granville Island was a short walk and ferry boat ride from my hotel. On the Island was a huge public market filled with many delicious stalls and a pretty epic view over the bay and mountains in the distance. Also on the island were plenty of independent stores (I was literally in stationery heaven), cafes and bars. I had the most delicious hot chocolate in a little Espresso Bar called Off the Tracks.
I ended up spending a few hours on Granville Island before heading back to the city on the ferry. It was pretty cheap, a couple of dollars for a return ticket. I did consider hiring a bike to get around but I quickly reminded myself of my pretty unstable cycling in Washington DC. It would actually have been a really great way to explore some of the parks in Vancouver, especially Stanley Park. To escape from the continuous drizzle, I headed Downtown to check out some of the shops and take cover. Along Burrard Street, there was plenty of shops which were calling my name. Towards the bottom of Burrard Street was Canada Place which overlooks the Harbour. It was a really cool area to explore and although it was pretty grey. The view of the cloudy mountains was amazing.
One of the places I really wanted to visit during my stay was Grouse Mountain but it was closed due to the inclement weather. I’d gone to the Tourist Information Centre the day before and they suggested the Capilano Suspension Bridge for a rainy day. The Suspension Bridge was also in my Marco Polo Guide and after a bit of research online, I found out that they did a complimentary shuttle bus from Downtown. It didn’t take too long to get there at all and we got to cross over the Lions Gate Bridge. Although most of the Capilano Suspension Bridge and Park is outside, they provide complimentary ponchos. Overall, it wasn’t too bad as the trees provided a lot of shelter. The views from the bridge were absolutely stunning with views of the forest below. It sounds strange but it really felt I was in Canada there.
On the agenda for the afternoon was the famous Stanley Park. Well, actually I was mainly visiting the park to get to Vancouver Aquarium. The Park, however, really was lovely and I’m sure would’ve been a whole lot lovelier if it wasn’t pouring it down with rain. Hailed as one of the best aquariums in North America, it was quite impressive. I’ve visited plenty of aquariums across the world and I found this one was really educational. You could learn a lot about the conservation and research they are doing. I also found the staff were exceptional and went above and beyond to interact with the visitors.
I did have a bit of a mare trying to get back to my hotel as I soon learnt that taxis don’t like venturing over to Stanley Park. That’s after I was abandoned outside the aquarium for an hour by multiple taxi firms. Uber seriously needs to come to British Columbia.
My final day in Vancouver was quite a short one as my flight was at 3 pm. I feel like my little weather updates are kinda pointless, but believe it or not, it was still raining. As I was in Canada, I really wanted to visit a Tim Hortons bakery and it was the perfect place for breakfast. This place was so cheap and delicious, I had some TimBits which were basically little doughnut type ball things.
Afterwards, I headed towards the Harbour Centre Building to check out the Vancouver Lookout which has panoramic views of the city. As the weather wasn’t brilliant and the clouds were quite low, it wasn’t the best of views. I can only imagine how amazing the surrounding mountains would look in perfect weather. It was kinda cool to get a bird’s eye view out of the city too.
Just on the doorstep of the Lookout is Canada Place which I had previously visited on the first day. Canada Place is actually just a big convention centre but I did have another wander around and got some photos with the 150 years of Canada sign and the insane whale statue. The day I visited was actually the first day of the Vancouver Christmas Market. They were just opening it as I was leaving to catch my flight.
Vancouver really was a beautiful city and despite the horrific weather, I’d love to visit again and potentially stay for a little longer. There was a lot more I would’ve liked to have seen especially Grouse Mountain and potentially a visit up to Whistler. The dream would be to visit the Canadian Rockies. One thing is for sure, I’ll be super prepared as I’ve got all the information I need for the area in my Marco Polo Guides. After a short couple of days, I flew back to San Francisco for Thanksgiving. Stay tuned, there are a lot more US Roadtrip posts coming your way!
Have you visited Vancouver before?
*This post is in collaboration with Marco Polo Guides