I have lived in Canada for close to 3 yrs now in Toronto, ON and wanted to visit Vancouver, BC since the time I moved here. Moving here to Toronto from San Francisco was great and I love the city but more than that I really love the people here. I have always heard great things about Vancouver as to how diverse and dense it is and could not imagine how much different it could be from Toronto.
I could not find myself to travel to Vancouver to just visit the city because flights from Toronto are usually expensive , the cheapest you can ever find would be around $600-$700 if you are lucky that is. I had plans to go on an Alaskan cruise while I was in Canada and I knew there were lot of cruises from Vancouver so I waited to plan something together to make the most of it. I planned in a way I got 3 full days in the city before I hopped on to my cruise to Alaska (will post my experience later)
I went around end of August and the weather could not have been more perfect! I would totally recommend going around the time because living in Toronto I like any time of the year where I dont have to wear big and heavy jackets. One thing to know about Vancouver is that the hotels are pretty expensive so definitely plan early, anything in the city can cost from $300-$600 for a 3 star hotel. I think it is also because of the port and there are so many cruises leaving from the city. I always prefer to stay closer to where the action is because I believe that it gives you extra time of your vacation which you might lose out on your commute should you choose to live away from the city. The convenience of starting your day early and ending your evening late is personally to me is priceless.
Now coming to my adventure, My day 1 was visiting the Stanley Park which is the 3rd largest park in North America. Its a short commute from donwtown at about 3 miles from the port and you can easily take a cab. There were free shuttles to explore the park which I now believe have been cancelled. Its a huge park so you may want to plan which spot you will want to visit inside the park and see if you can get to the closest location with public transport. Some of the popular items at the park at Seawall and totem poles, with the shuttles cancelled I think a good option might be to rent a bike. The place offers some spectacular views of the city that you would not want to miss.
My day 2 was exploring the city , walking around Gastown which is full of restaurants and shops. Its a nice place to walk around get food and get some souvenirs. Its pretty famous for their steam clock at cambie and water street, make sure to stop by when you visit. I had lunch at old spaghetti factory and it was really nice place – good value and huge portions! They had a decommissioned electronic trolley from 1950’s inside of the restaurant which was really great and I took a picture only to learn later that this place is one of the top 10 haunted places in Vancouver 🙂 and lot of people have seen the ghost of the conductor late in the evenings on the trolley. Now that I know this, I would probably not go back but totally recommend it to anyone who is brave and would want to come back with a story to tell!!
On day 3, I visited the Capilano suspension bridge-it was built in 1899 by a civil engineer. It is about 140 mts in length and 70 mts from the river. I absolutely loved the place and it was very picturesque , the only thing I would recommend to anyone planning to go there would be try and go early in the day and also on a weekday if possible, the place gets very crowded as its very popular tourist spot. They have free shuttles from downtown so do check the closest spot for you and as always try to look up online or check with your concierge for any discount coupon, the tickets are $42 for adult and if couple of you are visiting, it does add up very fast. You can plan to spend 2-3 hrs there and take some beautiful pics on the bridge. There is a nice coffee place inside and live music for you to sit down and take it all in.
After coming back to the city from the Capilano bridge, I had to try the famous Bella Gelateria – this place won lot of awards for their gelatos in competitions world wide and the long lines did not bother me, I think I waited about 30 min at around 9 in the evening which wasn’t bad and the weather was pleasant too. I’m more of an ice cream person than gelato but I still wanted to check it out and see what the hype was all about. I liked it and it was very creamy like a ice cream so I know now how a good gelato should taste like – I can no longer say I am not a gelato person! I guess that explains it :).
After 3 days of exploring Vancouver, I was excited to go back to the hotel to hop on to my cruise the next morning! My next blog post will be about my experiences on my first time Disney cruise!!