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So I set the parameters a little wider and came up with Vancouver, Canada. It ticked all the boxes:
- Outside of the US
- Not a holiday weekend over there
- Cheap flights (when booked a few months in advance)
We flew Alaska Airlines for part of the trip and I wish we’d booked the whole trip with them. Usually I don’t care much about the journey there (I can say that having spent a lot of time on Ryanair and Easyjet in Europe), and you get what you pay for usually. Having said that I found that Alaska went above and beyond for the price that I paid. The staff were lovely and helpful. FYI I’m not getting paid or any kickbacks for this, it’s just my opinion.
Skip to the eeeeend! The last thing I did in Vancouver was visit Stanley Park. When I hear “park” I picture a little reserve with some swings and a seesaw for the kids, so I felt a little overwhelmed when I visited Stanley Park on the outskirts of the city.
|Look out for the Trash Pandas|
It’s 400 hectares with 27 kilometres of trails to wander, taking you through rainforests, giving you views of the water, beaches and mountains. I was there to run the Vancouver Historic Half 10km event. But I show up chronically early for everything so I got to have a nice warm up wander around and enjoy the place. Well worth the bus ride!
While I steer clear of some of the pricier tourist attractions in favour of walking around and exploring, FlyOver Canada came very highly recommended by a lot of my friends and family. Basically it’s a ride of sorts, where your seat hangs suspended in mid-air in front of a 20-metre screen that guides you through a flying trip over some of Canada’s most spectacular natural wonders and pretty cities.
|This photo was taken by Mr M. Check out his Flickr.|
Vancouver Public Library
If you’re a sucker for architecture, the Vancouver Public Library is a must. It’s part Colosseum, part modern building, complete with it’s own rooftop garden.
You could spend hours in there, or you can do a walk-around on your way somewhere else. Either way, it’s a gorgeous monument to literature.
Go for the name, stay for the food. And the Steam Clock. Gastown has a bunch of fantastic restaurants that Mr M and I were lucky enough to sample. The Flying Pig appealed to my love of gastropubs and while L’Abattoir was on the pricey side, it was the perfect atmosphere for a special dinner. It has great cocktails as well.
The Flying Pig had some tasty choices on the menu
The steam clock runs on a single steam engine and some electric motors, and it draws a significant crowd. Maybe it’s because it was featured on the cover of a Nickelback album? But I’d like to think that Nickelback doesn’t have that many fans. Both now and previously.
The clock was built in 1977 and was paid for (just a measly $58,000 Canadian) by local shop owners and donors. I’ve said that it’s popular, but it does have four faces, so you have lots of chances to take a shot in front of it or just as it puffs steam every hour.
Capilano Suspension Bridge
Technically the Capilano Suspension Bridge is just outside of Vancouver but there are free buses to and from the bridge which is just a 15 minute ride away from the city. Also, I’ve written about it in detail here, but this is the general jist.
There was time for one day trip and that was always going to be to Whistler. A quintessential ski and snowboarding town, Whistler is gorgeous summer or winter. There are hikes during the summer where you really get to appreciate the beautiful landscape and, of course, skiing and the like during winter.
There are two Chinese gardens in Vancouver and, conveniently, they sit right next door to each other. Named the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Gardens, one is free to the public to wander around in, while the paid park was built with materials imported from China. Go there. It’s pretty.
Those were my favourite spots, and I know there are many more, so tell me what you love to do in Vancovuer!