After Korea, we headed back to the US for a couple of weeks. We had a great time going to a friend’s wedding in San Diego (congrats Daren and Eileen!) and visiting my new niece in St. Louis (Hola Marina!). We learned a lot in our first two months of traveling, so we re-assessed our belongings, threw out some things, and prepared ourselves for almost 11 months of travel before we’d see the good ole USA again. We are making our way East now, exploring Scandinavia and Europe until November. But before our European tour, we decided to spend a couple of days in Vancouver. Apparently, flights from Vancouver to London are a couple hundred dollars cheaper than similar flights from the West Coast to Europe.
I skied in Whistler and had driven through Vancouver but hadn’t spent any time in the city. Vancouver is just across the border and takes about 2.5 – 3 hours to get to from Seattle. Vancouver has a large Asian population and is famous for its physical beauty. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains and deep blue sea, Vancouver is gorgeous, especially when the sun is shining. Its beauty is so famous, Vancouver has made multiple lists of "Most Beautiful Cities in the World," including the Forbes' list and Buzzfeed's. We flew to Vancouver from LAX and arrived around 11 PM. Our Airbnb host picked us up and took us to the house. We had a basement apartment with separate entrance and kitchen.
Our first day in Vancouver, we went to dim sum at Fisherman Terrace in Richmond which was pretty good. Then we took the skytrain to Waterfront. We heard Vancouver has good coffee so we went to Timbertrain Coffeehouse in the Gastown district a short walk away. Gastown is a trendy, hipster part of Vancouver with historic buildings, newer restaurants, bars, coffee shops, etc. Since it was nice and hot out, I got the Nitro Cold Brew coffee and Diem got an Iced Latte. Both were OK but nothing special. Next, we walked through Gastown and saw that people were setting up for the Gastown Grand Prix bike race that was happening later that day. We took a picture of the Gastown steam clock and "Gassy Jack" and then we went by a waterfront park called CRAB Park. We kept walking along the waterfront and there were some cool buildings and statues close to the ferry/convention center building. We wanted to go around Stanley Park so we kept walking along the Seawall and found a bike rental place. We rented a tandem bike for $27 and went around Stanley Park.
Stanley Park is a popular park just north of downtown with a number of attractions, including the famous Seawall (a paved pathway for biking, running or walking that runs around the park's rugged coastline) and the Stanley Park Totem Poles (the most-visited attraction in British Columbia). The park is also home to beaches, hiking trails, and the Vancouver Aquarium. We had a beautiful day and had some amazing views of the waterfront around Vancouver as we rode around the Seawall. We stopped to take pictures of the totem poles, some statues, and had lunch at the Teahouse at Stanley Park. The food was pretty good but our view was obstructed by the trees. We rode around the park for about 3 hours and then returned the bike back to the rental place.
After Stanley Park, we decided we wanted to go to Granville Island. We took the bus and made our way there. Granville Island is just southwest of downtown and is famous for its public market with a variety small food shops. The Public Market was pretty cool but not as extensive as the food markets in Asia. The market was closing down so we just walked around the shops and the outdoor cafes. Afterwards we went to the Granville Island Brewery and had some beers. We had plans to have dinner in Gastown at “Ask for Luigi’s” but by the time we got to the restaurant there was an hour and a half wait. We walked back toward Gastown and ran into the Gastown Grand Prix that we saw earlier. There were a ton of people and a huge group of cyclists going around in circles. We didn’t know really what was going on but we grabbed some ice cream while we tried to find a new place to eat and then decided on Tuc Caft Kitchen. The clams and mussels I got were pretty good. We were really tired and made it back to the house around 11 PM.
Our last day in Vancouver, we got up early and went to the Capiliano Suspension Bridge. The Suspension Bridge was about an hour and 20 minutes from our Airbnb but probably only 20-30 minutes away from downtown Vancouver and some hotels even have free shuttles to the bridge. We mistakenly took a bus from our Airbnb to the waterfront station instead of the train which took way longer. We then took the SeaBus across to the other side and then another bus to the entrance. The SeaBus was nice and we got some nice views of the city from the ferry.
The Capiliano Bridge attraction area costs about 40 Canadian Dollars and includes some different attractions along the cliffs, river and trees in the area. The bridge, cliff walk and treetop walk are all pretty cool. The park website says it takes about 2.5 hours to go around all the attractions. In reality, you could go through the entire park in less than an hour if the park isn’t too crowded. There were some pretty cool views and I love me some suspension bridges but I don’t think it was really worth $33. We took the bus back to downtown Vancouver and went back to Ask for Luigi for lunch. It’s a pretty small restaurant but the food was really good. Diem had the spaghetti and clams and I had the rigatoni Bolognese. After lunch we headed to the airport to fly to London. We flew Westjet which is a discount airline which doesn’t have many frills. In fact, they don’t even serve food on the 9+ hour flight and we had the added bonus of the WiFi and entertainment system being on the fritz. It wasn’t that bad though because I needed to work on my blog and sleep.
Vancouver was a pleasant surprise. We only had 2 full days to see the sights of the city and we left wishing we had spent more time there. We’ll definitely be back sometime in the future and had talks about making Vancouver a regular summer vacation spot.
You can see the full gallery of our time in Vancouver here: Vancouver, Canada.