Whirlwind Weekend in Vancouver

Wow!  We managed to do and see a lot in 3 days.  We arrived Friday morning (YVR)… took about an hour to get through customs/immigration… I have no idea if this is normal or not, but I would assume so.  Then we followed the Ground Transportation signs outside and across the street where we conveniently hopped the train to downtown which was about a 30 minute ride. (I believe it was like CAD9 per person.) It made several stops along the way from the airport to downtown.  Then it was about a mile hike to our hotel (Westin Bayshore).  Nice walk that wasn’t too difficult to navigate once I got pointed in the correct direction, and the area we walked through from the Granville/Pender stop to the hotel was nice and “friendly” (aka not slums, not run down, not worrisome). We were early to our hotel, and decided to ask if our room might be ready and to our surprise, it was.

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View from our 8th floor room at Westin Bayshore

It was great to get out of Vegas for a few days and explore a city we’ve been wanting to check out for a number of years.  Really glad we did. This city did not disappoint.  If you’re a foodie and / or you like seafood… this city is for you.  LOTS of choices. Too many in fact.  It was distressing to try to pick a place because they all sounded so good, and they all got good reviews.  Alas, we decided to stick to mainly seafood / fish on  this trip because … hey, it’s Vancouver and it must be fresh.

Steam clock in Gastown * so kewl! *

Steam clock in Gastown * so kewl! *

We hit all the major sites too… Waterfront to Downtown to Gastown to Yaletown to Granville to Stanley Park to Capilano Suspension Bridge to Grouse Mountain to Whistler.  (And lots in between… in fact, we accidentally found the skid row area and boy was that a little tense. Other than the homeless, I’m pretty sure we saw several drug deals and hot goods being sold.  We definitely stepped up the pace through this area.  We didn’t realize it was so close to Gastown… just up and over a couple streets… yikes.)

I’m not going to bore you with all the details of all the places we visited.  I am in the process or writing reviews for most of them on Yelp if you are interested. Check them out on my site: aliag.yelp.com

Here are a handful of pictures and blurts.

Legwarmers * who knew? these apparently are all the rage? *

Legwarmers * who knew? these apparently are all the rage? *

Canadian Bear in a MINI * simply awesome *

Canadian Bear in a MINI * simply awesome *

Wine taps at VUW * lots and lots of wines to choose from *

Wine taps at VUW * lots and lots of wines to choose from *

Charcuterie Plate and Wine Tasting at VUW * try the pickled scallions... so d-lish *

Charcuterie Plate and Wine Tasting at VUW * try the pickled scallions… so d-lish *

Capilano Suspension Bridge * exciting and beautiful, highly recommend a visit to this park *

Capilano Suspension Bridge * exciting and beautiful, highly recommend a visit to this park *

Granville Public Market * all sorts of goodies to buy and savor *

Granville Public Market * all sorts of goodies to buy and savor *

Biking the Seawall under Lion's Gate Bridge * rent a bike at Spokes and tootle around Stanley Park *

Biking the Seawall under Lion’s Gate Bridge * rent a bike at Spokes and tootle around Stanley Park *

Story poles at Stanley Park * learn the difference between a "story" pole and a "totem" pole at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park *

Story poles at Stanley Park * learn the difference between a “story” pole and a “totem” pole at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park *

Grouse Mountain Gondola Ride * ride is about 10 minutes, great views of the harbor and whole Vancouver area *

Grouse Mountain Gondola Ride * ride is about 10 minutes one-way, great views of the harbor and whole Vancouver area *

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PLACES WE VISITED:

Westin Bayshore – http://www.westinbayshore.com/

  • Great Location on the West End, super close to Stanley Park

Stanley Park – http://vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/stanley-park.aspx

  • Beautiful and lots of trails around and through the park, highly recommend renting a bike (from Spokes)

The Seawall – http://vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/seawall.aspx

  • The wall is split into a walking trail and a biking trail so everyone “get along nicely”

Gastown – http://www.gastown.org/ or http://bcpassport.com/neighbourhoods/gastown/

  • Shops and bars and restaurants…. meander and enjoy this cute and safe area… beware… don’t head too far south of this area as it gets rough

Waterfront – Downtown – http://www.yelp.com/biz/waterfront-centre-Vancouver

  • You can find lots of food carts and food trucks… and they looked and smelled devine…. sadly we weren’t hungry when we passed them

Yaletown – http://bcpassport.com/shopping/yaletown/

  • Cool, hip, happening area with lots of restaurants and bars

Granville Public Market – http://granvilleisland.com/public-market

  • Eat to your hearts delight… or grab some snacks and bring them back to your hotel to enjoy later… so many “nummies” to be enjoyed here

Grouse Mountain – https://grousemountain.com/about

  • Pretty, but not much to do here unless you want to hike around
  • There is a grizzly bear exhibit if you want to catch a glimpse
  • Note – they have a couple of restaurants and I *HIGHLY* recommend that you make a reservation otherwise you’ll be eating day-old, re-heated hamburgers, pizza and fries that have been sitting around in a warmer most of the day

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park – http://www.capbridge.com/visit/hours-and-rates/

  • Note – there’s a *FREE* shuttle to/from CSBP – http://www.capbridge.com/visit/shuttle-service/
  • Highly recommend you go and explore this park, might take 1.5-2 hours to enjoy it all
  • When you go, definitely take the time to listen to the tour guides… there’s a history tour that is only 15 minutes and starts at the top of every hour
  • Would not suggest this for kids under 5 due to the nature of the attraction

Whistler – Blackcomb Village – http://www.whistler.com/village/

  • Mountain bikers delight during the summer, Skier/Snowborader delight during the winter
  • About 2 hours from Vancouver…. And give yourself a few hours to wander around the village(s), and enjoy a drink at a pub or a meal while admiring the beauty and vastness of the mountain

BUSINESSES and RESTAURANTS WE VISITED:

Our 3-day Itinerary and Journal:

FRIDAY

  • Our flight was about an hour late departing so we were about an hour late arriving YVR.
  • Took about an hour to get through customs.
  • Took the train from airport to Waterfront/Downtown – hoofed it to Westin Bayshore from last stop.
  • Lunch at Cardero’s on the patio… weather was wonderful… a few clouds, plenty of blue skies with a slight breeze.
  • Walk the Waterfront to Gastown, noting all the cool food street vendors and food trucks… too bad we’d already eaten lunch.
  • Shop along Gastown, stop in at Chill Winston’s for a drink at the bar.
  • Continue through Gastown down Alexander through a bit rougher part of town … more industrial, a bit run down, more homeless… for about 1/2 a mile to Vancouver Urban Winery.
  • Note… if going to VUW when dark… highly recommend a taxi to/from … we inadvertently found what must have been Skid Row when we left VUW walking south / southwest a few blocks away from Gastown.
  • Walked back to Westin Bayshore… roundtrip probably close to 5 miles.
  • Relaxed for a bit and then went to dinner at Hapa Izakaya on Robson Street which was thankfully less than 1/2 mile away cuz I was pooped from getting up so early in  the morning to catch our flight and then wandering all over the place when we got there.
  • Fell asleep exhausted!  But it was a good exhausted.

SATURDAY

  • Slept in a bit.
  • Hubby brought me tea and a muffin while I was lounging in bed.  He’s so awesome that way.
  • It “looked” mostly clear out so I left my rain coat when we left the hotel.  (Probably not the best idea.)
  • We headed to Spokes and rented bikes around 10am and tootled around Stanley Park. First stopping at the totem / story pole area.  There are restrooms there and a small gift shop.
  • Continued around the perimeter of the park on the seawall.  Interestingly enough and much appreciated in narrow spots, the trail is “one-way” only… so if you plan on biking around Stanley Park… be sure to start at the trail head closest to Spokes and the Westin.
  • We stopped several times to take pictures, and ended up having lunch at the Fish House (which means you’ve almost gone all the way around the park). It’s in a building that looks like a house and is next to the tennis courts.
  • Lovely brunch on the patio until it started raining.  At first we thought it would just mist, but then it started coming down harder and harder.
  • The staff extended the awning to keep us dry while we dined.
  • The rain ended up being persistent. But we were determined to see the area… so we continued biking along the seawall all the way over the Granville.  We did stop once for about 15 minutes under a crop of trees cuz it was pouring rain.  I was pretty much soaked through all the way.  Oh well.  It’s not like it hurt. And it wasn’t a freezing cold rain.  It was cool, but I wasn’t shivering.
  • The rain let up a little…. still a sprinkle and we made our way over to the Public Market. Lots of areas to lock up your bike.
  • Wandered the stores and market area.  Wow!  I could totally spend all day here just eating myself into a food coma. But we didn’t.  We did get some meat and salami and cheese at Oyama Sausage Company to take back to the hotel for a snack (with a bottle of wine we had purchased the day before while walking around Gastown.)
  • We took the Aquabus back to the other side of the inlet rather than ride all the way back around again.  I believe it was CAD8 for the both of us with our bikes.  YES, you can bring your bikes on the Aquabus.
  • Rode back to Spokes and returned our bikes which was so simple and quick.  (Note: Spokes has wonderful customer service!)
  • Walked the 100 yds or so back to the hotel and enjoyed our snack and wine.
  • At 4:30pm, we were picked up by Vancouver Trolley Company for our “tour” of Capilano Suspension Bridge and Grouse Mountain.  It wasn’t so much a tour as they provided transportation and entrance into both attractions.  (I’d advise just taking a taxi to both so that you don’t have to be on VTC schedule.)
  • Loved Capilano Suspension Bridge Park!
  • Grouse Mountain … not so much.  It wasn’t very interesting and IMO a waste since we got up to the top of the mountain at 7:30pm when it was almost pitch black and you can’t see anything or do anything outside cuz it’s not lit (not that there is anything much “to do” outside other than hike around.)  AND on top of it all, 2 of the 3 restaurants were booked out for the evening which left us to the cafeteria restaurant where the food was prepared earlier in the day and had been in warmers all day so it was stale and not very good.  The one saving grace was that it was a pretty ride UP the mountain in the gondola.  Down the mountain… it’s ok… you can see the city lights if it’s not cloudy (and it was a bit cloudy for us.)  Oh… the one “interesting” thing at Grouse Mountain is the 2 Grizzly Bears… if you’re lucky you might see them.  They had settled down for the night so we only saw “movement” of their outline since they were laying down on the mountain … and brown grizzly on the brown ground when it’s almost dark out is really hard to see.  But we saw movement.
  • We took a taxi back to our hotel (CAD25).  We didn’t use VTC on the way down (even tho we’d paid for it) because we didn’t want to wait another hour… trolley bus wasn’t leaving until 10pm… it was 9pm when we got to the bottom and saw the cabs so we took a cab.
  • Only took like 15 minutes to get back to our hotel from Grouse Mountain so we headed to Cardero’s for a nightcap.
  • Turned in at 10pm… tired again, so fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.

SUNDAY

  • The hubby got up early and went to the airport to get a rental car, and was back by 9:15am.
  • We headed up to Whistler. It was a curvy route, but what a BEAUTIFUL drive!
  • Got up to Whistler about 11:15am… wandered around the village…. and was amazed at all the mountain bikers tearing down the mountain.  It looked like a lot of fun.  There were lots of places to rent bikes from in the village… if you are so inclined… grab a bike and the necessary safety equipment, pay the CAD60+ dollars for a lift ticket and feel the thrill of flying down the mountain.
  • We didn’t do that… we walked over to Blackcomb side where there was a farmer’s market in full swing…I naturally purchased a bag of fresh kettle korn…. and we lunched at Milestones that looks onto the mountain.
  • Drove back where I naturally fell asleep most of the way back to the hotel.
  • Relaxed for a bit at the hotel, but we had an early dinner planned, so we headed out again at 5pm.
  • Dined on the patio at Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar.  What a lovely way to cap off a wonderful weekend!  Food and service were excellent!
  • After dinner we wandered around Yaletown a bit and noted all the bars and restaurants.  A very “happening” place!
  • Lucked out when we returned to the hotel that we could park on the street, and not have to pay CAD41 to park at the hotel.
    • NOTE:  there’s lots of metered parking in/around Vancouver so if you have a car, I highly recommend you carry coins.  The street we parked at was only “metered” from 9am to 10pm. So, as long as we left before 9am the following morning (which we did), we didn’t have to pay.
  • Before heading in for the evening, we walked the waterfront a bit and drooled over (and made wishes on) the yachts we’d like to have.

MONDAY

  • Got up and headed to the airport.
  • Took us about an hour from the time we dropped the car at the rental return to get through all the checkpoints and sit down at a bar/grill that was near our gate for breakfast.
  • NOTE:  Keep your boarding pass and passport out… you are asked for it like 7 times while you are going through the process