You guessed it, I went to Canada.
Vancouver, specifically. Vancouver has been on my shortlist of places to visit for a long time. I’ve been to Canada once before, but it was when I was eight (before they required a passport to enter) on a cross-country road trip and we went to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. For those rusty on their Canadian geography like I am, Niagara Falls is directly above New York and Vancouver is directly above Seattle.
So Jj and I decided to visit over a long weekend, from Thursday to Sunday. Instead of flying into Vancouver, we flew into Seattle and drove into Vancouver. This was a better option for a few reasons: the flight was a lot cheaper and Vancouver doesn’t have Lyft or Uber (they are working on implementing Uber). The drive from Seattle to Vancouver was about 3 hours, with border times varying. On our way up, the wait was only a few minute wait. One thing to note is that if you are planning on driving a rental car, make sure your rental car company allows its cars to drive into Canada (we used Fox Rent-a-Car). A few other things to make sure of when driving in Canada are that the speed limits are posted in kilometers per hour and that there are very few protected left turns!
We stayed in an Airbnb in the South Cambie neighborhood of Vancouver. It was a laneway house (essentially a guest house). It was the perfect size little house with enough amenities to make you feel like you were at your own house. It was super close to downtown too, which was a huge plus. If you are looking for places in Vancouver, I highly recommend this one.
For our first night in Vancouver, we decided to head into downtown to walk around and explore. The weather was rainy and cool, a nice change from the abnormally warm weather we’ve been having in Denver this fall. Our first stop was Hotel Georgia, a legendary hotel on Georgia Street, one of the major thoroughfares in Vancouver. Within the hotel, there is this bar called Prohibition, which is modeled after a speakeasy (they even had a side door with a single light for its entrance). The inside was super swanky, with lots of marble, wood, and mirrored accents. Most of the seating was on leather couches. They were running a special on Old Fashioned’s so we took advantage of the house specials (*Note: the drinking age in BC is 19). After our drink, we walked around Robson Street, which is the major shopping district for the city. They had everything from high-end luxury to fast fashion retailers (Fun fact: the world’s second largest Victoria’s Secret is in Vancouver). We ended the night at an Irish pub, where I got my long-awaited Magners fix.
Vancouver was also home to the 2010 Winter Olympics, so they have a perfectly preserved Olympic Village that housed the athletes, in addition to BC Place Stadium, which held a number of events including the Opening and Closing ceremonies.
The next day, we decided to head up to Lynn Canyon Park in North Vancouver, home to the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge. There is another suspension bridge, Capilano, but it is definitely the more touristy of the two (Lynn Canyon is also free!). We were lucky and had a day without any rain, which made it the perfect day to be up there. It was only about a 25-minute drive from the Airbnb so not too far, which makes for a quick trip. It was amazing. It was a little foggy, so I got some great photos because of it. The bridge has a 230-foot drop, so it’s not for those who are afraid of heights. I’ve never been to anything like that before, but I did want to get outside, so this definitely satisfied that.
We then headed over to Stanley Park, which is a large urban park just north of downtown. The park’s dense forest was preserved and slowly urbanized over time. One of the features the park is known for are the totem poles that overlook the water and Downtown Vancouver skyline. It’s kind of like the Central Park of Vancouver so to speak.
For lunch, we headed over to Olympia Pizza in Kitsilano. It’s a Greek-owned restaurant that’s been in business for over 50 years. We came to find out that Kitsilano was the “Greektown” of Vancouver. After lunch at the restaurant, we stopped at Serano Greek Pastry, a Greek bakery. And let me tell you, the pastries were authentic and some of the best I’ve had that weren’t my mom’s!
We started our last full day in Vancouver at Granville Island. Granville Island is filled with a bunch of restaurants, specialty shops, and a huge public market (similar to Pike Place Market). We started with lunch at the Vancouver Fish Company where we had the most delicious Bloody Mary’s and seafood chowder. After walking around the island and around the docks, we stopped into The Liberty Distillery, a local craft distillery that makes its own vodka, gin, and whiskey. I wasn’t feeling great, so I didn’t drink, but Jj got a gin martini. From the sitting area, you could see into the actual distillery where they make the alcohol. We were too late for the tour, but it would have been really cool to tour!
We met up with one of Jj’s friend Hayley from Boulder who lives in Seattle but was visiting her friend Max who went to UBC. We ended up heading to Gastown, which is near the waterfront. He took us to this coffee shop (the name escapes me) for a Spanish Latte, which is essentially a latte made with sweetened condensed milk and espresso. I’m a sweet coffee drinker so it was right up my alley. We then headed to Canada Place, essentially Vancouver’s convention center. It had nods to Canada’s geography and history in its architecture, which I thought was really neat. We ended the night with dinner in Yaletown with Hayley’s family.
Our last day of the trip was essentially a travel day, as we had to drive back to Seattle to fly back to Denver. We got lucky in Seattle and got an unexpected upgrade on Delta. We ended up flying Delta Comfort+, which gave us an abundant amount of legroom between the seats. We both decided that Delta is our new favorite airline.
Overall, it was a really great trip. I’ve come to the conclusion that Vancouver is a mix between Seattle, San Francisco, and Denver. I highly recommend it if you are looking for a place in Canada to visit. I would definitely go again!
Jj made a video documenting the trip on a GoPro, so if you haven’t already, please check it out!