Vancouver

I was really looking forward to our arrival in Vancouver. The Okanagan region was beautiful, but I was excited to get to the coast, and after six months in Golden, excited to get to the city. Sleeping in the car is a great way to explore Canada’s more rural areas, but living in a vehicle gets tricky in the city. When we couldn’t find a centrally located hotel that fit our budget we decided to look at another option.

Airbnb is an app that connects hosts and travellers from around the world. Hosts post photos and a description of their space, along with a list of included “amenities”. Travellers browse these profiles and choose the one that best suits their needs. Sometimes the space will be a single bedroom in a family home, or else an entire home or apartment. Rentals range from the most basic basement apartments to the most luxurious downtown condos. There are even some more unique options: through Airbnb you can rent a treehouse, a sailboat, a hobbit-style cottage. Not only is it a budget friendly option for travellers, Airbnb is also a fun way to “live like the locals”. For hosts, Airbnb provides additional income and a way to meet people from around the world.

We searched for downtown Vancouver, then narrowed our search to apartments that offered free wifi, parking and laundry. I was overwhelmed with how many choices there were in our price range! We decided to spend two nights at a beautiful old home in Mount Pleasant and another two nights at a cool apartment in Kitsilano, just a couple blocks from the beach. (Check them out here and here!)

We arrived in Vancouver a little too early to check in to “our apartment” in Mount Pleasant, so we drove to Kits instead to check out the beach. We sat for a while and watched boats pass by under the clear blue sky.

After meeting our host and making ourselves at home, we decided to explore the neighbourhood a little. We walked to a nearby park, where we discovered some giant jelly beans, and some little urban vegetable gardens. Naturally I was a huge fan of both.

On our way back we stopped at Whole Foods to pick up some groceries for dinner. Neither of us had been to a Whole Foods before, and the temptations of the chain gourmet grocery store were made even greater by our extremely hungry tummies. We were like kids in a candy store, in awe of fancy iced teas, artisan cheeses and freshly baked desserts.

The next day I started my morning with a run. I had lots of company- the active lifestyle of Vancouverites was apparent in the many other runners, bikers, kayakers and dog walkers enjoying the Saturday morning sunshine.

After breakfast Aaron and I decided to continue exploring the city on foot. Public transit would have been faster, but Vancouver is such a beautiful city to walk in and we didn’t want to miss a thing! We headed toward the historic Gastown district where we admired some really cool old buildings and discovered some neat shops that put our willpower to the test! One of these finds was Old Faithful Shop which sells a little bit of everything; handcrafted tea kettles, goat milk chocolate bars, do-it-yourself gin making kits, bourbon maple syrup, juniper beard balm… the list goes on. The store itself was really well designed and well curated. We had fun browsing and walked away with some hand printed cards for me and a new bandana for Aaron.

For lunch we visited Steamworks, which is a brewery as well as a restaurant. We first discovered Steamworks beer in Manitoba, and I’ve always admired the whimsical art painted on to each bottle. As it turns out, most of that art is inspired by Gastown landmarks, and it was fun to spot some of the real life versions!

One of these landmarks was the steam-powered clock pictured below. We arrived just in time to hear the clock’s musical whistle, which goes off on the half hour.

Next we wandered over to Stanley Park, and strolled along the sea wall before checking out an impressive collection of totem poles near the centre of the park.

On the walk “home” I checked the pedometer on my phone. We had walked nearly 20km, in addition to my 10km run that morning. We decided we had earned ourselves a treat, so we stopped at Whole Foods to pick up some dessert to enjoy with the mead we bought in Vernon.

The next day we decided to rent bikes which ended up being a great idea. On two wheels we were able to cover the entire perimeter of Stanley Park. When the skies threatened rain we stepped inside The Three Brits Public House for lunch. With a tasty menu and an even tastier cocktail list The Three Brits hit the spot. We spent the rest of the day riding around on our rented bikes, such a fun and easy way to get around in the bike-friendly city.

After relocating from our accommodation in Mount Pleasant to our new spot in Kits we made our way to Granville Island. After a bit of wandering around we stumbled upon a bubble tea shop, where I happily ordered a taro bubble tea, something I’ve been missing since leaving Waterloo!

That night we met up with my cousin and her boyfriend for sushi at a wacky and cool fusion restaurant where all the maki rolls were named after various pop culture icons (including the Miss Piggy Roll, the Barbie Roll, and the Andy Warhol). We each ordered a roll to share. Aaron’s choice, just called “Godzilla” was by far the favourite, so good we had to order another. We ended the night with Sake Bombs, a messy Japanese twist on the jägerbomb.

For our last day in Vancouver we visited Wreck Beach. A seemingly never ending flight of stairs led us down to the popular “clothing optional” beach. The day got surprisingly warm, and we spent most of the afternoon reading and picnicking on the beach before packing up our things and making our way to our evening ferry.

Over the course of this trip Aaron and I have gotten used to having our breath taken away by the stunning sights of this beautiful country, but Vancouver was the first time we really had our hearts stolen by the city… I can’t wait to be back.

Stay tuned for tales of Vancouver Island!

-J

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