I love Canada and especially Vancouver. It has quickly become one of my favorite destinations. It’s far enough that I feel I see a completely different culture, but it is also close enough that I don’t get too homesick and start to feel like a tourist. It also retains that big city feel, without feeling like a giant metropolis unlike New York. The people are generally very friendly.
Stanley Park and the West End
The drive out to Vancouver was pretty relaxing, and we stopped at the West End first. This is an extremely popular place for tourist and the locals. It was likewise my wife’s favorite spot. She absolutely loved the beauty of the 1000 acre park that is known as Stanley Park. My wife loved walking the trails and seeing nature and the totem poles peppered around the park. I preferred the little train that rode around the park. It was a relaxing ride. I wanted to have a beer on it, but my wife heavily discouraged me. However, the best part of Stanley Park is the Vancouver Aquarium. It simply must not be missed, because they have an amazing array of animals.
This is the downtown area of Vancouver, and it did not disappoint. We left the R/V near Stanley Park as we were warned that traffic in the city center would be quite packed. So we optioned for a bus instead. There is so much to see and do here I couldn’t possibly list them all. The city has a laid back atmosphere that is evident everywhere you go. The Vancouver Lookout is a must. This 360 panoramic view of Vancouver is on the top floor of the Harbour Centre.
We stopped by a little restaurant called “New Amsterdam Cafe”. If you didn’t know, the attitudes towards marijuana here are very lax. You will see people smoking everywhere, and this cafe is one of those that allows patrons to smoke. We were told it was illegal to do this, but that it was hardly enforced. It seemed to be in a grey area of “we don’t see, we don’t know”. However, the coffee and service there was great, but there’s a reason why Vancouver is called “Vansteram”.
Some of the restaurants downtown are rather expensive, and we decided to splurge for once. We stopped at Hy’s Encore, which offered some of the best steaks I have ever had. The service was amazing, I felt like I was being treated like movie star or crooked politician. We also tried The International Culinary School at The Art Institute of Vancouver for a more affordable place to eat. This is a school where you pay $10, and the students cook for you. The food there was surprisingly good, especially given that they were students.
This is the oldest part of Vancouver and must be experienced before leaving. We were also told to avoid driving here as the parking in the area would be expensive (if we could find any). So we walked. The first thing you notice is that the streets are still made of cobblestone and retain that classic, aged feeling. While this may be the local Chinatown, there are plenty of non-oriental places to eat at. Our favorite was an old pub called “The Irish Heather”. They serve a delectable pheasant, but the main draw is that this is the only place in all of Vancouver where you can find a pint of Guinness!
Such a great city, I just wish I had more time to see it all.