We docked into Vancouver port early Wednesday 14 September. We opted to walk to our hotel instead of lining up for a taxi because the queues were super long and Google maps said our hotel was only a 15 min walk away.
I immediately took to Vancouver. It might have been because of the weather as it was a bright sunny day. Or maybe because the city reminded me of Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne all mixed into one. While we walked from the port to the hotel, I could see and feel the different Australian cities. The areas near the water reminded me of Sydney, the city trams reminded me of Melbourne, the city shopping area reminded me of Brisbane… And it really was a stunning day – cool but sunny, which is personally my ideal climate.
We arrived at our hotel, Georgian Court Hotel, around 10:15AM and expected to be told we couldn’t check in until 3PM and as a Plan B, I had planned a day for us to kick around the city – but to our luck, a room was available! I love it when things work out like that. So we were able to take up our bags, unpack, relax (usually means watching tv or checking our phones) before heading out to check out the city.
First up on the itinerary was a walk to Gastown, north of our hotel and neighboring with Chinatown.
Gastown had many boutique shops, tourist-oriented businesses, restaurants, nightclubs, and apartments. It is close to the water and I could see it being a hot spot for tourist to go visit (like ourselves), especially docking in on a cruise. We didn’t need to buy or eat anything so our visit was quite quick. We walked around for about an hour before heading back to the hotel to get changed for the evening. One of the attractions of the area is the Steam Clock.
For lunch, we ate at Jam Cafe because we saw people lining up to go in. The place reminded me of Friedman’s Lunch in New York because it had the same type of food and decor.
We had tickets to see a Vancouver Fringe Festival performance on Granville Island that night. We walked through Yaletown to the David Lam Park ferry dock to catch the False Creek ferry to Granville Island.
Yaletown was very hipster and featured many restaurants, bars, and boutique shops.
The False Creek Ferry was on-time and cost $5.50 CAD return, each. It was a lovely evening and the ride along the water was very pleasant.
We had a couple of hours to kill before the performance and I had planned for us to get dinner at the Public Market. There were plenty of food stalls so we decided to have a progressive dinner of: beef pot pie, lemon meringue pie, Spanakopita, macarons, and cookies. We then stopped into the Liberty Distillery for Gambit to have a sneaky drink before the show.
The performance we saw was called “I forgot to fly today” by Trent Baumann, a comedian from Australia. We sat in a park and watched him eventually strip down to his undies and then insert himself into a balloon. The message I got from the performance was that you could achieve whatever you want to set your mind to.
Thursday September 15: We got up around 7:30AM to get ready and head to the meeting spot for our Whistler day tour. I found a tour with Moose Travel Network for $55CAD which was a whole lot cheaper than a similar tour through Viator which were asking for $110USD.
I will add a spoiler here, right now: We LOVED Whistler.
Yes, we didn’t go during ski season but during the warmer months, they have mountain bike trails. We didn’t ride on them or take the lessons because we didn’t get into Whistler until noon and the lesson was at 10AM.
Whistler Village is large, clean and very well laid out. After we ate lunch at a restaurant in the sun where we could watch people get onto the peak to peak gondolas and ride down the bike paths, we set out for a walk along the Valley Trail. We underestimated how far away the Lost Lake was so we just ended up going to the Green Lake and that was very pretty. There was a lady with her dog down at the edge of the lake where she was throwing a ball for her dog to go fetch in the water.
There is a very chill and welcoming vibe, and plenty of things to do to fill in the time. As Gambit and I walked the trail, we talked about retiring here and how we would fill our days. We’d play golf three times a week (we’d have to take many lessons beforehand though), pop down to the local for a drink a couple times a week, go for long walks along the trail paths every other day, and just enjoy the beautiful changing scenery.
After our walk we headed back into the Village and boarded the coach back to Vancouver.
That night we ate at Taishoken Japanese. We didn’t do any research on this place and we found while walking around. I am a big fan of Ippudo and Totto Ramen in NYC – but these guys had the best pork belly I’ve ever had in a ramen. The noodles were not as good as Ippudo but the pork made up for it.
Friday September 16: We had a sleep in before heading out for dumplings at Dinesty Dumpling House – a place I found after doing a fair bit of research. I had read that there were a lot of Asian immigrants in Vancouver – so that usually means the quality of Asian foods would be pretty good.
Dinesty Dumpling House was good. They were short on chefs in the kitchen so we were only able to order the soup and steamed dumplings – and not the pan friend dumplings. We ordered enough to feed 3-4 people and managed to eat most of it.
I didn’t feel too bad as we then walked down to a place just outside of Stanley Park to hire some bikes to ride around the park.
Stanley Park… wow.. what an incredible feature of Vancouver. The park is around 400 hectare and is super close to Downtown Vancouver (about a 20-30 min walk). There is a seawall path that goes all around the park, swimming pools, water play parks, zoo, farmyard, aquarium, places to eat and drink, and beaches.
Due to the weather we had, it started to rain a little towards the end of our seawall ride so we handed our bikes back in and left the park. I could just imagine what it would be like on a warm, sunny day – especially in summer!
Upon my research I found a place where I could get a laksa, a spicy noodle soup dish I have been craving since I haven’t found one in Manhattan just yet. We ate at Banana Leaf and the food and service was wonderful. I had my laksa and it was absolutely delicious.
We walked back to the hotel afterwards before going to the Firehall Arts Centre for our second Fringe Festival performance; “2 for Tea” with James & Jamesy, from London, UK. This performance was quirky and the characters were cute. It was very physical as one of the character’s quirks was part of the comedy. There was a requirement for audience participation which was frightening but also fun.
The message I got from the performance was that relationships and death are part of life, and even when one dies it doesn’t mean the relationship will be forgotten. I am not sure if there really was such a deep meaning of this performance but it’s what I drew from it.
Saturday September 17: We had a late start to the morning and because it was a rainy day, we went straight to the place I booked us in for afternoon tea to see if we could get an earlier seating. To our fortune, they were able to accommodate us. Patisserie Fur Elise was really cute. It was set in a Victorian looking house and the afternoon tea was served on the second floor. On the first floor you could by macarons and gifts. The afternoon tea was $30 each and we were served the usual savory and sweet items on cute crockery. I do sometimes feel sorry for Gambit as he has to suffer through things like this – sitting in a super girly setting, eating off fine China…
We flew out that evening on a red eye, arriving back into New York the following morning. The flight wasn’t particularly fun but we got lucky to get the three middle seats to ourselves as a gentleman didn’t want to sit next to Gambit.
In summary – I loved our time in Vancouver and if we could somehow manage to live there, I would do so without hesitation.