I don’t think I’ve ever done so much touristy stuff before while visiting an area. Although I’ve never been to Vancouver before and to say that there is a lot to see there would be a huge understatement.
The biggest problem though is the weather! I often joke that being a weather person would be a great gig because I’m a bit of a weather nerd but also, it’s the only job where you can be wrong almost every day and not get fired. What I’m trying to say is that the forecast was hardly accurate. It’s rather difficult to plan outdoor activities when you have no idea if it’s going to rain or not.
I was staying at the Pan Pacific Hotel right downtown with a room overlooking the bay. I found myself staring out the window for long periods of time because the view was just so amazing. Boat taxis, day cruises, float planes taking off and landing every few minutes, and every morning there seemed to be a different cruise ship docked below my window. A real treat though was the sunsets which I had a great view of every night (weather permitting). After settling in, it was time for a walk around town a bit and right around the corner is the famous “Gas Town”. A couple hundred years ago the area was full of saloons, drunks, brothels, and all the problems that came along with it. The brothels are long gone though and so are drunken fights that happened all day and night, but it’s still ‘the spot’ to hang out with all it’s shops, bistros, restaurants, and pubs. One of the coolest features is the only steam powered Grandfather Clock in Canada. Just sitting out on the corner for all to see and be entertained by it’s steam powered chimes every 15 minutes and full “blown” melody at the top of every hour.
The next excursion was to Stanley Park, which was a short 6min cab ride away. There is a little something for everyone here. Whether it’s visiting the aquarium, the tiny steam train, native totem poles, lighthouses, old canons, or even horse drawn wagon rides (if you’re into any of those sorts of things). For a short while, and quite by accident, I ended up in the middle of a guided tour of the island. It was being led by a member of the Squamish people and in the way of his people, he passed on tales of the area as they were passed on to him. Just based on the little bit that I heard, I wished that I had been part of the whole tour. If you like history, consider joining one of these tours of the area.
I also spent some time at the Capilano Suspension Bridge and touring around Vancouver Island by way of the BC Ferries. Book well in advance if you want to take your car on the ferries or you will find yourself stranded.
The highlight excursion for me was the whale watching. Orcas are common in the area year-round but apparently Humpbacks are common in July also (we just didn’t see any). I did however see several Orcas (Killer Whales) and we fortunate to follow a pod of five for about an hour. I also saw lots of Seals (the preferred meal for Killer Whales) and a couple Bald Eagles. I can check Whale Watching off the bucket list!
After five nights in Vancouver, I didn’t even come close to seeing it all, but it was time to go visit my cousin in nearby Burnaby for a couple nights, and a day trip up the “Sea to Sky Highway” before continuing my 3C Expedition and epic road trip around Canada.