We arrived in Vancouver on Monday afternoon. On our way, we crossed the border in Blaine and my brother and I were able to jump out of our car while we waited in line to cross the border. There was a park along the the area where the cars waited to be checked and many people were out walking. There were two pretty flower beds on either side that made up the U.S. and Canadian flags. After snapping a pic in front of the flag we walked back to our car which hadn’t moved far.
While driving in to the city, I was greeted by a very different city skyline than I am usually used to. Instead of a skyline similar to Chicago or New York, or even that of Seattle, Vancouver looked as if it was taken out of an Asian city skyline and placed in a North American setting. Most buildings looked rounded and stacked on top of each other. They also had windows on almost every floor that opened up and were made mainly of reflective metal. Something about it was just very different. As we drove closer into the city and were at ground level with the buildings they didn’t seem as unusual but from a distance they do.
After checking into our hotel, the Marriott Pinnacle Downtown, we walked across the street to the waterfront. The Olympic Torches that had been built for the 2010 Winter Games were a staple to the area we walked about. From where we were sitting we could also watch the seaplanes taking off and landing. With the mountains in the background it was a very cool setting.
We did not have enough of our day left to go out and drive somewhere, so instead we decided to walk a few blocks to rent bikes and spend the rest of the afternoon exploring nearby Stanley Park by bike. Stanley Park is located just off of the downtown area and is a big change from the sky scrappers found in Vancouver. We biked around the entire island, which is about 9 kilometers or five and a half miles.
Spokes is where we rented our bikes from and is located right at the entrance to Stanley Park.
While biking around the island, we had great views of the mountains and the Lions Gate Bridge. Along the pathway that surrounds the island, we stopped multiple times to look at the views. At one point we stopped to take pictures of the Lions Gate Bridge and spotted a few sea otters in the ocean not far from where we had stopped. We continued on and found ourselves riding along the sea wall. Farther on, we passed a beach packed full with people.
The next day, we left the hotel early in order to make it out to Lynn Canyon. Vancouver is known to have nice hiking paths as well as suspension bridges. When it comes to suspension bridges, there are two main options, Capilano Suspension Bridge Park and Lynn Canyon Park. We opted for Lynn Canyon as it is free to both enter and park in the park. By the time we got there, the park was already pretty full but we did manage to wait at the start of the bridge to get a few good pictures on the bridge without big groups of people on it.
After walking across the bridge, we hiked for a bit until we came to a part of the trail where we could access the river. There were two logs stuck in the middle that my brother Tyler was able to walk across to get to the middle. Hesitantly, I followed and luckily made it across as well. We hopped from rock to rock making our way towards the waterfall in the park. We weren’t able to actually get to the waterfall so we turned back. I attempted to cross the river the same way that I had before, but did not fare as well the second time. I stepped off of the sturdy log and into the water. Luckily only one foot went under but it was freezing for the rest of our hike.
Lighthouse Park was our next destination. It was another walk out to actually see the lighthouse, but luckily a much shorter one than what we had done in Lynn Canyon. Lighthouse Park has a restricted area around the actual lighthouse so we were not able to see it up close. Instead, they have a lighthouse viewing area if you are willing to climb up a few rocks. We did so, but it was not as exciting as seeing the lighthouse up close would have been.
Next, we drove down to Granville Island. Granville Island is known for having a large market area as well as lots of little shops. When we arrived, it was filled with families and tour groups. We strolled through the market which was similar to that of Pike Place Market in Seattle but was all inside and much smaller. We were tempted by their fruit tarts, pies, and cookies but continued our walk on.
Granville Island was very busy, and instead of eating dinner there, we decided to drive to Gastown in Downtown Vancouver. We had dinner at a nice bar and restaurant on the water and then walked down the street. Along the cobblestone street were many souvenir shops so we stopped in at a few on our way down to see the steam clock. I was not sure why such a big deal was made about this clock, but supposedly it is the last working steam clock left in the world. So I guess that is kind of a big deal. Every 15 minutes it plays a little tune and has steam come out of it.
On Wednesday, we drove down to Steveston, which is about 30 minutes south of Vancouver, to go whale watching. We went to Steveston Seabreeze Adventures for what we originally thought was a 3-4 hour long whale watching trip. When all 23 passengers boarded the boat though, the captain mentioned how there was a group of orca whales farther down south and if no one had any planes to catch later in the day, we could go all the way down to see them. Our 3-4 hour long trip became a 5 and a half-ish hour long trip. But it was worth it! We went all the way down to the Strait of Georgia, just south of Victoria, and saw a few large groups of orca whales.
On the boat ride down, we passed many islands and saw a large group of sea lions sunning themselves on a group of rocks. Earlier on our trip, I swear I saw a lone dolphin out in the water as well. Our guide didn’t confirm it, but I swear that’s what I saw. Despite the longer trip, (we almost boated all the way back down to Seattle!!!) it was entirely well worth it. We saw many whales and even saw a few breach, or jump out of the water and into the air. Our guide informed us that it takes a lot of energy and calories for them to do that and that is why it is a rare sight to see.
Steveston also happens to be the town where the ABC show Once Upon a Time is filmed. They were filming near the docks when we were there and we saw a big crowd standing near trying to get a glimpse of the actors. We drove through the main street where “Storybrooke” the town from the show, is set.
We leave for Whistler this morning and even more mountains! My internet has not been the best in Vancouver so I hope to add more photos to this post later or in an additional post later.