In September this year, our dream of visiting Canada finally came true and although I’ve shared my tips for “First Time Cruisers” here. Before we took off on our cruise we explored Vancouver and this is a roundup of our experience:
We started with Grouse Mountain…
Whilst Grouse Mountain is a pretty expensive taxi journey from downtown Vancouver (around $50.00) it’s a place well worth visiting. To ensure we were getting the best value for money, we booked in Breakfast with the Bears. Which included our cable car up Grouse Mountain, plus the chance to learn about the two Grizzly Bears (Grinder & Coola) which live happily in captivity at Grouse Mountain. Plus, of course, a delicious breakfast which was thoroughly appreciated due to my slightly delicate, jet-lagged state of mind.
Whilst up at Grouse Mountain, I thoroughly recommend watching a Lumberjack Show. It’s playful and not worth taking too seriously, but still great entertainment. We then headed back down in the cable car to the carpark/ticket office and took on The Grouse Grind, which is a 2.9km trail route, lovingly referred to as Mother Nature’s Stairmaster. They don’t call it a grind for no reason, there is a total of 2,830 stairs and some crazy people run this route, colour me impressed!
It is worth me mentioning that if you want to come back down from Grouse Mountain, for a second time (the first time is included within the cost of Breakfast with The Bears) its $15 each. The café is full of delicious snacks, there’s a big focus on vegan food and some scrumptious looking cakes. Once you’ve taken the cable car back down, don’t forget to take advantage of the free scuttle back to downtown Vancouver via the Suspension Bridge.
Then on to Gastown…
Okay, so the best way to describe Gastown is trendy, there’s plenty of places to eat and drink and a very wide range of shops. The only thing that surprised me was the drug scene (cannabis is legal) and how many homeless people there were, which isn’t always easy to see.
Eating in Gastown
For Vegans – Make sure you visit MeeT for scrumptious salads and burgers.
For Cheap and Cheerful – The Old Spaghetti Factory was a really popular choice and had a really long queue, so we didn’t end up eating there, however, they must be doing something right.
For Whiskey & Slow Cooked Meat – Head to Peckinpah for delicious beef brisket, creamed corn and picked salt and vinegar potatoes which are then fried and taste like salt & vinegar crisps.
For Coffee, Cake & WiFi – We landed up at Waves which is ideal for people-watching, great coffee (and a Pina-colada smoothie!) plus the biggest warm cranberry and orange scone. Also, worth noting that it’s excellent value for money too.
The Cat Café…
If you find yourself with an hour spare, make sure you visit the Cat Café which is located in China Town. You might have to book a slot and return, but in my opinion, it was $10 well worth spending. Over the past 3 years, they have lovingly rehomed 715 cats, it’s the perfect place for a coffee and cat time.
Granville Market is highly recommended and if you’re looking for fresh produce and a variety of independent shops, it’s easy to see why. However, I’d suggest visiting to eat and stroll, rather than dedicating a lot of time to the area. Plus, if you get the chance to take an “Aqua Bus” as they are great fun and start from only $3.50 a trip.
Finally, don’t visit Vancouver without taking a stroll, run or cycle around Stanley Park, the complete circuit is 8km and it’s around a 2/3km walk from Downtown. It’s ideal for wildlife spotting, we saw a Seal just relaxing on a rock in the sea, just watching the world go by, it was pretty special.
Don’t forget to check out the Totem Poles, and if you find yourself feeling peckish, we grabbed an Aqua Bus once we’d finished the walk and headed over to Granville Market.
This is just a brief overview of our trip, I’m pretty confident that if we were to return there’s so much more we’d uncover. I hope you’ve found this helpful and if you’ve got any questions? Drop me a line!