My new quote, Vancouver=Love! I had the best time in my new favorite North American city! After finding a good garage not too far from my hotel and questioning when they will be open Monday so I could get my car out, I check into my hotel, Grandville Grand and the place was great! European style like the place I stayed in Seattle but more amenities. I was again on the top floor (3rd only this time) at the end of the hallway in the back facing the ally, so the view wasn’t as good. But I am sure it was more quiet then the rooms facing the street. Single bed, sink, safe, mini fridge(!), alarm clock, tv (with massive amounts of cable!), soaps and towels. This place also had a huge kitchen, dining area, laundry and pay computers. And it was so nice! Everything was super clean all the time. The bathroom situation was the same, down the hall, toilet room and then a room with toilet, sink and shower. The only downside is the pressure was horrible. And I wish there was a chair in the room so I didn’t have to sit on the floor or bed, but the room was tiny and jammed a lot of stuff in. For location and amenities, the price was great.
I was in Vancouver for like 4 hours 20 years ago and all we did was go to Stanley Park, so I don’t remember too much. The first thing you notice when you drive in is the amount of brand new high rise apartments. It was kind of a shock on the sky line! Since I didn’t know the lay out of the city at all, the first thing I did on my first day (after stopping by Tim Horton’s and getting a donut and coffee) was go up to the Vancouver Lookout and had a great time! Sign me up for any observation tower in any town. I found a coupon in a flier at the information centre and $12 later I was spending close to an hour reading all the plaques and situating myself in the city. The best part of the ticket for me was that you can make as many return visits through the day! After a long day of walking, I returned at sunset and got totally different views. I loved it!
I then walked around Gas Town and over to False Creek. Then not really knowing what to do next, I took a loooooong walk over to Granville Island. Not really an island but a great place to go shopping for local arts and food. I wish I hadn’t had lunch already and it was too early for dinner, so I just got a snack, but save your meals for this place! It’s nuts, but in a good way. After a long wonder (and tired feet) I took the Aqua Bus back to Vancouver and went back to the Convention Centre area to watch the sea planes take off and land and see the now extinguished Olympic Cauldron. The backdrop of this was straight out of NBC Olympic coverage (minus snow capped mountains) and it was just perfect to sit there and read. At this point I went back up to the Vancouver Lookout for a sunset view before heading back to my hotel.
The following day, I did Stanley Park. A popular thing to do is hire a bike and bike around the edge of it as you can do it in half a day. Since I put a whole day aside for the park and didn’t have proper riding shoes, I walked the whole thing, stopping every km to do some reading and just enjoy the scenery. It was 8 km and a beautiful way to spend the day. There is lots to see in the park including Canada’s biggest aquarium and totem poles. I was so tired by the end of the day but really glad I did it.
I just loved the city. While Sydney has my most favorite harbour in the world, Vancouver does a pretty good job too incorporating the city and sea and park really well. The weather was perfect for summer and doesn’t seem to get super cold in the winter as it’s right on the water. It’s quite American (the money annoyed the hell out of me as did the taxes!) but it seemed more French then I remembered. I know it gets way more French the father east you go, but I don’t know if it was all the French tourists I over heard talking that made the city seem way more French then I remembered.
On the subject of money, gone are the days of cheap Canada. I exchanged some money at a counter and for US$100, they give me back C$100! How disappointing! Plus, all the money was green. What a waste! Also, a couple of things I am used to when I travel overseas, the first being all prices are all inclusive. I thought it was a lame US thing that they don’t tack on tax until the check out. I am used to that here. In Canada, they do that too! And tax was so expensive! Everything went up about $1 once I got to the check out. The other thing is the coin size. Australia has the most messed up system (their smallest coin is worth the most) but I am so used to 5cent, 10cent, 20cent, 50cent, 1dollar, 2dollar coins. The money in Canada is in the same denomination and size as ours! This threw me off so much because i just wasn’t used to it. Plus, everything is so expensive. To give you a good idea, their Redbox movie rentals cost C$1.80, while ours are US$1.00 (and with the exchange rate of pretty much C$1=US$1, don’t forget). Thought I just got my credit card statement back and I got a pretty good exchange rate on that, way better then cash. I miss cheap Canada!
Moral: While I am super glad I went, I don’t think I’ll be going back anytime soon. It’s not cheap to fly from LAX to YVR and with the exchange rate the way it is, it’s not a cheap trip anymore! On second thought, I am kind of getting over SF as my go-to getaway place. Maybe I should add it to my list? Or just save my money for something big.