Vancouver has been on my travel radar since it was selected as the host of the 2010 Olympics. While travelling last year, I met a few Vancouverites, who told me their city was just as amazing as it sounded. I had Southwest vouchers about to expire, so it was the perfect excuse to finally go to Vancouver!
I flew into Seattle and stayed at the Green Tortoise hostel. There couldn't be a better location, as the Pike Place Market is right across the street and features goods from all across the world!
The dock area by the ferris wheel and aquarium was beautiful and a great preview for Vancouver's natural beauty.
I started and ended my trip at the Wayward vegan cafe, which had a communal counter. Both times, I managed to make friends and spend a few hours there. On the last night of the trip, what was meant to be a quick dinner before returning the rental car turned into a long conversation at dinner, going to second place for vegan cheesecake with my new friends, a quick grocery shop at Whole Foods, and even meeting their cats, before I realized, "Oh, yeah, I have to go return my rental car!" I ended up back at the hostel at midnight and had to leave at 4 AM for my flight. Everyone in my room was asleep both when I arrived and left so I'm sure the next day they were all wondering whether there was some strange girl who slept for only three hours!
The coffee capital of the country and the birthplace of Starbucks, I walked past the original location (but not in, as there was a massive queue) and visited one of their reserve tasting rooms. This is no ordinary Starbucks, I tell you! They had affogatos, which is ice cream with two shots of espresso. I don't know that there is a better combination than coffee and ice cream!
I liked Seattle, but I LOVED Vancouver. The three hour drive between the two cities was beautiful and as soon as I crossed the border, I had to figure out the speed limit in kilometers rather than miles! I was very much back in my element staying in hostels! I met a 75-year-old German woman, a Czech girl, and an Australian who all piled into my rental car the next day. We drove the sea-to-sky highway over the mountainous terrain and ocean. It was one of the prettiest drives, I've ever taken. The rain only enhanced its beauty.
Whistler was home to the skiing events at the Vancouver Olympics so I had to get a photo by the Olympic rings, since growing up this was the Olympics in which I always wanted to compete! Seven years later and without my skates, I finally made it to the rings!
Whistler was an adorable mountain town and next time I'm there, I will definitely bring my skis!
On the way back to Vancouver, we made numerous stops to look at the landscape including: Horseshoe Bay, Shannon Falls, and several of the mountain overlooks. Oh, and then a gas/petrol station in the pouring rain, where I couldn't figure out which gas was right, as none of them were labeled "unleaded." So, I went into the building and asked which one was unleaded. The response? "All gas in Canada in unleaded. You must be from America." Yes. Sorry fellow Americans, I was THAT tourist.
Parking garages close and lock in downtown Vancouver at midnight. Not that my rental car got locked in one or anything because I met up with a Vancouverite friend at 7, took four tries to find a restaurant open because they were all closed to a private event, had such a great conversation that the poor waitress came back four times before we were ready to order, were still talking when our food came so it was cold when we finally got it, met up with another friend, and again talked so much that it was 1 AM by the time I was done and then discovered the parking garage locked at midnight...not that any of that happened, but it is plausible that it could...
The ultimate adventure came on the Capilano Suspension Bridge. The bridge was rather unstable and shaky, but is actually a very safe and well-engineered bridge. There were several other bridges throughout the trees.
I received a tour of the University of British Columbia campus by a current student and conveniently, some of my favorite British musicians happened to be performing on campus, so of course we went to watch. This was the second time I've seen Bastille live and they were so amazing they got their own blog post.
Even though it was another late night, I managed to drag myself out of my hostel bunk bed just in time for a yoga class at Semperviva's Sea Studio, overlooking the ocean. It was definitely one of my favorite yoga studios. After browsing Granville Island's market, I stopped at the Vancouver Catfe, a cat cafe!
Before crossing back to my country, I stopped at Richmond Olympic Center, now home to an ice rink. Several little skaters came in with their Zuca bags as I was leaving.
Then, it was time to leave Canada and start the drive back to Seattle. Out of curiosity, I stopped at the first border town on the American side, Blaine, Washington, a quiet and beautiful, coastal town. After wandering around the town for a bit, I stopped at Edaleen Dairy to try their homemade ice cream. When I got back to my car, the sun was shining and my sunglasses were missing. So I went back to the dairy, where they were waiting for me in a drawer by the counter. Thank you kind workers of Edaleen Dairy for saving my sunglasses!
In short, Vancouver exceeded my expectations in every way and is now one of my favorite cities!
Hi, I’m Crystal! I love to travel and am currently a graduate student in Scotland. You’ll get all the best tips and insights from my experiences as a former ice-skating coach in Iceland and former study abroad student. Of the 27 countries I have visited, a type 1 diabetes diagnosis has been the strangest land yet. Type 1 has not slowed down my travels and you'll learn how to take type 1 with you on the road! You can connect with me further on Instagram @CrystalChilcott, or send me ideas of where I should travel next via email: firstname.lastname@example.orgHappy Travels, Crystal
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