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!
If you've been following my blog for any stretch of time, you'll know that I like to have a soundtrack for my travels. It should come as no surprise then that I turn to music when it comes to navigating a new diagnosis. As far as I know, none of these songs or musicians I use for my soundtrack have any connection to type 1 diabetes, but I found meaning in it nonetheless.
During my trip to Vancouver the end of April (stay tuned to hear about this trip!), I magically chose to visit at the same time as Bastille. Interestingly, my mom and sister recently managed to visit the Grand Canyon the same day as Bastille... A sign that I am going to marry a British musician? I think yes and I even sent my mother videos of the concert asking what she thought of her future son-in-law. She seemed to approve. Anyway...Bastille's "new" album was released just two weeks before my diagnosis. Even before I knew I had diabetes, I was already applying it to my own life.
Song: "Lethargy." Defining lyric: "Lethargy got ahold of me and I don't know how to shake it." Ignoring the fact that that is grammatically inaccurate because Bastille can do no wrong...that pretty much sums up the weeks leading up to my diagnosis.
Song: "An Act of Kindness." Defining lyric: "You caught me by surprise in this town of glass and ice...and now it follows me everyday." #relevant
Song: "Shame." Defining lyric: "I never knew I could be slowed down. Until I met you." Almost sounds like he's singing right to diabetes, eh? (Sorry, I've been to Canada a lot recently.)
Song: "The Anchor." Defining lyric: "Bring me some hope by wandering in to my mind, something to hold on to, morning, noon, day, or night. You are the light that is blinding me, you're the anchor that I've tied to my brain because when it feels like I'm lost at sea, you're the song I sing again and again." This is how I felt about my other type 1 friends at diagnosis.
Aside from that album, I gathered plenty of other applicable songs and put them in a playlist on Spotify titled "Ma Maladie." I hate it when people refer to my diabetes as "your health condition," "your disability," or "this disease that you have." I learned the French word for this from the French diabetes book that mysteriously arrived in the post.
Song: "Your Body is a Weapon" by The Wombats. Defining lyric: "My body is a temple of doom." Lol - Je comprends la lutte.
Song: "Future Looks Good" by OneRepublic. This also came out right around my diagnosis and I listened to it with irony, considering that my future with diabetes did not look good. However, I found the irony entertaining and OneRepublic songs always seem to be released at pivotal points in my life so it works haha.
Song: "Tickle Me Pink" by Johnny Flynn. Defining lyric: "The one I've got is shoddy, I need a brand new body and then I could have a brand new start." He's talking a heart, but I think of it as a pancreas/immune system.
Song: "I Wanna Get Better" by Bleachers. Pretty self-explanatory...
Song: "Black Water" by Of Monsters and Men. Defining lyric: "Swallowed by a vicious, vengeful sea, darker days are raining over me, in the deepest depths, I lost myself, see myself through someone else." Perfectly captures the harsh beauty of Iceland's landscape, the site of my diagnosis.
Song: "Fixin'" by Walk the Moon. Defining lyric: "It starts with a glimpse, a shimmer, a shadow of something I had once but since lost and now I've got a feeling that I'm not complete anymore." This, I relate back to life before and after diagnosis.
Song: "Silver and Gold" by Noah and the Whale. Defining lyric: "You're just hanging on to a shimmer of hope of the life you had before, but it's too late." This follows the same pattern.
Song: "Prospekt's March" by Coldplay. Defining lyric: "So here I lie, on my own in a separate sky. I don't want to die on my own here tonight." Kind of morbid, but I think of this every low blood sugar.
Song: "Low" by Coldplay. Defining lyric: "Because I feel low." Lol, a less serious take also for every low blood sugar.
Song: "Hopeless Wanderer" by Mumford and Sons. Defining lyrics: "How I long to grow old." This is something I never would have thought of in this way before. Growing old is seen as bad, after all everyone wants to be young forever, right? But when the future is uncertain and life expectancy is much shorter, I find myself talking to people in their 60s and 70s and wondering if I'll live long enough to have experiences like they have.
Hi, I’m Crystal! Just like you, I love to travel. 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 24 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
What am I up to today? Check out my Instagram feed below to find out!