Vancouver | A Girly Guide!
I promised a Part 2 so here it is!
Since I stayed in Vancouver for the majority of my visit to Canada, I thought I would make the rest of it about this beautiful city.
Let me warn you first:
Although most people say the weather is "similar to London, UK," it isn't! It's quite a bit colder - at least it was for my time here in late November!
I went outdoors for a run a couple of times but I'll be honest:
I was F-R-E-E-Z-I-N-G!
Minus 4 Celsius most mornings! I am not built to withstand those temperatures! I am AFRICAN! lol! So, I bundled up like an eskimo on my last run. I was also very afraid of falling on the frost-covered walking paths. I totally broke the rules a little and ran on the cycling path for some of my Seaside run (shhh, don't tell anyone!).
In between those outdoor adventures, I gave into the indoor swimming pool at the hotel (25m and not deep) and the gym downstairs - ran my 5K then played on the elliptical machine! And who wouldn't say yes to the Hot Tub (deserted), Sauna and Steam rooms (great for hair conditioning sessions)?
I even planned to try Ice Skating for the first time in my life.... only to find that the rink opposite Nordstrom wasn't yet open. =(
*I have to add here: Canadians are MAD about ICE HOCKEY! There was always some mention of Hockey and even the walk through exhibit at Canada Place had Ice Hockey cutouts to stick your face behind! Okay, I've done my bit for the national sport. lol!*
I did get up to a lot more walking adventures, so check out what I got up to below! (Pictures galore!)
My first stop was to properly explore what Stanley Park had on offer.
1) Stanley Park (take 2):
I walked a good 3km along the waterfront from Canada Place (the Old Vancouver Conference centre with big sails on each side) to the Vancouver Aquarium. I will be honest, I thought I would spend 30 minutes there and be done with the place. How wrong was I?
A) Vancouver Aquarium: Arriving on foot after following the winding path along the seaside to Stanley Park and climbing a slightly hilly path through the forest (okay it was a bit of foliage at best), I turned the corner to see a large bronzer Dolphin statue signalling my arrival! As I'd already paid for a ticket at the Vancouver Visitor's centre in Downtown, I walked right in.
The first sighting of small fishes was not so captivating but I persevered. Into the Tropics, I started spotting some fish whose origins were in Cameroon and Nigeria. Then a pregnant Male Seahorse was a treat to behold - yep, male and pregnant! Now how do we harness that for humans? lol!
And just like that, I was drawn in!
Over an hour later, I came out of my trance of Jellyfishes, Starfish, African Penguins and clown fishes - yep, just like NEMO - and bought a fluffy dolphin for my nephew. I even bought myself a cute new wallet - nope, it wasn't aquatic-themed, just a pensive young lady's profile in a beautiful dress!
Highlights: The Jellyfishes (so soothing) and the Clown fishes (Nemo)!
B) Totem Poles:
These were a 15 minute walk from the Vancouver Aquarium and were all in one place. I found that surprising but I guess they figures you might as well rest your legs after climbing uphill for that time!
These were good to see but as I don't understand the stories behind them, I didn't linger for long.
And so I began the hour-long walk home along the seaside (over 3.5km in total!). Fun times! Notably, there was a Horse and carriage ride available on my way to the Aquarium but I figured I'd prefer the walking experience. I did!
Highlights: Totem poles all in one place (obviously)!
2) Granville Island - take 2:
It was time for my friend and I to explore Vancouver again so we started off on foot towards Granville Island. For some reason (and she knows her name!) we decided to head down Burrard street and ended up alongside False Creek... wondering how to get across to the Island.
We needn't have worried, the Aquabus arrived just as we scratched out heads in puzzlement and charged us $3.75 Can for a single trip lasting 2 minutes! Ps: the bus all the way from the Hotel to the Island would only have cost $2.75 Can but whose counting?
We climbed up the dockside and were right in the heart of Granville Island! So, naturally I went to buy a couple more custom T-shirts from MAKE! lol!
After placing my order, we went around the Public Market briefly before finding some seats (met a tour guide who offered his services for our next trip!) and bought some well-deserved lunch! Then we had a large crepe each - mine with just Nutella, my friend's with added Banana to that mix!
Oh we were stuffed!
So we had to walk ALL the way back to Downtown - across Granville Bridge, crossing Drake Street (wonder if Drake knows about this street....he is Canadian after all!) and ended up on Robson street. Funnily enough, we only saw a tiny sliver of water beneath the Bridge as we neared the Downtown side of it...almost could have jumped across perhaps? Way too cold to swim it - that's for sure!!
3) Robson Square: Black Friday
Yes, you read that right. Black Friday!
After our long walk from Granville Island, we found ourselves in the prime place for a bit of sales shopping!
Funnily enough, it was so different from the known American equivalent.
My friend and I waltzed through Old Navy, Aldo and Forever21. We mainly bought some running clothing but I couldn't resist a bargain Collarless Blue and Grey coat! It was pure coincidence that I found a snood (aka infinity scarf) that matched perfectly! In Old Navy, everything (except the Clearance items) was half price!
We briefly checked out Winners - a TK MAX equivalent, same labelling and everything - and I bought a baking books on Mini-pies and a cuddly toy for my nephew. I saw a pattern forming with the latter purchases.
Lastly, we went back to the hotel for some gym, hot tub and steam room times before heading out for a Salsa dancing club called Lux Lounge on Howe Street! After a whistle-stop lesson in Merenge, Bachata and Salsa styles of dancing before having the Dance floor thrown open for free style dancing! Very revealing when dancing with different male partners and it was also fun to meet folks from other sides of the world who have settled in Vancouver - met a few folks from El Salvador!
Highlights: Relaxed Black Friday shopping and Cuban Dancing till late!
4) Capilano Suspension Bridge Park:
Our last stop was to visit the Capilano (actually, Kia'pilanuc... twice anglisized to Kia'pilano then the current name) Suspension Bridge - originally built in 1889! We got there via a free shuttle bus transfer from Canada Place - we bought tickets for admission to the Bridge from the Tourism Centre in Downtown Vancouver.
After an entertaining ride up - our bus driver was non-stop with his gags and quips - we walked straight in and were glad to see that a tour was about to begin. This was a brief but informative history of the site and its owners (interesting relationships between a 49-year old man and his 19year old chosen wife....but I digress!). The man who initially built the bridge, with the help of the Native Canadian Indian clans actually wanted privacy and was annoyed when people flocked to see the bridge and cross it! Oops!
We promptly walked across the 450 metre wire-reinforced bridge - used to be ropes and rattling bits of wood - hence its old nickname, the laughing bridge when it was windy! It still swung a little as you crossed it but if you kept to the middle (Yes, please) you had a less turbulent crossing. Thank heavens it wasn't raining - Rainforest weather in the Summer - Eeek!
Once safely across, we went up the Tree Tops adventure trail - 7 tree-tops with mini- suspension bridges! This was only slightly marred by the couple who insisted on taking 50 pictures of themselves in everyone's paths! Awkward couple, anyone?
Finally, we did the Nature's edge boardwalk which is a series of paths through the forest! They were at least a kilometre long...you've been warned.
Once done, we headed back to the shuttle bus to have...the same hilarious driver as we headed back!
Sadly, that was my last bit of discovering Vancouver as we had to head back so I could check out and catch my flight home!
Highlights: Capilano Suspension Bridge (not for those with a fear of heights!) and the Tree-tops adventure trail!
Well, that was my Canadian adventure!
I really enjoyed the choice of food - Seafood, Italian and surprising Irish Pub finds! - and the ease of access to most places from Downtown Vancouver. A true foodie destination (the food on the plane was pretty good too! lol).
Once again I would like to thank the Vancouver Tourism Visitors' Centre for their copious maps and advice for where to explore in the daytime and evenings! I met a volunteer who had lived in Ghana for a while with the Royal Canadian Navy and another who had been a resident of Surrey, UK. It really is a small world! (Except of course, not literally!)
Later ladies and gents!
I'm Lola - a hair obsessed doctor who stumbled into running long distances and baking all the cupcakes.
I blog about life, running and of course, hair! I'm an Altra "Team Red" Sponsored Athlete, so I will do the occasional running shoe or gadget review.
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