Coast Roadtrip: Vancouver, BC

Girl In a Wetsuit, by Elek Imredy, in Stanley Park
Girl In a Wetsuit, by Elek Imredy, in Stanley Park

Thursday we were able to spend the whole day in Vancouver, and that was a boon, because this huge fabulous city deserves as much time as you can give her.

One of the first things that struck me was the number of apartment high-rises sprouting like shiny stalks from a garden. On both sides of the highway bridge, grey and glossy in the daylight, home to how many tens of thousands of apartment-dwellers, I don’t know. Right away M and I could see that people want to live in Vancouver.

Apartment high-rise buildings in Vancouver.
Apartment high-rise buildings in Vancouver.

We agreed that it would be a good idea to take a Hop On Hop Off bus tour, to get a sense of the place. I think those tours are a great idea for your first time in a big city: get off and look around at the interesting places, and then get on the next bus when you’re satiated. We took the trolley tour so we could push back the windows and take lots of photos.

I was struck by the creative architecture in Vancouver. I’m not used to so many modern skyscrapers in a single city reflecting so many elegant, sweeping curves. No fish-eye lenses used in the photos below: those are curved buildings. Seems like I’ll spot one stunning example in any given city, but here, there were many. Too many to catch them all from the window of the trolley.

One nice stop was the lookout over Lion’s Gate Bridge in Stanley Park. This is a 1000 acre forested city park on a high hill overlooking First Narrows, separating North Vancouver from Vancouver. The huge park holds gardens, biking and running along the seawall, memorials, wildlife, and some really old Western Red cedar trees.

We were hungry by the time we arrived at Fisherman’s Wharf on Granville Island, and it was the perfect place to be hungry. M was fascinated by the large open-air market, and commented how it was similar to the one he had seen in Arcata, California. I am used to these markets, so it was fun to be amazed again, through his eyes. We stopped at the butcher to ask for a recommendation on where to get a good steak. M owed me a steak from a little mishap on day one (someone forgot their camera battery charger and we had to turn around and go back). This resulted in our finest meal of the trip: steak and lobster perfection. The flavour was not better, but equal to the oysters earlier, but the presentation was fine dining this time.

We took the last trolley out of there, and the driver was hilarious and gregarious. Since it was the last trip, he delivered each person on board exactly to their final destination, even if it wasn’t part of the tour route. Score!

By then it was evening and we had to blast on out of town. Before we knew it, we were going through the border crossing. The man at the gate headed directly for the back of the Jeep, pulled out the luggage, and lifted the storage lid in the back, like he knew exactly what he was doing. The only thing we had hidden back there were nearly six pounds of Tillamook cheese! It had been my idea to keep it in the back, likely the coolest place in the car. For 10 minutes we had been grilled with pretty official questions, and then we were asked, “Why do you have so much cheese?!” M and I burst out laughing. “It’s Tillamook!” I answered. “Have you tasted it?”

As we made our way south in m.p.h. rather than kilometers, we debated whether to bang out the last few hundred miles and go all the way to Portland that night. M asked if he would miss anything by skipping Seattle. I said, “Well, it’s a city on the water. It’s beautiful, eclectic, West-coast laid back, diverse, and energized. The architecture is awesome. The food is outstanding. And since you like outdoor markets so much, Seattle has one of the best.”

I texted my brother about recommendations for places to stay, and – as I suspected would happen – got an invitation to stay at their place! Woo hoo! Their place is a treasure. They rent a three-bedroom home (we won’t disclose the amount, but the owner has neglected to increase the price for years) with a full yard and fruit trees and a garden only blocks from the Space Needle. It is surrounded on all side by apartment buildings, and the entrance to the house drops down a hill, so you can’t even see it from the street. As we were chatting before bed, we found out we were walking distance to Kerry Park – a famous overlook spot for the city – so M and I went for some spectacular nighttime views.

One Wall Centre
One Wall Centre
Carina
Carina
Waterfront in Stanley Park
Waterfront in Stanley Park
Gardens in Stanley Park.
Gardens in Stanley Park.
Marine Building with the MNP Tower behind it.
Marine Building with the MNP Tower behind it.
Couldn't find the name of this one - love the bronze colour.
Couldn’t find the name of this one – love the bronze colour.
When the Crazy Squirrel Lady travels, she notices the foreign squirrels. This handsome black critter caught my eye.
When the Crazy Squirrel Lady travels, she notices the foreign squirrels. This handsome black critter caught my eye.
I casually mentioned that the lock was more valuable than the bike.
I casually mentioned that the lock was more valuable than the bike. “Not to the kid who owns it,” quipped M. And he’s right.
Super funny art. Each figure is an image of the artist himself.
Super funny art. Each figure is an image of the artist himself.
Downtown, with the Harbour Centre Tower
Downtown, with the Harbour Centre Tower
The Lion's Gate Bridge in Stanley Park
The Lion’s Gate Bridge in Stanley Park
Steam-powered clock
Steam-powered clock
Vancouver's Chinatown
Vancouver’s Chinatown
Seattle skyline from Kerry Park
Seattle skyline from Kerry Park
My brother and his girlfriend's oasis in Seattle.
My brother’s and his girlfriend’s oasis in Seattle.

 

15 thoughts on “Coast Roadtrip: Vancouver, BC

  1. Wish I could hire you to be my tour guide. Wait a minute, you just were. Good call on Seattle. I’d like to see more of it. Great photos. I gather you were able to bring all the cheese home with you?

    1. Ha ha, yes! We were allowed to bring the cheese across the border. That is pretty well-traveled cheese. It’s delicious too. We got the extra-sharp white cheddar, and it crumbles to pieces when you try to cut it: perfect.

  2. You stil enjoying the trip…lucky of you!!!!! Fancy squirrel, you love them! pictures are vey nice.

    1. Yes, I didn’t realize how much I like squirrels till I made friends with the squirrels in my back yard. The trip has been wonderful. I am home now, but still updating my adventures in the blog.

  3. Sorry I missed your roadtrip while you were on it. I enjoyed taking the trip retrospectively with you.
    I’m fascinated with that steam-powered clock. (I love steampunk.) Does someone have to stoke it with coal every day? How does it work?

    1. That’s a great question Sarah. Tara and I are really interested in Steampunk too, particularly after Tara read the book Leviathan. Unfortunately we did not see the clock up close, but only passed it on the tour trolley, and the driver pointed it out to us.

      Thanks for coming along on the trip, later. You didn’t “really” miss it, as I’m still recovering, so it must not have been that long ago. ha ha!

      1. Oooo, another book to add to my list. Thanks Tara. 🙂
        I hope you recover soon Crystal. I bet it was worth it.

  4. I love your road trips. Your photos are terrific. I’ve tried taking photos of buildings with poor results, but yours are perfect! I love the angles and the light.

    I’m trying to imagine your interrogation at the border. I could see them cutting the cheese open, looking for drugs. Ha ha!

    1. Thank you for the compliments on my photos! I was so impressed with the buildings in Vancouver, and I’m glad I was able to make them look good.

      Yes, the “cheese incident” was an episode I will never forget.

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