This was the plan: spend a few days in Seattle, drive up to Vancouver for the weekend, drive back to Seattle and stay for a few more days, then fly home. The night before we were supposed to leave for Vancouver, we discovered that we had a a bit of a problem- my dad didn’t have his passport. He thought that he might have left it at home or at work and we even asked a family friend to go over to our house and look around for it. By midday the next day, it was becoming clear that we wouldn’t be able to go to Vancouver after all. But then, my mom who came up with an alternative plan. My brother and I would take a bus up to Vancouver for the weekend and stay in the Airbnb that we’d already booked and paid for.
It was a whirlwind of emotions- from thinking that maybe we couldn’t go, to realizing that we definitely couldn’t go, to deciding to go after all and booking a last-minute ticket, to leaving my parents behind in Seattle. While it sucked that we couldn’t all go together as we’d planned, my parents encouraged us to go on our own. I also thought it would be cool for my brother and I to travel alone together. We’d never been on a trip, just the two of us, and we’d both never been to Canada, so I thought it would be a fun experience (and it definitely was!).
We’d planned to drive to Vancouver in the early morning so we’d have most of Friday to explore, but with the change in plans, we didn’t arrive until late Friday evening. Luckily our host was still able to accommodate us (I’d been in touch with her for most of the day about our travel troubles) and we went straight to the Airbnb to drop off our bags. We stayed in a home just east of Chinatown, which was very chill. The home felt earthy, natural and zen, and there was even a hammock in one corner of the living room.
By that time, we were pretty hungry, so we walked over to one of the restaurants on my list, Bestie. It’s a German sausage and beer joint and it was still pretty popping when we walked up, so we waited about 20 minutes for a table. The sausages were delicious and really hit the spot after a day that had been a bit stressful. After we ate, I was exhausted and walked back to the Airbnb, while my brother went off to meet a friend who lives in the city.
I had a pretty solid plan for Saturday because I knew it was our only full day in Vancouver and wanted to make the most of it. First on the list was Granville Island, a spot I’d seen mentioned in all of the travel guides. We took a bit of a scenic route because I wanted to walk around a bit and experience the area. We walked through Chinatown again, which we could see much better in the light of day, and passed the Telus World of Science, a science museum. From that area, I wanted to hop on The Aquabus, which was basically an adorable, brightly-colored water bus. We took it from The Village stop all the way to Granville Island and it was actually a pretty quick ride.
Once we arrived at Granville Island, we went straight to the Public Market, where there was so much to see and to eat! My brother’s friend met us at the market and the three of us walked around there for hours, eating our way through the market. There was a nice spot near the water where you could sit, eat, and watch the boats pass by- it was so peaceful.
After we felt like we could move again, we took the bus over to Robson Street, one of the main shopping streets in Vancouver. We popped into the mall in that area and it was great because they had free wi-fi (as soon as we crossed the border, we’d turned off our data to avoid roaming charges). We stopped by Chapters Indigo, which I think is like the Barnes & Noble of Canada, and a few other shops in the area, then walked over to Gastown. The streets of Gastown are so cute with gas lamps and pretty flowers everywhere. We also stopped at an awesome coffee shop called Revolver. I’m mildly obsessed with that place- they were so on with their excellent typography/branding and delicious coffee.
When we left Revolver, we walked back through Gastown and over to Canada Place and took in the sites there for a bit. Then we hopped on a bus toward Stanley Park. A couple people had told me that we should rent bikes and ride them around the park, so that’s exactly what we did.
That bike ride around Stanley Park ended up being my favorite experience of the whole trip. The weather that day was fantastic and the park was so beautiful. It’s a huge park and it took around an hour to bike around the entire thing. Actually, it took me a lot longer than that because I kept stopping to snap pictures and admire the views. There’s so much to see and do at Stanley Park and there are even beaches there too.
When I got to the end of the trail, my brother and his friend were waiting for me and they said they were a bit worried because it’d taken me so long and they thought perhaps I’d gotten lost! When we started the trail, I told them to go on ahead without me because embarrassingly, I’d forgotten how to ride a bike (I was actually floundering and thinking, “Thank goodness nobody I know can see me right now!”). In my defense, it’d been years since I’d been on a bike, so it took me a little bit to get my biking legs back. Once I did though, I was cruising with the sun in my face and the wind rustling my hair, and it was glorious.
So we were at the end of the trail and we just had to head back to the shop to drop off our bikes. Somewhere along the way back, I took a wrong turn, and we got separated again. It was a bit nerve-racking because my brother and I had our data off and I didn’t have his friend’s number, so I had no way to reach them. I also wasn’t sure exactly where I was, but I was able to figure it out and made it back to the bike shop first. Then my brother’s friend arrived and I found out that he’d gotten lost and separated from my brother too. The clock was ticking because we had to return our bikes before the shop closed and I was worried about my brother being out there on his own. I turned on my data briefly to call him, but realized that he wouldn’t see the call if his data was off. About five minutes before closing, my brother rolls up to the shop and boy, was I glad to see him! It turns out that he’d gotten lost too. Nothing had really happened, but as the oldest of the group, I was responsible for my brother and his friend and I was rather worried there for a while (the whole thing reminded me that I’m not ready for parenthood anytime soon, at all).
Well, after that little adventure, we were pretty hungry. We wandered around for a bit and found a sushi place that was good and pretty cheap. After dinner, it was late and we were tired from all the sightseeing so we caught a bus and headed back to the Airbnb to get a good night’s sleep.
Our bus back to Seattle left in the early afternoon, so I knew we really only had time for one more activity in the morning. We ended up taking the bus over to Jericho Beach because I was jonesing to fit in some beach time during our trip. It was another beautiful day and there was actually a music festival happening at Jericho Beach that weekend. We didn’t have tickets to the festival, but we could definitely hear some of the acts from our spot on the beach. We had an about an hour to chill and relax on the beach, then we took the bus back, grabbed our bags and walked to the station to catch our bus.
I had a lot of fun in Vancouver on my first trip to Canada! I liked that it’s such a walkable city and felt like we got to do a decent amount of activities in our short time. I would 100% do that bike ride around Stanley Park again if I get the chance to go back. Plus, there’s so much more to see and do, and I’d love to get over to one of the nearby forests on a future trip.
I hope you enjoyed reading my travel posts this week on the blog. Writing them reminded me how much I love traveling and having the opportunity to experience new places. Now I need to get to work on my planning my next trip! Do you have any trips planned for 2017?