March 2015 was my first trip to Vancouver in what Sam dubbed a Staycation (for her anyways) and it gave me an opportunity to meet family and friends and experience a city which constantly tops lists of ‘best places to live’ or ‘best park in the world’. I have (edit August 2015) I still do) sneaky suspicions she wanted me to fall in love with the city in a mischievous attempt to entice me over to Canada on a permanent basis. I would be very much a Mancunian abroad if that was the case.
Vancouver, on the west coast of Canada is the largest city of British Columbia and the third largest metropolis in the country. At 2.4 million it is very similar in size to Greater Manchester although it does feel much larger.Vancouver is also the home to films and TV shows alike and apparently it is the most filmed location outside of California including ALL the Air Bud and MVP films which is super cool. Whilst I was there the main highway was shut off as filming for Deadpool featuring Ryan Reynolds was taking place. I wonder if it will be any good!.
The trip also co-incided with Sam’s 21st birthday and my first opportunity to meet her mum and dad, 3 sisters, brother, entourage of friends, boyfriends etc would be at her birthday party the day after I arrived. A bottle of Jaeger, bought from duty-free was my welcome gift to the masses although the 1L bottle was consumed in 2 shots such was the number of guests. It was a great night and I met lots and lots of people although I did meet people 2-13 days later and not realise I had already met them. A sign of a good night!.
The next day was Sam’s birthday family dinner at her parents house on the North Shore (the suburbs). This dinner will forever be remembered as the time Sam’s Dad, rose a toast to his youngest and her boyfriend Darryl!!. Cheers Tim haha!
The Sunshine Coast
Sam’s sister Becky and her niece Honey live in the sunshine coast. This part of BC is only accessible via ferry from Horseshoe Bay just outside of Vancouver. It is a beautiful part of the world and a great place to live (if not a tad isolated). It was also my first chance to meet the adorable and hilarious Honey.
Go Canucks Go
Going to Canada during Ice Hockey season (from now on, under stern warning it will be referred to as only Hockey) and not watching a game is like going to Manchester and not watching United, it is criminal. Tickets are, however hard to come by and expensive so we were lucky that Sam’s friends were away in LA during my time in Canada and we bought their tickets off them!! Thanks Mike and Rach. Also, to look the part I borrowed a jersey off Dave. I have no idea who 13 Bonino is but the jerseys are cool.
The game was against the Winipeg Jets which is the home town of one of Sam’s friends Kenzie so always nice to have some friendly rivalry. Our seats were club class which mean’t comfy seats and seat service which is something you would never see at a football game (mainly because alcohol is banned in sight of the pitch). After getting over this cool situation I started concentrating on the game.
I love sports, you will find me at the Olympic watching Dressage and the modern pentathlon and commentating like if played it for years and hockey is no exception. Countless re-runs of Mighty Ducks 1, 2, 3 etc gave me the necessary background information needed. I didn’t, however realise how fast the game is and for a relative novice it is tricky to know where the hell the puck is. Still, as you know where to look the game gets easier to read.. Or perhaps the seat service beer helped.
The Canucks won, something of a rarity if you ask fans apparently so maybe I am the lucky charm. I wasn’t, I kept track of Canucks after my visit and they were easily dumped out of the Stanley Cup play-offs that year.
After the game, we headed back to a bar with Kenzie and her sister for another competition, this time it was all you can eat Taco night. A 12-11 win capped off a great night of competitiveness for me, a slightly competitive person… Sorry Kenzie.
One of the best vantage points within the city of Vancouver itself is the Harbour Centre. This 28 storey building with observation deck is one of Vancouver’s most popular tourist destinations.
Every March, the doors open as they launch an event called the Urban Grind. Locals and tourists alike are challenged to climb the 28 flights of stairs (593 steps to be precise) leading up the top floor. The entrance is $5 but this includes a free beer (or 2 if you ask a pregnant women for hers) and a $5 gift card for the food court found under the building.
The climb only took 15 minutes but the the views were spectacular. Below is my favourite of the day. In the background you can can see Stanley Park and then North Vancouver in the background.
Capilano Suspension Bridge
The Capilano Suspension Bridge is a popular tourist destination and priced to match, but HEY, I’m a tourist. Entry is $39.95 (£25) for an adult which is expensive considering what it is and it is only my love of all things outside that would prompt me to pay for this.
The bridge itself is unsurprisingly the star attraction. The bridge, in some format or another has been up since 1889 and spans 137m across the Capilano River. At its middle you are 70m above the ground so it isn’t for the faint hearted. The bridge is surprisingly stable but I can imagine it can be quite daunting in the high winds as the steep sloped canyon would create a wind tunnel environment.
The other attractions were all enjoyable if not sensation. The cliff walk was OK and we did enjoy the treetop adventure which included 7 tree to tree suspension bridges allowing us to walk through the canopy of the ‘rainforest’. For me the coolest aspect was the collars that attached to the tree without damaging them nor requiring any nuts or bolts (The collar has to be loosened as the tree grows).
Overall it is a solid tourist activity which does differ from those usually found within 30 minutes of a city centre. I had perhaps been spoilt by Whistler and the Chief. Been there, done that. Least it got myself some likes on Instagram ha!.
I have to admit I loved Vancouver and I would encourage everyone to go at least once. My experience was different because I was constantly around locals who showed me more than can be traditionally seen in a tourist guide. Until next time Vancouver.