We arrived to sunny skies, apparently per a local the gratitude of "bringing the CA sun with us”. The lightly sunburned community of North Vancouver was practically dancing in the street in their bliss of having the sun out. Apparently the good people were kept blanketed in rain & grey for the past 8 months.
To start the skytrain & seabus that brought us to Lonsdale was super easy. If we got confused, there seemed to be a very lovely citizen available to help us get back on course. Even the teenagers were polite; we found ourselves shocked to hear "thank you" shouted to the TransLink drivers...sad how exotic this was to my husband & me due to the rarity of witnessing this in the States these days.
Our first day was uneventful as we stayed in & allowed my mother to make us a delicious home cooked meal. Did I mention we were staying gratis because my parents are big time home exchangers?? Here is a link to their home in Ventura Ca. if you are interested in exchanging: http://www.homeexchange.com/show.php?id=110900
The next day we split off from my parents as they went back to downtown to meet up with friends who came to join in the fun of a free place to stay. My husband & I spoke to Norma at the Visitors Center at the Lonsdale Quay who eagerly shared the fun& beauty of Horseshoe Bay & Whytecliff Park. Both beautiful. Lunch at the Olive & Anchor was delicious. http://oliveandanchor.com/ don’t pass up the chowder, yam fries & Goggie BBQ Dog...mmmmmm so good! We headed home & met up with the family back in Lonsdale at Browns Socialhouse. Do not bother with this place. Other than some good beer nothing is worth your time or $$. Yuck!
The next day we headed out to rent bikes & hit Stanley Park. The good people at Spokes dialed us in! http://www.spokesbicyclerentals.com/ Do not be scared of the line...these people get you in & out like no one’s business. They have an incredible system. We paid the extra $6 each for a city hybrid. Worth it!
Stanley Park was just lovely, the sun continued to shine bright & beautiful. We even were fortunate to get a light breeze. We did the entire outside of the park & luckily my husband spoke up & suggested we ride parts of the interior. This is a must & this is where that hybrid will do right by you. We made it to Beaver Lake & saw an abundance of wildlife & slowly shrinking lake filled with blooming lily pads. The docents were very well informed & helpful. Then back on our 2 wheel steeds & off to Granville Island. How to get there on bikes was revealed when my poor mother took a turn while looking at something (I think it was a 1/2 naked man but she says it was False Creek.....sure Mom) As my fabulous mother slowly got off the ground with the aid of a very nice couple, my father took the opportunity to ask them how to get to the island. This lovely couple not noticing that some in our party were too cheap to pay the extra $6 for gear bikes pointed to Granville Bridge & shared with bright smiles that this was a very scenic & lovely way to get to Granville. So we took off for said bridge...some of us rode the whole way while some of us had to walk the bikes up. In any case we all met up at the top & rode into the very crowded street into Granville practically taking our lives into our own hands. http://www.granvilleisland.com/public-market/
A quick beer at Granville Island Brewery then on to the Public Market.
I just LOVE the public market...I love any public market for that matter. What a pleasure to walk amongst fresh & local food. The smells were amazing. My husband & I chose a terrific Indian stall & shared the 3 meal & an extra naan. Perfect!
Following our visit to the island, we got smart & located a water taxi that took us back over the way we came minus the death ride & hills.
Back on the other side we rode a bit longer then took our bikes back to Spokes, where they only charged us for a 1/2 day & just as quickly got us on our way.
We walked back to Gastown & made a stop at Steamworks Brewing Comp. ...noticing the theme here yet??? http://www.steamworks.com/ where we forced still stuffed bellies to enjoy a shared Poutine. WOW! Well worth the gut check. Yummy!
We dragged our tired & overfed body’s home.
The next day my husband & I broke off again and went to Capilano Suspension Bridge http://www.capbridge.com/ Walking into this place was a bit reminiscent of walking into Adventureland at Disneyland but when you get over the cost, funny costumes & banjo music feeding in you find a very beautiful canyon surprisingly worth the ridiculous rates.
Walking the suspension bridge over was a very odd sensation for me. Lucky for us the park was slow at the time (not to be when we recrossed over a couple hours later) what a spectacular feat of engineering. The trip over makes you feel like you were on a boat once you hit solid land. Took most of the day for me to lose that sensation. The views are spectacular! But my favorite was the new Cliff Walk. Having been in Yosemite, hiking around & on beautiful granite mountains in the Sierra Nevada, it was a real treat to walk next to them in such a romantic way. I can only wish the experience lasted longer.
We tied up Capilano with a walk in the trees & then back over the now overly crowded bridge to listen to some very enjoyable live music.
Leaving Capilano we got the Translink bus to Grouse Grind. http://www.grousemountain.com/
Yet another very pricey rate for entrance, we opted for the PEAK EXPERIECE. The line was not overly long but it felt like it was huge with how slow they processed getting people through. Only 2 people assisted in the booth. And nobody in line seemed to understand or read the options available on the mountain.
After a ridiculous amount of waiting we had tickets in hand & were on the gondola up. Now, I am sad to report I was unable to do the Grouse Grind, something I was very ready & excited to experience. But my knee had other ideas. So the pricey gondola it was.
The ride up was beautiful & pleasant. (no stinky "grinders" yet") getting off the gondola we walked out to get our "Peak Experience" & hopped on a chair list that took us up to the Peak. What a view! Walked to the Eye of the Wind, the only turbine in the world apparently that allows visitors up to the top. We didn't do this.
There is also paragliding..we didn't do this. A helicopter tour..we didn't do this & zip-lining...sadly this we should have done but didn't. I have zip-lined in the past & this zip-line looks superior to any I have experienced. DO NOT MISS the chance! We will be back just for this.
After we finished the peak, we went back down the lift which gave us better views, hopped off & my spouse dragged me to the lumberjack show. I was starving by now but obliged. Well these Canadians have a rousing & sexually charged sense of humor. Very fun compared to the usual puritan stuff back home. The show was overly long probably due to my hunger. So I dragged my loving man to the Chalet for some food I assumed would be typical theme park fare but was surprised by a seemingly semi homemade bowl of chicken teriyaki noodles with fresh vegetables. Either I was too hungry to care or it was actually good food. We will never know.
We finished the day on Grouse with a trip back to see the Grizzlies which had thus far avoided being seen the entire time we were there and were greeted by two massive bruins! What a site to see my first grizzly up close & personal. The male was apparently well rested & decided to give us a show playing with a tiny stick in the pond. He made everyone laugh with his preoccupation with said stick as all kinds of yummy treats ran & skittered by him.
Down the gondola crowded in with some over-ripe grinders we took a big breath of fresh air & sought out the bus home. It was a beautiful day.
Our last full day brought us to downtown an early morning hike in Lynn Canyon Park: http://www.dnv.org/ecology/
We enjoyed the very moderate & FREE suspension bridge. Completing the visit with a short loop in the park. This is a park well worth anyone’s time. Very lovely. Back to Lonsdale for a quick coffee & muffin at Blenz http://blenz.com/ then back to the house for a clean-up and out the door for our day in downtown.
First stop was finding tourist gifts for our kids in Gastown then a trip to Chinatown for a little dim sum & steamed buns to go at New Town: http://newtownbakery.ca/ WOW! So good & inexpensive. We ended up going back at the end of the day to bring some more home.
Making our way via bus to our meeting place for at the art museum, we had schedule a food tour with Tour Guys: http://www.tourguys.ca/vancouver-tours/vancouver-tours/ Since we were early, we took a jaunt to the Winking Judge Pub http://thewinkingjudgepub.com/ for another pint in preparation for Jessica our fearless & highly recommended guide who met us & took us on a Food Cart Tour. (Request Jessica!!) We hit over 4 carts including the elusive...not so much...JapaDog. This I loved. Some in our group took issue with the seaweed on the dog. By the end of this tour we were STUFFED. I really advise adding this to your visit to Vancouver.
Being the gluttons that we are; we meandered post food baby to the Lennox pub for a final (not really) drink.
All that food fortified my body but not my spirit for the packing I had to do for our return flight home.
Au revoir Vancouver, till we meet & drink again
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First time & 5 days in Vancouver (trip report)