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Trip Report Vancouver 2016 Trip Report

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Hi, I have found myself reading trip reports and have greatly enjoyed them! It inspired me to do one myself because firstly, I have really bad memory and I saw some people writing trip reports as a sort of journal of their travels to look back on and I wish to do the same. Secondly, I wish to write in hopes of helping even one person in their future travels! However, this is my first time writing this kind of thing so please excuse me if I didnt do it right.

Background: My friend and I are both 20 yrs old and in Uni. We both know that this summer was going to be the last summer we can enjoy freely as the next summers are going to be spent in school so we wanted to get out and explore. Since we live in a small, flat land city, we wanted to go in a big city but with full of mountains and nature. We were debating whether to go to Toronto or Vancouver but eventually decided on Vancouver as we really wanted to explore nature!

It was my first time traveling with a friend and my friend's first time ever to travel out of our hometown so we were very excited! (plus we were very happy to be out of exam misery) Amidst our uni exams, we researched places to see and restaurants to eat at in order to maximize our time there. But to be honest, we were too tired from hiking on most days that we just quickly google searched inexpensive sushi spots to revive ourselves and didnt get to half the restaurants we listed down - which Im happy to say wasnt bad at all because all the sushi places we ate at were all sooo good!! (I heard their sushi is great in general?) We are students so we are on a budget though we kinda went over the desired budget lol oops! Need to be extra careful next time and not go crazy in Daiso. We also relied on transportation a lot as we stayed in Burnaby and took the train everyday to downtown Vancouver. Oh! We were there from May 11th to May 17th but really only had 6 full days as the last day was spent traveling home.

As first time travelers we were so anxious about the flight. We worried about every little thing from boarding pass to carry on bags to the little 1L zip lock bag (gosh I couldnt sleep on some days because of that Lol) Our flight was at 7 am but since we were both paranoid we wanted to be in the airport 3 hrs prior just in case of disaster lol (luckily, no disaster happened)

My friend checked us in online and printed our boarding pass at home. Me, being the picky me, wanted the hard or should I say "prettier" copy of our boarding as it is kind of a souvenier of this exciting journey. After a whole lot of unecessary stress, I realized that I could just ask at the airport for another copy - which was easy as there were literally no other people besides airport staff at 3 am in the morning so I pretty much just waltz in and asked. So all is well about that. But then I was also very worried about the size of my carry on backpack (we opted to not check in any luggage as we did not want to temp ourselves into shopping because of bigger storage). It was the biggest size Herschel and went over the required limiy by West Jet. I thought I was going to be one of those people that they wont let through because of the size so I brought an extra smaller backpack that will not fit all the things I have but I brought it anyways. The super nice lady of West Jet quickly assured me that my backpack is ok and I am allowed on the plane. Phew! With my satisfied self and with my pretty boarding pass, my dad and I went to Tim's for a much needed coffee because we were just too early. My friend soon arrived and said our goodbyes to the family.

The next most stressful thing was security. Seriously we were so stressed days before the trip making sure we did not bring anything that we were not supposed to as well as clothes that werent going to trigger the alarms. We googled step by step on how to pass through security as efficiently and no disaster. But since we were literally the only ones there we werent stressed out at all. We even forgot to take out our ziplock bags with liquids and DSLR but we didnt get into trouble. After that, as none of our imagined worst case scenerios happened, we were literally dancing our way to the gate. We were the first ones there because we were an hour and a half before the boarding time. Nonetheless, everything was good and off we go!

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    Vancouver is a great city, a good first pick to encourage you to continue this travelling tradition! And I concur, Vancouver's sushi is phenomenal!

    Looking forward to more of your trip report! Best wishes, Daniel

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    @Daniel_Williams Thank you for your kind words! Yes, Vancouver was a great start and we are itching to go somewhere again!

    @jmb67 Vancouver wont disappoint!

    Day 1: May 11, 2016

    We flew via West Jet. I have been on Air Canada before and this was definitely better with more leg room and comfortable seats. I couldnt figure out how to recline back my seat so I didnt really sleep, but I wouldnt blame it on that as I am generally a bad sleeper. The flight took 3 hrs and an hour or so before landing, we finally saw mountains! OMG snow capped mountains! It was so beautiful. Naturally, I pulled out my phone and dslr and took way too many pictures already. The guy sitting on the aisle seat even noticed and asked us if it was our first time coming to Vancouver. Yes! It was a great start to our trip making us even more excited than we already are. Next, we spotted the ocean and wow, I cant believe how a large body of water could make us so happy. Clearly, we were deprived of this for so long!

    At this point, I was running on adrenaline and couldnt really think straight. My friend took charge and called her relative that we safely landed. Entering their airport, we spotted one cool difference. From where we live, French was secondary language we see everywhere along side English. In Vancouver Airport, we noticed that Chinese was the secondary language. That was cool!

    We were told that our ride would be a yellow car. The amount of times we mistook a taxi for our ride was getting ridiculous that even though looking back it was very funny, we were laughing our heads off. Ahh, the joys of the little things. After what feels like an eternity, our ride came and off we went to Burnaby where we would be staying with my friend's relative. A little background - weeks before the trip, we were told that we were going to stay in Holiday Inns in downtown Vanc because my friend's relative have a discount there. Then, two weeks prior the trip, it changed to Sunset Inns as they could give a better discount. Then a few days before, we were told that Sunset Inns cancelled our reservations as other people were asking for our reserved rooms. Since we didnt give pay anything yet, we really couldnt say anything. At least, my friend's relative had a spare room and we were able to avoid paying hundreds for last minute booking. Although, Burnaby is far and we needed to take the bus + sky train just to get to downtown Vanc, we were still very grateful for it.

    Arriving to the house we were staying at - my friend who slept on the flight had energy to play with the children there. As for me, as soon as my body touched the bed, I was knocked out. After a short but very much needed 2 hour nap, I was rejuvinated. Then we ate and the people we were staying with explained what it was like living in Vancouver. Apparently, a lot of houses had many different families living in it in order to divide the payment for the otherwise ridiculously expensive house. Those houses arent even that big, at least in our opinion, but they already cost a million each. Thats crazy!

    We had to wait until the rain stopped before heading into town. We thought it was going to be hot and sunny but I guess we brought the bad weather from home into Vanc? We hoped not! (Luckily, the weather changed and it only rained again on our last day) My friend's relative brought us to London Drugs to buy our compass card which will allow us to take their buses and sky trains. To this day, we still dont understand how their system work but we know there is a difference in payment if one comes from Burnaby and goes into Vancouver and back? We opted to buy a Day Pass to make our lives easier - I think it was worth it.. or I like to think that at least haha. Then off to the bus stop. On the way, we noticed a lot of chinese stores and people. We were surprised as back home, we were used to seeing other Filipinos (we are Filipino btw). I am not sure if this is everywhere in Vancouver but we generally saw Chinese, Korean ans Vietnamese where we went and we thought this was cool as we initially expected the same as it was back home for some reason. There were also cables for the buses everywhere - different from back home. The different people plus cables for buses plus the ever so beautiful mountains in the backdrop made us feel like we were really there!

    We got off at Joyce station which would later on become our second home because we were always there. Oh! Before getting on the bus, we had to tap our compass card on the reader as a form of payment and also on the way out. Although, we later noticed that most of the locals didnt tap out when they got off the bus. I do not remember why we needed to tap out, but I do remember my friend's relative saying it is a must so we decided to follow her advice regardless. We had to tap in again when entering the train station (we were very amused with the whole tapping thing and treated our compass cards as our life haha!) We had a baby stroller with us, so we had to take the elevator to go up the sky train. It was another cool (sorry for the excessive use - I clearly need more words in my vocabulary) experience because the only subway system I am used to is New York's which is underground so riding on the train from high up was new! We were once again told to remember to get on the train on our left when going up the stairs (I dont recall what the sign for train was called but all we really needed to know was which side it was on).

    The skytrain ride was so fun! We opted to stand up all the way to downtown Vancouver and I much prefer that rather than sitting down. The scenery was beautiful - from peaceful residential houses, to beautiful mountains, to tall metro buildings of downtown. One of my favorites of the trip was definitely the 20 min or so skytrain ride we had to take everyday to go to downtown and back!

    I only remembered now, but we actually didnt take the train from Joyce station on the first day. We took the bus to Metrotown - a mall to get started on some shopping. I got sucked into the temptation of Aritzia and bought myself a hat and a dress that served me very well on the trip. After, we took the train from metrotown to downtown Vancouver! Though that station wasnt stroller friendly. My friend had to carry the baby while me and the relative had to carry the strollers up the stairs. It was scary but we did it.

    We got off in Waterfront station, tapped out our compass cards and off we went to Canada Place! The ships on both sides of Canada Place was crazy! It was my first time seeing a cruise ship up close. The fresh air also felt so great! I loved how one side was the cruise ship against the mountains on the back, but when you turn around, skyscrapers are before you, making up downtown Vancouver. Such a scene felt like a big city thing, I loved it!

    Next was a glimpse of Gastown. On the way there, I noticed how there really arent a lot of Tim Hortons around. Instead, I saw a whole lot of Starbucks and Blenz Coffee. Our friends who went before us told us to try Blenz coffee as they much prefer it over Starbucks. We ended up trying it later on, but I am still a loyal double double coffee lover! We followed along the street where Waterfront station is and ended up in Gastown. We only had time to see and take pics with the famous steam clock. It was smaller than I thought it would be! I now see why people online wonder why it is so famous but much like any other tourist, I took a pic with it myself as well! Though it was much smaller, I still thought it was unique to the place and appreciated it nonetheless. Souvenier shops and colorful buildings lined the main street of Gastown and Im glad we were able to visit on the first day!

    It was time to go back, so off we went to waterfront station, tapped our compass cards in and on the skytrain we go! It was around 6 pm or so. They asked us what we places we intend to visit while we were there and one of those was English Bay. My friend's relative was at first, against us going there. She said it is crowded and isn't very special. However, we both really wanted to go since we havent been to an actual beachside in so long! We also didnt mind having to go there by ourselves as we originally thought we had to take public transportation anyway to get to places. But after her protests, they offered to drive us because they also havent been there in a while.

    I didnt notice it earlier but wow, the drivers in Vancouver are wild! People drove so fast and changed lanes without signaling. The roads were also wider than back home, so there were even more cars than what we usually see! Aside from that, the drive was great. The roads going up and down hills were fun because we were used to flat lands. Residential houses together with roads going down a hill with a mountain that seem closer than it actually is.. life was great. :)

    It was close to sunset and downtown Vancouver started to lit up! Night goers were coming out filling up bars and partying out. As we approached English Bay, I almost jumped out. The sky was beautiful, painted with pink, orange and blue hues. There were logs all around the beach and after taking pictures we had time to just sit down and take it all in. The sand felt cold under my toes, the air have never felt any fresher and everyone was happy. I love people watching and there were so many people there, minding their own business but all looking up the beautiful sky we are blessed to witness. I spotted the giant statues on the way there and I wanted to see it up close. But before leaving, I looked back onto the sea - I just stared at it trying to implant onto my brain the image I was seeing. The water looked still, far out into the ocean were ships, they looked small like toys, but I could still remember their silhouette against the pink/orange sky and the mountains circling around it. I hope Ill remember that for a long time.

    The giant statues were.. giant! My friend hated it cos she is scared by clowns and anything in that category. I, on the other hand, loved it! The laughing one and the confused one (with both arms out) were my favorite. I loved posing and copying them! I only wished we had more daylight so details would appear much better but there is always editing! We also helped out other people taking pictures and it was all so fun.

    Driving back to Burnaby was nice as it was completely dark by then. The city was lit up, giving off different vibes than in the morning. All in all, first day was great and we really got a taste of the city!

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    Trip, it's really fun to read the account of a first timer to Vancouver. Good observations! Yes, the drivers here are really bad...
    If you purchase a compass card and load some money on it, then the cost will automatically be calculated when you tap the card. When getting on a bus, you tap, but not when getting off. The Skytrain, however, requires tapping in and out. Just an FYI.
    I hope you will continue with the rest of your trip!

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