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First time in Vancouver - need lots of advice!

First time in Vancouver - need lots of advice!

Old Jul 1st, 2002, 05:36 PM
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First time in Vancouver - need lots of advice!


My husband and I are visiting Vancouver for the first time during the first week of September and we'd like to get some good advice on quite a few things. For example, how long/where to stay in Vancouver, Victoria and whether we should rent a car to travel to Whistler (or attempt to go there at all). We have a total of 6 full days of vacation to spend (minus travel). We're an young couple who want to enjoy a relaxing and romantic vacation. We love the outdoors, museums, good restaurants (asian cuisine and seafood specially!) but we're travelling on a budget. We just want to have a good time and enjoy the most of this beautiful region as we can without having to rush. Oh, we'd also like to get to know the not so touristy areas. If you know of any "alternative routes/places to see" we appreciate it! My questions are as follows:

1) Are 3 full days in the city of Vancouver enough to visit Stanley Park, Granville Island, Yaletown, Chinatown, Gastown, the Kits neighborhood, the English Bay area and the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge (I've heard this bridge is better, less touristy than the Capilano Bridge - is it true?)? What else would you recommend us to do in the city of Vancouver?
Any particular museum (other than Contemporary art), entertainment (theather) public markets or gardens)? Should we rent a bike to ride thru Stanley Park or is it feasible just to enjoy it by foot?
4) I've made reservations with a B&B in Vancouver called "Barclay House in the West End by Robson Street. Any thoughts? I've also heard that the Comox Cottage may be a good option. I've also tried the West End Guest House but they're totally booked for the month of Sept. What about the Sylvia Hotel? Is it truly too outdated, not too well-kept as some say? Should I pay a little more and stick with the Barclay B&B then?
3)Should we rent a car or can we rely on the public transportation system during our stay? What is the best (quickest) way to get to Victoria? I heard that we should allow 3 hours each way to/from Victoria by ferry -true?
4)Do you think one night in Victoria would be enough? Or should we stay at least two? We could leave Vancouver in the morning, enjoy the rest of the day in Victoria, spend the night there, enjoy it some more the next day until early evening and go back to Vancouver. We're planning on visiting the Royal British Columbia Museum, the Bastion and Market squares, the Butchart Gardens and the Craigdarroch Castle. Any thoughts? Where would you recommend us to stay (a quite place with a more romantic atmosphere). Is the Helms Inn good? What about the Swans Hotel and Harbor Days Inn?

5)Last but not least, should we shorten our stay in Vancouver (or maybe even add a couple of days to our trip) to travel to Whistler by car? I guess we'd have to rent a car for that, right? Any suggestions? Is it really worth us spending more time (and more of our precious, short money) to visit Whistler? If we get a few "go aheads" we may take the chance. Well, you only live life once, right? It would be more of an outdoors kind of place, right? We love the outdoors as I mentioned before but I just need to get some well-based opinion from someone who's been there before on whether we should make the extra effort to go there this time or save it for some other time. I guess I just need some encouragement one way or another

This would be my itinerary:

1)Arrive in Vancouver Sat late afternoon
2)Stay thru Wed morning
3)Leave Wed morning to Victoria
4)Leave Victoria back to Vanc Thur evening
5a)Go back home Fri early afternoon
5b)Rent a car in Victoria or Vancouver and leave to Whistler Fri am. Spend the night there, enjoy part of Saturday and drive back to Vancouver. Go back home Sun am.

Well, that's it for now. Sorry for the long e-mail and thanks so much in advance for your much needed help!



Old Jul 2nd, 2002, 10:06 AM
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We did the same things on your Vancouver list in 3 days and found we had plenty of time - alot the most time for Stanley Park and Granville Island. We used public transportation one day and found it quite easy but had a rental car we used for duration. Definitely recommend the bikes (or roller blades)for Stanley Park - it was a lot of fun. Can't comment about the B&B or Victoria. We spent 3 days in Whistler and loved it but we were blessed with perfect weather. I think it would be tough to do both Victoria and Whistler so you would have to make a choice. We also rented a boat in Horseshoe Bay (just north of Vancouver) and found Howe Sound absolutely beautiful - small islands, snow capped mountains, sea lions, even saw an eagle. You might want to consider this if you enjoy the outdoors.
Old Jul 2nd, 2002, 01:35 PM
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Thanks for the helpful advice, Nancy! I believe I'll have to considerably change my original plans based on different factors. This is the itinerary I have in mind now (hopefully this will be set and done by tonight). I'm thinking of visiting Whistler instead of Victoria. I'm torn between the two but I don't have enough time to visit both places. Any thoughts? Is Victoria a must see (if so, in what sense)?

Day 1: Arrive in Vac in mid-afternoon
Day 2-4: Spend in Vancouver
Day 5: Leave early to Whistler (rent a car) and spend the night
Day 6: Leave Whistler in the afternoon back to Vanc
Day 7: Spend in Vancouver (or go to Victoria for the day - too much?)
Day 8: Travel back home early am

Your opinion is much appreciated!

Thanks again Ana
Old Jul 2nd, 2002, 02:07 PM
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You should realize that Whistler and Victoria are total opposite places. If you're into nature with a touch of 'Jet Set' class then Whistler's for you. If you're looking for quaint and civilized with a 'touristy' patina Victoria is the best choice.

You should definately not spend less than three days and three nights in Vancouver. Two full days and one night is enough for Victoria and/or Whistler. The quickest and most conveniant way to get to Victoria is the Pacific Stage Lines bus which takes you on the Ferry and lets you off right behind the Empress Hotel in Victoria. The bus is also a good way to go to Whistler.

A good idea for the first day in Vancouver is to take the Vancouver Trolley Company tour to acquaint yourselves with the city. It's a 2-3 hour trip that lets you get on and off where you want. You should also take a sunset trip up Grouse Mountain to get the greatest city view anywhere. Make sure it's a clear night though - otherwise you'll have wasted your money.

A good way to see the North Shore is to take the SeaBus over to Lonsdale Quay which is a medium sized Public Market and also the Central Bus Terminal for all of North Vancouver including Lynne and Capilano Canyons. Take the little Ferries to Granville Island as well - they're part of our local colour sorta like the cablecars in San Francisco.

One Museum I reccomend is the Museum of anthropology out at UBC. It's the world's best for Pacific Northwest Aboriginal exhibits - but it's a fairly long shlep out from downtown so save it for a rainy day - we do have a few of those though not much in early September.

Good thing you like Asian food because Vancouver is the best when it comes to the various Chinese and East Indian Cuisines. We are also pretty good for Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Malay and Thai. West Coast cuisine can range in price and quality. Check the other posts here for reccomendations as well as Fodors.

Have a great visit to the most Beautiful City in North America.
Old Jul 2nd, 2002, 02:30 PM
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Thank you so much for you help, Gary! I think I'll go to Victoria instead and save Whistler for another time. Your ideas of places to visit in Vancouver are great. Thanks again! I can't wait to visit the most beautiful city in North America (I'm from Brazil by the way)

Best regards, Ana
Old Jul 2nd, 2002, 02:43 PM
g mitchell
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Go to the vancouver pages of www.arbutushouse.com for just about all the info you will need on Vancouver attractions, restaurants, day trips etc --also links to bc ferries and pacific coach bus lines.

The trip to Whistler is lovely and can easily be done as a day trip from Vancouver. Best to return when the sun is setting over the water --really lovely and easy drive.

For a little Brazil in the heart of Vancouver visit Commercial Drive.
Old Jul 2nd, 2002, 05:57 PM
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Thanks to all of you for such great tips!!!! I can't wait to visit all those wonderful places!

Warmth regards, Ana
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