Vancouver Clueless (LONG)

Jun 5th, 2007, 07:18 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2007
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Vancouver Clueless (LONG)

Hello from Chattanooga, TN. We have just this week been blessed with 5 full days in Vancouver. Flight and Hotel to be gifted to us. I know we will be staying at one of three hotels in the area. The Marriott, Sheraton, or the Fairmont Waterfront. I know NOTHING of Canada except that I need a passport. I will educate myself online as much as possible. That is my promise to the Vancouver locals. Please be patient, I am starting here. I would love some websites to visit and any insight that I can gather together. My main concern is this....although the flight and hotel are gifted, we will personally have a VERY tight budget and 4 days on our own. My husband and I are very city savy, he is from San Francisco and I spent my youth traveling and spent time in Milan, L.A., San Francisco (moved around alot). You get the point. My main question is, how do we spend 4 full days in Vancouver without killing our budget on taxis and touristy traps. I would love to eat at local coffee shop places and skip the hotel breakfast fare. We will need to make the most of public transportation but don't want to stick out like sore thumbs. (Someone mentioned the tourists were easy to spot) Please tell us how to blend in customs and style. We will be there on the 5th of July and stay well into the next week. I expect it to be summer warm but here in the south that means it is 99 degrees F. with 100% humidity. Thank you to anyone with the patience to read and respond!
XinaMarie is offline  
Jun 5th, 2007, 08:04 PM
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I've experienced your part of the country in summer and, thankfully, Vancouver is nothing like as hot and humid as that in summer.

I suggest you read the Vancouver page of my website:

Near the bottom of that page I provide links to three excellent websites that have been created by Vancouver residents. All three websites are excellent in their own ways. The Walk Vancouver website is economical in the sense that, as its name suggests, it provides walking itineraries that, by their very nature, cost nothing. On the Find Family Fun website you can sort the attractions by price range, all the way from free, through cheap ($5 - $10 range), up through expensive.

Vancouver has HEAPS of great restaurants, all the way from cheap to expensive. At the bottom of my Vancouver page, there is a link to a restaurant webite where you can sort by location, type of cuisine, price range, and so on.

Vancouver has many free attractions. First of all there is the city itself, just walking along and looking at the water. Then there's Stanley Park. It is huge and is a great place to walk. If you get tired of walking, there is a FREE shuttle bus that takes you around Stanley Park. Then there's Granville Island Market. Then there's Lynn Headwaters Regional Park with Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge situated within it. Then there's Queen Elizabeth II Park. Then there's Burnaby Mountain Park. These attractions are all free.

If you splurge on only one attraction that costs money, I would recommend the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia. It houses an attractive and interesting collection of artefacts that depict the traditional lifestyle of the First Nations people of the west coast. In addition to that, the building in which the collection is housed is attractive, and there is a great view from there.

All the attractions I've mentioned can be reached by public transportation. There are links to the public transportation system and its trip planning feature on the Vancouver page of my website.

As far as I'm concerned that bit about the tourists being easy to spot is total B.S. Vancouver is a casual city. The locals don't dress in any particular way. Yeah, if you go around snapping photos of everything, I suppose it makes it a bit obvious that you're a tourist, but how are you going to avoid that? Speaking for myself, I don't care if anyone thinks I'm a tourist or not. Heck, there are features of my own city that I love and that I visit over and over again. When I'm viewing those attractions, I guess you could say I'm a tourist too -- in my own city. I'm over it.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jun 5th, 2007, 09:43 PM
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You leave in a month and you have no passport? This is a really BIG problem, so I would work on that first to see if it can be expedited. Lots of folks having trouble getting them within 10 weeks! If it can't be done in time, change your flight to Vancouver and drive across the border.
oliverandharry is offline  
Jun 5th, 2007, 10:08 PM
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Tourist traps to avoid-anything to do with Gastown, the Capilano Suspension Bridge or (shudder the dreaded Steam Clock.

Taxis are not needed in any way shape or form, see if your hotel has a shuttle or take a city transit from the airport to your hotel.

Sam_Salmon is offline  
Jun 6th, 2007, 07:06 AM
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We have our passports and will be on a 10 hour flight. The purpose for the visit is for a wedding between my brother-in-law and his Bonnie who is from the Vancouver area. She is having an outdoor wedding and I think it is in the Chinese tradition. So I still have more research for I know Italian weddings but not Chinese. My husband is Thai and his family had never been to a western wedding until our own.
XinaMarie is offline  
Jun 7th, 2007, 01:00 PM
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Use transit in Vancouver. There are some very reasonable passes available and it is pretty comprehensive. Check out the Vancouver transit website:
Author: mpg
Date: 06/02/2007, 12:52 pm
We are traveling to Vancouver in October. Staying at Westin Bayshore. We prefer to use public transit and cabs to get around. Is this a mistake or do we really need a car? We'd really like a break from cars for a week. Also, I'd love a carless-in-Vancouver kid-friendly itinerary so that we use the best transit routes possible to get from place to place.


Author: Sam_Salmon ([email protected])
Date: 06/03/2007, 01:17 am
No worries-compared to most cities Vancouver is transit heaven.


Author: Carmanah
Date: 06/03/2007, 04:04 pm is an excellent source for getting information on kid-friendly activities. I highly encourage you to look through that site, as it's a local family that put that together, getting their kids to write about all the different attractions and what they liked (and didn't like) about them.

Stanley Park, (the Vancouver Aquarium, the kid's waterpark, the petting zoo, the kid's train) are all withing a short walking distance from your hotel. I suggest studying a map of Stanley Park, as it's 1000 acres and sometimes people miss crucial parts of the park because they only stick to the eastern end (heavily touristy) areas, which lack the beaches and the feeling of being out of the city.

There's also a really nice swimming pool popular with families on the western side of Stanley Park by Second Beach. It's one of the nicest parts of the park. There's also lots of grassy areas, a children's playground, picnic sites, change rooms, concession stand, etc. Perhaps walk to the western side of the park by walking along Lost Lagoon. Lots Lagoon is a large pond/lake and a bird sanctuary, and Second Beach is on the other side.

Third Beach (located a 10 minute walk north of Second Beach) is my favourite beach for sitting on the sand, enjoying a hot dog, soaking up the sun. Both beaches are family-oriented and the waves that hit Vancouver's beaches are really tiny (as Vancouver Island 30 miles offshore absorbs the big waves).

You can walk along the seawall from Secound Beach south to English Bay, and continue walking along the seawall until you get to the False Creek Ferry or Aquabus docks. For $2.50 per person you can ride the little passenger ferries across to Granville Island. Granville Island is fun for families - good marketplace, a kid's waterpark, a surreal toy store shopping plaza called "Kids Only" (when I was 4 years old, it was my favourite place)! And there are gift shops, craft shops, art studios, and restaurants to tour as well.


Author: semiramis
Date: 06/03/2007, 07:20 pm
Go with public transit and get a pass. I think a car would be a huge mistake. Parking can be difficult and traffic in the downtown core is quite heavy.


Author: semiramis
Date: 06/03/2007, 07:26 pm
Go to the transit authority site:

semiramis is offline  
Jun 7th, 2007, 01:02 PM
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Sorry seriously messed up my last post - go to the end of it for the link to the transit website.
semiramis is offline  
Jun 7th, 2007, 02:12 PM
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I agree with Judy, unless you have a camera around your neck and are contintually taking pictures and looking around in awe, no one will know or care whether you are local or tourist. The dress is very casual... the same as any city in the States. I haven't noticed any difference between Canada and the States as far as how people dress or customs and style.

I never take public transit at home and used it quite successfully in Vancouver. I usually travel budget and the buses are fine.
There are many places where you don't have to spend much on food. As in the States, there will be the same fast food restaurants everywhere. Also try a Canadian favourite, Tim Horton's , a coffee shop chain, for very reasonable soup and sandwich, or coffee and bagel for breakfast...or muffins.
Also food courts in the malls.

THe weather should be very pleasant. Much nicer than the humidity of summer in Tennessee.

Ten hour flight from Chattanooga?? DO you have a long layover somewhere?

Have a great trip and enjoy the wedding.
kodi is offline  
Jun 8th, 2007, 04:21 AM
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If you plan fairly well, you can sort of divide Vancouver into quadrants, and spend one day in each, so that things are close together, and more or less walkable.

Vancouver walks can be pretty long; bring comfortable shoes.

And, as others have said, it's a casual city, so don't worry if the shoes are not stylish.

The SEabus is a good, inexpensive way to get you across a bay, to an intereting area, and have a boat ride, too.

Granville Island has a market whereyou can buy food to keep inyour hotel room, within reason, and enjoy at the market itself, too. Lots of outdoor seating.

Take a one-day hop-on hop-off tourist bus trip on one day, to get to the farthere away attractions (parks, etc..)

DO YOU HAVE HOBBIES that we can help you enjoy while there?

Lots of Starbucks, for a taste of home, and clean washrooms.

BAK is offline  
Jun 8th, 2007, 08:43 AM
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The Hop On Hop Off buses are great(Vancouver Trolley, Big Bus, Gray Line Double Decker), but the only do loops around downtown (briefly leaving downtown to cross over to Vanier Park and Granville Island, but then promptly coming back to downtown Vancouver. You can easily walk to the places they take you to, but it's the narration that puts everything into context. Although that also depends. I took a friend on the Vancouver Trolley last year and he was cracking jokes the entire time, but didn't really spend much time talking about what there was to see and do at each stop.
Carmanah is offline  
Jun 8th, 2007, 08:43 AM
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I should have clarified, it was the driver/tour guide that was cracking jokes - not my friend.
Carmanah is offline  
Jun 8th, 2007, 02:49 PM
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Something really really weird > has happened with this thread-the reponses from another family-centred post have migrated here.
Sam_Salmon is offline  
Jun 8th, 2007, 03:09 PM
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A cut and paste gone horribly wrong.
Carmanah is offline  
Jun 9th, 2007, 10:34 AM
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Yes I confess - I messed up my cut and paste HORRIBLY!!!!
semiramis is offline  
Jun 9th, 2007, 02:43 PM
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Geez, XinaMarie, you deserve a more inspirational response than what has collectively come your way.

VANCOUVER is gorgeous, and quite compact for a large city of its size. That means that getting around (even walking, heaven forbid) is going to be quite easy and inexpensive.

The scenery with the North Shore Mountains and various waterways makes for considerable enjoyment.

You and your husband will have no trouble getting around to all kinds of fun little places, and they do not in any way have to challenge your budget.

Great, free fun in Vancouver can be had nearly all night long just walking up and down Granville and Robson streets.

This is the rare North American large city where "NORMAL" people are found walking the streets all night long.

You spoke of the summer heat in TN... well don't worry about anything like that... if the rest of us are "hot", you'll be (laughing at us).

The only chance there is that you'll find familiar humidity... is if it is 51 degrees (uhm, farenheit, I mean).

Now it could RAIN... don't kid yourself... but again, rain around here is just like a sprinkle in your area. Almost never does it downpour like the ten-minute storms you guys have.

Here is a map of the downtown area, with various hotels indicated:

I need to give you a great vibe about VANCOUVER being a fantastic city for you to attempt to spend four days on a small budget.

This city just doesn't "sprawl" out like a lot of cities do - it just CAN'T... because of the mountains and the water. On the contrary, you can go across a waterway and look back at the city and see tons of tall apartment buildings unlike most cities outside of Hong Kong.

That reminds me, another street big enough to be of interest to visitors, is "Broadway" (not on the map, but quite nearby to downtown).

You can walk around in Stanley Park (ON the map) for free, and don't forget you'll be surrounded by what almost seems like foreign culture (at least in terms of the labels on food items, and the temperature reading in celcius)

I can't even fathom a single place you would need an actual "taxi" for. The bus system is certainly adequate, and there are so many options for various activities, that you can opt for those easily accessed by bus.

Oh, "Chinatown" Vancouver is VERY near to the downtown core, and it is certainly worth an afternoon of browsing around.

I'm really happy to let you know that Vancouver is a most fortunate destination for the budget you will attempt to remain within.

Enjoy your time and enjoy the wedding and the northwest.

NorthwestMale is offline  
Jun 11th, 2007, 12:11 AM
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Great map Northwestmale!
carrom is offline  

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