Vancouver questions - Lots!

Old Jan 15th, 2020, 12:42 PM
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Vancouver questions - Lots!

Hey all - I'll be in Vancouver for a workshop in late May. I live in the Midwestern US, and am trying to plot my course. Lots of variables at play. I have friends in Vancouver, Wash., as well as friends in Coupeville and Poulsbo. I'm trying to figure out where I should fly in and out of, if I can even make it to see all of them (time is somewhat flexible but I'd say 2 weeks max. My workshop is just 2 days). But mostly if I fly into Seattle or Portland, what is the best way to get into Vancouver BC? Just fly, I'd imagine? So that's one question.

My workshop is at the old firehouse theater in Gastown. I've booked a room at the Victorian Hotel, at 514 Homer St. Does anyone know anything about this place? Is it a good landing place for walking to my workshop? How would I get there from the airport? I've been to a lot of places but never Vancouver. I will be doing more research but frankly Fodors is the best place for that. Are there other recommendations for lodging roughly $200 a night or less..?

Another question - As a photographer, I'd love to get onto the water or preferably into the wilderness to see some bears. What would be the recommended outfitter for something like this? Am I biting off more than I can chew? Probably. Please help.
Thank you in advance. This is just a start to my questions, I'm sure.

Last edited by Rocket79; Jan 15th, 2020 at 12:43 PM. Reason: grammar
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Old Jan 15th, 2020, 02:01 PM
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Well, that's a slight puzzle...

I would first determine whether you want your workshop to be at the start, the end, or in the middle of your trip.


Most efficient would probably be to have the workshop be the MIDDLE of the trip, and just drive there, in and out in 3 or 4 days.

IF INDEED you ARE going to cover all of the mentioned spots (both Vancouvers, Coupeville, and Poulsbo) then you could even let potential airfares and car rental rates dictate your choices.

Are the Vancouver, Washington friends people you would stay with? And/or could they pick you up from Portland's airport?

Tiz possible that to collect your car at an off-airport location will result in a lower rate... but then you'd have to weigh costs relating to a one-way or a round-trip rental, depending upon whether you want to fly into and out of Portland, OR into SEA/Port and out of the other.

With intentions both north and south, MAYbe flying into and out of Seattle is most ideal. Your northern path can be a loop of sorts, utilizing the ferry to go between Coupeville and Port Townsend.

IF you follow my instinct and drive into and out of Vancouver, you'd suddenly have the problem of expensive overnight car parking IF you stayed at a downtown hotel.

BUT the freedom of having a car in the northern WA / Vancouver area affords you so many more options that it is still likely the right move, particularly for a photographer.

The most scenic path around is that of the North Cascades Highway (path between Burlington, WA and Winthrop, WA) which is uuuuuuuuuuuuuusually open for most of May (May 25 the latest) (6 times in the 2000's when it wasn't open by May 1).

SO... perhaps the first of many possibilities I'd look into would be flying round-trip to Seattle... and IF YOU HAVE designs ON central Seattle, initially take the light rail from the airport to a downtown hotel of your choosing... stay a couple of nights... and only then rent a car at a central locale (OFF airport) ... before driving initially to Poulsbo to see the friends (ferry from Seattle to the west if the weather is clear (for photos from the ferry)) ... (otherwise maybe even drive around via Tacoma)... visit Poulsbo... ... then eventually drive to Port Townsend... and ferry to Coupeville... spend time there... then off the north end of Whidbey Island and on toward Vancouver, CANADA for your workshop.

MY strategic move there would be to find a place to stay in the outlying areas, but NEAR TO A SKY TRAIN STATION... for fairly easy trips into central Vancouver... ideally this lodging spot will have FREE parking, but at least considerably less expensive than the downtown hotels.

(Another option would be to use Priceline.com for downtown lodging, and then ANTICIPATE IN ADVANCE an extra $40 or $50 Cdn. for overnight parking charges) (you could at least BID within your budget and see if any of the larger, nicer hotels downtown will have you)

You wrote of "roughly $200 a night or less"... and we can't tell whether that's US dollars, or Cdn.


BUT IF that is U.S. dollars... it equates to $260 cdn.


SO... IF one were bidding $120 U.S. per night... the Priceline fees would make it about $150... and then the anticipated overnight parking charge might land right at/near your $200 expectation.

BUT WITH THAT you should anticipate a nice, centrally-located hotel in the downtown core, convenient to most everything.

Central Vancouver is mostly flat... for it being surrounded by water on most sides... and you can easily get around in a city where normal people
are out walking the streets at all hours. (not the same normal people - just normal people).

IF you find yourself with free time and interest in looking around Vancouver with camera in hand... Stanley Park in the middle of town would be a good place to start... and a short drive from downtown is Grouse Mountain, where you spend $45 or so and take a GONDOLA some 3000 feet up the side of a mountain, with spectacular views at the top. Consider that.

Central Vancouver has a whole lot of diversity within a short distance, with mountains and water for backdrops... so your camera should be useful in all directions.

Once it is time to return to the USA, you may want to investigate that aforementioned North Cascades Highway...

and IF so inclined, you could even cross the mountains on that path and drive to Oregon on the eastern side of the Cascade Mountain Range, stopping wherever you like for photo opportunities.

If you optimize and do just that... perhaps you can reach the Columbia River on the path from Toppenish, WA to Maryhill, WA, where you would find the Stonehenge replica, and that makes for a good spot from which to head west while viewing the Columbia Gorge.

(IF you don't opt for the central Washington path toward the south, then, later, perhaps a LOOP from Vancouver, WA to Maryhill, WA, and then around Mount Hood (stop at Timberline Lodge there) and back to Portland would afford you considerable photo opportunities.)

See how any of this fits with your thoughts and desires.





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Old Jan 15th, 2020, 02:27 PM
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Holy crackers. Thanks... I think... I am going to read this more carefully but I went to Google maps and wonder about this - fly into Portland. Yes, I would stay with my friends in Vancouver and they would be able to hook me up with a rental car. Drive up to Poulsbo and explore Olympic Nat. Forest, always been on my list. Drive to Poulsbo, etc. and see other friends. Make them help me dump my car at SeaTac and fly into Vancouver Canada for workshop. Fly out of SeaTac. Does that make any sense?

Any info on the Victorian Hotel? I got it through Priceline; I think it's $175 or something, and I don't know if that is US or Canadian! I have time to change it if there is a better option. I don't know if I want to mess with a car in Vancouver BC.

I'm thinking bears, or something like Great Bear Rainforest is another trip, even though I hate to not do that. Thanks again!
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Old Jan 15th, 2020, 06:37 PM
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Some random thoughts..

Consider the train between Seattle and Vancouver. It's approximately a 4 hour trip and we have found it very enjoyable. Right at the U.S./Canadian border area, the train runs along the shore and you can see a myriad of bald eagles among the seagulls competing for food. Although the trains are limited (2 per day, I think), Amtrak also runs buses on the route. All will drop you in Vancouver itself rather than the airport. https://www.amtrak.com/cascades-train

Priceline will have quoted you U.S. dollars. That's something to be careful of, as you will want to keep an eye on the exchange rate that might benefit Priceline in their prices. Did you bid for that hotel? Paid in advance? If not, consider bidding on Priceline. Bid at least a 3 star in the two downtown areas.

Vancouver has great public transportation and is very walkable. If you don't want to mess with a car, it's a good place to do without.

The Great Bear Rainforest - you would need to fly. We have driven to Bella Coola, but it's a solid 2 day drive (each way). Maybe another trip.
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Old Jan 15th, 2020, 06:46 PM
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Fly into PDX and have your friends from Vancouver WA pick you up if you are staying with them for a night. Take one of several trains per day from Vancouver WA to Seattle. There are two trains and several Amtrak buses per day from Seattle King St. station to Vancouver BC Canada. There is no need to drive a rental car into Canada. Once you are in Vancouver, walk, take a taxi/Uber, or use a city bus or a HOHO bus to and through Stanley Park.
If you are traveling solo and are OK with it, there are two HI Hostels in Vancouver. They have dorms and a few private rooms.
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Old Jan 16th, 2020, 06:39 AM
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Originally Posted by sludick View Post
Some random thoughts..

Consider the train between Seattle and Vancouver. It's approximately a 4 hour trip and we have found it very enjoyable. Right at the U.S./Canadian border area, the train runs along the shore and you can see a myriad of bald eagles among the seagulls competing for food. Although the trains are limited (2 per day, I think), Amtrak also runs buses on the route. All will drop you in Vancouver itself rather than the airport. https://www.amtrak.com/cascades-train

Priceline will have quoted you U.S. dollars. That's something to be careful of, as you will want to keep an eye on the exchange rate that might benefit Priceline in their prices. Did you bid for that hotel? Paid in advance? If not, consider bidding on Priceline. Bid at least a 3 star in the two downtown areas.

Vancouver has great public transportation and is very walkable. If you don't want to mess with a car, it's a good place to do without.

The Great Bear Rainforest - you would need to fly. We have driven to Bella Coola, but it's a solid 2 day drive (each way). Maybe another trip.
Thank you for this. I will look into the trains and so forth. I went back and checked my Priceline receipt and I'll be damned if they didn't first quote US dollars but switched to Canadian. So my room is $294 Canadian. The thing is, it's 5 minutes walk to my workshop and includes breakfast, so by the time I add in the hassle of getting where I need to be and eating breakfast, it may just be worth the cost. Do you know the area (514 Homer St.) and is this an OK place to be? That said, I've bid on hotels in Chicago and got incredible deals. Haven't done this in quite a while though, and don't know what a good starting point would be, or which areas to pick. Any thoughts?
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Old Jan 16th, 2020, 06:48 AM
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Originally Posted by tomfuller View Post
Fly into PDX and have your friends from Vancouver WA pick you up if you are staying with them for a night. Take one of several trains per day from Vancouver WA to Seattle. There are two trains and several Amtrak buses per day from Seattle King St. station to Vancouver BC Canada. There is no need to drive a rental car into Canada. Once you are in Vancouver, walk, take a taxi/Uber, or use a city bus or a HOHO bus to and through Stanley Park.
If you are traveling solo and are OK with it, there are two HI Hostels in Vancouver. They have dorms and a few private rooms.

Thanks Tom - I'm a bit over age for hostels. I'm really starting to feel as though I can't do it all, and that this Vancouver portion is going to cost more than I thought. (We spent $67 a night at Air B&Bs in Italy, so I'm a little spoiled.) I'd be open to air b&b here, but didn't see anything near my venue. Maybe I should look again.
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Old Jan 16th, 2020, 07:42 AM
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I normally stay a bit more in the middle of things, like the Sheraton Wall Centre or Hyatt or even our Worldmark timeshare. Pricewise, you are at the start of cruise season and potentially over Victoria Day (May 18), so that would explain the higher prices. Not familiar with the Victorian hotel, but the pictures look nice. There are a lot of nice Victorian style structures in leafy neighborhoods, and I'm hoping that's the case here. It is getting a bit close to Chinatown, and the homeless situation in Vancouver has grown considerably, so not sure if you will encounter that at your location. But it should be fine.

There are so many good places to eat - if you like oysters, check out Rodneys in Gastown. Also, if you walk up to Joe Fortes (777 Thurlow), try for a rooftop garden seat if the weather is good. Of course, you'll see lots of casual Asian eateries. If you get a chance, try to visit De Deutch Pannekoek House for one of their pannekoeken for breakfast - I know your room rate includes breakfast, but these are something else. There's a couple in Vancouver itself, but the old one over in North Van is our favorite.
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Old Jan 16th, 2020, 09:14 AM
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Grizzlies from Vancouver

Seeing grizzlies is an investment in time and money but it is worth it if is one of your dreams. You can fly from Vancouver to Prince Rupert and take an all day tour to the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Sanctuary where in May they will be eating sedge grass along the shore. You have to arrive the day before due to air schedules but Prince Rupert is a pleasant town to visit.

Best is to spend three nights at Khutzeymateen Lodge, going out twice a day In a small boat to see them. We saw lots.


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Old Jan 16th, 2020, 10:45 AM
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Originally Posted by emmajm View Post
Seeing grizzlies is an investment in time and money but it is worth it if is one of your dreams. You can fly from Vancouver to Prince Rupert and take an all day tour to the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Sanctuary where in May they will be eating sedge grass along the shore. You have to arrive the day before due to air schedules but Prince Rupert is a pleasant town to visit.

Best is to spend three nights at Khutzeymateen Lodge, going out twice a day In a small boat to see them. We saw lots.

Oh my. This is exactly what I was looking for. Time to ponder. Thank you so much. Adding - Did you fly from Vancouver Intl. airport to Prince Rupert?

Last edited by Rocket79; Jan 16th, 2020 at 11:09 AM.
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Old Jan 16th, 2020, 12:15 PM
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In case you make it to Prince Rupert - I think the Crest Hotel restaurant's clam chowder is some of the very best.
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Old Jan 16th, 2020, 12:18 PM
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Khutzeymateen is on our bucket list, too. It's just a big investment in money, so haven't made it yet. We do have an Alaska trip planned for July that just about stopped the heart on my bank account...
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Old Jan 16th, 2020, 01:18 PM
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The Victorian Hotel will be just fine. I do believe all have shared bathrooms, at least they did.
Just stay West of Cambie Street which runs North the South. East of Cambie St you begin to run into the drug and homeless area. It is safe to walk through but very depressing.
Chinatown is East of Cambie Street you can walk along Pender Street which is at the corner of your hotel. Chinatown has gone down hill and is nowhere what it use to be. The new Chinatown is in Richmond, about a 25 minute ride on our Canada Line.
Enjoy your stay in Vancouver.
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Old Jan 16th, 2020, 02:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Rocket79 View Post
Thanks Tom - I'm a bit over age for hostels. I'm really starting to feel as though I can't do it all, and that this Vancouver portion is going to cost more than I thought. (We spent $67 a night at Air B&Bs in Italy, so I'm a little spoiled.) I'd be open to air b&b here, but didn't see anything near my venue. Maybe I should look again.
I'm 70. The last time I was in a HI hostel in Vancouver we had a private room with a television. The bathrooms/showers are "down the hall" but that doesn't bother me or my wife.
In Canada I've stayed in HI hostels in Toronto, Winnipeg, Jasper and Vancouver.
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Old Jan 16th, 2020, 02:30 PM
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This is a step up from the hostels: https://ywcavan.org/hotel/rooms

I've stayed in the single/semi-private bath with good rates. It's just downhill from the Stadium skytrain stop

Last edited by thursdaysd; Jan 16th, 2020 at 02:35 PM.
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Old Jan 16th, 2020, 02:33 PM
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Re Prince Rupert--yes Air Canada flies from Vancouver International to Prince Rupert. Scenic flight if it's clear. If you book the lodge you fly there in a float plane. (If you decide to do this feel free to private message me about PR.)

Sludick, maybe next year! This year I'm spending our dollars in the Canadian Rockies.
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Old Jan 16th, 2020, 02:33 PM
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Originally Posted by getgoing1 View Post
The Victorian Hotel will be just fine. I do believe all have shared bathrooms, at least they did.
Just stay West of Cambie Street which runs North the South. East of Cambie St you begin to run into the drug and homeless area. It is safe to walk through but very depressing.
Chinatown is East of Cambie Street you can walk along Pender Street which is at the corner of your hotel. Chinatown has gone down hill and is nowhere what it use to be. The new Chinatown is in Richmond, about a 25 minute ride on our Canada Line.
Enjoy your stay in Vancouver.
Thank you! So, my workshop is being held at the Firehall Arts Center on Cordova. That's East of Cambie. I was thinking about nabbing an Air b&b a little closer to this venue, around Powell, Water streets. Sound OK location wise? Closer than the Victorian, which has private bathrooms, as far as I can tell.
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Old Jan 17th, 2020, 05:54 AM
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emmajm, maybe so. At least we've had two rafting excursions down the Atnarko River in Bella Coola to see the bear fishing for salmon. That was quite the experience as well. This time we are hoping to see muskoxen and other critters from farther north.
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Old Jan 17th, 2020, 06:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Rocket79 View Post
Thank you! So, my workshop is being held at the Firehall Arts Center on Cordova. That's East of Cambie. I was thinking about nabbing an Air b&b a little closer to this venue, around Powell, Water streets. Sound OK location wise? Closer than the Victorian, which has private bathrooms, as far as I can tell.
If you are referring to the Victorian regarding private bathrooms, perhaps and go back to their website and read it again. Three guest share one bathroom.

As for staying in the Powell and Water Street area, that will pretty much put you in the near middle of the homeless and drug users, you will be one block from the epicenter of the problem. Your venue is located one block from Oppenheimer Park which is an encampment for the homeless. It is still pretty safe just not an area that one would stay in when there are so many nice areas in downtown Vancouver including the Victorian.
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Old Jan 17th, 2020, 07:16 AM
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Originally Posted by getgoing1 View Post
If you are referring to the Victorian regarding private bathrooms, perhaps and go back to their website and read it again. Three guest share one bathroom.

As for staying in the Powell and Water Street area, that will pretty much put you in the near middle of the homeless and drug users, you will be one block from the epicenter of the problem. Your venue is located one block from Oppenheimer Park which is an encampment for the homeless. It is still pretty safe just not an area that one would stay in when there are so many nice areas in downtown Vancouver including the Victorian.
OK - Thank you for this. I will check the hotel again. I'm not spending close to $300/nt to share a bathroom. I guess this is a bit of a conundrum. I won't have a vehicle so taking a taxi or Uber to the venue each day doesn't appeal. If I bid on a nicer hotel downtown, how is public transport and getting to my venue? (I'll look into this further, but tips?)

If you were me and this was your venue, where would you stay? Thanks again - much appreciated!
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