Vancouver questions - Lots!

Old Jan 17th, 2020, 07:38 AM
  #21  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 25,659
According to Google maps, if you stay at the YWCA I recommended above you can walk 700 m (eight minutes) north, take an eastbound bus three stops and walk another 180 m north..
thursdaysd is offline  
Old Jan 17th, 2020, 12:56 PM
  #22  
 
Join Date: Jan 2020
Posts: 6
Originally Posted by thursdaysd View Post
According to Google maps, if you stay at the YWCA I recommended above you can walk 700 m (eight minutes) north, take an eastbound bus three stops and walk another 180 m north..
The bus will let you off directly in the middle of the drug and homeless area, and then you will need to walk through it. You don't need a bus when you can walk around the area and circumvent it.

Walk North on Beatty St. Turn Right on Pender, continue on Pender St through Chinatown. Cross Gore St, turn left on Gore to Cordova and there is your venue. Google maps won't give you this walking direction. It seems to offer two neither are the best.

If you are asking where I would stay, take a look at The Days Inn on Pender Street, close to the water, a nice walk to your venue along Pender East and the left on to Water St East through Gastown to Gore St and the one block right South to Cordova.
getgoing1 is offline  
Old Jan 17th, 2020, 01:06 PM
  #23  
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 2,502
Originally Posted by getgoing1 View Post

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.


I was going to question some of this, per the Oppenheimer Park reference, but as the Epicenter of the problem is and shall always be Hastings and Main, the point is moot.


The OP still need not worry about much of anything...

And were it ME, walking the 3/4 mile from 514 Homer St. to 280 E. Cordova, I would simply walk the opposite way, toward Richards street, and then northeast, toward the water, crossing to Water STREET (with lots of Gastown tourism all around it) and then onto Powell St. before approaching the venue from the north.

Central Vancouver
is still much safer than is the typical U.S. city of similar size, mostly because normal people are roaming around in nearly all areas at nearly all hours. (so many LIVE downtown that they can't help but want their neighborhoods to be safe)

It's just... sensible to avoid walking near to Hastings and Main, if only for your own visual comfort.


As to the newly-evolved logistics...

Hmmmmmmmmmph... IF you could fly into Portland, and burden the Vancouver people with your complete presence for a few days... THEN rent a car for the period of "one week"... (off-airport)... perhaps you could go north, see the Olympic Peninsula as you'd hoped... timed so that you reach Poulsbo and Coupeville with suitable time for those friends, and MAYbe return the car in the central Seattle area in time to TAKE THE TRAIN to VANCOUVER. (this still involving a ferry ride from Port Townsend to Coupeville with your rental car, which is NO problem) (from Coupeville, drive to the NORTH... visit Deception Pass State Park... and then exit Whidbey Island to the north before turning south toward Seattle. (La Conner, WA is a cute little town worthy of a visit, if there is time and interest)

The Vancouver train station is SO central that it would entail a walk of ONE mile from the station to your hotel.

OR a bus called the "Expo Line" would run from near the train station to a spot a block or two from your hotel, every SIX minutes
.


The train from Seattle to Vancouver is scenic in many spots, and Vancouver is very walkable.

FROM your hotel, Robson Street is just a couple of blocks... and it's full of life and zest and perhaps tourists as well. (perhaps first get to Robson St. when targeting interests sightseeing in other directions {than your workshop place}, as perhaps it is slightly less-likely that anything will go dramatically wrong on a busier street)

You can't really make too many mistakes when walking in central Vancouver... (the nearest thing to a 'mistake' would be Hastings and Main area at night... )

(BUT there's even a police station at Cordova and Main... so how bad can it really get?)


IF flying home from Vancouver is feasible, then perhaps that is the move to make, otherwise the train back to Seattle is the likeliest option.


Based on such a projection, I think it sensible to put the Vancouver leg on either SIDE/end of your trip (and if you happen to want Vancouver at the beginning, then just reverse this whole scenario as painted here)


You'd make a thorough representation of the largest cities in the Pacific Northwest.
NorthwestMale is offline  
Old Jan 17th, 2020, 01:24 PM
  #24  
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 2,502
Originally Posted by Rocket79 View Post
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!

BASED ENTIRELY upon how relatively compact and relatively FLAT Vancouver is... I would opt for a nicer hotel right in the midst of the central hubbub.

If it is truly "central", then it's convenient to everything, and if it is down by the water, then perhaps the mountain/water views will make up for having a little hike.


For knowing that your ultimate location interest is in an area that is otherwise unappealing, it doesn't make too much sense to shoot for lodging very near to Hastings and Main.

Thus I think you have the optimum freedom for PRICELINE BIDDING... shooting for any nice hotel which will have you at something up to U.S. $150 per night... especially if you're going to be there withOUT a car. (and without the overnight parking concerns)

Central Vancouver just isn't spread-out enough to where you could go very wrong EVEN IF you managed to (randomly) land the furthest 3-star or 4-star hotel from your venue.

EVEN IF it's raining, there will likely be a simple city bus ride that would cover the bulk of any local trip you'd need to make.


Are you familiar with the "bidding" feature on Priceline???? (it is their trademark appeal, BUT as they are perhaps trending away from it, they likely don't have the Priceline BIDDING link easy to find at their website)

When precisely IS your workshop?

IF it is on/over the weekend of MAY 16-18, you may not find much available as that is a 3-day weekend in Canada.


Same is true of the following weekend, with USA tourists coming north on U.S. Memorial Day


It'd be great if your workshop were mid-week somewhere in there...
NorthwestMale is offline  
Old Jan 17th, 2020, 01:26 PM
  #25  
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 2,502
A link to the BIDDING FOR HOTELS process at Priceline.com is here:


https://www.priceline.com/hotels/ver...=1579296043876


For purposes of Vancouver, zones 4 or 5 are the only ones you would be interested in.

(but tell us clearly if you are at all familiar with the 'bidding' part of Priceline)

NorthwestMale is offline  
Old Jan 17th, 2020, 01:38 PM
  #26  
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 2,502
Originally Posted by getgoing1 View Post
The bus will let you off directly in the middle of the drug and homeless area, and then you will need to walk through it. You don't need a bus when you can walk around the area and circumvent it.

Walk North on Beatty St. Turn Right on Pender, continue on Pender St through Chinatown. Cross Gore St, turn left on Gore to Cordova and there is your venue. Google maps won't give you this walking direction. It seems to offer two neither are the best.

If you are asking where I would stay, take a look at The Days Inn on Pender Street, close to the water, a nice walk to your venue along Pender East and the left on to Water St East through Gastown to Gore St and the one block right South to Cordova.

My vision of the walking path (from the originally-stated hotel) is from the opposite direction, via Water Street and the touristy area... still avoiding much of the riff-raff.


And The Days Inn is crazy...

Why would anyone want to stay at a Days Inn for $359 a night in mid-May ??? (and that's booking now to save 10% ) (2 nights, $844 cdn. total)


IF not going on either holiday weekEND, it would be best to wait until early May to use Priceline bidding to land a nicer hotel for $350 U.S. total for two nights. (= $410-ish cdn total for TWO nights)

(* clarity: each of those references to "total" includes taxes and fees)

NorthwestMale is offline  
Old Jan 17th, 2020, 03:40 PM
  #27  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 180
Originally Posted by NorthwestMale View Post
My vision of the walking path (from the originally-stated hotel) is from the opposite direction, via Water Street and the touristy area... still avoiding much of the riff-raff.


And The Days Inn is crazy...

Why would anyone want to stay at a Days Inn for $359 a night in mid-May ??? (and that's booking now to save 10% ) (2 nights, $844 cdn. total)


IF not going on either holiday weekEND, it would be best to wait until early May to use Priceline bidding to land a nicer hotel for $350 U.S. total for two nights. (= $410-ish cdn total for TWO nights)

(* clarity: each of those references to "total" includes taxes and fees)
Just a quick thank you for ALL of this. I will be back. But the workshop is indeed May 22-24. I guess that is a US holiday. Crud.
Rocket79 is online now  
Old Jan 17th, 2020, 03:45 PM
  #28  
 
Join Date: Jan 2020
Posts: 6
Originally Posted by NorthwestMale View Post
I was going to question some of this, per the Oppenheimer Park reference, but as the Epicenter of the problem is and shall always be Hastings and Main, the point is moot.


The OP still need not worry about much of anything...

And were it ME, walking the 3/4 mile from 514 Homer St. to 280 E. Cordova, I would simply walk the opposite way, toward Richards street, and then northeast, toward the water, crossing to Water STREET (with lots of Gastown tourism all around it) and then onto Powell St. before approaching the venue from the north.

Central Vancouver
is still much safer than is the typical U.S. city of similar size, mostly because normal people are roaming around in nearly all areas at nearly all hours. (so many LIVE downtown that they can't help but want their neighborhoods to be safe)

It's just... sensible to avoid walking near to Hastings and Main, if only for your own visual comfort.


As to the newly-evolved logistics...

Hmmmmmmmmmph... IF you could fly into Portland, and burden the Vancouver people with your complete presence for a few days... THEN rent a car for the period of "one week"... (off-airport)... perhaps you could go north, see the Olympic Peninsula as you'd hoped... timed so that you reach Poulsbo and Coupeville with suitable time for those friends, and MAYbe return the car in the central Seattle area in time to TAKE THE TRAIN to VANCOUVER. (this still involving a ferry ride from Port Townsend to Coupeville with your rental car, which is NO problem) (from Coupeville, drive to the NORTH... visit Deception Pass State Park... and then exit Whidbey Island to the north before turning south toward Seattle. (La Conner, WA is a cute little town worthy of a visit, if there is time and interest)

The Vancouver train station is SO central that it would entail a walk of ONE mile from the station to your hotel.

OR a bus called the "Expo Line" would run from near the train station to a spot a block or two from your hotel, every SIX minutes
.


The train from Seattle to Vancouver is scenic in many spots, and Vancouver is very walkable.

FROM your hotel, Robson Street is just a couple of blocks... and it's full of life and zest and perhaps tourists as well. (perhaps first get to Robson St. when targeting interests sightseeing in other directions {than your workshop place}, as perhaps it is slightly less-likely that anything will go dramatically wrong on a busier street)

You can't really make too many mistakes when walking in central Vancouver... (the nearest thing to a 'mistake' would be Hastings and Main area at night... )

(BUT there's even a police station at Cordova and Main... so how bad can it really get?)


IF flying home from Vancouver is feasible, then perhaps that is the move to make, otherwise the train back to Seattle is the likeliest option.


Based on such a projection, I think it sensible to put the Vancouver leg on either SIDE/end of your trip (and if you happen to want Vancouver at the beginning, then just reverse this whole scenario as painted here)


You'd make a thorough representation of the largest cities in the Pacific Northwest.
There is no bus called the Expo Line. The Expo Line is part of our automated Skytrain system. It operates from Waterfront Station to Surrey BC

Last edited by getgoing1; Jan 17th, 2020 at 03:48 PM.
getgoing1 is offline  
Old Jan 19th, 2020, 10:03 AM
  #29  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 180
Thanks everyone. I'm going to sit on this for awhile. I really need to figure out if I can swing the bear thing up north. I really, really would like to make it happen. It looks like I should be fine and not be homeless in Vancouver. And yes, I have bid on rooms in Chicago, but it has been awhile.

If anyone has other thoughts, I am all ears. Thanks again - great group here at Fodors.
Rocket79 is online now  
Old Jan 19th, 2020, 10:09 AM
  #30  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 3,787
Just that I think if you keep your current hotel as a safety and then bid Priceline on the two downtown areas as I suggested closer to your arrival, you have a good chance at a better place for less money. Vancouver downtown is pretty compact - even if you end up taking something like Uber or Lyft in the mornings, you might feel just fine walking back in the afternoons. We have won both the Wall Centre and the Hyatt on Priceline, as an example (those were both 4* on Priceline).


sludick is online now  
Old Jan 20th, 2020, 12:24 PM
  #31  
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 6,267
I'd just like to point out that Vancouver does not have Uber or Lyft yet unfortunately due to a very powerful taxi cartel. The government has apparently finally given approval but so far none are up and running. Hopefully by your trip in May they will be operational.
raincitygirl is offline  
Old Jan 20th, 2020, 12:52 PM
  #32  
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 6,267
https://www.whistler.com/activities/bear-viewing/. Apparently there are grizzly tours in Whistler which would be easier/quicker to get to than the Great Bear Rainforest, although I think your chances of seeing them may be greater in the GBR.

Grouse mountain which is a local ski hill has a refuge for orphaned grizzly bears, I think there are two of them. But they are in a large enclosure, not the same as seeing them in the wild.

As far as your hotel, the Victorian should be fine in terms of where it is located, you can walk all over from there. If you fly into Vancouver you can hop on the Canada Line train at the airport, take it right to Waterfront station, then you can walk to your hotel from there, you can easily find the directions in Google maps. I am seeing prices on Expedia and Booking.com for that hotel for Canadian $219.00 including all taxes and continental breakfast and wifi. It looks to be nice and clean, you have your own sink in the room but have to share a bathroom.
If you decide to take Amtrak you could walk from the train station to your hotel as well or it would be a short cab ride.

As others have mentioned, the area you will walk through from the Victorian to the Firehall Theatre is pretty sketchy looking in places. During the day you will be perfectly safe, (probably at night too but things ramp up at night there, it's even more ugly and grim to see what goes on) it's just we have a very big problem in that part of town referred to as the Downtown Eastside or DTES with drugs, homelessness, mentally ill people etc. It is not the prettiest view of our city and I hope you will go to other parts of town to see the nicer side of things. Believe it or not at least 360 million dollars are spent in that area annually and yet it continues to get worse. The danger in this area is mostly property crime, not violent crime, so it's not somewhere you really want to park a car, especially do not leave ANYTHING in your car there if you do have a car.
raincitygirl is offline  
Old Jan 20th, 2020, 07:48 PM
  #33  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 180
Thanks for all of this info. I will get back to it tomorrow; it’s too hard writing on an iPad!
Rocket79 is online now  
Old Jan 26th, 2020, 04:25 PM
  #34  
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 336
Originally Posted by Rocket79 View Post
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.
I live in Vancouver, so I normally just drive to Seattle and Portland. It's a 3-hour drive down the freeway from Seattle to Vancouver, not including any waits at the border. Portland's another three hours south of Seattle.

If you're driving, the border line-up is the real wild card here. It could be 5 minutes, it could be 2 hours. As others have said, Amtrak does have one train per day up to Vancouver and one train per day back south again. They have countless Amtrak buses, so if you're looking at the Amtrak schedule, make sure you're choosing the train and not inadvertently choosing the bus option!

Or, as you said, you could just fly. I've never once flown between Vancouver and Seattle or Portland, but mainly because I've always wanted my car while exploring there, so it's less hassle for me to just drive.

Originally Posted by Rocket79 View Post
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..?
Ahh, the Firehouse Theatre. I've been to shows there. It's a great little indie theatre, but be prepared for a real shock in terms of the thousands of drug addicts and homeless people and generally unwell street people (some with severe mental health issues) who wander those Downtown Eastside No-Mans-Land blocks between Gastown and Chinatown. It's not actually dangerous but it looks bad and you may feel uncomfortable, especially if nobody warns you about this ahead of time. So consider this that warning. The good news is that people don't get mugged or murdered there. The drug addicts and homeless folk will wander around like zombies or scream to themselves... but they will totally ignore you. But that is where you'll be based, so just set your expectations ahead of time and don't be surprised that such a part of the city exists. All the homeless shelters, welfare offices, soup kitchens, supervised injection sites, and other charities and services that serve that community exist within those few blocks. This video may shed some light on what's going on there: https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-us...-addicts-lives

The Victorian is a little historic inn on a side street on the outskirts of Gastown. I've never stayed there but those who do typically like it given it's a cheaper place to stay in town. It looks like it has character.

Another place to consider is the YWCA Hotel, which is more like college dorm-style accommodation (basic but clean). It probably doesn't have the same character as the Victorian, but it's in the same area and would be just as convenient for you. It may be slightly cheaper, not sure.

One thing about downtown Vancouver is that it is tiny. Everywhere is central and will be walking distance to hundreds of restaurants, cafes, grocery stores, etc.

From the Victorian, it would be a 15-minute walk to get to the Firehall, but there are some fairly sketchy blocks along the journey. To avoid the worst blocks, walk down Pender Street to get there. Look at a map of downtown Vancouver, but you'd want to walk from the Victorian along Pender to Gore. From Gore, walk north across Hastings one block up to Cordova and the Firehall will be on your right. The secret is to just use Pender as your main walking route for those blocks, not Hastings or Cordova. Pender's the main shopping/dining street in Chinatown. Hastings will look like scenes from that video I linked to above.

From the airport to downtown Vancouver, you could take a taxi. It shouldn't cost more than $36. Those are Canadian dollars, by the way. It goes without saying that the only currency used in Canada is the Canadian dollar, which seems to come as a surprise to visiting Americans, so... it kind of does have to be explicitly said, haha! You can also hop on the Canada Line (our airport-to-downtown rapid transit train) for a third of that price and get off at the end of the line: Waterfront Station, and then the Victorian Inn would be a 7-minute walk away. All in all, the Canada Line takes about the same time as the taxi... the taxi might be just a few minutes faster, but not by much.


Originally Posted by Rocket79 View Post
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.
Here's the thing about Vancouver. Unlike most other cities in the world, Vancouver's a major city where wilderness is literally right out the door. Steps away. You don't come to Vancouver to hang out in the city streets (though you certain can and you certainly will). The way you interact with Vancouver is to spend your days out in the wilderness and then come back into the city to eat, and then you head out into the wilderness or to the beach, etc. and repeat that as many times as necessary. To experience Vancouver is to spend your leisure time out in nature, on the shore, in the forests, or on the mountains. Beaches, forests and mountains are all within minutes away from downtown Vancouver.

Wake up, have a coffee and a bite to eat at a cool cafe (look up Nelson the Seagull, Matchstick, or Revolver), then head into the rainforest for a morning walk (Stanley Park, which is a 30 minute walk west from your hotel, is larger than NYC's Central Park and is 1000 acres of temperate rainforest wilderness surrounded by beaches and mountain views). Then come back into the city, grab a cheap lunch (in Vancouver, Asian food is where it's at, specifically sushi/Japanese food and authentic (not westernized) Chinese food). I'm a fan of Heritage, Peaceful, Kaide, and Dinesty. Then you head out on your next adventure, like heading into the mountains (look up Seymour, Grouse, Cypress) or pop over to an island (look up Bowen) for a kayak along an ocean fjord (seriously, look up Bowen Island Kayaking). Then come back, grab a flight of craft beer in East Vancouver (East Van is Vancouver's Portlandia - the heart of the city's arts/weirdos/counter culture) ... somewhere like Strange Fellows or Parallel 49 Brewing or Brassneck or R&B Brewing. Grab a bite to eat on Main Street or Commercial Drive and then grab cocktails later on in Gastown. Or chill out on the beach at Jericho, Locarno, Spanish Banks, English Bay, Third Beach... and everyone will be there with blanket and guitars and beach volleyball watching the sun cast a glow over the mountains and distant islands. And that's where Vancouver really comes alive.

Don't stretch yourself too thin. Give yourself at least 3 days in Vancouver, outside of your work duties, to scratch the surface there. Prioritize the nature right there immediately available in the city. You don't really have to travel far to experience what you're after. As a photographer, you'll probably want a week.

For water, there are countless opportunities right in Vancouver. Make sure you stroll the entire seawall (you spend hours doing this). You could literally spend the whole day in Stnlay Park if you wanted. Grab photos at Third Beach, from under the Lions Gate Bridge, and then keep going along the seawall to English Bay then over to Science World and Olympic Village.

Take those little water taxis (Aquabus and False Creek Ferries) to Granville Island (a public food market open in the morning/afternoon). Kitsilano "Kits" Beach is one of my favourite waterfront views of the city skyline with a mountain backdrop, and along Yew Street up to W 4th are all sorts of cute, local neighbourhood haunts - cafes, diners, shops, flower markets, etc. A side of authentic Vancouver.

Take the SeaBus (a 10-minute boat ride) from Waterfront Station across to Lonsdale Quay for a photo op of the downtown skyline at sunset. Be sure to check out the Polygon Gallery there, a by-donation photography museum that has a sweet view over the city. And yeah, take the express bus to Horseshoe Bay, about a half hour away, and hop on the 20-minute ferry to Bowen Island. Go on a guided kayak tour if you can.

For bears close to Vancouver, unless you want rescued bears in enclosures (North Vancouver's Grouse Mountain has two rescued grizzlies), the next closest place would be going on a bear tour in Whistler, which is a 90-minute drive along the Sea-to-Sky Highway north of Vancouver: https://www.whistler.com/activities/bear-viewing/. This is totally feasible.

There's also Tofino for bear-watching on the magical west coast of Vancouver Island, home to ancient rainforests and gorgeous beaches, but... you'd want to fly there and rent a car. It's otherwise a 5-hour journey from Vancouver. And you'd want 3-4 days there. Look up Pacific Rim National Park, though it is absolutely stunning: https://www.oceanoutfitters.bc.ca/bear-watching

For bear-watching in Bella Coola or Prince Rupert, you're talking about places that book months in advance, that have distinct bear-viewing seasons which I think depend on the fall salmon run in September. For those places, you're looking at 1-2 hour flights, and then you're going to want to be there on the ground for 3 days at least. There is where you may be getting into "biting off more than you can chew" territory.

Last edited by BC_Robyn; Jan 26th, 2020 at 04:45 PM.
BC_Robyn is offline  
Old Jan 26th, 2020, 11:13 PM
  #35  
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 6,267
Just like to add that Uber and Lyft are finally up and running in Vancouver.
raincitygirl is offline  
Old Jan 27th, 2020, 07:09 AM
  #36  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 180
Ran City Girl - Amazing, generous posts. I will get back to this with some thoughts later - meetings today! THANK YOU!
Rocket79 is online now  
Old Jan 27th, 2020, 07:48 AM
  #37  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 3,787
Great information, BC_Robyn! Your post is well worth saving.
sludick is online now  
Old Jan 27th, 2020, 08:37 AM
  #38  
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 128
Very useful post Robyn but can I correct for benefit of future bear searchers-

Bear season from Prince Rupert runs May to July because viewing is not based on salmon runs but on sedge grass! They come to the estuary shore to eat sedge. As of now they still have availability.
emmajm is online now  
Old Jan 27th, 2020, 08:50 AM
  #39  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 180
Originally Posted by BC_Robyn View Post
I live in Vancouver, so I normally just drive to Seattle and Portland. It's a 3-hour drive down the freeway from Seattle to Vancouver, not including any waits at the border. Portland's another three hours south of Seattle.

If you're driving, the border line-up is the real wild card here. It could be 5 minutes, it could be 2 hours. As others have said, Amtrak does have one train per day up to Vancouver and one train per day back south again. They have countless Amtrak buses, so if you're looking at the Amtrak schedule, make sure you're choosing the train and not inadvertently choosing the bus option!

Or, as you said, you could just fly. I've never once flown between Vancouver and Seattle or Portland, but mainly because I've always wanted my car while exploring there, so it's less hassle for me to just drive.



Ahh, the Firehouse Theatre. I've been to shows there. It's a great little indie theatre, but be prepared for a real shock in terms of the thousands of drug addicts and homeless people and generally unwell street people (some with severe mental health issues) who wander those Downtown Eastside No-Mans-Land blocks between Gastown and Chinatown. It's not actually dangerous but it looks bad and you may feel uncomfortable, especially if nobody warns you about this ahead of time. So consider this that warning. The good news is that people don't get mugged or murdered there. The drug addicts and homeless folk will wander around like zombies or scream to themselves... but they will totally ignore you. But that is where you'll be based, so just set your expectations ahead of time and don't be surprised that such a part of the city exists. All the homeless shelters, welfare offices, soup kitchens, supervised injection sites, and other charities and services that serve that community exist within those few blocks. This video may shed some light on what's going on there: https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-us...-addicts-lives

The Victorian is a little historic inn on a side street on the outskirts of Gastown. I've never stayed there but those who do typically like it given it's a cheaper place to stay in town. It looks like it has character.

Another place to consider is the YWCA Hotel, which is more like college dorm-style accommodation (basic but clean). It probably doesn't have the same character as the Victorian, but it's in the same area and would be just as convenient for you. It may be slightly cheaper, not sure.

One thing about downtown Vancouver is that it is tiny. Everywhere is central and will be walking distance to hundreds of restaurants, cafes, grocery stores, etc.

From the Victorian, it would be a 15-minute walk to get to the Firehall, but there are some fairly sketchy blocks along the journey. To avoid the worst blocks, walk down Pender Street to get there. Look at a map of downtown Vancouver, but you'd want to walk from the Victorian along Pender to Gore. From Gore, walk north across Hastings one block up to Cordova and the Firehall will be on your right. The secret is to just use Pender as your main walking route for those blocks, not Hastings or Cordova. Pender's the main shopping/dining street in Chinatown. Hastings will look like scenes from that video I linked to above.

From the airport to downtown Vancouver, you could take a taxi. It shouldn't cost more than $36. Those are Canadian dollars, by the way. It goes without saying that the only currency used in Canada is the Canadian dollar, which seems to come as a surprise to visiting Americans, so... it kind of does have to be explicitly said, haha! You can also hop on the Canada Line (our airport-to-downtown rapid transit train) for a third of that price and get off at the end of the line: Waterfront Station, and then the Victorian Inn would be a 7-minute walk away. All in all, the Canada Line takes about the same time as the taxi... the taxi might be just a few minutes faster, but not by much.




Here's the thing about Vancouver. Unlike most other cities in the world, Vancouver's a major city where wilderness is literally right out the door. Steps away. You don't come to Vancouver to hang out in the city streets (though you certain can and you certainly will). The way you interact with Vancouver is to spend your days out in the wilderness and then come back into the city to eat, and then you head out into the wilderness or to the beach, etc. and repeat that as many times as necessary. To experience Vancouver is to spend your leisure time out in nature, on the shore, in the forests, or on the mountains. Beaches, forests and mountains are all within minutes away from downtown Vancouver.

Wake up, have a coffee and a bite to eat at a cool cafe (look up Nelson the Seagull, Matchstick, or Revolver), then head into the rainforest for a morning walk (Stanley Park, which is a 30 minute walk west from your hotel, is larger than NYC's Central Park and is 1000 acres of temperate rainforest wilderness surrounded by beaches and mountain views). Then come back into the city, grab a cheap lunch (in Vancouver, Asian food is where it's at, specifically sushi/Japanese food and authentic (not westernized) Chinese food). I'm a fan of Heritage, Peaceful, Kaide, and Dinesty. Then you head out on your next adventure, like heading into the mountains (look up Seymour, Grouse, Cypress) or pop over to an island (look up Bowen) for a kayak along an ocean fjord (seriously, look up Bowen Island Kayaking). Then come back, grab a flight of craft beer in East Vancouver (East Van is Vancouver's Portlandia - the heart of the city's arts/weirdos/counter culture) ... somewhere like Strange Fellows or Parallel 49 Brewing or Brassneck or R&B Brewing. Grab a bite to eat on Main Street or Commercial Drive and then grab cocktails later on in Gastown. Or chill out on the beach at Jericho, Locarno, Spanish Banks, English Bay, Third Beach... and everyone will be there with blanket and guitars and beach volleyball watching the sun cast a glow over the mountains and distant islands. And that's where Vancouver really comes alive.

Don't stretch yourself too thin. Give yourself at least 3 days in Vancouver, outside of your work duties, to scratch the surface there. Prioritize the nature right there immediately available in the city. You don't really have to travel far to experience what you're after. As a photographer, you'll probably want a week.

For water, there are countless opportunities right in Vancouver. Make sure you stroll the entire seawall (you spend hours doing this). You could literally spend the whole day in Stnlay Park if you wanted. Grab photos at Third Beach, from under the Lions Gate Bridge, and then keep going along the seawall to English Bay then over to Science World and Olympic Village.

Take those little water taxis (Aquabus and False Creek Ferries) to Granville Island (a public food market open in the morning/afternoon). Kitsilano "Kits" Beach is one of my favourite waterfront views of the city skyline with a mountain backdrop, and along Yew Street up to W 4th are all sorts of cute, local neighbourhood haunts - cafes, diners, shops, flower markets, etc. A side of authentic Vancouver.

Take the SeaBus (a 10-minute boat ride) from Waterfront Station across to Lonsdale Quay for a photo op of the downtown skyline at sunset. Be sure to check out the Polygon Gallery there, a by-donation photography museum that has a sweet view over the city. And yeah, take the express bus to Horseshoe Bay, about a half hour away, and hop on the 20-minute ferry to Bowen Island. Go on a guided kayak tour if you can.

For bears close to Vancouver, unless you want rescued bears in enclosures (North Vancouver's Grouse Mountain has two rescued grizzlies), the next closest place would be going on a bear tour in Whistler, which is a 90-minute drive along the Sea-to-Sky Highway north of Vancouver: https://www.whistler.com/activities/bear-viewing/. This is totally feasible.

There's also Tofino for bear-watching on the magical west coast of Vancouver Island, home to ancient rainforests and gorgeous beaches, but... you'd want to fly there and rent a car. It's otherwise a 5-hour journey from Vancouver. And you'd want 3-4 days there. Look up Pacific Rim National Park, though it is absolutely stunning: https://www.oceanoutfitters.bc.ca/bear-watching

For bear-watching in Bella Coola or Prince Rupert, you're talking about places that book months in advance, that have distinct bear-viewing seasons which I think depend on the fall salmon run in September. For those places, you're looking at 1-2 hour flights, and then you're going to want to be there on the ground for 3 days at least. There is where you may be getting into "biting off more than you can chew" territory.
Thank you so much for all of this incredible information and insight. I will say that I have booked a loft thru airbnb just down the street from the venue (secure building). I appreciate all of the warnings, and I will add that the video is very troubling. There will be a little over 100 people at the workshop. I just felt that at the end of the day, it will be better to be closer to the venue (since I need to get there, one way or the other.) It will be light out when I walk the couple blocks; I think for me, it was worth it over the hassle/cost of getting transportation there and back from a hotel farther west. That said, the situation in that area will no doubt be unsettling. I may have misjudged this and I hope I don't regret it, but I can't cancel without losing 50% of the cost. So my timeline:
- Thursday night of my arrival and all day Friday on my own
- Friday night and full days Sat and Sun are the workshop
- I have Monday and Tuesday (and Friday during the day) to myself for whatever
- Check out of the loft Wednesday

So the question is, what to do on my free days and on Wed. do I just fly home, or do I head over to Vancouver Island. Tofino is quite alluring! So is Bowen Island. I'm just not sure kayaking is up my alley, although I wish it was! I may get enough of a nature fix on Monday and Tuesday, too. I love the idea of getting on a water taxi or ferry to do some exploring. I wouldn't mind adding perhaps three days to this and doing something like this. So I'll be doing more research before I book any flights or trains. It's always a little difficult planning a trip to someplace you've never been. Once I get the lay of the land of a place, I'm fine. Anyway, thank you again - I may have more specific questions later!




Rocket79 is online now  
Old Jan 27th, 2020, 01:04 PM
  #40  
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 336
Re: your AirBnB loft, what's weird about that part of that city is that it can be unsettling on one street and then totally a different scene one block over. I'm thinking this might be the case with your loft. There are some luxury condos right in Chinatown a block away from the madness on Hastings, and they're hip happening places. There are also some slick lofts in old warehouse type buildings just to the north of the Firehall in what's called Railtown (also home to the Alibi Room and Belgard Kitchen, which are worth checking out). As well, clusters of old Victorian heritage homes to the east of the Firehall in a place called Strathcona. All are steps away from the unsettling few bits, and it would feel as if you're a million miles away from the chaos.

So chances are, your loft will be fine. And again, it's all about setting expectations so it's not a shock when you accidentally stumble through this, but you go in knowing that this is there and there are streets where you can avoid the worst of it.

Vancouver Island's a two-week destination, and if you're not flying, it's time consuming to get to from Vancouver. If you can spare 3-4 days, go to Tofino. Fly into Tofino and rent a car to explore. It's bliss.

As a short afternoon outing from Vancouver, Bowen Island makes sense. Bowen Island is a day-trip or half-day trip destination. You don't need a car to get there. You don't even need to kayak. It's more or less an excuse to get onto a scenic 20-minute ferry ride onto an island in the middle of Howe Sound. There are all kinds of trails and parks on Bowen, but it's also a semi-rural residential area... a Vancouver bedroom community. This site might help: https://www.tourismbowenisland.com/

For an afternoon in nature in Vancouver, I'd just take the Seabus + bus to somewhere like Lynn Canyon: https://lynncanyon.ca/
And spend a day exploring Stanley Park.

Last edited by BC_Robyn; Jan 27th, 2020 at 01:07 PM.
BC_Robyn is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

FODOR'S VIDEO