Thursday, April 11, 2013

Canada travel tips: Vancouver – places to visit

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
"West Coast Paradise (part 2)". Now it is time to speak a little about the places to visit in the paradise called Vancouver. First of all, when you are in Vancouver, it is like Los Angeles, you can find everything and see the movies being shot. It is really enjoyable. As for food, there are so many different places you can find food you like, if you are veggie, it is not a problem at all. Vancouver recently had debates concerning vegetarianism and the opportunities for the citizens. So, Vancouver is becoming one of the major vegetarian cities of Canada.

Where: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
What:Travel Smart” series

Previous Vancouver travel tips:

Well, my advice concerning places, I guess you would like to see everything, but it is hard to be everywhere if you are limited in time. So, try to choose what you really want to see and get there. The easiest place to start with is Waterfront. You get to the station and when you get off you can go any direction. If you turn left, you can go to Gastown, a wonderful place, most of souvenir / gift shops are located in that part. As for souvenirs, if you want to find some not expensive, I would not say cheap, then you have to walk till you see the famous Steam Clock and keep going straight. As you pass two or three shops you will see some of those gift / souvenir shops in which prices are not high.

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Steam Clock
Speaking about sightseeing places, the viewing deck of the Vancouver Lookout tower is just one block away from Gastown if you are headed away from the Water street. There you can also find some gift shops as well as small cafes and many interesting buildings, places, small parks nearby. But when you are in the elevator getting you to the top level of the viewing deck, you are going to be amazed and charmed by the beauty of the city skyline with picturesque mountains and ocean views, with skyscrapers and small unique buildings. So do not miss your chance to go up to the tower.

viewing deck of the Vancouver Lookout tower
Viewing deck of the Vancouver Lookout tower

Viewing deck of the Vancouver Lookout tower

If you decide to turn right from the station, you will get to Canada Place, a wonderful harbor with lots of tourists attractions. Beside different excursions offered during the weekdays, you can simply walk a little farther to Vancouver Convention Center and see a statue of a whale, the Olympic symbol made of glass, which looks terrific, and, of course, the view to the ocean itself. When you are at the harbor, you can see the other side of the shore and feel the breezy wind. As one of the most unusual “features” at the harbor, people are able to walk on the pedestrian lane with all the major cities on it, so basically you can walk all across Canada. 

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Just beside to Canada Place you can see different luxury hotels, which offer the highest service possible. One look at them takes your breath away, but when you get inside of the hotel, either Fairmont Waterfront Hotel or Pan Pacific Hotel Vancouver, you are amazed to the depth of the bones. The interior is totally inspirational, inviting and luxurious. And I am pretty much sure guests enjoy the place as well as its visitors.

Fairmont Waterfront Hotel in Vancouver
Fairmont Waterfront Hotel

From Canada Place you can walk directly to downtown; you can see all the major streets and avenues, roads and walkways. Vancouver is very different being very similar to other Canadian cities. But in fact, no, Vancouver is unique, perhaps, due to its location. Beautiful view to the mountains makes everything so unforgettable and amazing in this city. A view to the ocean, mountains and the skyline of downtown, all this makes Vancouver so outstanding and special to people living there and guests visiting it.

But there is one remark. If you go down Hastings St. you might find yourself in a very unsafe part of the district. So, I suppose you would like to keep yourself away from that place. There is nothing wrong with it (just one-two blocks where you can see that) but still there you can meet people who are taking drugs and so on. So, make sure you either have a company or keep yourself out of that part of the district.

Another place I would love to recommend you is 4th Avenue. To get there you can either take a bus 84 from VCC-Clark station or buses 4 or 6 going from Granville station. 

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

From 4th Avenue you can walk down to the shore line and get to the “seawalk”, a walk which goes all along the shore of Vancouver (here is the link to the website). I enjoyed this walk myself and I was so happy to have such a chance to be there and to see it all with my own eyes. Anyone who gets there can feel how amazing it is and how glorious the mountains look. 
Seawalk in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Down that “seawalk” you can walk to Granville Island, a small island, located in the heart of Vancouver, where citizens, guests and visitors can feel the spirit of the city at the same time being hidden away from the bustle. That is a nice place worth visiting. I would say, to me it looks a little similar with The Forks market in Winnipeg, but I’m going to speak about Winnipeg in the following “chapters of the journey”.

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

One of the places where I’ve been and I would like to recommend is Dr. Sun Yat Sen Park in Chinatown. It is 5-10 minute walk away from the Main Street – Science World Skytrain station or Stadium-Chinatown station. Basically, both stations are located nearby. The park amazes with its calmness among the noisy streets. The park is just in the real proximity to Pacific Central railroad station, which might be also a place of interest. This is the link to the website

Dr. Sun Yat Sen Park in Vancouver
Dr. Sun Yat Sen Park
And here is something special I would like to point out. When the world famous Cirque Du Soleil comes to town, it has its location exactly between those above mentioned Skytrain stations, i.e. Main Street – Science World and Stadium-Chinatown station but the opposite to that park direction. Cirque Du Soleil is a very bright, fantastic and interesting show of a high level. I would say and it is truly so, Cirque Du Soleil is a part of Canadian culture, it is a part of the Canadian identity. The prices might seem high but it is definitely worth visiting. Price range may vary from $50CAD up to I suppose $300CAD or even more (as per January 2013).

Cirque Du Soleil in Vancouver
Cirque Du Soleil in Vancouver

I guess most of those who think about a journey to Vancouver would love to have a trip to Vancouver Island, i.e. to Victoria, as it is the major city on the island and the capital of the province of British Columbia. You can easily get there and it won’t cost you much, just $14CAD per passenger (one-way ticket) as per January 2013. For this journey you need to get to Canada Line and go all the way to Bridgeport Station. There you will need to get off and take a bus 620 (you can use the same ticket during a couple of hours). From that place you can get to Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay, where you depart from. I will tell you more about Victoria and a trip there in the following “chapters of the journey”, but here is a link if you are interested in it.

Vancouver, basically as all of the largest cities of Canada, has lots of parks, beautiful places, different restaurants, cafes, hotels, motels, public toilets, and, of course, lots of opportunities for those who use bicycles. You will never get bored in Vancouver.

If you want to feel the spirit of North American life, you can find a good radio station, where old and modern country music is aired, this is JR FM 93.7. I was listening to this radio station every single day that I spent in Vancouver. This helps understand the true Canadians with their pride for the land and history, people and nature, their world-famous products, such as maple syrup, Canadian whiskey, Tim Horton’s coffee (especially its IcedCap with lots of flavors) and last but not least, Canadian IceWine. It is produced locally in Canada. It has a sweet flavor and will make you love this wine from the first try. You should definitely enjoy this experience! You can find it in special LiquorMart store (as it is a state monopoly on alcohol, the same as in Finland with its Alko stores) or on Granville Island in specialized stores. A bottle of red or white IceWine may cost you from $30CAD and higher depending on the size, age and region.

Well, I believe it is logical to conclude with the national pride of Canada, i.e. HOCKEY. Canadians love hockey, they live hockey and they adore it. It‘s their passion, their religion, if you please. And each town and city has its own team and Vancouver is one of the most famous ones and successful ones. Vancouverers love their national hockey team “Canucks”. You can feel this pride in every piece of mosaic of Vancouver, especially at the Stadium/Chinatown station, where the major stadium is located. There you can see lots of signs stating that “We’re All Canucks”. I guess no more words needed. This is truly pride and passion, love and devotion. And you have a chance to see any game. Tickets might be extremely expensive after playoffs but regular games might cost you around $200CAD (as per January 2013). However, you can always find some cheap offers, but be aware of scam out there online. Purchase the tickets from the official points of sale or official website.

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Here I would like to say have fun, enjoy and explore Vancouver! Travel smart and experience new excitement of Canada!

So far, this is all for now about Vancouver, but it is to be continued and more info about other places coming up.

Kirill “Traveler” Malyutin

About Travel Smart series:
“Travel Smart” is a section, narrating about different countries and good travel tips, advised by the author, Kirill Malyutin. The series contains recommendations, including selected places to visit, character accommodation, and reasonable shopping. Simply get inspiration!

О серии «Travel Smart»:
«Travel Smart» – раздел, в котором автор Кирилл Малютин рассказывает о разных странах и дает необходимые в путешествии советы. Серия включает в себя рекомендации по посещенным автором местам, характерным средствам размещения, а также разумному шопингу. Вдохновитесь приключением! 

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  1. Granville Island is my favorite, this place is really good to have a sea walk and cool atmosphere. Though I have been to other places you mentioned like Dr. Sun Yat Sen Park, but it looks a bit rough.

    Hotels and Accommodations in BC

  2. Yes, Granville Island is really magnificent, i like it too :)

  3. Canada is really great place for traveling. And you have done a great job by sharing this great post. I also love to go their. Many of it's places can attract every one eye toward it's self. There are many tourism places which are very much enjoyable and people love to saw those places. Every year people from whole world plane to visit here but due to high airfare many of them can't able to afford traveling. I am also looking to have Cheap online flight tickets to Canada next month.

    1. Thank you very much! Indeed, Canada is awesome and it was my pleasure to share my perception of the country with its beauty and spirit. And thanks for the link! And you're more than welcome to read more of the travel stories about Canada