Its been nearly 2 whole months since I got back from my 2 week trip from Vancouver to Calgary, so it’s definitely time I wrote about it and shared all my thoughts, tips and tricks! For a little background I went on the special departure Trek America Mountie trip from Vancouver to Calgary, camping with 2 nights in a cabin, ending in Calgary with a bonus day at the famous Calgary Stampede. Most Trek trips start on a Monday but recommend that you get there on the Sunday (or before) as typically you’ll be meeting your Trek Group nice and early at 7:30am on the Monday. You don’t want to risk missing the start due to any unplanned delays etc, and it’s always nice to settle into a different timezone and country/continent before a jam packed trip starts.
I decided to make the most of going all the way to Canada by flying out Saturday morning. I was quite lucky with how my flight times worked out as I left the UK at 10:05am on the Saturday from Heathrow and landed in Vancouver at 11:30am on the Saturday (bit of time travelling) which meant that I had half a day on Saturday and a whole day on Sunday to explore Vancouver by myself. After I landed in Vancouver and spent over an hour queuing to get through a pretty long and hot customs queue I managed to get myself to my hostel by 1pm, and out the door exploring by 1:30pm, the perfect way to start my 48 hours (just under!) in Vancouver.
Accommodation & Getting Around
Food and drink
Originally little did I know that I had managed to book my trip to coincide with Canada Day. And little did I know that my full free day in Vancouver would be on Canada Day! As soon as I decided to do the Mountie and stay in Vancouver for a few days I just HAD to book myself onto a whale watching trip. I love a bit of David Attenborough and I’ve always wanted to see Killer Whales in the wild! Vancouver is meant to be one of the best places in the world to go whale spotting, so I did my research and after chatting to Natasha Atlas decided to go for a 3-6 open boat whale watching tour with Wild Whales Vancouver. This cost $135CAD. HOWEVER on the morning of my trip, and battling a 6am alarm with serious jet lag, I checked my e-mails to find out that whale watching was OFF THE CARDS. Due to high winds all trips were cancelled. I won’t lie, I was devastated. It’s been a lifelong bucketlist thing I wanted to do. After having a mope over a creamcheese bagel I met my trek pal from the night before and tagged along with her for the day and we had a GREAT day. Things really do work out for a reason. We ended up hiking, exploring, going across terrifying bridges, chasing buses, eating delicious takeway pizza and ending the day on a rooftop terrace drinking Bulldogs. Things really do have a way of working out for the best eh!
When my friend Jen said she had a hike up a mountain planned, little did I know that it would be an extreme 2.9km vertical trail hike up the face of Grouse Mountain, commonly referred to as “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster.” Distance wise 2.9km/1.8 miles doesn’t sound like much, but when you’re faced with an 853m/2,800 feet elevation gain with a total of 2,830 steps – its a whole different hiking game! It was definitely tough. It was hot. It was humid. It rained. We stopped for several breaks. But we did it in just over 1.5 hours which was a pretty good effort because oh my! I was super glad we did it and although the views at the top were just of the clouds, it was a great feeling – and what a way to conquer Canada Day! After we mooched about the top, we got the skyline back to the bottom and the views as we came out of the cloud mid way down were breath taking.
Capilano Suspension Bridge
Canada Day Evening
After we had worked up an appetite hiking and touristing we headed back to the hostel to refresh and recharge before heading back out for the evening! We decided to try out the Irish bar on the corner, Dublin Calling as it had a rooftop bar area and the sun was shining. We managed to nab a booth, met another Trek buddy and settled in with Bulldogs! Bulldogs are a novelty to me, but essentially I was handed a giant green plastic bucket, filled to the top with a fruity frozen margarita with an upside down Corona plugged into it. It was delicious, on offer and a novelty – my favourite!
We had plans on heading to Canada Place to watch the fireworks but we were all jet lagged, the rain was chucking it down out of nowhere, and we had about 1.5 hours to kill – so we called it a night before meeting the next morning to make our way to the start of our Trek trip.
I absolutely adored my 48 hours in Vancouver and although I was gutted my whale watching didn’t work out, I ended up having an incredible day and I can attempt whale watching again another day eh.
I’d love to go back to Vancouver to try out more restaurants and see more of the city from a more relaxed approach now that i’ve ticked off a few of the main tourist type things to do.
Have you been to Vancouver?