This post is part of my 10 week retrospective looking back at a specific trip from each year of the 2010s. Read more about the series here. Today I’m talking about my June 2011 trip to Vancouver. Read about my 2010 trip to Toronto here.”
I like visiting Vancouver, British Columbia (I haven’t been to Vancouver, Washington yet). I’ve been to Vancouver enough times that I’ve seen most of the major tourist attractions, so I don’t feel pressured to try and cram in a bunch of stuff when I’m there. Still I haven’t been so often that I feel like, “I’ve done Vancouver.” It’s a nice balance.
In 2011 I went to Vancouver for a travel blogging conference. This was the third or fourth year of the conference, but my first time attending. I was excited to check to go and check it out. Vancouver is only a 90 minute flight from where I live. The city is by the ocean. There are mountains. There’s great food. There’s lots to see and do there. And the weather is pretty temperate year round (something that makes it pretty tempting to go there when the winters are unbearable here in Edmonton).
Side note: when I was living in Ireland and people found out I was Canadian I received one of two comments.
- My niece’s friend’s second cousin’s classmate just moved to Toronto (or some variation of that) or
- I really want to go to Vancouver.
And I can’t blame people for wanting to visit Vancouver because the city is gorgeous. Part of my trip was inside a conference centre attending talks about blogging, SEO, writing, marketing, etc. I’m sure that’s not so exciting to many people, but I found it interesting and got to meet some bloggers (though I’m an introvert and not really great at networking).
The conference had worked with the Vancouver tourism board and had some complimentary attraction passes and tours for attendees. I got to go up to the Vancouver Lookout, which is a nice lookout point in the city at Harbour Centre. I took a food tour at the Public Market at Granville Island. That tour broke what was supposed to be a year without chocolate (a resolution I’d make at New Years; chocolate is too delicious don’t give it up unless you’re allergic or diabetic or something like that). I also took hop on/off trolley tour, which was the weirdest tour ever. I like hop on/off tours all right. If you’re short on time it’s a good way to see the sites, get your bearings, and learn about the city you’re visiting. But the live tour guide I had on this particular tour just kept talking about the coffeeshops in the area, and how there was a Starbucks on every corner. Yeah, I get it Starbucks is everywhere, but like I don’t need you to point out that there’s another Starbucks down the block from us. I can understand hearing about Starbucks on a tour in Seattle (you know where the company started), but not in Vancouver. Since there was a live guide I’m sure other guides on the same tour would have been different, and not just talk about coffeeshops.
One thing that was unique about this trip was that it took place while The Vancouver Canucks were in the playoffs for The 2011 Stanley Cup. I wasn’t there when they lost and the riots were going on (something that’s just awful, but I’m not gonna get on my high horse and point fingers; I know Edmonton has had riots after The Oiler’s lost in 2006…some people get stupid over sports). However I was there when The Canuck’s won their last game in that series against The Boston Bruins in that series. I’m not a huge sports person (I mean I cheer for my local sports teams, but I’m not super invested in games). However I gotta say energy in the air was electric as there was tons of people watching the game on giant outdoor screens downtown. I also happened to be wearing blue and green (Canuck team colours) that day, so I had a lot of people (likely very drunk people) giving me high fives. If you’re visiting a city when their local sports team is a finals/playoff game wear the team’s colours and you’ll be greeted with a lot of enthusiasm.
I’ve written before that I like to have a quest, but it isn’t always super big. I do like to have something to look forward to when I travel. I’m a planner, so I always try to find something I want to see or do at destination; in Vancouver it was visiting the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Gardens. The gardens are quite beautiful, and like the name says they’re designed in a classical Chinese style (for gardens I guess). I was there in June so there lots of plants and flowers in bloom. This was something I hadn’t been able to do on my previous visits to Vancouver, so I’m glad I got to go there on this trip.
And best of all I got to see my friend (the same one I went to Toronto with) as she had moved to Vancouver earlier in the year. We went out for lunch and had a great time like we always do when we get together. Having a friend live in a place you’re visiting is always nice because they know how to get around and knows where to go. It makes for a less stressful trip.
My friend still in Vancouver, and that’s a good enough excuse for me to fly out for a visit every so often. I was there in 2015 and this past June, and I’ll definitely be back again at some point. Vancouver is too close, and too awesome for me not to visit over and over.