I remember even less about this trip than I do our China trip. Probably because it was only for a week and it was just Jay and me. This was our second international trip (to me, Vancouver is just as “international” as California is) and our main reason to visit Vancouver was to attempt snowboarding for the second time. We rented a car for this trip and navigation was easy thanks to our handy-dandy GPS.
• The Listel Hotel. 1300 Robson Street, Vancouver, BC Canada, V6E 1C5. A boutique hotel with ultra modern rooms and great décor. The location was convenient and the iconic O’Doul’s Restaurant was right next door. Unfortunately, after 40 years, the restaurant just closed it doors in July 2012 and a new restaurant, Forage, by Chef Chris Wittaker will reopen in Fall 2012.
• Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge. 3663 Park Road, North Vancouver. We chose to go to this bridge rather than the well-known Capilano Suspension Bridge mainly because it was FREE! Capilano Suspension Bridge Park has much more to offer, but all at a cost. I don’t understand why you have to pay to see a bridge. Lynn Canyon Park also offers some walking and hiking trails, but we didn’t explore that.
• Capilano Salmon Hatchery. 4500 Capilano Park Road, North Vancouver. Another free place to visit, and thank goodness it was free! There was absolutely nothing to see! Maybe because it was winter time? Maybe because they were actually closed and we snuck in? It sure seemed like it because we were the only people there – and absolutely nothing to see!
• Gastown. Between Granville and Main Streets, north of Hastings Street. Gastown is the oldest commercial district in Vancouver. It’s a great neighborhood to go shopping, or in my case, window shop. It also has a number of restaurants too. Don’t forget to check out what time it is at the Gastown Steam Clock (although not run on steam anymore), located on the corner of Cambrie and Water Street. It was actually built over a steam grate to prevent the homeless from sleeping in this heated spot during the cold season.
• Granville Island. It could be that we were there in Winter, but Granville Island was a little dead. The stores and restaurants were open, so we did a bit of window shopping. There was a public market, kid zones including a water area (which was closed for obvious reasons – it was February), and lots of art spaces. I enjoyed walking around even though it wasn’t busy at all. In fact, I liked it that way.
• Day trip to Victoria. On Valentine’s Day, we decided to take a day trip to Victoria by BC Ferry. We did not make a reservation and we drove onto the ferry with our rental car. Although we made it to the terminal well before our chosen departure time, we had to wait in a long line. The ferry filled to capacity and we were forced to wait for the next one – two hours later. Once we got to Victoria, we headed to downtown. On the way we decided to stop at Butchart Gardens (800 Benvenuto Avenue in Brentwood Bay). Our thought was, “It’s winter, maybe it’s free?” We found out it wasn’t and we weren’t going to pay $23 each to see flowers in the Winter. Instead we turned around and headed to downtown. Once in downtown we found street parking around Belleville Street near Fairmont Empress Hotel. We walked to the Fairmont where we had Afternoon Tea, I believe it was about $70/person since it was Valentine’s. That was my Valentine’s gift from Jay. We also drove to Chinatown, but from our car, it only looked like one street, so we said, “Okay, we saw it.” We were also trying to make it back to the ferry terminal to catch the last ferry out. If we missed it, we’d have to stay overnight which we were not prepared for.
• Day trip to Whistler. A little less than a two-hour drive, we decided to visit Whistler. We did not plan to go snowboarding or skiing there as we heard it was on the expensive side. Instead, we went ziplining! This was our first time doing so and was very excited. The zipline consisted of five lines as we trekked from treetop to treetop and the view was amazing! I highly recommend doing this during the Winter (mainly because living in Hawaii, I know what green trees look like). We spent the rest of the day wandering around the town, which was focused on the Winter Olympics coming up the following Winter 2010.
• Snowboarding and Tubing at Cypress Hill. We chose Cypress Hill because it offered snow tubing. It’s basically going down a hill in an inner tube. It was really fun… for the first five times, then got boring. I’m still glad I got to do this though. After our tubing fun, we headed to the ski slopes. This was our second attempt at snowboarding (our first attempt was in Denver, CO). We sucked at our first attempt and opted to take another snowboarding lesson at Cypress Hill. The price included ski rentals, lesson and an all-day ski lift pass. I have to admit, we totally improved the second time around and could make it all the way down the bunny slope without falling. The secret? No fear, baby! I was trying to stand on my board and balance before moving, but couldn’t do it and kept falling on my butt. Once I realized that I can’t balance and just have to start going, I was able to find my balance along the way. Woohoo! But snowboarding is not really my thing – I’m still nervous about getting off the ski lift. Jay actually took me out on one dismount, resulting in me hitting my head and the operator yelling, “Keep your head down!” Embarrassing, I tell you.
• Japadog. We heard about Japadog from the Travel Channel and wanted to try it out. We went in search of it (this was a time before Smart Phones, so we had a little difficulty finding it). The one that we went to is located on Burrard & Smithe Street. There are also others located on Burrard & Pender Street and Waterfront Station – each with different specialty items. Check out their website for the menu items (Google Japadog). I remember I had the Terimayo because it was “safe”. Basically it’s an all-beef hotdog with teriyaki and mayonnaise sauce, fried onions and nori (roasted seaweed). It was really yummy and I would definitely recommend it. Jay had the Misomayo which was a turkey smokie with miso sesame sauce, mayonnaise and radish sprouts. We enjoyed that one too.
• Bin941. 941 Davie Street. This was a small restaurant and since we did not have reservations, we ended up waiting for a little while. But it was worth the wait! The food was delicious – the one dish that stood out in our minds was the risotto. I think that was the best risotto I have tasted to this day. Since it was just the two of us, we were able to sit at the bar, just adjacent to the small, open kitchen. This provided us some entertainment as we waited for our food. I definitely recommend this place.
I think Vancouver is one of the prettiest cities along with San Francisco. It is on the expensive side and it didn’t feel international to me (comparing to other international trips, obviously). In a way that’s good because there were no language barrier or obvious cultural difference, just the money conversion, which having the $ sign made it much more confusing.