We have now reached our last destination of the Canada leg – Vancouver!
We landed a short 1h20min after leaving Calgary, and made our way to the city by train. This conveniently took us all the way to our downtown accommodation.
It’s not luxurious, but it’s in the city centre near Waterfront and close to everything we need. The perfect location.
On our first day it was a little rainy, so we decided to head to the outlets to do some shopping and purchase a few missing items for our hikes to come. This was without knowing the outlets were outdoors, not a mall, and not the rain cover we were hoping for! Fail.
After some shopping and an interesting lunch at Japadog (Japanese hotdog), we then headed back to the city to visit Gastown and the surrounding area.
Gastown was pretty cool, it’s the oldest neighbourhood in Vancouver and filled with shops, cafes and restaurants.
After Gastown we decided to continue our stroll and meander over to Chinatown, so started heading east. Pretty quickly we realised a big change in scenery was happening, and we were no longer surrounded by tourists and hipster cafes.
We happened to have walked in to the middle of Downtown East, a well known hangout district for junkies, homeless, street workers and the mentally ill. It was pretty grim; after dodging needles on the pavement and staying out of the way of the hundreds of homeless scattered around, we decided to make our way back towards downtown and skip Chinatown altogether. Second fail! Googling this area after, it’s quite sad to see a post code that has been entirely neglected for so long.
After a drink in Yaletown, we made our way to the Richmond Night Market for dinner. This takes place from May to October, and had a huge collection of Asian foods and amusement stalls.
To be honest, our first impressions of this city weren’t the best, largely due to the gloomy weather and our poorly managed stroll in to the wrong neighbourhood.
On our second day we decided it was finally time to get some famous Canadian pancakes & mapple syrup. We initially wanted to go to Jam Cafe, a very popular pancake place in the city, but the 1h wait (we called to check) really put us off so we decided to go to The Templeton instead.
It is an old diner located near Yaletown, with most of its furniture original from the 50’s. Really cool place. The pancakes were delicious too (with added bacon for Nick), we weren’t disappointed!
From there we made our way to Granville Island to visit Granville market (the second theme of our trip after waterfalls, markets!).
The whole area was filled with small craft shops, as well as a huge indoor market selling vegetables, meat, cheese and deserts.
We were unfortunately way too full from our pancakes still to sample anything, but the market was a great area to visit and the walk was needed after that breakfast.
We then got the tiniest and most expensive ferry (for the distance). $3.75/pp to literally just cross the water, about 2min ride away to reach Horby. We started walking on the seaside before heading up through Davie Street (Vancouver’s gay district), continuing up Denman Street and finally Robson Street towards downtown (main shopping area).
Afterwards we went up the Vancouver lookout tower for a drink at the revolving restaurant to get a good view of the city and surrounds.
These places were definitely better to visit than Downtown East, and left us with a better impression of Vancouver than the day before.
Finally, on our third and last day we rented bikes from our hostel ($25/bike for the full day, unbeatable price in the city!) to ride along the seaside.
Vancouver is such a great place to cycle around! There are cycle paths everywhere, and the city is so flat you can cycle around for hours without really feeling it.
We rode 26km going all the way around the city from Gastown to Stanley Park, then stopped for a couple of hours in the public pool at Second Beach for some sun and chill time, all the way down to the science museum, around Granville Island and then over Burrard bridge back to downtown.
We had such a great sunny day, which officially reconciled us with Vancouver. It’s actually a great city to visit! Just don’t go to Downtown East…
Next stop: USA 🇺🇸
- The Templeton is a good alternative to Jam Cafe if you want good Canadian pancakes.
- Do not stroll around past Gastown as you’ll end up in downtown east. Stay on the downtown side.
- Rent bikes for a day and cycle all the way around the city. It’s the perfect way to see all the main sightseeing spots and enjoy on a sunny day.
- The public pool at second Beach is heated if you want to take a dip.