I initially planned to do separate posts about each activity that we did on vacation, but realized that would be the internet equivalent of cornering you and making you look at my family vacation slideshow. So I’m slapping all of this together in one post, mostly for myself (and because my mom would like to see all of this). I love to see other people’s travel photos, but also recognize that if I’m looking at those photos at work, it makes me want to punch them in the face, because I’m working and they’re not. So check out my vacation if you wish, or not. Warning…there are going to be a TON of posts BlogHer coming up soon, also several book posts, since I managed to catch up on my reading over the trip!
1. The lodgings: Bee and Thistle Guest House
I picked this place because of its high rating on TripAdvisor, and because I thought it would be fun to stay at a B&B. The Bee & Thistle is fabulous, I would never stay anywhere else in Vancouver. The Bee & Thistle first opened in 2010 for lodging during the Olympics, and its owners cut no corners transforming this Victorian home into a comfortable, well appointed guest house. Lynn and Michael, the innkeepers, are friendly and accommodating but not intrusive. They are happy to help with whatever you need, but also give you your privacy. The rooms are incredibly well stocked with fresh cookies each evening, snacks, toiletries, even a little web notebook to use during your stay. DID YOU HEAR THAT? FRESH COOKIES IN YOUR ROOM EVERY DAY. The rooms are unique, and reasonably priced. We stayed in “Molly’s Room” which is the next to smallest room, but still had plenty of space and simply was lovely.
The Bee & Thistle is a short drive from downtown, but there is ample parking if you rent a car. It is also within easy walking distance to the Commercial Drive district, and there is plenty of public transit (we rented a car to get the most “bang for our buck” time-wise, since our trip was so short).
Lynn is an amazing, talented chef, who prepared generous and delicious breakfasts for us each day of our stay.
2.The Sights: Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden
So peaceful. So pretty.
3. The Activities: Cycle City Bike Tour
I’m not a “bike person.” Part of this is because Pittsburgh is not bike friendly. It’s working on getting better, but the streets are still narrow and the drivers still aggressive. There are entirely too many instances of bicyclists being fatally injured on the streets of Pittsburgh. I’ll ride a bike from time to time on a car-free trail, but that’s it. Vancouver, by contrast, is extremely bike friendly. Most streets have dedicated bike trails, and many of those are even set off from the roadway with physical barriers. Bike commuting is commonplace, and Vancouver employers are increasingly offering showers and bike storage. If I lived in Vancouver, I could learn to love biking.
The Cycle City Bike tour was 4.5 hours long, and took us ALL over the city, including fantastic stretches along the sea wall and on the trails of Stanley Park. Not being a cyclist, my butt still hurts from the ride several days later, but I can say that I made it through the ride itself a-ok. This was a fantastic way to see the city, even if (like me) you’re not perfectly in shape.
4. The Eats: Havana
In the Commercial Drive district of the city (and only a short walk from the Bee & Thistle), Havana is a perfect spot to share a pitcher of sangria and a bite on a breezy summer evening.
5. The Activities: Grouse Mountain and Zip Line
And for lunch– Pulled Pork poutine at the Grouse Mountain cafe (Even though poutine is a Motreal original, it is equally popular in Vancouver, and I just couldn’t say “no” to this treat).
6. More Activities: Capilano Suspension Bridge and Cliffwalk
Beautiful view, but might not be the best activity if you (like me) get terribly motion sick. I call it “the bridge of dizzy’
The interesting curved trees growing from the mountain wall.
7. The Eats: Rodney’s Oyster House
My first oyster eating experience! I had ever eaten an oyster because I thought they would taste like slimy raw eggs. The waiter assured me this was not true. I took the plunge, and I tried them. Rodney’s specializes in oysters and all kinds of fresh seafood. We tried 2 different kinds of oysters from the Pacific Northwest and one from the East. I was happy to find that they do NOT taste like raw eggs, but rather taste like the ocean. It is a strange taste, but I could get used to it.
8. The Eats: Japadog
For years, Vancouver had very strict limitations on food carts, allowing them only to sell a limited number of wares. In the mid-2000s, the carts started pushing the envelope, getting creative with their hotdogs so they still technically complied with the rules, but were also creative. The laws have since changed, and the Vancouver food truck movement is blossoming. There are even food truck food tours, which I’d love to take next time I am in town.
9. Cuppa Joe: Turk’s Coffee
Our innkeepers and food tour guide both agreed that Turk’s makes the best coffee in Vancouver, and being right around the corner from our B&B, we had to check it out. My latte was indeed tasty, but I was even more impressed with the casual ambiance.
The final verdict: This was a phenomenal vacation. It was just a long weekend, but it felt like much more. Vancouver is extremely accessible and tourist friendly. The people are kind, and the city clean. Admittedly, the prices are kind of high, and the sales tax in Vancouver is exorbitant, so a long weekend here will make your credit card cry (but that’s why we’re there for a few days, instead of for weeks, right?)