Sunday, 27 October 2019

Our honeymoon in Canada - Part One: Vancouver

I've umm-ed and ahh-ed about how to blog about our incredible honeymoon in Canada. We did so much and there's just so much to say! So after slaving over a day-by-day account of Vancouver I realised it really wasn't realistic to write a) one post or b) keep doing a day-by-day account! So, while part 1 is a day-by-day summary of our time spent in Vancouver, I'm going to focus a bit more on the highlights of the second half of our trip. It was the best holiday I've ever been on and a real trip-of-a-lifetime - saying that, I hope we go back one day!

Vancouver


Vancouver was our first stop and the place we were most excited to visit. We'd heard so much about the city and it did not disappoint! We stayed at the Rosendale on Robson (we did everything through Thomas Cook (RIP)) which was more like a serviced apartment which was perfect for us when we were exhausted with jet lag and just wanted to watch TV for a bit! The location was also amazing as we were right in Yaletown which we loved. 

Vancouver was quite an expensive city, but we did find Canada in general quite expensive. Like with the US, tax and service aren't added, and with the 15%-20% tip you need to add on to everything from a meal to a coffee to a drink at a bar, we found we spent quite a bit more than we expected. We also found activities quite expensive, but we walked everywhere (the only expections being boats across the water, and the day we went to Richmond Night Market) and went hard on the free hotel breakfast so we didn't spend a lot on food during the day.

Day one

We were lucky enough to arrive on a really beautiful day, and thanks to our early flight, it was only early afternoon once we'd dropped our bags off at our hotel! We spent our first day exploring - we walked down to the waterfront at David Lam Park, had Happy Hour drinks in Yaletown (we got veryyyyy into 3pm Happy Hour!) and had dinner at Meet, a vegan restaurant in Gastown. We were sooo jetlagged but managed to just about stay up til 8pm!

Day two
Thanks to jetlag, we both woke up at 2am wide awake and contemplating heading down to Stanley Park for sunrise. Unfortunately, or fortunately for me!, I ended up falling back asleep til 5am! We did end up heading down to Stanley Park before 7.30am where it was beautifully deserted. Stanley Park was one of our favourite parts of Vancouver. Vancouver is a beautiful green and clean-feeling city anyway, but Stanley Park is an oasis in the city. It's a huge, stunningly beautiful park right on the water, and it didn't hurt that it was an incredibly beautiful day (I had bare legs nearly every day we were in Vancouver!). 


We walked all around the edge of Stanley Park and explored the totem poles (our new favourite thing!) which took about 3 hours, but when we were finished it still wasn't even 10.30am yet!


We'd heard amazing things about the food market at Grenville Island so we took the boat across. Grenville Island is basically a tiny island with bars, tiny shops, a distillery and brewery and a food market. We'd watched loads of videos on what we had to eat at Grenville Market, so obviously we were incredibly decision-fatigued by the time we arrived! We started out with a coffee and a cookie sitting by the waterfront, then the candied salmon we'd heard so much about and then I found a blog which recommended the olive and feta tapenade from one of the stalls, which we had with a sourdough roll each. It was incredible! Phil was also super excited to try Lee's Donuts, which is meant to be legendary on Grenville Island. He went for their famous honey dip and he was not disappointed!
We headed back over to the mainland to explore more of the city. We went to the library and sat on the rooftop terrace overlooking the city, and then we went to Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Gardens. Phil did so much research for our trip and said these gardens kept coming up as a must-do. I had no idea what to expect, and was surprised at the $28 entrance fee, but these gardens are absolutely beautiful. In the middle of bustling Vancouver, this is a lovely escape. There are loads of areas to explore and it just feels so tranquil - I'd definitely recommend it if you're in the city.

Now by this time it was still only around 3pm, so of course, we went looking for another Happy Hour! We were already in Gastown so we had a look around there for a nice bar, but the once Phil fancied wasn't open, so we ended up back in Yaletown (if it isn't clear, we really loved Yaletown, which was conveniently where we were staying!). We had amazing tacos for dinner from Tacofino, had one last drink to keep us out and awake and managed to stay up til 9pm!

Day three
Phil did a really good job of researching all the places to visit on our trip, but we didn't want to plan every single day. By Friday we'd done a lot of the areas of the city where we were staying, and we knew we had parkrun on Saturday and we wanted another trip to Stanley Park before we left, so we decided on Friday to visit Capilano Suspension Bridge.
We got up early, obviously, and headed down to Canada Place to catch the shuttle (with me sneaking a photo with Pixel Orca who was cordoned off for an event). The shuttle is free and the journey takes about an hour, and when we arrived the lady at the desk gave us $10 off for our honeymoon!

We got there on the second shuttle of the day, which was great as it was pretty quiet when we arrived. 

Capilano Suspension Bridge is a huge, long suspension bridge 70m above a huge canyon. It is high. It is long. It is, as they put it "reassuringly wobbly". I can tell you kids, there is nothing reassuring about that wobbling! I was not a happy camper! Luckily it was quiet so there wasn't anyone jumping, but as soon as people get on it starts to rock! I braved it and we got some cool photos but I was not happy! 


Once you cross the bridge though, there's a treetop adventure with loads of mini bridges between the trees. It is so cool! Once I'd gone of the big bridge the little bridges weren't quite so scary, and it was so beautiful in this huge and beautiful forest! There's also a cliffwalk over the edge of the canyon which was really cool (and scary!)
Then we headed to Lonsdale Quay where there was another food market and a few little restaurants and bars. I was intrigued by a pink latte and the man at the stall was so excited I was interested I couldn't say no! (It was nice!) and then we had maybe the best sushi of my life as a starter, and Mexican food as a main. 
We were just heading to the Aquabus to take us back to the mainland when we walked past the modern art museum. I don't know what made us notice, but there in the window was a huge poster for The Clock. You might remember back in November last year we saw The Clock in London and it was one of our absolute highlights of the year. And here is was. In Vancouver. While we were here. We went straight in. 
It turns out it's only in one city at a time so it was massive coincidence that our favourite exhibition happened to be in Vancouver. It also turned out it was the night of the 24 hour screening! However, we were too jetlagged still to last all night, so we did a couple of hours in the afternoon, and came back for another hour and a half in the evening (unexpectedly catching a few bands at the Shipyards Night Market too!).

Day four
Saturday morning in the Cantillon house means one thing and that wasn't going to change just because we were on the other side of the world - parkrun! I was absolutely thrilled when I found out there were two parkruns in Vancouver. We decided to visit the quite new Central parkrun, about 40 minutes away. There were only about 40 of us, and lots of other British people - parkrun hasn't quite taken off in Canada yet. It was a beautiful park and a really nice run and it was so cool to have done our first International parkrun!

Saturday mornings also mean brunch, and I'd eyed up Cafe Medina as the place to go. We ended up waiting an hour and a bit for a table, which gave us some time to explore the nearby shops. It did not disappoint! I had the Harissa "burger" which was like a deconstructed veggie burger - it was so good!

It was another beautiful day and we didn't have any firm plans until the evening, so we decided to walk around the whole of the sea wall to Grenville Island, which took us a few hours and absolutely beautiful. After a beer flight and a cocktail we headed to Richmond Night Market.


A word of warning, don't go to Richmond Night Market when it opens. We arrived about half an hour before opening and the queue was around the block. We waited over an hour to get inside, but noticed the queue had completely disapated by 8pm. Richmond Night Market is a cross between Blackpool, a festival and a market in a touristy Spanish town. It was full of hundreds of stalls selling all kinds of food. It's also cash-only, which we only realised after we arrived with only $30 on us and the queues for the cash machines were insane! The first thing I wanted was a rainbow grilled cheese, purely for the photo. It was incredibly cool and pretty disgusting but totally worth it. I also had a sushi taco (very cool!) and Phil had a kimchi and beef wrap and some Korean BBQ skewers (the corn on the cob from there was awesome too!). It's only on during the summer but it's well worth a visit if you're around on a Saturday night.

Day five
On Sunday we'd planned another trip to Stanley Park but when we woke up it was absolutely chucking it down! Like, David Fincher rain. We had breakfast and basically ran to Templeton Diner for coffee. In the end we decided, screw it, this is our last day, and we went back to the hotel to change out of our soaking clothes (we were that wet!) and walked to Stanley Park. This time we were through the middle of the park, to a foggy Prospect Point (where I believe there is meant to be a great view but all we saw was fog and mist!) and Beaver Lake, and for a photo in The Big Tree (which we loved). Then we went out in search of some authentic Vancouver cuisine.

First stop was a Japadog, but because of the rain I insisted on going to one with a seating area. Japadogs are a bit of a Vancouver institution - hotdogs dressed up with Japanese toppings. And they do a veggie version! Then, the big one, authentic poutine. I insisted on finding a place where the gravy was already vegetarian so I got the proper experience, which led to a 45 minute walk to La Bella Potate. La Bella Potate does dozens of kinds of poutine but went for the original, taking it out and eating it on a bench while the sun was popping its head out. It was absolutely delicious and one of my favourite memories!
It was our last day in Vancouver, so of course we had to have one more happy hour, and ended up finding our favourite place! I absolutely loved the Yaletown Distillery and their own gin was so good I wish I'd got a bottle to take home!

We were so so so sad to say goodbye to Vancouver, but we saw pretty much everything we wanted to see and did pretty much everything we wanted to do in the five days we were there. Plus, we knew we had the Rockies to explore!

In Part Two I'll tell you about the second part of our trip - The Rockies, Banff, Toronto and Niagara Falls!

Charlotte x

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