This is my 3rd visit to Vancouver and it always impresses me. Vancouver is a wonderful friendly city where I am comfortable walking along with the locals. The city is culturally diverse but it does not have that strong “rat racy” energy like New York or LA. No disrespect to New York (I love NY and its high energy) and Los Angeles, hey I am an Angeleno by heart having lived there and continue to be there almost every week as I am now located in the south bay. You can walk the city just being you and have a good time but of course like any other big city, you still have to be careful. But hey, in all my visits to Vancouver, I’ve always felt safe at all times. One local told me that some “haters” are around like any other place but they are a minority. Bottom line, Vancouver is a welcoming and a really clean city!
For 6 days, my family and I roamed the city on our rental car a Hyundai Sonata (I have to mention this because I enjoyed driving this car :)) BTW, my pleasures are simple so a good drivable car makes me smile. The mind wanders once again LOL!!! On that note, We tried to discover as much as we can of the city and found many interesting experiences. The tourist traps were traps but I must say I enjoyed them because my family did. As a good tourist would do, we headed out to Stanley Park, YaleTown, GasTown, Downtown, Capilano Bridge, Grouse Mountain, Harbor Cruise, China Town, 2010 Olympic Venues, Crystal Palace Mall, Metro Town and others. All were good experiences for us, we found little gems in all those places and enjoyed them. For instance, GasTown had 2 restaurants we thought were really cool places to eat and they are the Irish Heather and Chill Winston. I will have a separate blog on each of the restaurants. Grouse Mountain has a fantastic zip line with well versed guides – Meghan and Lee. Meghan is an artist and creates wonderful animal/pet portraits, find her at customanimalportraits.com. Lee is an avid skier and also teaches skiing at Grouse Mountain. If you happen on Grouse Mountain and decide to Zip or Ski – say hi to them for us. Crystal Palace Mall was another world, it felt like I was in Asia. Most of the stores only accept cash so I am thinking prices are negotiable. You can shop for anything Asian in this mall. My kids found Gundam Wing model kits and stuff toys not available in the US (of course they said we have to buy them). The food court was exciting as it had things on the menu that made us hungry and others say huh? If you know me, I always go and order for the “huh?”. There is a really good Chinese restaurant there called Top Gun where we had dim sum for lunch. Don’t worry, it has no military motif inside, it’s just the name. Give it a shot if you are there. At YaleTown, we tried Charm Modern Thai, a hip looking Thai restaurant that had very reasonable prices and a good menu selection. The traditional dishes were given a modern flair in terms of taste making it a more delightful meal. Capilano bridge and the Cliff Walk was really neat as a testament to engineering. It may not compare to the Golden Gate bridge but it does hold its own. The Cliff Walk is quite an interesting feat as well and you need to walk over it to feel the vertigo effect of walking on an 18 inch wide walkway over a really deep gorge/cliff.
If you like a coffee experience, Vancouver’s Commercial Drive is the place to go for classic italian espresso. Ask around for the older espresso bars like Cafe Roma or Abruzzzo Cappuccino. Have a sit and enjoy the conversations/discussions of the old timers while you take on that caffeine fix. Commercial drive is a unique place to visit as it has it own character. Shopping and restaurants line commercial drive so not a dull walk. If you have no time to drive over to commercial drive, there is Blenz, Tim Horton’s and Waves. I know they are chain stores but they are a value for your Loonie.
When driving around Vancouver, you will need to have a pocketful of change as parking is metered in almost all places. Some machines take credit cards but I still prefer dropping in coins. There is no Canadian 1 or 2 dollar bill (as far as I am aware of). They are coins – $CDN 1 is called a Loonie and $CDN 2 is a Toonie. You can take public transport around Vancouver and from the looks of it, it is efficient and safe.
This trip was an opportunity for us to reconnect again as a family unit. No one had cellphone service (except me of course for emergency use) thus no internet on the go or IM on the go or text on the fly. Vacations are not only times to recharge but it gave us an opportunity to connect and be US. I look forward to our family trips because I am with my family all over again. It’s much different from being together on Friday nights through the weekend. The weekends are still filled with chores and things to do that it is just another day. On the other hand, family trips take on a different energy. All we think about is us as a family, we decide on things together, experience things together, talk about the experience together and laugh our hearts out. I love traveling with my family because everybody is game for a new experience. New food, new sights, new rides, and sometimes new friends await us. The views of and scenes of Vancouver are a pretty site but the sight of my family made it more special. Trips are expensive but it is worth it if it gives you a chance to discover your family and them to discover you all over again.
I wish you a trip of discovery both of places and your loved ones. Happy Landings !!!