I’m one of those travelers that believes in maximizing their vacations. If I can reach another major city in a short commute, I will usually map out a way to get there whether it’s by plane, train, or automobile. Thank God for great friends that were willing to take away time from their busy schedule to take me on my escapades.
“A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.” -Tim Cahill
So, on my visit to Seattle, my friend, Chalon, and I boarded into her vehicle and took the 2 hour drive to Vancouver. One of the things on my bucket list is to fill up my passport before it expires in 2020, and I was told that it was the norm when entering Canada for them to not want to give you a stamp. However, we ended up with a nice customs agent that was willing to help me to get one step closer to my goal.
The drive through Vancouver was scenic, to say the least. And one of the things that I found interesting were the electrical lines that ran throughout the city, giving the city buses the option to run on electricity in lieu of gas.
The night before we headed to Vancouver, we had sat and compiled a list of must see places. It was a turnaround trip, and since I don’t know the next time I will be in Vancouver, I planned to use my time wisely.
Unless you are going to be in a place for an extended period of time, create either an itinerary or list of tourist destinations you would like to visit. You may not be able to hit everything on your itinerary, but it is wise to have some kind of guide to maximize your time. And if you’re really detailed, you can even go a step further and map out your destinations proximity to each other so that you’re not driving in circles all over the city. (Or spend a day on one of the Hop On-Hop Off buses that are available in most touristy cities)
Similar to Seattle and Portland, Vancouver was rainy and grey, but we still managed to make the most of our day. While the only pictures that I was able to take before the rain began were at Stanley Park, I was able to visit Gastown, Vancouver’s oldest neighborhood and a national historic site. With gas lanterns on every corner (even though I’m sure they’re solar powered or electric now) and Victorian style architecture, driving through Gastown felt like a blast from the past. Due to the weather, we didn’t get to walk down the cobblestone streets or eat at any of the vintage restaurants, but I’m glad that we at least were able to check it off our list.
After strolling through Stanley Park and driving through Gastown, we drove by Kitsilano Beach and the English Bay, and ended our tours taking in sites of Downtown. We debated going to the Capilano Suspension Bridge, however, after factoring in the wind and rain, we nixed that plan. There are some places I’ve been to like London, where you still feel like you’re in the States, but Vancouver felt very “Canadian” and the British influence was evident in the architecture. Our day trip might have been marred by rain and wind, but it was worth the short drive (and I got another stamp).
It’s always valuable to have friends that live all over the world, and on my trip to London last summer, one of my traveling companions had a best friend willing to show us around. These friends are your guides to not only must see attractions, but also the best restaurants to satisfy your palates. It was in London that I first tried Nandos, a restaurants known for their savory grilled “peri-peri” flamed chicken and signature sauces (their Sangria is life too btw). Chalon and I had both decided to save our appetites until we reached Vancouver, and imagine my surprise and delight when one of the first restaurants we came across was Nandos. She had never eaten there, and I just recently found out that they’re only on the East Coast in the States. Needless to say, we tore that chicken up, and the only thing that stopped us from polishing the bones was the fact that we both have bottom braces. It does not come as a surprise that Nando’s is one of Rihanna’s favorite restaurants, and the best thing is that the food is fairly cheap. If you’re ever in a city that has one, make sure it makes it onto your itinerary.