What In The World Is This: The Best Things To Do In Vancouver Edition!

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Canada has always held a special place in my heart, ever since it let 18-year-old Alex across it’s borders to visit friends and – more importantly – get drunk legally (since my own country wouldn’t let that happen for another three years.)

Yeah, Canada, you’re OK.

But in the past, I had only done East Coast Canada: Toronto, Montreal and the likes . So when a friend was going to get married in Vancouver, a place I’d heard amazing things about, I was excited to be there for his special day and explore the wild west.

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And here’s the thing, all those people who tell you that Vancouver is beautiful do it no justice, no matter how much they talk about it. Because this is a city that has both the mountains AND the ocean, usually both at once, creating an image of natural splendor unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

(My favourite part are the locals who, when you point this beauty out to them, go, “Eh.” Eh!? Dammit people, never get accustomed to that view. You will miss it when you go anywhere else in the world!)

Now, there was just too much that we did in two weeks of Canada to go through it all and in no way did we see it all. But we did see some damn amazing things a few weeks ago. So, I present to you, in no particular order, Alex’s patented:

BEST OF MY OWN BIASED WHATEVER I SAW IN NO ORDER, VANCOUVER

 Ready… BEGIN!

 

THINGS TO EAT AND DRINK

  • Some of the most amazing seared sushi I’ve ever eaten at Miku. No soy sauce, and we ordered thirds it was so good.
  • Sandwiches from Meat and Bread. A must if you are a sandwich lover. (Plus, that name!)
  • Market by Jean-George. Again, more amazing sushi. We came with a food tour and sampled the sashimi with crispy rice and it was mind-blowingly good for a small bite.
  • Anything from Urban Fare, like a local, better Whole Foods with a cheese section of the gods.
  • The family-style monstrosity that is Kirin with some amazing local dishes – everything from noodles, shark fins, crab, beef tendon and fried chicken joint cartilage.
  • Eat some poutine at Mean Poutine. You’re in Canada, just do it.
  • Fried chicken from Wu Fung Dessert in the neighbourhood of Richmond. Enough said.
  • Every single flavour of Earnest Ice Cream. In fact, just get a giant tub and die happy.
  • Grab a cream puff at Beta 5. Woah. Just woah.
  • And a doughtnut from Cartem Donuterie. Also woah!
  • Beers at Granville Island Brewing, which are brewed on site and damn tasty.
  • Get a bahn mi at Au Petit Cafe. I’ll be honest, we walked in right after they ran out of bread (damn you couple that got there three seconds before us). But they looked and smelled amazing.

THINGS TO ABSOLUTELY DO

  • Head to Granville Island and eat EVERYTHING! It’s one of the best local markets I’ve ever seen, up there with Pike Place in Seattle. Do not miss it.
  • Walk through Gastown, easily the trendiest part of Vancouver, and get lost.
  • Take a tiny Aquabus and see the city from the water.
  • Experience Canada Day. I know this one is a little niche because you need to be there on. But we coincidentally happened to be there on that exact date and it was an amazing celebration of the country. Everyone dressed in red, live music, and a giant fireworks celebration. Next year is 150 years so it’s sure to be even bigger and better.

Time to interject a second. If you are going to watch the fireworks, and I recommend you do, make sure you’re on the left side. We were to the right of the Canada Building and since they were shot off on the left side, we could see nothing. Be on the left side, for godsake. The left side!

  • Go see The Digital Orca. An amazing statue that combines Vancouver’s love of tech and… well, whales, I guess?
  • Take a Food Tour. We did The Vancouver Foodie Tour and it was solid. Got to try a bunch of different spots we never would have tried.
  • Take a seaplane to one of the islands. Most people go to Victoria Island but I will make a hearty recommendation for Salt Spring Island. Keep reading, we’ll get there.

And one more time, before we go on, I have to stop and tell a quick story about our seaplane adventure. So on the way back from Salt Spring Island to Victoria for the wedding, we get on this tiny plane taking us back to the mainland, when we hear these howling noises coming from behind us. 

“So, what’s that noise,” we ask? 

“Oh, it’s the seals,” the pilot tells us.

“Like, seals under the water? Under the plane?”

“No, right there in the back of the plane.”

Turns out two baby seals had been abandoned by their mothers and couldn’t even swim yet, so they were being flown to The Vancouver Aqarium to be rehabilitated. And so these two baby seals, named Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty (of course they were), were the final passengers of our tiny plane.

OK, back to the fun!

And, now, for the grand finale…

 

SALT SPRING ISLAND

I can’t talk enough about how much we loved Salt Spring Island. It was easily one of the most peaceful places I’ve ever been too. The people are friendly, the food is fresh, no one locks any doors (cars, houses, because there’s no crime), to get around you hitchhike and people will actually stop, it’s amazing. We stayed in a friend’s literal log cabin in the woods and deer would walk right up any time of the day.

One might say it was a little slice of Canadian paradise. And here are some of the best stuff we did:

  • Taste all the goat’s cheese at Salt Spring Island Cheese… I don’t think you’re hearing me, ALL THE CHEESE! And try the jams that go with it. The whole experience is an experience.
  • Then eat all the ice cream and chocolates from Harlan’s. Fresh, creamy, amazing.
  • Thirsty? Sample and buy the great local Salt Spring Island Ales.
  • Go swimming in one of the island’s many, many lakes. Just fair warning, the locals swim there too and not always (or often) with clothes. I told you, it’s a laid-back place.
  • Get the spicy chai at Morningside Cafe but know what you’re getting into. Take this as you will, the owner’s a character.
  • Stop by the side of the road and grab a taco from TacoFino. I promise, you and your tummy will be happy you did.
  • And if you have a valid medical card, they have all the legal dispensaries you could need there. Just saying. 😉
  • Try a bagel from Siegel’s Bagels. We did one every morning and they were damn good!
  • Finally, eat all the fish and chips at the all you can eat fish and chips at The Seaside Restaurant.

Oh hell, one more thing…

 

AND IF YOU HAVE TIME: KEWLONA

Go to Kewlona. It’s about a four-hour drive from Vancouver and the whole ride is lush and green and beautiful. Plus, a bald eagle flew right in front of our car. And when we were there, a bear cub ran around the city. Because, Canada. So, here are some things to do:

  • Do all the wine in Kewlona. Like, all the wine. We did a bunch including CedarCreek, Mission Hill and Summerhill Pyramid, and each one had a fantastic tour with fantastic samples. And don’t forget to try the ice wine. Damn sweet but damn delicious!
  • Ride electric bikes in Kewlona. We did it and it was all the fun.
  • Basil and Mint in Kelowna. Not quite Vancouver but if you go for wine,  overpriced, delicious local meal.

It was a hell of an adventure. Do you have anything to add from your own Vancouver travels? Throw them in the comments below and let me know what I missed!

Until next time.

ps. And just because everyone loves love, here are some shots of the wedding of Andrew and Becky

 

5 Comments

  • LaaLaa

    There’s so much to do! I’ve heard how Canada can be quite similar to the UK in terms of the people and culture from those who have visited there. My friends just come back from Toronto and said it reminded them of London. Vancouver looks nice, like it’s got a different vibe. Really good guide!

  • Jollies and Jaunts

    Canada has been on my list for a while but I had no idea there is so much to see and do in Vancouver and the surrounding areas so thanks for sharing. Also love the seal pics, too cute!

  • Stephanie Merry

    Vancouver has been on my bucket list for so long and this just makes me want to book a ticket and get on a place tomorrow! x

  • Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy

    I love Vancover and I wish that I went over to the islands when I was there. I did have some amazing sushi when I was there though.

  • Ila Shebar

    These pictures are amazingly beautiful. Well documented!

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