Holiday Destinations - Vancouver
PUBLISHED: 00:00 11 April 2017
© Albert Normandin Photography Inc.
If a city could be diagnosed with an illness, Vancouver's disease would be multiple personalities. Rain or shine, sleet or snow, it has a mood to suit. Helen Dugdale visits Vancouver.
The location - towering mountains tipped in gleaming snow and golden sandy beaches - has seen the city placed on many a ‘best places to live or visit’ by media around the world. Vancouver is the largest city in British Columbia and a place that soaks into your pores and creeps under your nails – it’s hard to forget.
Life is for living outdoors
Although plagued by wet weather, most of life in Vancouver takes place outside. Rollerblading, running, and cycling are important parts of a Vancouverite’s routine, which explains why, it seems, 70 per cent of the 2.5 million population are trim, flip-flop wearing pretty people, juggling their phones, decaf-lactose-free-coffees and freaky miniature dog, whilst wearing their yoga attire.
The city is the birth place of athletic apparel retailer, Lululemon, and the brand is like a uniform if you live in the city.
One perfect place for testing your suitability for becoming a local is Stanley Park. Over 1,000 acres of lush green woodland and walks, and a healthy six-mile stroll rounds its perimeter at the sea wall. If you’re on wheels, you’ll be expected to go anti-clockwise round the park and stick to the designated lanes. For those on foot you’re free to roam, on route look out for wildlife like coyotes and racoons. The park is even home to three of the city’s nine beaches. For breathtaking views of the mountains and some quality relaxation then try Third Beach, if you want to drink beer and people watch then you need English Bay.
Just minutes from downtown Vancouver are some must see tourist favourites. Grouse Mountain is a haven for magnificent views and outdoor sports: in summer; mountain bike, paraglide, take a helicopter ride or a hike, and when the white stuff falls, ski, snowboard, ice-skate and sledge to your heart’s content.
For views of a different kind, visit the Capilano Suspension Bridge, a 137-metre swaying bridge dangling 70 metres above the Capilano Gorge. It’s a place to regress back to childhood and bounce to make the bridge wobble, or hide on the many walks around it. For those with weary legs, slide into a kayak. Deep Cove Canoe & Kayak Centre is fantastic. Only 30 minutes from downtown Vancouver, on the shores of the beautiful Indian Arm, it offers rentals of ocean kayaks, canoes and surf skis.
Ways to see the city
If you don’t want the hassle of driving around the crazy streets of downtown Vancouver, then hop on board a bus. For those who wouldn’t consider getting on public transport back in the UK, Vancouver’s public transport is cheap, convienent and most of all clean. The bus drivers tend to be friendly, extremely approachable and if you’re lucky, will provide a free guided tour of sights as they whizz by out of the window.
Other forms of public transport that you should add to your list are the Aquabuses. Tiny little tugboats take you to various points across the city from False Greek, including: Granville Island, Yaletown, Plaza of Nations and Yaletown. They are a great way to see the views of the city from the water.
Or, if you fancy a day trip to Vancouver Island, then simply flag down a seaplane over to Victoria. William and Kate did this on their tour of Canada. Costs start from $265 per adult and it takes just 35 minutes to get to Victoria.
Where to stay
There are endless places to stay, from 5-star hotels that you just can’t fault, such Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, Shangri-La and Four Seasons, to the smaller more boutique type, such as Opus and Moda. If you want to live like a local, then why not choose a serviced apartment? We stayed in Lord Stanley Apartments, which are small but lovely. Our apartment had floor to ceiling windows and delivered the desired effect when we opened the blinds in the morning to an unspoilt vista of mountains, sea and endless blue sky. Almost too perfect to be real.
The sport of shopping
If your idea of sport is pounding a concrete track whilst toning your upper body with armfuls of shopping bags, then ignore the signs for skiing and yoga, grab your credit card and prepare for some intense training.
For shopping undercover head to the Pacific Centre, where you’ll find a mix of luxurious and high street stores, including Nordstrom, Holt Renfrew, Harry Rose, H&M and kate spade new york. Or for different types of retail therapy head to Yaletown, the stylish, historical district which combines a sophisticated, cosmopolitan atmosphere with friendly boutique shops, while Gastown is a combination of traditional souvenir stores and independent fashion boutiques, including Kit and Ace; definitely a brand to watch.
For touristy take homes, one place worth spending your dollars is Granville Island, a cluster of boutiques and art exhibitions. Its bustling market, selling local produce and materials, is crazy busy at weekends, but worth the push through the crowds.
There really is no place quite like Vancouver.