Vancouver, B.C || Exploring Downtown.

I said farewell to the Canadian Rockies before dawn on Monday morning and headed across to British Columbia via the Greyhound.

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Fast forward 13 hours, a few coffees and short naps later and I found myself back in a big city.

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During my stint in Vancity (as I affectionately call it these days), I stayed at Hi Hostel on Granville Street. I’ve never stayed in a hostel before so I have nothing to compare it to but I found it to be clean with friendly staff and the breakfast options were tasty (who doesn’t love a peanut butter and jelly toasted bagel in the morning?!)

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My Tuesday was spent on a tour organised by the Samesun Hostel (with a mate and his mate, I didn’t just crash their tour!) which entailed a casual 16km hike. Our group caught the #210 bus out to Lynn Headwaters Regional Park and we hiked the 8km (one way) Cedar Mills trail. The trail isn’t too challenging, there’s a lot of flat terrain but there are some inclines and loose rock parts along the way. So, if you’re like me and look down when you’re walking on loose stones, you may not take in all of the scenery unless you stop. It’s a beautiful hike, the park is green, luscious and peaceful. At the end of the trail, you’ll find yourself face to face with a waterfall. If you’re adventurous (or wearing good shoes- I was in a pair of canvas shoes- rookie mistake), you can hike up to the top of the waterfall and look down or you can jump across the rocks and go for a swim at the base of it.

Along came Wednesday and I found myself walking from Granville Street down to the waterfront (via Canada Place) and walked over to Stanley Park. You can catch bus #19 to get to the park but I couldn’t locate the bus stop after walking around in circles so I decided it’d be easier to just walk there. If you have time to spare, it’s a scenic walk along the sea wall and it only takes approx. 30-45 minutes (I stopped for a coffee break so if you just stroll beverage free it’ll probably be even faster). If you’re walking from downtown across the seawall, you’ll walk past Lost Lagoon- it’s a scenic spot to spend a few moments if you have the chance.

There are multiple ways of getting around the park once you arrive. You can embark on a horse drawn carriage tour of the park for around $40 p/p, you can rent a bike (it’s around $15 p/p) and cycle your way around or you can walk. I chose to walk because after a 16km hike the day before, a walk in the park was a breeze!

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While I was there, I saw the totem poles, Beaver Lake, the rose garden, the pavilion dining room, walked long the seawall and saw a few other attractions and statues in between. There are cafes,  gift shops, kids playgrounds and the Vancouver Aquarium as well so you can easily spend a day exploring the park.

I caught the bus back to downtown and ventured down Robson Street to indulge in some macaroons at Laduree. It’s a beautiful store and the macaroons taste incredible!

I spent my final day in Vancity with another walk down to Canada Place and then across to Freshii- a small health food cafe for lunch.

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After refueling, I wandered down to Gastown. It’s a nice area to walk around if old fashion heritage buildings and bold streets lined with boutique stores, cafes and restaurants are of interest to you. If you continue walking through Gastown, you’ll find yourself in the heart of Chinatown. I walked down Carral Street and stumbled across the Chinese Gardens.

For $14, you can embark on a self guided tour of the gardens or you can join in on one of the many tours provided daily for free. The tour guide explains the history and how the garden was built. If you have 45minutes-1 hour to spare, it’s definitely an interesting tour to listen in on. On the other side of the garden, there is a free park area that’s just as beautiful too.

After that, I walked across to Yaletown and stopped in at my favourite shop, Urban Fare. If you love aisles lined with gourmet and organic produce, fresh food and a delicatessen/cafe that serves equally good coffee and meals, you’ll be in heaven here. You can sip your coffee inside or sit on the sidewalk at a table and fill your people watching quota for the day. I skipped both options and walked down to the water front and sat on a chair overlooking the harbour.

Dusk came along and the city lights up at night. So if you have energy left, go for a walk and be immersed in the hustle and bustle of the night life and lights that brighten up the sidewalks. You’ll be charmed.

So depending on what strikes your interest (sight seeing, hiking, walking, shopping, eating, going on tours), Vancity has something for every traveler.

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