Vancouver: a new place that reminded me why I love cities. It is a mixture of my favorite places and new discoveries. Last weekend my husband and I joined his colleagues for a short trip in Vancouver, Canada. It was their company’s 35th anniversary. We left Tokyo on the night of 30 October and then returned on the night of 3 November. It seem almost a week long but with the long flight plus the time difference, we only have a half-day of Friday and full weekend actual stay. After a bumpy 8-hour flight from Narita, we were welcomed by giant art pieces made of wood carvings in Vancouver.
A Japanese tourist guide welcomed us at the airport lobby. She then accompanied us for the half-day city tour before we checked in at our hotel. We first visited Granville Island which is a peninsula and a shopping district. It used to be an industrial area and breweries but now the old factories were transformed into art galleries, craft stores, restaurants, and a public market. We had an hour and a half to eat lunch and see the place. And since we had a pre-arrival hot meal in the plane, my husband and I decided to look around instead.
From Grandville Island, we headed to Downtown area where our hotel is also located. Without getting off the bus, we were toured around Gastown, Chinatown, and Coal Harbour. Then the tour guide brought us to a souvenir shop catering to Japanese tourists.
After settling in at our hotel and a short rest, my husband and I went for a short walk along Coal Harbour. The coast reminds me of Yokohama while the tall skyscrapers remind me of Makati. Most of the buildings were made of glass for people to enjoy the beautiful mountains and coast. We walked along the waterfront until we reached Canada Place. From there we went further to Gastown.
Unlike Coal Harbor, Gastown gave us a unique charm and jazzy ambiance. Most of the buildings are old and the streets were made of cobble stones. There are a lot of pubs and clubs for locals and tourists who want to enjoy the night with some local beers and wines.
Day 2 started with a nice breakfast overlooking Stanley Park and the harbor at the 42nd floor of our hotel. The restaurant’s name is Cloud 9, one of the two revolving restaurants in Vancouver. We enjoyed looking at the ships and the clouds moving on top of the mountains. There were times when the fog covers the view which made us feel like we were also part of it.
After breakfast, we went again to Coal Harbour to see how it is in daytime. We stayed there a little to observe the seaplanes. After that we went to Canada Place to look around and do some geocaching. It was fascinating to see how they promote culture and history in this area. Posters were placed on fabricated seats and benches so that people can look at it while resting. The deck was also decorated with keywords which are significant in Canadian history and culture.
Around noon, we went back to the open deck beside the Convention Center to meet my friend and her husband for lunch. While waiting for them, we just seated in front of the 2010 Olympic Cauldron for some quiet time together.
Lunch at the Cactus Club Cafe was awesome! We had a nice time catching with friends from Manila who are now based in Vancouver while enjoying a sumptuous meal. The steaks and mashed potatoes were to die for! And to give space for dessert, we walked a block away to have some gelato at the world-famous Bella Gelateria.
Rain started to pour so we decided to go indoors. We went to Vancouver Lookout Tower to see the city from bird’s eye view. After spending an hour or so at the tower, we decided to go to Stanley Park. The rain already stopped and the sun finally showed up. It was a great time admiring the gigantic totem poles, the waterfront, and the lighthouse at Stanley Park. We also had a quick stop at Prospect Point to get a better view of the Lions Gate Bridge.
Around seven o’clock, my husband and I decided to go back to the Lookout Tower to see the city at nighttime. Our tickets were valid for one whole day so we just need to present them at the gates. It is fascinating to see the city illuminated by different lights of different colors. There were also some small fireworks here and there maybe as part of Halloween celebrations or parties.
Heading back to our hotel was also an adventure. The whole city was alive and lots of people are walking in costumes. We enjoyed watching people in different characters that we did not realise we were already back in our hotel.
For our last day, we decided to have a lighter and more relaxed day. After having our breakfast, we went to Chinatown to see the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Garden. From our hotel, we walked to Pender Street. From there we took the bus going to the Downtown Area. It was a lucky day for us. Aside from giving us easy-to-follow directions on how to go to Chinatown, the bus driver gave us complementary bus tickets!!
Contrary to the warnings that Chinatown is a bit dangerous for tourist, we were surprised to find the place almost empty. Maybe because it is Sunday, most shops are closed. Or maybe because Halloween just finished and most people are still sleeping and suffering from hangover. Anyways, it was a great day to enjoy a quiet time inside the garden.
We first went to Dr. Sun Yat Sen Park which is free for all to enter and enjoy. Then we entered a small gate going inside Dr. Sun Yat Sen Garden. There is an admission fee of CAD 12 if you wish to enter the garden. Unlike the park, the materials used to build the classical garden were imported from China including the pebbles. You can enjoy the garden without getting wet from the rain. A There is also a guided tour should you wish to know the garden in details. It was quite heavily raining when we went there. The rain added some charm as we walked along the covered pathway. The sound of the water pouring from the roof created a nice symphony as it touched the leaves and the stones. It also created crystal curtains as the water drops from the roof tiles.
The remaining of our time was spent for buying some keepsakes and omiyage to bring back home. We also had a dinner banquet together with my husband’s colleagues. The following day, we had an early check out and took our flight back to Tokyo in the afternoon.