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Published: August 12th 2013
Blue skies, sunshine, a temperature at 23 degrees Celcius everyday. The weather stayed the same for our whole time in Vancouver, but we didn't miss the variation! One of the other guys staying at the same B&B told us this is exceptionally good even for Vancouver, usually it rains every now and then, during our stay I don't think there was ever a cloud in front of the sun. So with perfect weather we might have a more positive picture of the city than we otherwise would have.
Our first encounter with the city was not that positive. Not negative either, just a little "so what so special about Vancouver?". During our stay we had encountered several persons naming Vancouver as their favourite Canadian city, our first impression was that it looked only nice, felt expensive, and was filled with tourists. The first place we visited was however Gastown, and that is a quite touristy part of town.
The more we visited the different neighborhoods in Vancouver the more we started to like the city. West End in the middle of Downtown was filled with stores and restaurants, and here we did most our shopping. SoMa (South Main) had
smaller shops selling the work of local designers, Yaletown had nice restaurants. Our own neighborhood in the suburbs wasn't that special, but the B&B (actually only a B, no breakfast included) had a nice terrace where we could sit in the evenings looking at the sun setting above downtown, and with the Skytrain you were in the city centre in 15 minutes.
After having mostly walked around the city the two first days we decided to rent bikes and drive around Stanley park, a few square km of forest on a peninsula next to downtown Vancouver. The bikes were good and the roads excellent, so after Stanley park we continued south along the beaches, over to the bridge to Kitsilano and Granville island, then east to the olympic village and back to Stanley park to return the bikes. We drove around for 5,5 hours, with only a short break at the public market at Granville island for lunch. There were bike roads all over the city, and the roads were really flat, so it was very easy to get around. Vancouver is probably the best city for biking either of us have ever visited!
One thing we noticed
about Vancouver is that even though it is a big city, it feels like it is still close to nature even in Downtown. Not only were there a lot of trees and flowers everywhere, we also saw lots of animals all over town; seals, seastars, crabs, birds and big black squirrels. There were also warnings for coyotes along the bike trail although we (luckily) didn't see any traces of them.
For our last complete day we wanted to do some swimming. We found a salt water outdoor pool at Kitsilano beach were you could swim lengths, so we took the Skytrain and the bus there. The pool turned out to be even better than we thought, it is 137 m long, so you can swim for quite some time without turning! After 45 minutes of swimming we found a sunny spot on the lawn nearby and enjoyed the sun for an hour or two. Then we went to explore Kitsilano which also turned out to be a nice neighborhood with nice little restaurants and cafés. For the evening we had found an free outdoor movie playing in the park next to the olympic village, so we stocked up on
snacks in the wholefoods in Kitsilano and went there a little before dusk for the movie, that then started to play maybe half an hour after dusk.
Our stay in Canada, initially planned as a few days stay during our transit between Iceland and USA, turned out to be a really nice acquaintance. During our three weeks we got to see five very different cities. We tried to name our favourite city in Canada, but weren't really able to make up our minds, all were really nice in their own way. On the other hand, it also feels good to move on to a new country, there are a lot left to experience in Canada, but it is easy to come back at a later time to do some more thorough exploring.
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