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Published: November 10th 2015
My flight arrived in Vancouver at around 10 pm. I found the skytrain pretty easily (take note Toronto) and took it to the downtown area. I felt distinctly underdressed as more and more people got on the train dressed up to party while I was sat there with two backpacks and my sweaty combats and t-shirt. I walked down Granville St. which is full of trendy bars and takeaways and was a little worried to find that the hostel was also a busy bar. I checked in, went straight up to bed and tried to sleep through the noise from the streets below. I'd lost a couple of hours on the flight so I was fairly tired plus I'm used to noisy rooms now so it didn't take long to get to sleep.
My alarm went off at 7:30, I grabbed a quick breakfast and ran out to find a shop called The Running Room, which a few people had recommended as a place to find a running group. I wasn't disappointed, they were a lovely bunch of people and I spent most of the run chatting to one guy about the differences between British and American/Canadian comedy's. The run was
a loop of the city along the seawall, my running buddy pointed out things I could do as we passed them.
After I got back and showered I was invited to go and watch the local Halloween parade which was great fun especially the kids from dance groups doing Ghostbusters and Thriller.
That afternoon we jumped on a bus to Pacific National Exhibition Park where all the parade performers were having a party. It didn't turn out to be very much but we did enjoy walking round the park and even randomly saw a couple of horse races. We followed this up with a trip to Smoke's Poutinerie, if you’ve never tried Poutine it's basically cheesy chips and gravy with a topping and I could eat it all day.
Despite being a busy bar as well as a hostel it turned out to be pretty good, they did at least one activity a day which was either free or you had to pay for the transport costs. You also got a nice big selection for breakfast, all for $35 CAN a night (£17).
I did another tour round Queen Elizabeth Park which looked absolutely stunning in all the autumnal colours
and also was home to quite a cool (although quite ugly from the outside) conservatory which had a host of exotic birds and plants living within it. I spent longer than I should watching a person sweeping up whilst holding a conversation with a parrot. We followed this up with a trip to Gastown which is the historical downtown area named after a yorkshireman called “Gassy” John Deighton who opened the first bar in Vancouver. At the heart of Gastown is an ornate clock that's powered by steam and plays a little tune to entertain the tourists on the hour.
My final day was spent with a nice Kiwi guy called James in which we must have walked over 15km round Stanley Park which is a massive natural rain forest packed full of trails, lakes, beaches and wildlife with the added bonus of great views of the city. James really wanted to see the Totem Poles which took us ages to find (mostly because we didn’t look at a map) but it was worth it in the end.
I was originally going to skip Vancouver and go straight to Seattle from Chicago but quite a few people had recommended it
so I decided to split the time and I'm glad. Looking back I would have been gutted to miss this place. Highlights:
Meeting so many nice people, both fellow travelers and locals.
The parks in Vancouver are really well kept and a massive asset to the city
Poutine, poutine and more poutine. Lowlighlights:
The realisation that I’d left my laptop at the hostel just as I got onto the bus to Seattle. Thankfully I was able to text James who found it and was able to bring it down to San Francisco with him.
Missing out on getting tickets to a hockey game (never call it ice hockey in North America). I’m determined to see at least one game before I leave the US.
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