Our recommendations for a few days in Vancouver.
We started our recent Canada adventure in Vancouver. As in every city, there's a million things to discover and it can easily get overwhelming to find just the right breakfast, dining spot or an interesting activity. So I decided to put a little list together with some of our experiences to inspire you. (There is no sponsoring involved, just our plain and honest opinion)!
* FOOD/DRINKS *
1. Nelson the Seagull
We went there for breakfast on our first day in Vancouver. A spacious interior with a lovely old floor, cute lights and a friendly staff welcomed us.
That made for a great first impression, but it's not all that counts of course! What about the food? Well, we ordered the poached eggs with avocado, mushrooms and crispy sourdough bread. It looked great...
...and tasted even better! Extra bonus is the open kitchen, where you can follow their every move while they freshly prepare your order.
Located at 315, Carrall Street, it provides the perfect starting point for a visit to Gastown. Check out their website for opening hours and the menu.
2. 33 Acres Brewing Company
We were browsing Instagram for a cool coffee place, when this bright white hipster place really stood out to us. Not the slightest hesitation, this was going to be our second breakfast spot!
You come in, order at the bar (the whole menu is nicely glued to the wall), pay, take a seat and wait till they bring out your dishes.
So a little confession. We went back there our third morning rather than looking for a new place. Can you blame us? Perfectly poached eggs, great coffee and, as we found out, the fantastic crispy bread from Nelson and the Seagull!!! It's as if it all came together!
And should you be dealing with some of Vancouver's rainy weather like we did, it's a perfect spot to get some writing or work done!
Then there's the beer...(their name kinda gave it away right)? Should you drop in around lunch or dinner time, you should definitely try out one of their beers that go by lovely names such as 33 acres of Ocean, or 33 acres of River, etc. Check out all the varieties and locations where you can enjoy their refreshing creations on their website!
3. Earnest Ice Cream
Not far from 33 Acres Brewing Company we found the perfect 4 o'clock treat. An ice cream company with some extraordinary seasonal flavours (on top of the classics) and the commitment to be a zero waste company: WINNER!
Can't wait to try them out? You can pass by one of their 2 scoop stores (soon to be 3) or you might be lucky and spot their ice cream truck at an event. What if neither of the above options work for you? Then keep calm and go to one of the multiple distributors in the Vancouver area. You can check them out at their website.
As soon as Bernd found out there were 2 stores, he had the perfect excuse to eat another ice cream. So off we were to location number 2. This is where you'll find the original first store. They have this big glass wall that looks like a mirror, but you can actually see through it and get a glimpse behind the scenes of their working space.
* ACTIVITIES *
1. Visit Granville Island's Farmer's Market
If you're like me and you like to wander through little shops with handmade crafts, stationery, artisanal prepared food etc. then look no further than Granville Island! The Farmer's Market concentrates all of these things (and much more) on one location.
You can easily spend half a day here, wandering around the art and craft shops, maybe stop for a coffee. Then, when you get hungry, you just dive into the food section. Be prepared to get overwhelmed by the large choice of products and meals. They have about....everything!
It can get a bit crowdy inside, more so when it's raining, but at least you'll be dry and surrounded by good stuff! :) They have a great website highlighting all there is to discover.
2. Discover Stanley Park by bike
We had been to Vancouver once before (a few years back). Short on time, we took the car to Stanley Park, drove around a bit where we could and made some quick stops. It didn't exactly make us feel as if we'd really seen the park, not even partially. So this time, we rented a bike and that's definitely a great way to get the most out of your time here.
There's a bike path bending its way between the foresty park and the surrounding waters of the harbour and English Bay.
You'll see several trails leading deeper into the park. Make sure it's a trail that allows bicycles before entering. Beaver Lake for example is a no cyclist trail (unfortunately some people don't seem to care about it). If it's a pedestrian only trail, you can leave your bike at the beginning of the trail, secure it and just pick it up when you're back from your loop trail.
We had a late start because of the rain, but if you have the time, this can be a perfect day out with a picnic somewhere along one of the beaches.
3. Use the Twilight rate at the Capilano Bridge.
We hesitated on visiting the Capilano Suspension Bridge for two reasons: the price and the number of visitors. But in the spirit of exploring as much as possible and then sharing our experiences, we decided to go anyway. Even if it meant getting soaking wet!
Who knows, the rain might even scare a few visitors off and reduce the crazy mass tourism here. As far as the Entrance fee goes: we got a 30% reduction and paid 30 CAD per person.
We got a summer special called the Twilight rate and it only applies when you enter the park after 5pm. Know that closing time is 8pm.
As always in Canada, you'll be impressed by nature, no doubts there! And I'm not saying that I didn't enjoy walking 30m high above the forest floor to go from one gigantic Douglas Fir tree to another (grow older, not up! ;)). But the attractions and the displays and the signs, they made us feel like we were at an amusement park rather than experiencing the outdoors.
It's just something we think you should be aware of to avoid any disappointments. Still determined to go? Then we advise to take the Twilight deal. The 30% discount almost makes the price reasonable and unless photography really slows you down, 3h is more than enough to see and do everything (the average visitor apparently spends about 2,5h inside the park).
About the number of visitors...be prepared to never be alone, not even the last 5 minutes before closing time.