Just back from… Vancouver, Canada

by on 25/07/16 at 4:46 pm

Stubbs Island

AnneMarie on Stubbs Island, Vancouver © AnneMarie McCarthy

AnneMarie McCarthy, Social News Coordinator at Lonely Planet, is just back from an action-packed trip to Vancouver.

Tell us more… I was in Vancouver for just over a week visiting friends who moved there 18 months ago. We went camping in the spectacular Tofino district on Vancouver Island for three days, then went back to the city where I was able to get a local’s perspective on bars, restaurants and hidden gems all around the city. I barely did any planning for the trip, very different to my usual travel experiences where I have plenty of ideas about where I want to go long beforehand.

In a nutshell… The Canadian wilderness is only ever a stone’s throw away and you can spot snow-capped mountains peeking through the city’s skyscrapers as you explore. You can enjoy losing yourself in Stanley Park’s lush forests or head to the numerous beaches that surround Vancouver. You’re never too far away from nature, with all the added excitement and events of being in a big city.

beach plus snowy mountains

Quintessential Vancouver: a beach scene with snow-capped mountains © AnneMarie McCarthy

Defining moment? Vancouver Island is simply spectacular. The ferry from the mainland is a wonderful opportunity to soak in the scenery. We happened to be in Tofino on the one day of the year they open Stubbs Island to the public and got the rare opportunity to see the nature reserve there, then relax on a corner of a secluded, sandy beach gazing out at untouched snow-capped mountains. It was awe-inspiring and quintessentially Canadian.

Fridge magnet or better? I’m glad you asked. I LOVE North American roadside attractions and the Goats on the Roof roadside market was a perfect pit stop on our way back to the city after camping. The roof of the market is covered in grass and is home to a family of very happy goats. There’s plenty of tasty food inside but I opted for a charming souvenir mug to remember it by.

Good grub? Vancouver is a seriously foody city that loves brunch, so expect to queue for the popular spots at the weekend. Due to a huge Asian population, I had some tasty, fresh and cheap sushi but most importantly, I put maple syrup on anything vaguely acceptable (sushi not included) and brought plenty of maple cookies back for the Lonely Planet News team.

fancy poutine brunch

Poutine for brunch anyone? © AnneMarie McCarthy

Fav activity? We took a jet ski tour one morning which was a really unique way to see some of the Vancouver coastline. We drove to Bowen Island and Anvil Island, stopping in to visit some seals on the way. There were two people per jet ski, which made for some teeth-rattling races and competition!

Bizarre encounter? Every Tuesday evening on Third Beach during the summer you’ll find a drum circle. Anybody can bring an instrument to join the jam, or hop up to dance or just sit back on the sand and watch the gorgeous sunset. The usually strict authorities tend to overlook it and you’ll see plenty of sneaky beer cans around, which are then diligently cleaned up afterwards – Vancouver residents are very good at taking care of their amazing natural spaces.

If you do one thing go and see… the nature around Vancouver, it is definitely the best part of the city. But if you’re short on time and want to fall even more in love with Canada, head to FlyOver Canada in Downtown, a gentle flight simulation ride that will give you an oversight of just how beautiful the country can be. It will give you plenty of inspiration for planning your next trip.

Watch the interview