Day 01: Downtown and Gastown District
I slept for about ten hours and worked off some of my sleep debt from my flight from Tokyo. I rode my bike into the city and dropped it off at a bike shop for servicing while I explored the city. The downtown area was pretty relaxed, with plenty of cycle lanes and loads of different restaurants and cool cafes. All of the buildings, sounds and people seemed so foreign after spending two months in Japan, but I was slowly getting used to my new surroundings.
The Gastown District is the oldest neighbourhood in Vancouver and there are neat things like warehouses converted into pubs and a steam powered clock. It was such a delightfully sunny day and so many people were enjoying their food and drinks outside. After I had some seafood chowder for lunch, I headed towards the port and checked out some souvenir stores to soak in as much Canada-ness as possible. It’s good timing that it’s Canada’s 150th Birthday this year (1st July), so there are lots of fun things planned this summer.
In the evening I went to Vancouver Art Gallery, where the entrance fee is a donation of your choice after 5pm on Tuesdays. They were preparing for a Monet exhibit later in the week, but my favourite part was the “Pictures from Here” exhibit, with an interesting array of photography from Vancouver artists. Afterwards I headed back to the hostel and kept myself busy to fight the urge to go to sleep at 7pm.
Day 02: Capilano Suspension Bridge and Stanley Park
I rode my bike over Lions Gate Bridge and up to Capilano Suspension Bridge, which is 140m long and 70m above a river. The bridge bounced up and down as you walked and swayed in the wind, but it was fun to be up so high. The surrounding forest smelled so lovely and there were lots of little walks along the cliff edge and up in the treetops.
On the way back I took a detour via Stanley Park, where you can ride around the edge, past parks and beaches, plus there are walking trails to lakes and lagoons. The sunshine and fresh sea breeze were so pleasant, it made me even more happy to have my trusty bike with me.
Day 03: Granville Island Markets and Queen Elizabeth Park
I signed up for a food tour and met the group of 14 people at the Grandville Island Markets. The area used to be quite industrial and run down, but it has been transformed into a hub for local produce and live music. We had twenty samples from eight different places and my favourites were the honey dipped donuts, artisan bread, charcuterie platter and the bourbon maple syrup at the end.
After my food had digested, I rode my bike south to Queen Elizabeth Park where I enjoyed the view overlooking the city and the nice landscaping in the park. I had a quick nap under the tree before heading back to the hostel.
Day 04: Food truck hunting and Jazz
For my last day in Vancouver, I went to find the food trucks that were suggested by some people on the food tour yesterday. Japadog is a Japanese hotdog stand, located at several spots in the city, it’s really famous and they have some interesting hotdog combinations. I went for the number one, which had teriyaki sauce, mayo and seaweed, easily the best hotdog I’ve had in a very long time. Next up was Tacofino, one of the best taco trucks in town and I tried the fish taco and the chorizo and bean nachos. Both were delicious but slightly messy to eat, although a lady named Karen was sitting next to me and she was struggling too. We ended up chatting for a while and it was really cool to get to know her, she lives in three different places, Vancouver, Miami and some tropical islands that I can’t remember the name of.
After lunch I headed to a church to listen to some jazz, which is part of the jazz festival over the next two weeks. There are so many festivals jammed into the summer season, so I’m glad I got a taste of it before I left. Last on my to do list was buying some bear spray, admittedly it’s a bit heavy handed, but it’s my last resort if I’m alone and face to face with a bear. My guess is it’s fairly unlikely to happen (cars on highways are a bigger threat) but it’s there just in case.
In the evening I packed up my bags and prepped my snacks for my first ride of the tour, approximately 135km to Chilliwack. It was going to be a long ride, but I was mentally prepared to start my new tour, while 5300km sounds daunting, I know I’ll get there eventually.