In just 10 days I'll be reunited with my favourite city in the world! Not all of you may know this as I used to have another blog where I captured my travel adventures (RIP Livejournal), but I lived in Canada for a year straight after graduating university and it's been 10 years almost to the day since I left that beautiful country. I had plans to go back many times since but life got in the way and before I knew it a decade had passed. Yes, I feel old now. Anyway, Vancouver is the most incredible city in the world and this post is all about the 10 touristy things I'm excited to see, do or eat there this time around.
Stanley ParkThe most amazing place in Vancouver is of course world-famous Stanley Park; beautiful green surrounded by water with the Rocky Mountains cutting though the horizon in the distance. It's an iconic picture and one that made me really feel like I'd arrived in Canada when I visited for the first time. Having grown up in an all flat Netherlands, I've always had mountain envy and with the beautiful park on one side and the city skyline on the other, I felt like I'd entered another world. When I lived in the city in 2005/2006 I visited Stanley Park many times but I only ever explored it by foot. This time I'm hoping to take a bike to see a different side of this incredible part of the city.
Vancouver LibraryWhen I arrived in Canada I had never travelled by myself or lived on my own before. Being a world away from my family and not knowing anyone in a strange city was difficult at first. The one thing I've always found solace in, however, have been books and never more so than when I discovered the Vancouver Library. The moment I had my library card in my hands and borrowed my first books this strange new place suddenly felt like home. It helped, of course, that the building is absolutely gorgeous too (you might recognise it from films and TV-shows) and I loved spending time there not only browsing books or using the computers (this was well before smartphones and so I was reliant on public computers to stay in touch with the home front), but it was also a great place to find a quiet corner and curl up with a good book.
Capilano Suspension BridgeI lived in Vancouver for eight months or so, yet I didn't make many trips outside of the city. There was plenty to see and do within the city itself, of course, and I was always working, but even so I do wish I'd explored more at the time. However, one of the places I did go to was the impressive Capilano Suspension Bridge. A ticket did not only encompass a walk over the famous rope bridge running over the Capilano River, but there was also a treetop walk on the other end and a great forest. I remember loving the experience (despite not being great with heights) and I can't wait to go back. When we went 10 years ago we had to take a ferry there, but during my research this time around I found out there's now a convenient free shuttle running from Downtown!
Canadian ThanksgivingI'll be in Vancouver when it's Thanksgiving and I am totally going to let myself be swept away by all the pumpkin-flavoured sweet treats and pumpkin-scented products in the shops. I did celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving once before and it was the one and only time I had their spicy version of pumpkin pie (or any pumpkin pie for that matter) and I'd love to taste that rich, gooey dessert again. I'm hoping I might be able to pick up some pumpkin pie spice in the supermarket so I can attempt to make this myself when I'm back in the UK. And, not entirely the same thing but since Hallowe'en will be just weeks away when I visit, I am going to fill my suitcase with (pumpkin spice) candy corn! I love that stuff, but it's impossible to get in the UK so I will definitely stock up.
Tim Horton'sI worked some random jobs to pay for my travels when I lived in Canada, one of which was handing out the newspaper the Metro. It was okay overall but when working the early morning shift (7am-10am, if I remember correctly) at the height of winter in Vancouver it was cold. Very cold. It became a habit to go to Tim Horton's (or Timmy's as the locals fondly call this Canadian Starbucks equivalent) for a hot chocolate and small box of glazed Timbits (doughnut holes). I can't wait to treat myself to a hot chocolate again and try some of the exciting new Timbit flavours that have been introduced in the last 10 years (Apple Fritter and Salted Caramel sound especially delish).
Joffre Lakes (or another hiking trip)British Columbia houses a wealth of incredible beautiful national parks, filled with snow capped mountains, waterfalls, lush forests and crystal-clear lakes that look like they are photoshopped. As I mentioned before, when I lived in BC I didn't venture outside of Vancouver much, except for a visit to Capilano and an amazing roadtrip to Whistler, and I regret not seeing more of the incredible scenery the province has to offer. This time around I might just get to see another beautiful part of BC, the Joffre Lakes (weather permitting, time permitting, etc.). Fingers crossed it works out as they look gorgeous!
Metropolis at MetrotownThere are a lot of shops in Canada we don't have over here, from those I fell in love with when I lived there (Bluenotes, Hallmark Cards and Chapters, to name but a few) to ones that have sprouted since (Bath & Body Works). And the shopping mall Metropolis at Metrotown in Burnaby, just a short journey away by SkyTrain, brings them all together under one convenient roof. (Perfect for the inevitable rainy day.) I can't wait to buy all the things I've been ogling online, especially as it'll be cheaper over there with the exchange rate (even with the Pound having plummeted after Brexit). I am going to try and be good and not buy *too* much here as I'll also be visiting Edmonton on this trip, which has the largest shopping mall in North America and lower tax rates on products, but I will be going to Burnaby to do some 'light' shopping and to start making my wish list of things (read: Bath & Body Works products) to buy in Edmonton.
FlyOver CanadaThere are a lot of new things I'm going to see and experience this time around, mostly thanks to the Vancouver Explorer Media Pass kindly offered to me by Vancouver Tourism so I can blog about as many great things the city has to offer as possible. I'm not sure how I missed FlyOver Canada when I lived there (or maybe it didn't exist yet?) but that is one of the exciting new things I can't wait to check out. Described as a "breathtaking flight simulation ride like no other. You will take off into a huge dome screen with the latest in projection and ride technology creating a true flying experience complete with wind, scents, and even mist", it sounds like Soarin' Over California which I loved when I went to Disneyland in LA!
Commercial DriveDoes the amazing Greek restaurant whose Souvlaki has become mouth-wateringly epic in my mind still exist? I am not sure. But I am going to try and find it! Similarly, just off Commercial Drive, I'm determined to find the pub I went to at the time, Toby's, and the pizza place that provided the perfect amount of grease after going out, Uncle Fatih's. They bake sesame seeds into the pizza crust, which is delicious and I haven't come across anywhere else in the world since, and I need a slice of that four cheese in my life.
SkyTrainWhile I love the convenience of the London Underground, it's far too cramped and dirty to ever be described as an enjoyable experience. The SkyTrain, however, I don't remember ever being remotely full, and zipping above the city is an awesome experience. In my memories it's also super clean, but to be honest I probably don't remember it very well as it is public transport after all.
These are just 10 things I'm incredibly excited to see, do and eat in Vancouver when I visit this time around. I have loads more listed in my holiday notebook to check out and I'll be sure to report back about my favourite places, things, food, shops and more after I return from my holiday. If you've been to Vancouver before, what were your favourite things about this city?