by land or by sea or by the light of the moon
We came to Vancouver from Victoria via a BC Ferry and Tswassen. The ferry took 1.5 hours and cost $43. The drive from the port into Chinatown took a half hour. Check their helpful website for shedules and current fares.
After leaving Vancouver, we drove to Kamloops, about halfway to Banff National Park in the Province of Alberta. It was 350 kilometers and took about 4 hours. We saw the most amazing full moon of our entire six-month trip. We got into town so late all there was time for was to get a room and crash. Not sure we missed too much in Kamloops.Related to:
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
Vancouver prides itself with being a clean, health-conscious city: many bars and restaurants you encounter will not allow smoking indoors. You'll also notice many people running or bicycling around Vancouver.
If the traffic has you down, you might try renting a bicycle for Stanley Park or Kitsilano.
Taxi! All you need to know about cabs in Vancouver
Cabs are very easy to catch in Vancouver, but it really depends on what street you're on. Any hotel will call you a cab if there aren't already some waiting outside. Otherwise, you can catch a cab at almost every downtown street (as long as it's not just a purely residential street). In downtown, you can almost always guarantee hailing a cab on Robson Street and on Granville Street, where they're always zooming by. Outside of downtown Vancouver, Commercial Drive, Broadway, Cambie, and W 4th Ave are relative good places to catch a cab. There's are designated cab pick-up locations by Canada Place on Howe Street at Cordova, and also in South Granville on the north-east corner of Broadway and Granville.
Major Vancouver cab companies are Yellow Cab and Black Top Cabs. Most of Vancouver's suburbs have their own cab companies too (like Richmond Cabs).
All cabs have meters running which determine how much you pay - you don't haggle the price. Also, it's customary to tip the cab driver a dollar or two at the end of the ride. This is not a rule, however, but it's generally a nice gesture, especially if the cab driver was friendly and helpful.
You can usually take a cab from one location in downtown Vancouver, to another downtown location for under $10. It costs about $20 to take a cab from downtown Vancouver to UBC. It costs about $25 to take a cab from downtown Vancouver to the airport.
Trails of Stanley Park
Stanley Park is covered with some 35 kilometers of trails, with the primary routes being the 7.9 km Seawall route, the 2.3 km Bridle Trail, the 1 km Beaver Lake Loop, the 1.2 km Lees Trail, the 1.4 km Merliees Trail, and the 2.8 km Rawlings Trail. During my visit I went for a spectacular run in Stanley Park, mostly along the Seawall Trail on the wast side of the park, but also running through the woods around Beaver Lake. These trails are excellent for walking and jogging, and many are also great for biking.
I entered the park at Lost Lagoon at the foot of Georgia Street. From here I passed under the Stanley Park Causeway toward the Marinas where I got an excellent view of the city of Vancouver. Continuing east, I ran along Coal Harbor to the Brockton Point Lighthouse. Here the seawall trail turns to the northwest, providing a view of the Lion's Gate Bridge and North Vancouver. I ran past the statue of the girl in the wet suit and the children's playground, then turned inland toward the busiest area of the park. I passed several monuments then the Rose Garden before hitting the South Creek Trail to Beaver Lake. I followed Beaver Creek back out to the Burrard Inlet, just south of the Lion's Gate Bridge, then took the most direct route back to my starting point at Lost Lagoon.
Vancouver City Guide-lines
It sometimes rains here; (that's an understatement in some peoples' views) so, that means you should be extra cautious not just with yourself, but other drivers. Seems to be a Universal Problem. I'm talking about "the Phone Talkers" drives me nuts! What's even worse now, is I'm keeping a list of just how many people I see on their bicycles; talking on their damn cell-phones!! They're Bicycles for gods sake!! You need TWO hands for that!!! How do you apply the breaks?! Pull-over and have your chat, or tell them you'll call them back.
Transit in Vancouver is still a fairly good way to get around; although at this time, there is much disturbance with roads being upgraded and widened in preparation for the 2010 games that are coming to the city.Related to:
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
There are two main ports that link Vancouver and Vancouver Island.
- Horseshoe Bay (West Vancouver), about 22 kms. from Downtown Vancouver. This port links to Departure Bay in Nanaimo (Vancouver Island).
- Tsawwassen (South of Vancouvr), and links to Swartz Bay (Vancouver Island).
Both routes take about 95 nice minutes.
If I were you, I would take any route to go to the Island, and return using the other one. It's what I did.
The pic shows the Ferry about to arrrive in Departure Bay after leaving Horseshoe Bay.
If you're not in an extreme rush while visiting Vancouver then I highly recommend you take a cruise around Vancouver. It's a wonderful, leisurely way to see the city, and from a vantage point that's so different than what most tourists see.
There are several companies that offer such cruises but I've listed one of the prime ones below.
Two of the major departure points are:
- On Granville Island, beside Bridge's
- In Coal Harbour, just west of the Bayshore InnRelated to:
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
Vancouver boasts a plethora of bicycle shops which are happy to rent bikes (including tandems and some fairly sophisticated models) and helmets to those wishing to explore this wonderful city's extensive network of bike paths. Rentals can be arranged by the hour, half or full day, and they are quite reasonable. We pedaled around Stanley Park in less than two hours, stopping frequently to take photos or simply enjoy the vistas.
We happened to rent from Spokes, and were completely satisfied. The contact information is for their outlet near Stanley Park. Do consider getting something other than the cheapest "cruiser" as some of the hills in Stanley Park could benefit from the use of gears!Related to:
Hiking at Grouse Mountain
The Grouse Grind is supposed to be the most popular hike in Vancouver and I'd believe it. Dozens of hikers are constantly arriving to begin this 2,800 foot, 1.8 mile ascent, and there is lots of free entertainment at the top including grizzly bear enclosure, bird shows, and a cheesy lumberjack performance. The views of the city are also excellent, especially with a beer in hand at the Rusty Rail BBQ. Plus, once at the top, the Skyride only costs $5 to return to the bottom!
We weren't dressed for hiking, so we decided to take the Skyride to the top. After an afternoon of wandering and looking at bears, we were planning to return to the bottom via the Skyride, but the line was so long we decided to walk. Big mistake... the descent is very steep, wet, and icy in spots, and is all steps. I have done a lot of hiking and never thought downhills were hard, but this is different. 2,800 feet and no level spots, few sloping switchbacks... just rock or wooden steps. After 30 or 40 minutes of walking, and thinking we were near the bottom, we saw the sign saying we had completed just 1/4 of the downhill hike, and we knew we were in trouble. Long story short, it took us some 2 hrs to descend the mountain, and we were sweaty and exhausted, but relived we wouldn't have to spend the night on the side of a cold mountain.
The hike up is supposed to be a great 1 to 2 hour adventure that is obviously well-traveled. They even have a Grouse Grind race a few times a year that some guys can complete in 30 minutes. The hike back down just plain sucks and I would only recommend it to my worst enemies. That's why the Skyride is only $5 on the return trip!
To get here, take the Lion's Gate Bridge north from downtown and stay right to arrive at Capilano Road. Becomes Nancy Green Way which ends at the parking lot at the base of the mountain. Parking in the lots costs $5. You might be able to park in the local neighborhood for free.
Skyride to Grouse Mountain
There are two ways to get to the top of Grouse Mountain: Skyride and hiking the Grouse Grind. The Grouse Grind is a difficult 1 to 2 hour hike that rises 2,800 feet over a 1.8 mile trail...yep, that's almost straight up. Even worse, is coming down...don't even consider it unless you are a glutton for punishment.
We took the expensive $35 Skyride to the top on the ticket lady's advice that it included access to all the activities at the top, implying that hikers could not visit those activities. Turns out she mislead us... hikers can access the grizzly bear enclosure, birds of prey performance, and the lumberjack show for free, and they can take the skyride back to the bottom for a mere $5. To be fair, the Skyride does offer much better views of the city and surrounding areas than the hike, and it would be easier for skiers or those going to a fancy dinner at one of the restaurants on top, but it is not worth $35 for a round trip ticket when a one-way ticket is just $5.
Your best bet is to hike up and take the Skyride back down the mountainside. Enjoy your free visit to Grouse Mountain!
A nice and practical way to get a different view on the town is the usage of the aquabus, which is the ferry for pedestrians from Granville Island to the other side and along the False Creek even towards the Sience World.
Check the homepage for a detailed info about their service.
Adult fare is 2.5 $.Related to:
- Sailing and Boating
Charter Bus Lines of British Columbia
For this tip, I leave it up to you to check out their website, it can give you the type of information you'll be needing.
8730 River Rd. , Delta
- Family Travel
Lions Gate Bridge
The Lions Gate Bridge crosses the first narrows of Burrard Inlet in Vancouver, and is officially called the First Narrows Bridge. This beautifully designed bridge connects Stanley Park to Vancouver's north shore. The 4,978-foot long bridge opened in 1938, and was privately owned by the Guinness beer family, where they earned a profit on their investment by charging a toll, until it was sold to the province in 1955. The bridge received its decorative lighting in 1986, and its decks were replaced and widened in 2001-2002 to accommodate wider traffic lanes and wider sidewalks at a cost of $100 million. This is still the longest suspension bridge in western Canada.
The bridge's nickname comes from the peaks called the Lions (1,646 meters & 1,599 meters), that tower over North Vancouver at the end of Capilano Lake.
Need a catch a taxi from Granville Island?
It frequently seems to be the case that tourists are visiting Granville Island on foot and wish to catch a taxi to their next destination. If you're heading downtown then it's perhaps best to get on one of the mini-ferries near the market and take one of the many routes across False Creek. From the downtown core, you should see a taxi in just a few minutes.
But if you're looking to head elsewhere then the best thing to do is to walk a few blocks off of the island directly to the MacLure's Cabs depot. Simply walk stay underneath of the Granville Bridge and walk out the solo car entrance to the island. After you've cleared the island you will see the Pacific Culinary Institute on your right. Keep going a block more and you'll be at 2nd Avenue. Cross at the traffic light and walk up the curved street. There's an autobody shop on your right. A few steps further and you'll see the MacLure's office across the street on your left. Just go into the open door and tell the dispatcher that you need a taxi.
Their precise address is 1510 West 3rd Avenue.Related to:
- Road Trip
One option for traveling between Seattle and Vancouver, albeit slightly longer than driving unless it's a busy summer day, is to take the Amtrak train. Prices for tickets range from $25-32 one-way for reserved coach seating, depending on the train and time of day. If you don't have a car, don't like to drive, or whatever, it's a great alternative. There is also bus and van shuttle services, however the shuttle services can be pricey and the bus can be a bit slow.
P.S. I just confirmed that the Greyhound bus is actually a few dollars more expensive than Amtrak. Unless you have some sort of Greyhound discount or truly prefer buses, it's more economical and quicker to take the trainRelated to:
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