I got just got back from my trip to Vancouver yesterday afternoon. To say that I had an amazing time would be an understatement. From spending time on the beaches to exploring new to me restaurants to attending an unbelievable U2 concert, I couldn't have had more fun. Because I have so much I want to share, I've going to divide my trip into three posts – the stuff I did, the food I ate, and the U2 concert. This post will be about what I did.
My hotel was pretty centrally located in downtown Vancouver. I'm so glad I picked it because it felt like I was close to just about everything I wanted to check out. I spent the entire time walking with the exception of cabs to and from the airport. In the two and a half days I was in Vancouver I walked nearly 40 km on my feet.
Within two hours of landing in Vancouver I was on a beach taking in the views of the water. There's just something about water – it doesn't matter if it's a river, a lake, or the ocean – that I'm drawn to. I knew I was going to be spending a good chunk of my time on or by the water. I was close to two beaches and quite a few parks. The beaches all had logs that you could sit on, which was pretty nice. I took advantage of many of them to take a break from walking and enjoy the views.
My second day I took a ferry across False Creek to check out Granville Island. I'd been there on my last trip to Vancouver about 10 years ago, though I knew that I wanted to go back. Granville Island has a huge market that they're well known for. They have everything from food stalls, to produce, to fresh seafood. I knew I wasn't going to be doing much shopping anywhere else, so I spent some time at the market picking up a few gifts to bring back to people at home.
Probably my favorite stop on Granville Island was to the Granville Island Brewery. I've had their beers a few times here in Calgary at different pubs. As soon as I saw that they had tours I knew I wanted to take one. There were only two other people on the tour with me which was pretty nice. We started off by learning about the ingredients that go into beer and the different kinds of beer. We then went into the actual brewery to check out the equipment that they use to make the beer. Afterwards we got to taste test three samples. My favorite was the raspberry ale, though the lager was a close second. Our tour guide said that they get all their ingredients as locally as possible. That means that their raspberry ale for instance might taste a bit different from one year to the next if they get the raspberries from a different farm.
That night I went to U2's opening concert for their Innocence and Experience tour. I have so much to say about it so I'll leave it for another post, but it was amazing! Definitely the best concert I've ever been to.
The next day I knew I wanted to spend at least part of the day inside. I'd gotten sunburnt the day before despite putting on lots of sunscreen. I chalk it up to my incredibly fair skin. I decided to take a ferry over to the Maritime Museum and the Museum of Vancouver, which were right next door to each other.
The Maritime Museum had quite the history of not only boats in Vancouver, but also those that made (or in some cases attempted) the Northwest Passage. I didn't know a lot about it going into the museum, but it was cool to think about how those first sailors signed up to go exploring through such tough conditions (not knowing exactly how to get through the Northwest Passage and the harsh weather conditions). They obviously had a lot of guts to do it.
They actually had the St Roch in the museum. The St Roch was built for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and was the first boat to make it through the Northwest Passage going from west to east. Visitors to the museum are allowed to go on it, so I had to check it out. I was surprised that a relatively small boat was able to make the voyage with the little technology that they had in the 1940's.
Afterwards I made my way over to the Museum of Vancouver. They had two exhibits. The first one was called “The Happy Show”. It was about the creator's (Stefan Sagmeister's) journey to find what makes him happy. It was a very interactive exhibit which I really liked. Visitors were encouraged to add a post it note with what made them happy written on it. Some of the research that's been done on what makes people happy was interesting. I thought the above about salaries was surprising. Basically if you live in Canada or the US, you don't get any happier if you make anything over $80,000. Someone who makes $80,000 is just as happy as someone who makes 10 times that amount.
The second exhibit was about this history of Vancouver, starting with the First Nations people. It was pretty cool to see the different transformations that Vancouver has gone through. It was also sad to learn about how certain groups of people were treated (the First Nations as Vancouver grew and the Japanese during WWII). I think my favorite part was seeing photos from when Vancouver wasn't much more than a few buildings compared to what it looks like now.
My last morning in Vancouver I once again headed down to the waterfront and spent some time on the beach. I didn't have a lot of time before I had to leave for the airport, but I wanted to make sure I saw the water one more time before I left.