Updated: Aug 26, 2018
"let's go to the mall, today!" In case you don't watch How I Met Your Mother (also, are you living under a rock if not?) I spontaneously booked a trip toward the end of July to visit Vancouver, Canada. It was my first time visiting this country that seems to be in my backyard, and seamlessly made the trip in two hours flat. What fascinates me about Canada is that no matter where you are in the United States, it acts as a roof just above our heads. There are so many great cities to visit, but Vancouver is definitely a top choice.
Arrival in the Vancouver International Airport is fairly straight forward and easy! After you exit out of the airport, there are taxi lines with helpful signs leading you to whichever zone or district you are staying in. The fares are metered through this zone rate system. I live in the Bay Area..one of the most expensive places in the U.S.. Honestly, I wish we would hop on this train (or cab rather) because it rocks. Unfortunately uber does not exist in Vancouver, however cabs are old fashion, and they aren't roller blades.
I immediately was greeted by my friendly Air BnB host and received my own homey room. I won't lie to you all, I pretty much fell asleep the second my head hit the pillow. Come on, I went to my JOB that morning. Work. Filing. Sales. It's tiring.
Upon waking up, I immediately walked out the door and started walking. My advice when entering a new city? Just walk. It is seriously the best way to get to know your surroundings. Of course if you only have 24 hours this is subject to change, but I find the best way to familiarize is hitting the pavement. Plus it's a nice way to get a work out in without even really trying. I stayed in the East Village, an urban subset of downtown which is clad with well to do homes and picturesque neighborhoods, a great start to your walk. BUT WATCH OUT. Hastings avenue can get a little sketchy toward the city centre, so be aware.
Gastown was my first stop. This district is great for food, nightlife, & shopping as you waltz down the cobblestone streets. A few recommendations for Gastown district (by me + Brielle, my lovely Air Bnb host):
Tacofino (restaurant, Mexican fusion)
Meadow (adorable trinkets, cards, knick knacks)
I have this general obsession with chai (basic white girls unite) and found Smart Mouth Coffee whipped up a mean cup of joe. I also recommend the chocolate zucchini gluten free muffin because it's basically a salad right? I also picked up some great pieces from The Latest Scoop, featuring my new Guns N Roses t-shirt shown above. After making my way through this neighborhood, I made my way to Stanley Park.
After resting up (i.e. I ordered Chinese food, ate it in bed then fell asleep at 9pm) I woke up ready to accomplish a few more items on my bucket list. My first stop was the Granville Island Public Market. Reminiscent of Pike Place in Seattle & the Ferry Building in San Francisco, this market has a unique charm with local flair. That being said, I'm a super tourist so I recommend picking up some delicious maple syrup (above) from one of the stalls. They also have lots of fresh food and several boutique style restaurants inside. I loved Delish General Store for local art & shabby chic items. To get here: I took the bus from East Village heading over the Granville Street Bridge, it's literally under the bridge. Your google maps will 100% be confused by this. Trust it, believe in it, the market will be under the bridge.
By this day, I really wanted to bus to all destinations which is possible in Vancouver. They even have buses that go to Northern Vancouver, where I suggest visiting the Capilano Suspension Bridge. For the faint of heart, this bridge SWINGS. Aggressively. I visited on a high tourist day, however I would suggest going mid week if you can to snap some solo pictures on the bridge (if you do please share them with me). With Vancouver's unpredictable weather, I suggest bringing a jacket like this. It did sprinkle for a little bit of time I was there. To get here: From Granville, take the bus going north toward the city center (should stop in front of a Marc Jacobs) and take the 240 bus to Northern Vancouver. If you get lost, not to worry. Canadians are the nicest people on planet earth and will probably jump in front of that bus to stop it for you.
The Capilano Suspension bridge is a little pricey to get into (about $33 with my fake student ID) but worth the money. The bridge is so captivating and it amazes me that this was a quick 20 minute trip outside the city. Tips: Eat before you go, the food options are a bit pricey inside. As for timing, if you are subject to a weekend try going at opening or closing times to avoid a large crowd of people. I was thankful for some wonderful old ladies who snapped my photo mid walk over the bridge.
Overall, I adored Canada and cannot wait to be back for the winter season. When is the snow coming eh?