Vancouver is located in the southwestern corner of the province of British Columbia in the far western part of Canada. May through September is the ideal time to visit. Vancouver has temperatures that range from highs in the low 70’s during the summer months with lows in the low 50’s. May and September will often be in the 60’s for high temperatures and into the upper 40’s for low temperatures.
My flight from the eastern United States began with an early morning flight on Air Canada with connecting service through Toronto. From Toronto it is a 5 hour flight across the entire country of Canada to Vancouver. I was very excited for the flight portion from Toronto to Vancouver because it was my first flight on a Boeing 787. This plane was an excellent choice as it flew so quietly. The 787 plane is equipped with all of the latest technology and features. The Air Canada personnel including the Gate Attendants, Pilots, and Flight Attendants were so polite and helpful. After boarding the plane I watched a couple of movies along with admiring the breathtaking views of the Canadian Rocky Mountains and before I knew it I was already in Vancouver.
Please Note: When connecting in Toronto I had to go through Customs. The Toronto Airport was not really designed well as I had to leave a secured area, go through the Customs Checkpoint, and then I had to go through another Airport Security Checkpoint to catch my connecting flight. I want to point this out to help ensure that you have plenty of time between your flights. I had 3 hours and that was enough time.
Upon arriving in Vancouver I was really impressed with the Airport. The signage was informative and easy to follow for Baggage Claim and the Sky Train. The Sky Train is the rail system, much like a subway, that transports about a half a million passengers each day throughout the city. It didn’t seem crowded at all compared to the subways I have traveled on in the United States. When leaving the Airport you will pay a surcharge of about $2.50 plus the fare to the departure stop you choose. The ticket kiosks are user friendly and available in a variety of languages. The kiosks take Canadian Currency along with Credit Cards. I found the Sky Train to be very clean, convenient, and punctual. Within minutes I was at the stop I needed so I could continue my short walk to an Air BNB home I chose to stay at during my visit.
A good tip is to consider booking accommodations through a company like AirBNB as hotels can easily cost $200 or more per night.
Early the next morning I walked over to catch the Sky Train for my commute to Downtown Vancouver. The Sky Train location I am utilizing on Marine Drive has a shopping center with a local grocery store, a couple of restaurants, and most importantly a Tim Horton’s Donut Shop. Well this was my first visit to Tim Horton’s and I have to tell you it is definitely worth the trip. Delicious donuts and coffee on a 48 degree morning really hit the spot before continuing my journey north to Downtown Vancouver. If you choose to stay near the Airport like I did you will find that it takes about 25 minutes to get to Downtown Vancouver using the Sky Train. More information about the Sky Train can be found at www.translink.ca
The Burrard Station was the stop I chose to depart the Sky Train and begin my sightseeing adventure. The first thing I noticed when I got up to street level was that Vancouver is a very clean and bustling city. It was mid-morning as I walked up Cardero Street to the Waterfront when I realized 2 cruise ships were docked at the Port of Vancouver. One ship was from Princess Cruise Lines and the other from Holland America Cruise Lines. Later another cruise ship from Oceania Cruise Lines arrived in port. The cruise ship passengers now explains the large number of people touring the downtown area. I decided, after taking a few pictures shown below, that I would walk along the downtown waterfront. I have to compliment the people of Vancouver because there were so many of them out walking, jogging, and biking along the trail that begins at the Cruise Terminal and ends at Stanley Park about 3 miles away. The climate is perfect for enjoying the outdoors for much of the year.
Stanley Park is very beautiful. There are miles of walking trails to view many varieties of flora and fauna. There is also a beach, historical and cultural landmarks, places to eat, and a large Aquarium exhibit as well. Below you will find a couple of pictures of the First Native Totem Poles located at the entrance of the park. You will want to spend 2-4 hours at Stanley Park to enjoy all it has to offer plus additional time for the Aquarium if you choose to visit.
I walked along the trail from Stanley Park heading back towards the Port of Vancouver and the Downtown areas. Walking past the marina (pictures shown below) I noticed the hundreds of boats that are docked and the tall skyscraper hotels off in the distance. I continued walking east of the Port and arrived in Vancouver’s oldest town known as Gastown.
Gastown is known for its whistling Steam Clock and a variety of souvenir shops, indie art galleries and other stores in Victorian buildings. Gastown was Vancouver’s first downtown core area. It is named for “Gassy” Jack Deighton who was a Yorkshire seaman, steamboat captain and barkeeper who is believed to have arrived in 1867 to open the area’s first saloon. A statue of Gassy Jack and the Steam Clock stand on the sidewalk in the center of Gastown. The story goes that the city prospered afterward Gassy Jack’s arrival and soon became a leading center for trade and commerce as well as a home for loggers and fisherman. Captains and their crew were known to dock their sailing ships near Gastown. Gastown has many excellent restaurants as well for you to enjoy.
My one day pass on the Compass Card used for the Sky Train provides access to the Sea Bus which takes you from the Downtown Vancouver Waterfront to the North Vancouver Island stop Lonsdale Quay. It began to rain so I did not get off of the Sea Bus but very much enjoyed the views while sailing roundtrip on the Waterfront.
The next part of my journey led me to Chinatown where I began my visit with a tour of the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden. The Garden includes many jade-colored ponds, stone walkways, and tranquil gardens. It is very relaxing. Chinatown also offers many excellent authentic Chinese restaurants featuring dim sum items such as shrimp dumplings and steamed buns filled with barbecue pork. I enjoyed walking through the Chinatown district and looking into some of the unique shops.
As nightfall was quickly approaching I decided to head back to my BNB for the night. As I got off at my Sky Train stop I again saw Tim Horton’s and decided to get a couple donuts since my flight was leaving early in the morning.
Final Travel Tip: When leaving from Canada and heading to a U.S. Airport you will go through Customs at the Vancouver Airport. I got to the Airport about 4:45 a.m. for a 7 a.m. flight and barely had enough time because of how busy the airport was. Please plan to arrive 3 hours prior to your scheduled flight departure time.
Thank you for taking the time to share in my day trip of Vancouver. I hope you enjoyed reading about what a day in Vancouver can provide. I am definitely looking forward to returning to Vancouver again and plan to spend 3-4 days next time. There is so much to do and a day in Victoria is on the bucketlist too.
See you on the next journey.