Saturday, August 1, 2015

Vancouver City!

Couple of weeks back I was presented with an opportunity to visit our office in Vancouver, Canada. In this post I will try to write about what I loved about the city during my short stay of 8days and also touch upon what to do in case you get to visit this beautiful city. My flight took off from Bangalore at 3am and after roughly 22hrs, I landed on the same day at 1pm in Vancouver. It was very important for me to stay awake until that night so that I do not mess up my already messed up sleep cycle. Oh and my first day was terrible as it was summer and the sunset happened at 10:30pm. Was not prepared to see sunlight at 10pm. Luckily for me one of my friends had driven down from Seattle for the weekend and he had the city figured out.

Firstly, you will never need to withdraw cash in this city, not kidding, every place accepts cards (except of course for street food near parks and beaches). The public transport is really really good. The buses are electric (environment friendly), they have the driver less sky train (the name is confusing as the tracks are underground) and they have a sea bus (ferry) which helps easy navigation between various parts of the city that are separated by backwaters. And the best part of all is that the same ticket can be used for all modes of public transportation. The ticket booklets and day passes are available in most supermarkets and need to be validated in the ticketing machine when you travel. This same ticket can be used to travel anywhere for 90mins from the time its validated. 

Stay somewhere near downtown as every place you want to visit is around there. Hotels might be a bit expensive but then it will be worth it. Now that we have the money, stay and transport figured out, let me talk about food. For breakfast there are a lot cafes which have on-the-go food which will be filling enough until noon. Or you could have a proper dine-in breakfast that will probably keep your tummy happy until late afternoon. Vancouver has a lot of Indian restaurants but I did not enter any of them because there are all other cuisines and junk food as well (*drools*) and Indian food can be eaten in India too right (duh!). But yeah, my friend who came down from US tried them and said all places he visited were good. Speaking of food, let me cover about beverages too. Vancouver has a whole lot of breweries and each one has a whole bunch of options as per your taste buds, well, of course if you love beer that is. And if you don't like beer, well you have Starbucks everywhere.
So what to do in Vancouver. Set aside a whole day for Stanley park. It is a huge park in one end of the city with most of its border surrounded by water. There is walking track near the border and a cycling track next to it. The trail is around 7kms and you can rent a bike or walk or take a horse carriage ride around the park. There is also the Vancouver aquarium which will require about 4hrs to see entirely including the 4D theater, the Beluga whale, shark and dolphin shows. 
Next you could take the ferry from Waterfront to Lonsdale Quay. The ferry is about 20mins and you will see the Canada Place which is the sea airport. If you are lucky, you will see small planes landing and taking off on water. This ferry ride will give you a view of the tall buildings of Vancouver downtown. And you can use the same ticket to ride back (90mins that I talked about above). 
Vancouver has some amazing, clean beaches. The english bay and sunset beach are closest to the downtown. There is also kits beach which I heard is good but due to my short stay, I couldn't visit. The city is surrounded by a seawall which also serves as walking/bicycle track and there are also good parks just to sit and introspect what you are doing with your life (meh!). Oh and heard there is a clothing optional beach too at some other end of the city.
If you have not been to any major cities with skyscrapers then you could just walk across downtown (even otherwise you can). Robson street and Denman streets have major shopping areas and Granville street has lot of eateries that are open 24*7. 
Well that is all I could do in my short stay of 8 days in the city. Heard there are amazing hiking places very near to the city and also read about Whistler but couldn't visit them. (there is always a next time, wait, will need to ask my manager if there will be a next time :P ) If you have friends staying in Seattle or Portland and you have a valid US visa then you can take a bus to visit them. I did that but that is a different blogpost all together :) 

Update from Nov 2016:
Instead of the ticket booklets now purchase the Compass cards which can be used for all modes of public transit. You can load a prepaid value on the card and this card can be bought at the kiosk at all Sky Train stations.
Regarding weather, its Winter here and contrary to my last visit it gets dark by 5pm :(

You might also be interested to read: Transit in Hongkong, Mumbai, Chronicles of Boston boy
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