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Info from local expert

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Windsor, ON
posts: 11
Info from local expert

Headed to BC for a week on September 17...spending 4 days in Victoria for a conference and then taking the ferry over to Vancouver on the Wednesday morning (Sept. 21).

Anyhow, staying at the Delta Suites Vancouver for 2 nights, likely splitting up the stay Wednesday night and Friday night, with a Thursday night stay in Whistler.

My question revolves around what to do during my time in Vancouver. I fly out on the red eye late Saturday night....so I am thinking to visit Stanley Park on the Wednesday, eat and visit Yaletown, drive up to Whistler on the Thursday, drive back to Vancouver Friday afternoon, catch Gastown and the Canucks exhibition game Friday night, Saturday, hoping to visit Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge and perhaps Granville Island before departing.

My main question is beside driving back and forth to Whistler, would a rental car be recommended or needed for those other excursions in the Vancouver area? As well, how bad is the area that the Delta Suites is located? I have heard that it is near a part of town that is not recommended for tourists. Any suggestions? Thanks again

Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for Vancouver
posts: 5,429
reviews: 14
1. Re: Info from local expert

A rental car will allow you to drive between Vancouver and Whistler while being able to stop off at a few lookout points, or places like Marine Drive (the scenic route) in West Vancouver, Horseshoe Bay/Whytecliff Park, Squamish, Garibaldi Provincial Park, and the waterfalls... Shannon Falls, I believe, before entering Whistler. Once in Whistler, a car will just sit in the parking lot, as the village is pedestrian only, so you really don't need a car at all there. Overnight parking at hotels often cost $20+ a night.

Whether or not it's worth it to you, is really up to you. It's unnecessary as there are dozens of options for travelling between Vancouver and Whistler, whether you want to take one of the many coach and shuttle services. There are even limos, apparently, that go there! The only downside with a shuttle service or bus is, while it's cheaper, and takes just as long to get there as driving would, you don't get to stop anywhere along the way, with exception to maybe a bathroom break in Squamish at a gas station.

The Delta Suites is a perfectly fine hotel. I used to work across the street from that hotel at the Harbour Centre, and I would often find myself looking across and seeing the hotel guests peering back at me! (so just a hint, close the blinds when changing!) However, Gastown, while it's a bit of a tourist trap and attracts predominantly tourists that are bound for an Alaska cruise, it's located on the edge of the downtown eastside, Vancouver's famous "ground zero" for homelessness, hard drug addiction, and prostitution. It's not a violent, or really a threatening place... but as a result, there are more panhandlers, people pushing shopping carts, and drugged out people in the vicinity. I stress that these people aren't violent or threatening, but are just trying to get by and get their next fix. It weirds a lot of people out and scares people who aren't used to seeing street people. That's why you might have heard that the hotel's not recommended for tourists. However, it's not in a grungey part of Gastown (which there are many) - it's right next to SFU's downtown campus, around the corner from Vancouver Film School, and down the road from lots of restaurants, shops, and businesses. I honestly wouldn't hesitate to stay there. It looks like a really nice hotel, but definitely more of a hotel that people on business stay at, then people looking for a tranquil resort-like atmosphere.

Also, all of downtown Vancouver is small, walkable and compact. You'll be a 2 second walk into Gastown, and a 10 minute walk to Yaletown. You could walk to Stanley Park along the seawall and be there in 20 minutes. Granville Island would be accessible if you take the False Creek Ferry or Aquabus (two different boat services) from the harbour at the foot of Davie Street in Yaletown, or the southern foot of Burrard Street (under the Burrard Street Bridge) for about $2.50 a person. I'd highly recommend doing that.

At the Delta Suites, you'd also be across the street from the seabus terminal, which is how you would get to Lynn Canyon. Hop on the seabus to North Vancouver (about a 20 minute sailing), and once in North Vancouver, you're going to be at Lonsdale Quay - a little market area. There will be the Lonsdale Quay bus loop outside the front entrance of the market, and that's where you'll hop on the 228 or the 229 buses. They take different routes, but they both take you to Lynn Canyon. I'd look at their map on their website to see exactly what stop to get off at: www.dnv.org/ecology/park_map/choose_map.html

Hope this helps!

Windsor, ON
posts: 11
2. Re: Info from local expert

Thanks for the reply BC Robyn....I got a special deal on the Delta Suites so figured to go with it ($150 Cdn/night)

I heard that when you exit the lobby...avoid turning east to avoid the drug addicts, etc.

Anyhow, thanks for the info on getting to Lynn Canyon....as well, might skip Gastown and go to Robson Street for some shopping instead.

Any suggestions for nightlife in Yaletown? or in general?

Mid-late 20s....any websites with info on nightlife?

Thanks again.

Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for Vancouver
posts: 1,757
reviews: 3
3. Re: Info from local expert

Spity1...I guess in honour of the Windsor Spitfires..if they are still in the OHL. Anyhow, I digress....Yaletown, lots to offer for the 20 set...Cactus Club, Glowball, Brown's, Georges (new), old standyby...Bar None and Yaletown Brew Pub. Lots to offer, good eats and QC at an all time high.

Enjoy!

Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for Vancouver
posts: 5,429
reviews: 14
4. Re: Info from local expert

Yaletown will be your demographic (which is mine as

well) - lots of lounges and restaurants open late with

great patios. Section 3, Opus Bar and Bar None are

some Yaletown nightlife locations, albeit somewhat

trendy... if you want more of a pub atmopshere, the

Yaletown Brewing Co is great. Steamworks is another

brewing company located across the street from the

Delta Suites, however, it seems to attract more of the

after-work crew and Gastown tourists. It's good, but

won't feel like you're among locals just hanging out.

The Atlantic Trap & Gill (on the outskirts of

Yaletown, before Yaletown went from industrial to

upscale) is a fantastic Maritimer pub. It's great

fun... super casual.

Granville Street between Davie and Robson has many

nightclubs and pubs, but they tend to cater to the

late teens, early twenties... somewhat feels like an

obnoxious frat house party if you stroll down there

late at night. I usually avoid Granville Street for my

entertainment.

If you're looking for specific nightlife though, www.clubvibes.com and www.straight.com will give you all the options in town. The Georgia Straight is my "bible to nightlife" - it has every club listing going on in town. It's Vancouver's arts & entertainment weekly. They're free, and available all over the city. Pick one up when you're in town - it will have the most up to date info there.

As for the suggestion for not walking east... it's a

good plan. Nothing bad's going to happen if you do,

but essentially, you'll be on Hastings Street, and

about 5 blocks further east is the famous "Main and

Hastings" - the heart and soul of the downtown

eastside. Unfortunately, Chinatown's heart and soul is

on Pender and Main - literally 3 buildings (a tiny

city block) south of Main and Hastings. If you did

want to check out Chinatown, do not take Hastings to

get there, but instead, walk down Pender Street to get

there.

Honestly though... things really don't get sketchy on

Hastings Street until the block before Main. You'll

see what I mean when you're there. There's really not a whole lot to see down that way anyway, so I'd avoid it just for that reason alone.

Windsor, ON
posts: 11
5. Re: Info from local expert

Thanks a ton Robyn...definitely will check out Yaletown.

Last question...I promise I won't bother you further. What is the best way to get from the Ferry Terminal once I arrive from Victoria to downtown Vancouver?

Cost?

Thanks again!

Mark

Windsor, ON
posts: 11
6. Re: Info from local expert

Sorry...I lied...One last thing....what is Little Italy all about?

I am of Italian descent....any decent Italian restaurants? (aside from Cioppino's downtown)

Thanks

Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for Vancouver
posts: 5,429
reviews: 14
7. Re: Info from local expert

The ferry will drop you off in Tsawwassen, which is about a 40 minute drive south of Vancouver. While I normally suggest taking the bus or skytrain while in Vancouver, I don't think there are any direct buses between Tsawwassen and downtown Vancouver... so I'd opt not to do that - it would take a lot longer than other options.

A taxi might be your best bet, although, it might get expensive ($40-$50).

How are you getting to the Swartz Bay terminal from Victoria? If you can, try to get on the Pacific Coach in Victoria. Buy a ticket for this bus, and it will take you from downtown Victoria, onto the ferry (as I guess the price of the ticket also includes the cost for the ferry). Once on the ferry, everyone gets off the bus and they walk around or lounge around on the ferry for an hour and a bit. Once the ferry gets to Tsawwassen, everyone gets back on the ferry, and the bus drives right to the bus station near downtown Vancouver. From the bus station, you could take a cab to your hotel for about $5 - it would be a 5 minute ride. Or... if you don't have too much luggage, you could pay $2.25 to ride the skytrain to Waterfront station. The Main Street-Science World station is directly across the street from the bus station, so that's another option. Once at Waterfront station, you'd be practically across the street from your hotel... about half a block away.

Also... about Little Italy... I'm assuming you're talking about Commercial Drive? This is a really funky neighbourhood along Commercial Drive between Venables and Broadway. It too can be easily accessible from skytrain (if you get off at the Broadway station). Otherwise, it's about a $12 cab fare, or a 15 minute drive from your hotel.

I actually studied this neighbourhood in depth in my urban geography class last year at UBC. It used to be Vancouver's first street car suburb in the early 1900's, however, when the built a bridge across to Kitsilano, the neighbourhood became a bit more run down and grungey. After WWII, a lot of Italian immigrants moved there. In the 60's and 70's, a lot of the Italian coffee shops, restaurants and delis were popular... and people would travel from all over the city to visit. Since the 80's, the area has changed somewhat. It still has a lot of Italian cafes, restaurants and delis, but the original Italian families have moved to North Burnaby (around Hastings Street, east of Boundary). Now the majority of the people living there are Chinese, German, Portuguese, Jamaican, African, First Nations, etc... it's a really diverse population. However, Commercial Drive still holds onto its Italian identity.

As for Italian restaurants, I really can't think of any off the top of my head on Commercial Drive. There are some great espresso bars (complete with older Italian men playing cards in the back room). Cafe Calabria is over the top, but it's fun for a cafe a leche.

What's really cool is that Commercial Drive is also a big bohemian culture pot... you have a lot of hippies, artists, environment activities, and in fact, the city's lesbian community is heavily involved in that area. There's also a lot of great non-Italian restaurants and cafes there. It actually reminds me of Montreal somewhat. Lots of people laughing in the streets, and just enjoying life.

Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for Vancouver
posts: 5,429
reviews: 14
8. Re: Info from local expert

For extra info on restaurants, you'll likely want to check out the Vancouver Magazine restaurant awards online: www.vanmag.com/16th/restaurant_awards.html

They have 2 categories for Italian restaurants - Cioppinos' is their #1 for best formal Italian. They also have best casual Italian, which might also be interesting to you.

Don't forget to try some Japanase food while you're here though... the new izakaya restaurants, like Kitanoya Guu (3 locations... one nearby your hotel on Water Street at the foot of Richards Street), Hapa izakaya (on Robson at Jervis), Shiru Bay (on Hamilton or Mainland at Drake in Yaletown), or Sakaya Bistro (on Mainland next to the Mini Cooper dealer in Yaletown) are excellent. Izakaya is like Japanese tapas... it's not sushi, and although while some items might be served raw, the majority of the food is cooked. It's really, really a fun but unique dining experience - if you're travelling solo, most of them also have a tasting bar where you can sit and eat with other people.