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Looking for advice - Vancouver

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Stirling, United...
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Looking for advice - Vancouver

In July this year, we will be cruising from Alaska to Vancouver and will have three days in Vancouver before heading to Calgary, two days, and then Toronto (two days).

Does anyone have any 'must do' activities and restaurants in Vancouver. We have friends in Calgary and Toronto, so will have expert opinion there!

Calgary, Alberta...
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1. Re: Looking for advice - Vancouver

Hello Emelda,

Stanley Park is the number one "must do" in Vancouver, as far as I'm concerned. It's nice to spend a bit of time there, walking along the sea wall, and so on. Then it's nice to spend whatever remains of the day browsing through Granville Island Market, Yaletown, Robson Street, etc.

It's nice to devote another day to the North Shore, across Burrard Inlet from downtown Vancouver. Great places to see are Grouse Mountain and Lynn Canyon in North Vancouver and Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver. In theory you can do much of this by public transportation. You can catch the Seabus, a catamaran ferry that runs between Waterfront Skytrain Station at the north end of of Granville Street and Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver. From Lonsdale Quay you can catch public buses to Grouse Mountain, the more touristy Capilano Canyon and the less touristy Lynn Canyon. However, I personally think it is nice to have the flexibility of driving around on your own. Then you can drive north from Horseshoe Bay up along Howe Sound, which is very pretty. I do realise, though, that for you this would involve driving on what would feel like the wrong side of the road. So it's up to you.

A third day could be devoted to places that are south of the downtown core. My favourite of these (actually it may be my favourite Vancouver attraction after Stanley Park) is the Museum of Anthropology at the Universith of British Columbia. It depicts the traditional lifestyle of the First Nations people of the west coast, and is very fascinating to me. The building in which the museum is housed is a handsome structure, appropriate to its purpose, and there is a nice view from there.

Other places that are located south of downtown are the Van Dusen Botanical Gardens and the Bloedel Floral Conservatory that's located inside Queen Elizabeth Park.

Again these places to the south of downtown are accessible by public transportation, but again a car would give you greater flexibility and also would enable you to drive along the shore of English Bay.

Some people may recommend a day trip to Victoria on Vancouver Island. The Butchart Gardens are justly famous, and Victoria has a charming and easily walkable downtown near its Inner Harbour.

We North Americans are very taken with Victoria, which we think has a more British feel to it than most towns on our continent. However, I have been told that European visitors sometimes are under-whelmed by Victoria. In their eyes it apparently does not seem very British at all. So, given that it really does take three days to do justice to Vancouver, and given that you live in the UK, I think you might consider skipping Victoria.

You don't say how you'll be getting from Vancouver to Calgary. If you'll be flying and not driving through the Canadian Rockies, that would be a shame. However, your Calgary friends could take you on a day trip to Moraine Lake, Lake Louise and Banff townsite, and even that would be nice.

juniper35@gmail.com

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2. Re: Looking for advice - Vancouver

Emelda, I forgot to tell you about the Vancouver Trolley Company's hop-on / hop-off bus. It goes to all of the attractions that are popular with tourists in the central part of Vancouver, and it's a good way to get an initial orientation.

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3. Re: Looking for advice - Vancouver

Judy has covered the must do's kudos for mention Museum of Anthropology.. as to restaurants.. what type of food do you want ( we hvaae it all) and what is your budget.. can give better direction with this info.. top of my list right now would include Lumiere (chef Rob Feenie won iron chef!), Gyoza King, Teahouse in Stanley Park, Blue Water Cafe, Le Crocodile, Pastis, Baru but again there are too many to list so let us know what you like and I am sure you will get lots of response. also .try checking a previous post about where to dine in vancouver

Darlington, United...
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4. Re: Looking for advice - Vancouver

My partner and I are from England and will be flying into Calgary early August, for 21 days. We intend to stay a little while in Calgary then driving to Vancouverto return home.

Are there any problems with accommodation between the two places during the summer season?

We would be very grateful for any info regarding things to see along the way, incidentally, are there any high climbs on the roads or will be travel through valleys?

Look forward to your help.

Calgary, Alberta...
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5. Re: Looking for advice - Vancouver

>>>Are there any problems with accommodation between the two places during the summer season?<<<

Yes, accommodations in the Canadian Rockies get very booked up during the summer. Since you'll have British pounds to spend, you may not feel the expense. But, to those of us who earn and spend Canadian dollars, accommodations in our Rocky Mountains feel expensive.

Other things to look out for when you make reservations in the mountains are minimum stays that some lodgings impose during the summer and stringent cancellation policies. Some properties insist on minimum stays of 2 or 3 nights. In most of the rest of the country, 24-hour cancellation policies are common. In the Rockies, however, cancellation policies tend to range from 48 hours to 14 days!

Anyway, because accommodations get so booked up, you would be well advised to settle on an itinerary and make reservations soon. This applies most particularly to the Rocky Mountains portion of your trip.

>>>are there any high climbs on the roads or will be travel through valleys?<<<

Yes, there are some high climbs. The roads have been built through valleys whenever possible, but that has not always been possible. I have heard some feedback from European travellers that Canada has poor roads. I try to acknowledge Canada's failings and not to resort to kneejerk defence of criticism towards Canada. However, considering that the country has such vast distances and a low concentration of population, I think Canada's roads are pretty decent. In most cases the roads are not too steep. Where a climb is required, this usually is accomplished by building a road with switchbacks (a road the zig-zags uphill).

The highest stretch of paved road in Canada is the Highwood Pass which is at an elevation of 2,206 metres (7,238 feet). This is in Kananaskis Country, a collection of provincial parks, forestry reserves and grazing lands to the east of Banff National Park. Most visitors to the area concentrate on the Rocky Mountain national parks (Banff, Jasper, Yoho and, to a somewhat lesser extent, Kootenay and Waterton Lakes). Hence the majority of visitors from outside of the area do not make it to Kananaskis Country and/or the Highwood Pass.

Incidentally the highest paved road in the USA is much higher than Canada's Highwood Pass. It is Trail Ridge Road in Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park. It is at an elevation of 3,713 metres (12,183 feet).

You can rent an ordinary car for your trip from Calgary to Vancouver. There is no need to rent a 4-wheel drive vehicle.

I'll give you a suggested itinerary in the next post.

Darlington, United...
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6. Re: Looking for advice - Vancouver

Many thanks for the info, Judy.. if you are ever coming to the UK,I will be pleased to reciprocate!

Colmil

Calgary, Alberta...
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7. Re: Looking for advice - Vancouver

>>>Many thanks for the info, Judy<<<

You're very welcome, colmil.

>>>if you are ever coming to the UK, I will be pleased to reciprocate!<<<

Thanks for that.

In travelling from Calgary to Vancouver, there are roughly 3 routes that you can follow.

The most northerly one involves going through Banff and Lake Louise to Jasper. From there you would make your way through Clearwater and Cache Creek to Whistler and then down to Vancouver.

The middle route would involve driving west from Lake Louise through Golden, Revelstoke, Salmon Arm, Kamloops, Hope to Vancouver. (A variation of this route would be to swing south at Salmon Arm and visit the Okanagan Valley. The main tourist towns there are Kelowna and Penticton. From the Okanagan Valley, you would then proceed to Hope and Vancouver.)

The southerly route would be to drive from Lake Louise to Radium Hot Springs, Kimberley, Cranbrook, Trail, Penticton, Kelowna, Hope, Vancouver.

You can also combine these routes. For instance you could start out with the more northerly one and, half way through the journey, you could cross over to the more southerly route -- or vice versa.

If you were to ask me which was the best route, I would not be able to give an opinion. Each route has its charms. All routes have one thing in common. They all take you through successive mountain ranges until you eventually reach the coast.

I still haven't given you the itinerary I promised! Although -- as I've just said -- it is by no means the only valid itinerary, I do rather like the one that starts out in the north and crosses over to the south. That's what I'll describe in my next post.

Calgary, Alberta...
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8. Re: Looking for advice - Vancouver

Proposed itinerary for colmil.

Day 1 - Land in Calgary.

Day 2 - Either look around Calgary, or do a day trip to Drumheller to see the amazing dinosaur skeletons at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology. I personally recommend the latter.

Day 3 - Drive to Banff, look around Banff townsite, and walk in Johnston Canyon. Drive to Lake Louise, and overnight there.

Day 4 - Visit Moraine Lake and Lake Louise. Consider doing one of the lovely, half-day hikes in the area.

Day 5 - From your base in LL, visit Yoho National Park (Emerald Lake, natural bridge over the Kicking Horse River, Takakkaw Falls).

Day 6 - Drive the Icefields Parkway to Jasper townsite. See Peyto Lake Lookout, Columbia Icefields, Sunwapta Falls, Athabasca Falls.

Day 7 - Explore Jasper's environs. I recommend the Angel Glacier / Cavell Meadows hike and a walk in Maligne Canyon.

Day 8 - Drive to Clearwater, and visit Wells Grey National Park to see Helmcken Falls.

Day 9 - Drive to Kelowna.

Day 10 - From your base in Kelowna, explore the Okanagan Valley.

Day 11 - Drive to Vancouver. There are several ways to accomplish this. One of the longer but more scenic routes is as follows. Drive south on Hwy #97 beyond Westbank. Before you reach Peachland, turn west onto boring Hwy #97C. At Aspen Grove, reap your reward, and turn south onto scenic Hwy #5A. At Princeton turn left on Hwy #3, and drive through scenic Manning Provincial Park to Hope. From Hope you could use Hwy #1 to reach Vancouver, but an alternative to consider is Hwy #7.

Days 12, 13, 14 - Explore Vancouver. To my mind, Vancouver is divided into roughly 3 areas of interest. The central area consists of Stanley Park, Robson Street, Granville Island Market, and various other attractions. They require a minimum of a day although, if you take full advantage of it, Stanley Park alone can occupy a day. The North Shore (Lynne Canyon, Grouse Mountain, etc.) can occupy another day. A third day can be passed very pleasantly by visiting the Museum of Anthropolgy at the University of British Columbia, Queen Elizabeth Park and VanDusen Botanical Garden, all of which are to the south of downtown. The Museum of Anthropology depicts the traditional lifestyle of the First Nations people of the west coast and, after Stanley Park, is my favourite Vancouver attraction.

Day 15 - With a reservation from www.bcferries.ca for your vehicle in hand, take the ferry from Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver to Departure Bay near Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. Drive to Tofino.

Days 16 & 17 - From your base in Tofino, visit Ucluelet, Pacific Rim National Park, Long Beach, etc.

Day 18 - Drive back to Nanaimo and down to Victoria.

Days 19 & 20 - Explore Victoria and its environs.

Day 21 - In my experience, most flights bound for the UK depart from Western Canada in the evening. So I believe you would have enough time to make your way back to Vancouver in a leisurely fashion. Again with prior reservations in hand, catch the ferry from Swartz Bay near Victoria to Tsawwassen, which is located south of Vancouver.

Hope that helps.

juniper35@gmail.com