Firstly arriving from US into Vancouver airport was wonderful, the views out of the window of the Rocky Mountains as we flew over were spectacular and the airport itself was like a museum with totem poles and aboriginal art and water features everywhere celebrating their Native American history, so passport control was actually pleasant?! Met some nice girls in my hostel, enjoyed some sushi for dinner (the Asian population here far outweighs the Canadians!) and had an early night, so that I was ready for whale watching in the morning.
On the 5 hour boat trip around Vancouver, I ended up seeing 3 pods of orcas, approx 40 in total!!! It was so amazing, I was really in my element. Watching them swim, jump and flip about, playing with each other was spectacular, I genuinely couldn’t believe my eyes. I even got to see some lovely views of the city sky line on our return, along with some Californian seals. The boat took us back to Granville Island where there was a huge fresh goods market to which I thoroughly enjoyed an abundance of quality food for my lunch, including crepes, pastas, lemonade and fresh cream cakes 🙂
The following day I went to Grouse Mountain; at first it was foggy and raining, and appeared to be empty, but after a while the weather cleared up and the park soon got busy. It was kind of a mini zoo with two huge and gorgeous male grizzly bears, three timber wolves and a bird show with bald eagles, owls and vultures. There was also a hilarious lumberjack show and an exciting gondola ride down that provided excellent views of Vancouver. I also tried my first ever BeaverTail – a donut covered in chocolate resembling a beaver’s tails – so good!!!
When I got back to the city I went on a short historical tour around the harbour, aka Canada Place, explaining all about 1812 and Canadian independence, 200 years ago. In the evening I went with a big group of girls from the hostel to Stanley Park (Hyde Park size) to see ‘Ferris Buller’s Day Off’ on the outdoor screen while we sat on blankets on the grass eating way too many sweets. Was a lot of fun, and most importantly FREE!!
Day 3 in Vancouver, me and one of the girls from the hostel rented cruiser bikes and rode around the entire downtown and city in 4 hours, boy did my bum hurt after that! I saw everything though, including the Olympic site – not as cool as ours though!
The next morning was the start of my Rockies tour. Our tour guide was a young girl who unlike the previous actually narrated what we drove by regularly so obviously knew where she was going. Our first stop was Kelowna – the warmest place in Canada with vineyards and peaceful lakes. We went on a house boat tour for 2hrs that included a free drink at the bar on the boat. They even allowed us to dip in the lake too – was pretty cold though!
Over the next week we drove from Kelowna to Banff National Park then onto Jasper National Park and back again, all the while stopping at beautiful glacial lakes, mesmerising waterfalls, huge glaciers and exciting hikes through abandoned mining tunnels and rainforests. It was so much fun and each photo was spectacular, the only issue being I couldn’t always remember which place was which from the photos! The hostels were clean and modern with very sociable people in, so I made lots of friends along the way. One night however we stayed in a wilderness lodge, basically a handful of log cabins in bear infested woods, with no running water and far from any form of civilisation. This was scary and cold, but actually really fun. We made a camp fire and ate ‘smores’ (chocolate and marshmellows between Graham crackers) they were so good, hell knows why have never heard of these before??
When in the town of Banff I wanted a day off from the group to just chill out and read my book, so I went exploring waterfalls and forests alone, which in retrospect may not have been the best idea as bears are apparently everywhere, but I never got to see one so clearly I must repel them! This night we went out clubbing, potentially in a gay bar, so that was fun – got in for free too! Ended up getting 3 free drinks as well courtesy of friendly roomies, which came in veeeeery handy when I was having issues with my card!
The drives were very long every day and I did feel like there wasn’t much time for walking and exploring, but our guide was good at making sure we drove all the scenic routes and stopped off at every view point or area of interest so I have hundreds of photos! She also went out of her way to drop us off and fresh food/farmers markets instead of superstores to buy fruit, cakes and lunch each day, a refreshing change from Walmart in the US.
Anyway so I got back to Vancouver and stayed in a hotel at Jericho beach further out if town, it was an old army barracks do looked really cool. I spent most of the next day relaxing on the beach reading James Bonds books, just my cup of tea. The next day I went back to my original downtown hostel for a final night and reunited with some nice girls I had met before my trip to the Rockies. So many people were there to work and live, but it’s soooo expensive there are few jobs or spare flats, it’s so crazy. I feel so bad for them all struggling to live 😦 some are even giving up and going home without even exploring Canada!
My final day today was spent buying gifts for my family and friends, unfortunately though Vancouver does have a lot of tat and not a lot of quality so I told them not to expect much! I did however treat myself to some gorgeous tan suede moccasins made by native Americans, so that was the best souvenir.
Overall this was a brilliant trip I will genuinely recommend. The views are constantly stunning, even in just the cities and the people are much friendlier than in the US! I got to do some incredible excursions and see some incredible sights, so I will never forget Canada and the Rocky Mountains, and probably neither will my family if I keep going on about it!