Beautiful British Columbia

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Sign just down the road

After four months on the go, it was so nice to be picked up at the airport and stay in a family home. We had 10 days in BC, staying most of our time with some friends of my family in North Vancouver. They had a beautiful home near Lynn Valley Canyon and a few other nice walks – there were also plenty of caution signs of black bear sightings. Our friends showed us photos and a video of a black bear in their backyard (we hoped we’d get to see one during our stay). On our first day, we went for a walk to the Lynn Valley Canyon. It’s hard to believe you’re so close to suburbia when you enter the woods and follow the tracks down to the river. We spent a good few hours crossing the bridges and admiring the deep green pools.

 

 


The next day we had arranged to meet up with my cousin, her husband, and two gorgeous children for the afternoon in the city. We took the seabus from North Van to the city in the morning.

 

We walked along the waterfront for a while, had lunch and then went to ‘Fly Over Canada’ (a virtual reality experience).

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No cameras allowed inside.

We’d been recommended by a few people to do this new activity while in the city. It only lasts about 8 minutes, but it’s really awesome, flying over most of Canada’s epic landscapes at speed. When you drop down near the Rockies you get a blast of misty snow in your face and then when skimming the tops of the forests you can enjoy the smell of pine. After the whirlwind trip, we headed back out to the streets of Vancouver and met up with my cousins. We had our private tour of the city as we walked towards Granville Island. A real highlight was walking through Gastown and seeing the steaming clock.  We took the little ferry boat across which gave a nice view of the city from the water. Being a weekday, it was much quieter so we ventured into the Granville Market. We didn’t actually buy anything, but enjoyed looking at everything – it was such a nice clean market. We walked across to the fisherman’s wharf and had the best fish tacos at ‘Go Fish.’

 

The next day, we had another catch up planned for the afternoon, Kadin’s cousin. We took the bus into the city in the morning. First, we went for a walk around Stanley Park. It was another beautiful sunny day. We enjoyed the totem poles, making daisy and buttercup chains and coming across gaggles of geese (and goslings) …

 

We met up with Kadin’s cousin at English Bay. It was very busy, being a sunny Saturday. We soaked up the sun, sitting on the beach while Kadin’s cousin’s daughter played in the sand and surf. After our afternoon ice-creams, we were driven out to Deep Cove where we enjoyed take-away pizzas at the park overlooking the beautiful spot.

 

 

We enjoyed a home day on Sunday morning. After lunch, we decided to go for a walk on another track through the nearby woods. But we still didn’t find any bears!

 

On Sunday night we went out with our family friends to their daughter’s house. She was putting on a special mother’s day BBQ. They had a lovely home and also a holiday home in Whistler. At dinner, they offered us their holiday home for a few days. So, we booked a hire car online and decided to head up straight away. On our way out of Vancouver the next morning. we stopped by for another quick walk in Stanley Park. This time we took the trail around Beaver Lake.

 

Then we headed for the hills… taking the Sky to Sea Highway 99. Our first point of interest was Shannon Falls (BC’s 3rd highest waterfall, plunging 335m) …

 

Next we stopped in Squamish town centre. We had lunch then bought hot chocolates to go and walked around the town and enjoyed the views of the big rock face (‘The Chief’).

 

Further up the road, we pulled over to take in more of the mountain views…

 

The next point of interest on our trip up the highway was Brandywine Falls. These falls only had a 70m drop, but were very pretty, ‘the most waterfall-like waterfall.’ The trail to the falls also had a great lookout down to Daisy Lake…

 

Next, we arrived in Whistler. Our free accommodation was 5 star! An amazing holiday home, complete with a hot tub. Located just outside the village, we didn’t need the car once we arrived. Instead we went for a walk via the amazing walkways into the village.

 

We woke up to a rainy and chilly day. But the next day was forecasted to be stunning… so we decided to save the gondola ride up the mountain for the sunshine. Instead, we put on our raincoats and took the nearby hiking trail to Lost Lake…

 

After lunch, we drove north to Pemberton. Our first stop was Nairn Falls. It was a 3km hike through the woods on the edge of the river to the falls. Nairn Falls have a spectacular setting as they crash through gaps in the rockface.

 

We had a quick look around Pemberton town and finished our day with a walk around One Mile Lake…

 

The next morning, the sun was shining. We headed out on foot to the Whistler gondola. On our way up we spotted our first wild black bear from our cable car…

 

Once we reached the top, we had some fun playing around in the snow. This was where the alpine skiing events for the 2010 Olympics were held – so we got into the Olympic spirit too…

 

 

We finished with hot drinks from the café as we enjoyed the view…

 

We had one last look around the village before packing up our things. We found a bargain Easter Egg clearance at one of the stores in town (marked down to 96c). Since we couldn’t find any Easter Eggs in the Galapagos this Easter, we decided to enjoy a belated celebration… we took them to Alta Lake.

 

We visited the three lakes, Alta, Nita and Alpha, which are located just outside of the village…

 

On our way back to Vancouver, we enjoyed the snowy mountains as we drove along the highway and we stopped at a few more scenic spots to stretch our legs and soak up the sunshine…

The next day we had to return our hire car around 4pm. So, we decided to drive to a few places a bit further out on the city map which would take longer using public transport. Our first stop was Queen Elizabeth Park. We walked around the gardens and enjoyed the city views…

Next, we went to VanDusen Botanical Gardens. After a nice lunch in the café, we decided to ask the lady at the information booth for advice on the best things to see. She drew a route on our map that would lead us to the best parts of the gardens… First stop was the Laburnum Walk, these yellow beauties were in full bloom…

We then back tracked and took the ‘secret path’ through the Rhododendrons which were also in full bloom…

Here are a few other flowers we saw during our walk…

Next, we got lost in the Maze… and then unlost!

We stopped by the waterfall and found various sculptures…

The next highlight was the Maples…

Here are some final photos of our great day out in the gardens…

After returning our hire car we caught a bus back to North Vancouver. But we got off at the wrong stop and decided to take a scenic 50-minute walk to our accommodation. Google maps located an awseome shortcut through the woods across a gully…

On Friday we had a home day to get on top of some planning for the rest of our trip. We also procrastinated by watching the hummers in the backyard…

The next morning (Saturday), was our last day in BC, and also the start of Canada’s May long weekend. We had saved this day for our trip to Grouse Mountain, as it was the first day of the season for the shows that are included in the fee for the gondola ride. We went up early in the morning to evade the crowds. First, we went up the Sky Ride (North America’s largest aerial tramway system). It was pretty packed inside – standing room only – but it provided great views of the Capilano Lake and Vancouver City below.

As soon as we exited the Sky Ride we followed the painted bear prints on the path which led us to the two Grizzly Bears (Grinder & Coola) that live in a two and a half acre enclosure. They were both out and about when we arrived…

After visiting the bears, we went over to the ‘Owl Interpretation’ talk. Here we met a very beautiful Barn Owl and listened to some interesting facts from the ranger…

Then it was time to sit back and enjoy the world-famous lumberjack show. It was a light hearted, family friendly show, where ‘Willy’ and ‘Johnny’ battled against each other to prove they were the quickest with their wood! Afterwards, Kadin kindly offered to take a photo of me with my Canadian boyfriends…

Next, we took the Peak Chairlift up to the top lookout. It was a very slow-moving scenic ride. At the top we were treated to more views of Vancouver below…

On the way back down, the Birds in Motion show started. Luckily, we could catch a view of it from the chairlift. When we reached the bottom, we raced across to watch the rest of the show.

We caught the bus back into North Vancouver for a late lunch. Then we decided to take one last walk back over to Lynn Valley Canyon to visit Rice Lake (we didn’t quite reach it on the first day). Google said it was a 3.6km (44 minute) walk. However, we took a ‘short-cut,’ which made us back track through the woods to the suspension bridge again, almost doubling the distance. But it was very scenic and it ensured we’d seen almost all of the park…

Finally, we reached Rice Lake. The sun was out and it was a beautiful spot to finish our time in BC.

Have fun at work!

Gemma

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