I didn’t know what to expect from Vancouver knowing it is one the best cities in the world. My wild guess was that the rating could be based on infrastructure, government, healthcare facilities, education, housing etc. But what was in store for me was a nature’s paradise! Breathtaking view of Mount Baker, intoxicating beauty of the forest, hills and valleys, a bustling seaport, it’s also a popular filming location. It’s one of those few places in the world where it’s possible to ski in the morning and sail in the afternoon.Walking through the picturesque city centre, and meeting the friendly locals was a great experience. People actually stop by to say Hi and would talk to you for hours with no inhibitions. First few times I was genuinely surprised that it’s not just a superficial “Hi” or “Good Morning” but they invest their time in you and are so welcoming and caring. No wonder its one of the best places in the world to be in.
Vancouver is in a rainforest and tops the cities with largest green canopy. It’s a heaven for city tree-lovers. It feels like a city insides the rainforest. I was expecting sky scrappers like Hongkong or NYC and here I was comparing the height of those 20-storey condos to the soaring limbs of tall trees. Had never thought that I would actually be writing a post on “Trees” but that’s what Vancouver is about.
My first-day trip was to Stanley Park. It is a magnificent green oasis in the midst of city centre. The Park has some of the tallest and oldest trees within the city of Vancouver. One day is not enough to cover the parks, garden and the trails. We went on a short scenic walk. You can find an all day event or could try renting a bicycle to go around. And if you like to have a goal for your walk, try geocaching and use GPS to find hidden treasures throughout the city.
The park offers a range of unforgettable experiences for all age groups and interests, including the aquarium, home to thousands of ocean species and aquatic life. It’s exciting to watch a green sea turtle that swims with the sharks and fish that carry their children in their mouth. Vancouver also has one of the best whale watching options, near Steveston a lovely fishing village around 40 minutes from the city centre or Gulf and San Juan islands. The best time is from March-Oct. Orca Whales are the main attraction. There are nearly 100 of these around Vancouver Island. So don’t forget to pack your binoculars.
My favourite part of the Stanley Park was the Hollow Tree. It is the most photographed landmark in Stanley Park. Today, the remaining of this 700- to 800-year-old stump of Western red cedar tree is still one of the most impressive trees among the centuries old – bigleaf maple and Douglas fir. Talking about the bigleaf maple, a tree takes about 40 years before it’s big enough to tap. And It takes about 40 litres of sap to make one litre of that yummy maple syrup. I could not resist thinking about pancakes with maple syrup and that temptation took me straight to IHOP pancakes. The rest of the day was filled with crepes & waffles and “Sugar On Snow”, the traditional springtime treat!
Vancouver has the world’s longest waterfront path. The 28 km seaside pathway is ideal for a walk, cycling or jog and is one of the most popular recreational arenas. We sat by the English Bay watching the kids play beach volleyball. The demographics of this city reveal a multi-ethnic society with Chinese, Europeans and the Indians merging seamlessly with first nations. Although these cultures have retained a sense of their original identity, their influence has shaped this city into an international city with a great vibe.
I could spend days and months enjoying scenic views of the waterfront, mountains and the majestic trees. Kilometres of trails, road trip through sea to the sky highway, beautiful beaches, wildlife and many more adventures.
Rainfall is heavy during much of the year, and snow lasting from November to March. Trees and the mountains cover more than half of this terrain and the rest are lakes. Because of so many mountains, it provides a lot of opportunities for sporting activities. Most popular being skiing, snowboarding and hiking or even shooting. Vancouver Island offers limited hunting opportunities. Hunters are encouraged to take down Fallow Dears. These animals are not a native species, and they may be taken at any time, with no bag limit, in order to reduce the population. Black bear and rarely, mountain goat, are the other animals found. I tried my hand at a shooting range ( the area inside the forest earmarked for the hobbyist) with Rifles and Shotguns. Bring your own guns and ammo. Learnt a few rules ..All firearms should be pointed down range at ALL TIMES…Keep your finger off the trigger until on target and ready to fire. It was great fun!!!
You’re always going up and down through hills and valleys. This elevation from the lakes down below provides expansive panoramic views. It has unlimited Scenery views, landscapes, and this heaven on earth will make you feel refreshed and happy.
Treetops Adventure is one the most innovative experiences at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. You can enjoy a very different perspective of life from here. Top-Down 🙂 Take a walk from one magnificent Douglas-fir tree to another on a series of elevated suspension bridges, some reaching as high as 100 feet (33 meters) above the ground. It’s a series of seven suspension bridges attached to eight 250-year-old Douglas-fir trees.
The viewing platforms are attached to a tree collar system that is adjustable and moveable. It has no nails or bolts penetrating into the Douglas-firs. How they preserve their trees ! It is unlike any canopy walk in the world. Its an amazing experience. Just be prepared to walk a lot.
A peek to Hell’s Gate: This place is around 2 hrs by road from Vancouver. Humankind has been trying to find ways to cross the mighty Fraser River for hundreds of years. The early explorer Simon Fraser stated in his journal that it was like passing through the gates of Hell and that no man should ever venture through here. We took an Airtram ride to get here.At the bottom of the tram ride is the Hell’s Gate Suspension Bridge that crosses the most turbulent section on the Fraser River. “Don’t look down”, I was screaming…the bridge deck is see through! Exactly below the bridge is the spot known as Hell’s Gate. The amount of water flowing through Hell’s Gate is more than twice the water flow of Niagara Falls!
Saturdays, during the summer season, Hell’s Gate Airtram will have a Salmon BBQ ( you get the best salmon in the world here) and then treat yourself to some delicious fudge and Ice Cream too.So much of hiking I did that all those extra calories from fudge and Ice cream and BBQ’s melted away without having any impact. This is the way to live.
Given the scenic beauty Vancouver is, it’s difficult to capture all the moments that I spent in this beautiful place in one article. So, am taking a break now, and the Trails of Vancouver will follow in my next article…