Yesterday we flew out after work and arrived in Vancouver around 8:30pm PST. We rented a car and drove to our hotel downtown. Getting around here is super easy so far - Canada almost feels like an extension of the U.S. and our trusty GPS (which I threw into the bag last minute) has helped us find almost everything we've needed so far.
After checking into our hotel last night (and being upgraded to a suite for no charge!) we dropped our bags and walked out of the hotel toward the Sea Wall - a boardwalk of sorts that lines the waterway (Inlet? - I think that's what it's called here). We strolled along hand in hand and marveled at all the sail boats in the harbor. We were both starving after having traveling well into the evening and walked over to the Yale Town neighborhood for some dinner. The entire downtown Vancouver area (or at least the parts we saw) were clean and reminded Andi and I of a mix between San Diego, San Francisco and Colorado. I loved how you could walk along the water and enter into all types of neighborhoods, each filled with different restaurants and bars and condos. We stopped into a restaurant called Regional Tasting Lounge which featured rotating tapas menus from around the globe. The food was very fancy and gave us a taste of British Columbia. Also sitting next to us at the restaurant was a transvestite which I have to say, is an acceptable lifestyle choice - just not one this Nebraska girl is used to seeing. Andi and I barely spoke at dinner - I think we were too affixed at eavesdropping on her conversation.
View of downtown Vancouver
from our stroll along the Sea Wall
Our suite at the Sheraton Wall Centre
This morning, we woke up early and went to Stanley Park in downtown Vancouver. Think Central Park meets the Redwood Forest in Northern California. The giant park was beautiful with tall trees and fresh air (lord, the air is fresh up here!). We didn't have much time as we were due to catch a ferry to the Sunshine Coast at 9:30am, so we did a quick drive thru and stopped at a few points of interest along the way.
Yacht Club Harbor
Lion's Gate Bridge
Afterwards, we drove to nearby Horseshoe Bay to catch the ferry. I was a little nervous about the whole thing - I've ridden a ferry before but never drove my car onto one so I wasn't sure how it'd all play out. But I have to say, Canadians have it figured out! The process was so smooth and the workers were so friendly and helpful. Easy breezy. We drove our car right onto the boat and in about 30 minutes we were cruising along, waving good-bye to Vancouver.
Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal
Canadian Ferries = much cozier than Thai Ferries
Today we spent the day in Sechelt, British Columbia which is North of Vancouver (also called the Sunshine Coast). The name is sliiightly misleading; it's a brisk 21 degrees Celsius (whatever that means!) so we we've been wearing hoodies and pants most of the time. It is gorgeous, however, and we're in awe of our surroundings. We spent the day driving up the coast, eating lunch at the Lighthouse Pub overlooking the marina and taking a nice, peaceful nap at our guest house called Seastone at Sandy Hook.
Seastone Bed and Breakfast
Outdoor shower and dining area
View from our patio
Tonight's sunset from our patio
So far our time in Canada has been great! And while most of the area reminds us of being at home, we've noticed a few differences between here and the U.S. Let us enlighten you:
- B.C. is super dog-friendly. Which I LOVE. Everywhere you turn, everyone's got a dog on a leash (even on the ferry!) and there's cute little dog water fountains all over town.
- Uh, it's already fall here. In July. The leaves are starting to change color and littering the ground in colors of orange, red and yellow.
- Almost everyone speaks English here and even accepts U.S. currency but we can't help but notice the hint of French being spoken here as well. The lady at Customs welcomed us with a "bonjour!" I told Andi - don't worry, I took 4 years of French in high school, but sadly all I can remember is hello, good-bye and I'm doing OK. That's not going to get us far ...
- As I said before, B.C. is sooo clean. The water's pure, the air's fresh and there's no trash anywhere.
- The dress code? Very "outdoor recreational." Think REI on steroids - lots of North Face, Mountain Hardware and Columbia gear.
- Lots of organic and farm-to-table restaurants here, which I love. Almost all coffee shops feature organic coffee and telling customers where the food is from seems almost second-nature.
- There's a Starbucks on every stickin' corner in Vancouver. As Andi pointed out, Seattle is just across the border - which makes sense. Always thinking, that husband of mine.
- Vancouver makes us feel closer to Robin Sparkles from How I Met Your Mother. Oh how we love that show.
- We bought a Kit Kat today and it was different, but good. More chocolate, less wafer. I prefer Canadian.
- Alcohol is sooo expensive here! OMG. We went to the liquor store this afternoon to pick up a bottle of wine and were floored by the prices. A box of wine was $50 (Mom - can you believe that?!) and a bottle of cheap Gallo was $17. The guy in line before us picked up a 12pk of Budweiser and a bottle of Smirnoff for $77. Seriously, you have to really want to drink up here!