Moving to a new country isn’t easy. It can’t be. It won’t be. Even in one as closely tied to my motherland as Canadaland has been and will be, the cultural idiosyncracies are numerous. Example: just today I went to the bank to withdraw some cash. I explained to the teller the amount I needed “and I need ten dollars in ones.” He looked more closely at his computer screen, back to me quizzically, back to his computer screen (where my USA passport picture serves as my photo ID), and then finally: “So you need ten loonies? You’re not in America right now, you know. “
[insert utter mortification here]
Every time I forget that Canada doesn’t have one dollar bills, every time I drive past a Tim Horton’s, every time I hear someone speak of curling with knowledge, I’m reminded once again that this is a brand new country. Even though I still bungle my way through a new life and a new culture (and probably step on some toes in the process), and even though I desperately miss my beloved North Carolina (it’s only natural!), I’m learning to love this world that is the beautiful British Columbia. Because – wow – beautiful it really and truly is!
Just in case you missed it: I moved to Canadaland from North Carolina. And how, you ask? Well, I went to Africa and met a Canadian and became a bride and roadtripped across the continent with my husband. Simple enough, eh? =)
Welcome to Canadaland. Or, at least, this little teeny tiny corner of the interwebs that shall act as my “virtual tour” of my new homeland (and in coming weeks you’ll get to see some of my favorite discoveries of Canadaland living, too! hint: cake and coffee are involved) Instead of buying a plane ticket and taking time off work and getting a stamp in your passport, grab a cuppa tea and start the photo-tour. Right here. Right now.
This is what to do in Vancouver, and other areas of British Columbia.
As one of the more “standard” tour destinations, it really is impressive: leaving the gridlocked city, you’re transported almost magically into a world of salt water and fir trees and isolated hiking trails and (of course) the crowded Seawall looping around the entire park. As the Vancouver equivalent of Central Park, it’s one of my favorite little corners of the city. We’ve biked, jogged, hiked in rain, snow, ice, sun, dark.
The annual Celebration of Light showcases the most impressive fireworks display I’ve ever witnessed, the Vancouver Aquarium is fun for all ages and the park is a bevy of beauty, especially when Kelsey and Sean hang out there to celebrate their engagement.
Plus, let’s face it: if Shawn and Juliet enjoy visiting Stanley Park in that pivotal Psych episode, then you will, too. 😛
Home to every artistic endeavor you can imagine (including my favorite Granville Island Broommakers) and the best chai tea latte you will ever taste at the Granville Island Tea Company, with fresh ginger to round out the flavor, Granville Island is a multitude of fun for foodies and crafistas. Note: it’s really not ideal for small kiddos, unless you’re ready to spend a bucketload of money for the playplace.
Granville Island is situated downtown, directly across False Creek from the bulk of Vancouver’s skyscrapers, and the main loading dock for the Aquabus for quick access to downtown, Olympic Village, and even a mini-cruise for the tourist. If you can find free parking in Granville Island, the Aquabus is completely worth it to putter on over to keep exploring on foot.
My most recent discovery, I love Grouse Mountain’s easy access from the lower mainland and discount-producing Local’s Pass (totally worth it for me!). On a clear day, the view is unbeatable. And on a cold, wet Vancouver day, a quick gondola ride is all it takes to make it to a winter wonderland of snow and ice skating and skiing. Or, if you’re feeling particularly adventurous and physically fit, summertime’s Grouse Grind has been dubbed Nature’s Stairmaster with good reason: in a little over a mile and a half, your elevation gain is over half a mile. Ouch, I say. Ouch.
For Psych fans everywhere, White Rock is the place to visit. You’ll see the Psych office headquarters, Shawn & Gus’ favorite beach walk (it’s not in Santa Barbara, people!), the gelato shop you’ve seen in the background of the opening scene of Psych the Musical, the restaurants of various Psych scenes, and the list will run on and on and on.
Plus, you’ll have beautiful sunset views (if it’s not cloudy/rainy), white sand beaches for summer adventuring, the best Fish and Chips you’ll find on this side of England, and a library reading nook with an ocean view (easily my favorite discovery of White Rock’s community!)
Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge
If the rushing water, impressive waterfalls, lush forest, and meandering hike aren’t enough, the suspension bridge at Lynn Canyon Park will impress you. Plus, this is the free-and-less-crowded version of the ever-popular Capilano Suspension Bridge. I’ve done both, and cost-benefit-analysis is clear: Lynn Canyon is the winner.
Known primarily for it’s 2010 fame in the Winter Olympics, and revered by skiers everywhere (and downhill mountain bikers, in the summer), Whistler is so much more than skiing and snowboarding. There’s snowshoeing and shopping and eating. There’s glamping in a yurt and hiking to the Lost Lake and exploring Brandywine Falls. And, of course, just the drive up the Sea to Sky Highway is epically worth the fuel to get there.
Other Vancouver-area Options
Other of my favorite corners of this world include Hope, BC’s chainsaw art collection, Alouette Lake’s Gold Creek hike, ferry rides out to the Islands (crab traps optional), hiking Manning Park, and basically anything else that involves water and mountains. (Read: almost anything around here!)