Last night, after an emotional goodbye to my family, we checked in at our waterfront hotel in Vancouver. The first thing we saw when we left the hotel to explore that evening was Canada Place, which is the home of the Vancouver convention centre, Vancouver’s world trade centre and FlyOver Canada – a virtual flight ride and currently the worlds longest flight simulator.
OBVIOUSLY, we decided to go on this ride and after walking through a Christmas wonderland trying popcorn and honey coated nuts we joined the queue for our flight. First we watched a four screen video called “uplift” an uplifting video on the wonders of Canada, following four people’s completely different lives and then we took our seats on our virtual plane.
The seats took off into the air and placed us floating inside a globe screen, here we moved with the motion of the film as we flew over the different wonderful and amazing sites in Canada including Niagra Falls, Whistler Mountains and the northern lights. Throughout the flight we experienced not only sight and sound but different smells to go with the destination and also feelings. It truly was a 4d experience and a flight to remember.
After a gorgeous Japanese meal in Miku, a restaurant overlooking the water, we went back to the hotel ready for our big day today.
day 2 – Vancouver
Today we started with a Starbucks breakfast before cycling along the waters edge towards Stanley park…
Once in Stanley park we visited the Vancouver Aquarium, one of the best aquariums I have ever been to! Full of hundreds of different animals and features including dolphins, sea otters, beluga whales, penguins, frogs, fish, snakes and an amazon experience with birds and insects from the amazon.
After the Aquarium we visited China Town, which was felt surprisingly less safe than the China Town in London. As it is one of the oldest ‘China Towns’ in the world it had ancient Chinese looking buildings and is home to the narrowest building in the world yet there was an eery feel to it. When we arrived we passed a group of rough looking men and one of them started walking a few metres behind us as we passed. Although Im not 100% sure we were being followed it definitely felt like it and so soon we entered a coffee shop – just incase – and the man also stopped outside the shop for a few moments. We waited until he had passed, had a drink and then went to find our lunch destination. We ate in a small local restaurant called Garden Villa restaurant. I found it in a Vancouver guide book and so had the address, otherwise this “dimsum haven” would have never been found. The restaurant was on the second floor of a tall building and so at first we walked straight passed the staircase leading to it, but soon retraced our steps and found it. This was real Chinese food, and we were the only non-Asian people there, with an undecorated room and plastic table clothes it became clear that the restaurants aim was not based on attracting tourists like us, especially when we asked the waitress for lemonade, she snapped a firm no. After filling up on probably too much shrimp dim sum and vegetable spring rolls, we left china.
When planning our visit we spent a long while trying to find a route to China Town which avoided west Hastings, idiots we are, we were meant to be avoiding East Hastings – West Hastings is actually a very nice, upmarket street but a bit further east down the same road is the drug central of North America. Obviously on our way home from China Town we happened to come across East Hastings, the street that is always warned against and advised to be avoided! Luckily we didn’t have to walk down it, only past it on a cross road but it was as if we had entered a whole different City. The houses were broken down and the people were dressed as if they lived on the street and to make matters worse we were wearing ostentatious clothes in the roughest area in North America. After spinning my hand bag around to hide the mulberry logo and walking fast with our heads down we were soon safe on water street – a beautiful road with idyllic buildings and unscary people!
We then headed to the Harbour Tower to view the 360 degree view of Vancouver from the observation deck, reached by a glass elevator which travels up along the outside of the building. Watching the sunset behind skyscrapers makes them seem surprisingly beautiful and we had the best view in the house.
Funny how you can feel so safe in a street filled with expensive designer shops and people dressed smartly for their evening ahead – welcome to Alberni street, our destination for dinner. First we headed to Coast, a gorgeous fresh seafood restaurant with a Brussel Sprout side dish to die for! I had salmon on a bed of faro, butternut squash purée and kale.
Next, under recommendation we skipped desert and headed across the street to Thiezzy, a chocolate specialised patisserie, for our pudding.
Here they have two specialities: Gateaux de Roix, a sweet pastry where if you find the toy in your slice you get a crown! And secondly: Liquid chocolate, a drink made purely out of chocolate.
And that concludes my first days in Vancouver. 🙂