Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Vancouver: Capilano Bridge, Grouse Mountain, Granville Market

We had little knowledge of Vancouver and its related attractions. While we were out at bars and restaurants we asked the locals what we should do for the next few days. In every conversation the Capilano Bridge and Grouse Mountain were named as the top attractions.

In a surprise move, we took the Capilano Bridge free shuttle from the center of town. Pam and Stan met us at the Hyatt Regency for the 20 minute drive to the bridge. This was a great service but a little unsettling for us as it was first-come-first-serve and all the shuttle buses for attractions came here to pick up travelers.

From their website: Originally built in 1889, Capilano Suspension Bridge stretches 450 feet (137m) across and 230 feet (70m) above Capilano River. Since then much has been added to the twenty-seven acre park. CLIFFWALK is the park’s newest attraction – a cantilevered walkway clinging to the granite cliff high above Capilano Canyon. Treetops Adventure, seven suspension bridges through the evergreens taking you up to 100 feet (30m) above the forest floor, offers a unique squirrel’s eye perspective of the forest. Guided nature tours, the Kids’ Rainforest Explorer program and the Living Forest exhibit enhance this unique rainforest encounter. Enjoy seasonal musical entertainment and First Nations culture.

The best way to describe the experience is to equate it to a visit to an Ewok Village (without the bears holding spears). Guests climb stairs to reach platforms built around large Douglas-firs and cross bridges from one platform to another.

Pretty much the first thing you have to do is cross the long bridge. Being a holiday weekend, and a perfect Sunday afternoon, the place was crowded. It took a little bit of time to cross the bridge while waiting for families to pass the other way or for the folks in front of us to take their selfies.

We encountered employees running a bird exhibit deep in the forest. We got to see an owl up close.

This was the part in the trip where the cruise ship plague started to take Holly out. She was feeling pretty tired while showing all the symptoms of a chest cold. While Dave and Stan went to see the glass platform overlook she relaxed on a bench with Pam.

The day before we were here they got 150 Mounties to stand on the bridge for a Canada Day photo.

If taking the free shuttle wasn't amazing enough, we took the public bus to our next destination: Grouse Mountain. It would have been very easy if we didn't have to break paper money for exact change (Canadians have dollar coins). Four of us were able to get to the mountain for a cost of ~$11 (US). There was a free shuttle to get us back to the city centre.

Grouse Mountain is a ski mountain that found a way to make money in the off season. The large gondolas transport guests to the top of the mountain where they can participate in activities like zip lining, hiking, watching (sleeping) grizzlies, take in a bird show, and eat. It wasn't as robust of an experience as we were led to believe it would be, but we got a great view of the city and had lunch in a pretty nice setting.

Holly hates gondolas
Mt Rainer in Washington

Since the shuttle dropped us off at Canada Place we decided to hit a bar on the waterfront. Tap & Barrel had a robust beer selection. Unfortunately every Vancouver resident was enjoying the nice weather leaving no outdoor tables for us so inside we went. Holly's coughing got worse and her symptoms were getting stronger. We decided it was best to go back to the room and have her get some rest. We said goodbye to Stan and Pam since they were leaving the next morning.

Dinner that night was the best ramen ever! Jinya Ramen Bar was delicious! We didn't know it was chain until writing this post and discovered there is one in Chicago. Dave picked up a to-go order and we had an in-room picnic.


Monday was our last full day of the trip and the work holiday for Canada Day. Holly was feeling a little better so we decided to walk to Granville Market. It looked closer on the map. The market is a mixture of old and new buildings housing restaurants, shops, art galleries, and an urban market with farmstands, meats, etc.

We spent some time browsing the shops before hitting the Liberty Distillery. Dave had a whiskey flight while Holly tried a Bloody Mary with house-made vodka. It was a nice location with some great design elements. We enjoyed another seafood lunch on the deck of the Vancouver Fish Company before sampling some beers at Granville Island Brewery.

The whole area was crowded because, you guessed it, it was a beautiful holiday weekend. We left the market via cab and got dropped off in the Gastown District to see the Steam Clock. It's a pseudo-attraction that was much smaller than we anticipated.

Since we were this far into the city centre we decided to go back to Tap & Barrel and wait for an outdoor table so we could enjoy the fresh air and watch the seaplanes land in the bay. We had an early flight the next morning so we decided the best option for the rest of the evening was more ramen from Jinya in the room with a bottle of wine while we packed.
Overall we enjoyed our time in Vancouver. While there weren't many "attractions" in the city the area offered a lot of diversity in the environment and in the culture. It was a nice city to just wander and explore.


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