Winter in Whistler

Monday 15th January

It was a much earlier start than I was used to on Monday morning!
I joined another one of the hostel’s Day Tours where they take you to Whistler for the day (a town North of Vancouver)
It started at 8am so I rolled out of bed around 6:45am. Just enough time to have a shower, wash my hair, do my make-up and have something to eat from the breakfast downstairs.
The tour was organised by a tour group called ‘Moose’ who do adventure travel in Canada for students and backpackers, I think it cost about $50 which was pretty good as we had a few stops along the way and it was nice having someone tell us a little about the areas we were driving through.

It takes approximately an hour and a half to get to Whistler from Downtown Vancouver so definitely bring something to read or listen to on the way up if you’re planning to take a bus or a shuttle. 20180115_090211.jpg
Our first stop on the drive up was to Porteau Cove Provincial Park to have a look at the view over Howe Sound and to the Mountains in the distance.
Interesting fact: Our tour guide told us that an old ship had been sunk in the water to attract marine life and for diver’s to practice their diving. Especially for Police Divers that have to search for bodies in the water as their training.
20180115_090614.jpg20180115_090247.jpgIt doesn’t really snow in Vancouver so I had yet to feel the extreme cold while I’m here, however at this National Park I definitely felt a chill!
I didn’t see anyone camping at the park while I was there, but there are 16 walk-in campsites available about 5 minutes from the parking lot. From what I know, most of the campsites are small, ocean front sites with no picnic tables or anything and only pit toilets. Definitely not my type of camping experience haha.

We then got to stop at Shannon Falls Provincial Park which is adjacent to Highway 99. The falls are composed of lots of cliffs rising 335 metres above the Highway, making it the third highest falls in the province.
When we walked to the falls, there was a scattering of snow everywhere which was pretty 🙂
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The next stop was to a little look-out spot to take some pictures of the mountain’s.
To be honest, I’m not even sure where we where but it might have been about half way up to Whistler by this stage.
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My fluffy wee hat I bought the other day!

They saved the best park for last – Brandywine Falls!
About 20 minutes away from Whistler, we saw the most amazing waterfall and winter wonderland.
As soon as we hopped out of the shuttle, I walked into knee deep snow and across icy paths to get to this waterfall. Unfortunately it was a little too icy for me and I slipped 😦
20180115_104045.jpg20180115_093533.jpg20180115_104651.jpgTo get the best views of the waterfall, you have to walk to the viewpoint which also gives you really nice views of Daisy Lake and the surrounding mountains.
As there was snow everywhere, it all looked really pretty, nethertheless – very cold!

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70 Metre Waterfall!

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By the time we got to Whistler, it was about 11:30am.
The ski-fields were busy, there were people at the restaurants having lunch and it was of course – cold!
Our group kind of split up and went our separate ways so I walked around Whistler Village for about an hour looking at the shops and taking pictures of the pretty hotels.
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This is going to sound super geeky, but as I don’t really ski or snowboard (and from what I understand it’s super expensive to learn at Whistler) I ended up walking past a library so warmed up in there for about an hour. I had brought my Kindle with me and as I was already in the middle of a book I found a chair to read. There were quite a few people sitting around reading so it was nice to sit inside and keep warm while looking at all the snow outside.
As we had all afternoon in Whistler (probably a little too long to be honest if you’re not skiing on the fields) I did a lot of walking around. By the afternoon I had found this really cute Candy Apple store that just had sooo many candy apples and chocolates.
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I don’t think I’ve ever had a proper Candy Apple in my life so after much consideration, I decided on a N.Y Cheesecake Caramel apple which I ate while watching the skiiers come off the mountain at the end of the day.
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As I’d been sitting down for awhile, I was shivering!
Thankfully it was time to go back to the bus and head back to the hostel.
The drive home was a bit long, it probably doesn’t help that the days here are so short as it gets dark around 4:30pm so it felt like 9pm by the time we got back.20180115_160400.jpg

The girls who I’d been hanging out with all week were at the Hostel Bar so I quickly ordered a drink and sat with them.
Beer Pong was the activity of the night so we all signed up in good spirits to win, unfortunately Aussie and I lost the first round so we were eliminated at the very beginning 😦
That didn’t stop us from drinking though. We had about a pitcher of alcohol between us and then shared another one when we played Beer Pong. All the mixing on the drinks made Sarah a bit hungover the next day!

Till next time!

x

 

Granville Markets & Shopping

Sunday 14th January

Today I fell in love with Vancouver that little bit more.
When I walked outside, there was sunshine! I couldn’t believe it. This whole time I’ve been here the sky has been grey and gloomy with low cloud hanging around and a continuous drizzle.

On Sunday I had signed up for one of the organised Day Trips that the hostel organised and today it was a visit to Granville Island!
To get there, we could take either a short boat ride over or walk along the bridge for half an hour or so onto the island.
As it was a nice day, we opted to walk across, however the blue sky quickly turned to grey when we got to the bridge – there was so much fog!! I felt sorry for all the people living in high-rise apartments buildings as you literally couldn’t see anything outside your window.

When we got to Granville Island, our Hostel Tour Guide told us a little bit about the island.
Apparently Vancouver was called Granville until it was renamed in 1886, but the former name was kept and given to Granville Street (which is on a small inlet called False Creek). The Island was once an industrial manufacturing area, but now it’s a great tourism hotspot full of entertainment, shopping and food.
The thing I loved most about Granville was definitely the food. And my god was there a lot of it. We had about 45 minutes to explore the markets and it’s by far one of (if not the best) markets I have ever been to.

As soon as you walk in, on your right there’s a market selling fresh flowers, up ahead you’ve got a guy selling like 10 different flavours of popcorn, there’s fresh juice, pizza slices, freshly baked muffins, hot-dogs, free-range meat and even freshly made pasta that you can choose along with home-made sauces to accompany.
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I ended up deciding on the Lemon muffin and popped it in my bag to take home for later.
20180114_124733.jpg20180114_125243.jpg20180114_125921.jpgIf I lived close by, I’d love to get my fresh fruit and veges from here – especially if they’re cheaper than the grocery store as I find food quite pricey here. 20180114_130720.jpg
I was walking with Bella (the German girl) as we stopped at another bakery-type market stall where she got a pie and I bought one of those cheese twist things to snack on.

Then I had to get myself a freshly squeezed juice of course and a slice of Pizza as I saw too many people with them so had to get one as well!
I was tempted to get one of those classic German Sausages but I’m not really a fan of pork so decided to pass this time. Maybe next time! (as there will definitely be a next time)

After 45 minutes, we all met outside at our agreed meeting spot and listened to one of the buskers sing while we finished eating our delicious findings!

Our tour leader took us around Granville Island to have a look at what else it had to offer. We had a look at the House Boats on Sea Village and also took some pictures from the top of a small Hill haha!
I can’t imagine you’d have too much privacy living in the houseboats on Granville, but it’s pretty cool that most of them are two-storeys high which is quite unusual for house boats.
Looking out towards the Vancouver city skyline, you couldn’t see too much because of the fog but I did my best in taking a few pictures 🙂

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Once everyone had taken a few pictures, we had the option of either staying to explore on our own or to head back to the hostel with the guide.
Me and the girls decided to stay a bit longer and had a walk around the big Kids Store they had.
I would have loved this if I was younger!
The store is literally made for kids (they even have a smaller door for kids to enter through). There’s a playground inside (kind of like a mini Chipmunks with the foam rolly things) and there’s even a hairdresser for kids! So cute.

 

When we’d all had enough looking around, we headed back to the hostel for the afternoon.
I was in desperate need of a sit down as my feet were killing me – too small shoes 😦
However, I really needed to buy a Winter hat as I was off to Whistler the next day.
I went to a cheap clothing store a a couple of stores down from the hostel but none of the hats suited me so I branched out a bit further (yes my feet were still crazy sore and blistering) and went to The Bay a couple of more blocks down.
This is the same place I went for my $40 umbrella haha so I knew a hat wasn’t going to be cheap.
I found one with the softest ball on top and tried it on. It’s from a Canadian brand called Pajar who make like Winter Boots and clothes. It did cost a pretty penny but it’s worth it for my cold little ears!

The rest of the night was spent down at the Beaver Bar again for drinks and nibbles with the girls.
I was sooo tired though, so I didn’t last long down there before going back to my dorm room for a read of my book before going to sleep.

I’m currently writing this post a couple of days later and I’m off to dinner now so I’ll leave you all with some more pretty wee pictures I took at the Markets 🙂

x
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Gastown & Capilano Suspension Bridge

Saturday 13th January 2018

I’ve been really good at getting out of bed this week to head downstairs for Breakfast.
Usually when you stay at hostels they give you free breakfast and the one I’m staying at provides bagels, little muffins, toast and juice. To save myself a bit of money, I’m trying to get up before 9:30am to attend breakfast every day so I don’t go out and buy it!
Plus, it usually fills me up for most of the day so I don’t have to go and buy snacks 🙂

So this morning I had my usual Toasted Bagel with Cream Cheese and orange juice then it was off to get ready for my day of exploring.
I’ve made friends with a couple of girls here, 1 from Germany, 1 from Australia and 1 from Holland.
Germany was off to look at a Room, Aussie had to go set up a bank account and Holland had some stuff to do so I set off to the Vancouver Police Museum by myself in Gastown.
It was about a half hour walk away but I thought it was a good opportunity to explore some more of Downtown Vancouver.

On my way to the museum, I saw the absolute CUTEST dog!!
I tried to take a picture but he kept moving so I took a quick video instead. (Which unfortunately isn’t the best quality)
His ears were just so so soft.


The thing I love about Vancouver is everyone seems to have dogs. I love how they take them inside too! Like I went to go and buy an Umbrella the other day from a big department store (like David Jones) and two people had their dogs in there while they had a browse.

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The Police Museum was small but quite interesting. It was $12 to get in and took me about 40 minutes to walk around. They had a ‘Feature Exhibit’ which I enjoyed. You look around the former city morgue and read about some of Vancouver’s most chilling cases. They also show original crime scene evidence, rare photos, and detailed information about the events and investigative techniques used in each of the cases.
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I wasn’t sure what to do after the museum so I just started walking to see where I would end up.
Probably not the best idea as I ended up walking right through the East Side of Downtown Vancouver (also known as one of city’s oldest areas, notorious for it’s level of drug use, poverty, mental illness, sex work and homelessness)11555314I’m pretty sure I stood out as literally everyone around me was homeless. I wasn’t sure where to go and I didn’t want to take out my phone and have to stand there and Google Map where to go so I kept my head held high (as I always do when I get myself in these situations) and veered off down a street that looked like the Chinatown of Vancouver. Luckily it was Chinatown so I had a very brief look around and found a Garden called the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. Upon entering, I had about a 3 minute look around and then left – sorry but there wasn’t much to look at it!

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The day was a bit gloomy and none of the plants were really in bloom. However, I’ve read online that in February they do ‘Lanterns In The Garden’ where they have a display of handmade lanterns showcasing various Chinese legends and have live performances and activities like lantern riddles and Chinese sugar painting.20180113_115149.jpg20180113_125433.jpgI gave my boyfriend a call while I was walking (who’s still all the way back in New Zealand) and just talked to him about Vancouver and how awesome it is etc 😉
In the midst of my talking (again I didn’t really pay much attention to where I was going) by the time I got off the phone, I had to backtrack to get back on route to the Hostel.
I did pass Science World on my walk though, it’s situated on the edge of False Creek (a small harbor of water) so I took a few pictures of the Vancouver city while I was there.20180113_132935.jpg
By the time I got back to my hostel, I’d done about 11,000 steps for the day so had a quick sit-down (I’m so old, my back was hurting so bad haha) and then got ready to head out again.
The girls and I had organised to catch a Free Shuttle bus to the Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver around 4pm.
It costs CAD$43 to enter the park but it’s sooo worth it.
At the moment, they have a Light Show at night so when we arrived it was still day-light (much better for picture taking) but by the time we’d crossed the bridge and started walking, it had turned dark and the lights were so magical!!
Unfortunately they’re finishing the lights on the 28th of January but hopefully if you’re coming to Vancouver, they’ll do it again because I defiantly think it made the whole experience better.
As you enter the park the whole little ‘village’ is lit up by lights, there’s live music, people are drinking hot chocolate – it’s just so so cute!
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Luckily as I’m a “BC resident” now, the $43 I paid can be turned into an annual pass so I can come and go to the park as often as I want this year – yay!
A little bit of information about the The Capilano Suspension Bridge if you’re curious:

  • It’s 137m long and hangs 70m above Capilano River!
  • The park is 27 acres in total.
  • ‘Cliffwalk’ is the newest attraction which is a walkway clinging to the granite cliff, high above the Capilano Canyon.
  • There’s 7 other suspension bridges that take you through the evergreens called the ‘Treetop Adventures’
  • You can see squirrels! (more likely in the day time)
  • There’s seasonal musical entertainment
  • They sell hot chocolate and ‘beaver balls’ across the bridge which are like little pancakes drenched in Carmel or Chocolate sauce

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View from the bridge – the mist hanging low made it that much better!
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View from the bridge – they had lights that kept changing colour

If you’re ever in Vancouver, I highly recommend going here!
It’s been one of the highlight of my trip so far.
The bridge definitely swings when you’re walking across, however from what I know (if you’re afraid of heights) no one has ever fallen off the bridge by accident.
When we got to the other side, we took lots of pictures and then walked through the Treetop Adventures which are smaller swinging bridges (but only about 30m high above the forest)
I tried to take good pictures but I’ve just come to the conclusion that if I ever want good photos at night, I’m going to have to invest in a proper Nikon camera or something.
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I got this picture off Google – had to show a good one!

There’s some beautiful lanterns hanging around the park, just above the water which was nice 🙂
We also all took a picture on this Santa’s sleigh they still had set up from Christmas. Even though it was pretty cold, I can just imagine how wonderful this experience would be if it was just before Christmas time and they had Christmas Music playing.
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Once we’d experienced all the lights, Aussie and I got a Hot Chocolate from the little cafe they had.
When I saw it was filtered Hot Chocolate, I inwardly groaned as I knew it’d just taste like watery chocolate but surprisingly it was really good!! They even put “whip” on top.
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We headed back across the bridge after buying out Hot Chocolates. This time round, I was a little more confident and didn’t grip the railing as much when we crossed  – well I like to think I didn’t!
We had some time before the free shuttle bus arrived to pick us up so we did the Cliff-Walk and took some more pictures.
Personally I think the Cliff-Walk would be better in the day-time or when it’s still light out as there’s a few fact’s and information written along the way that was a bit hard to see in the dark. Plus the views would be amazing!
20180113_182805.jpgThe bus back to the Hotel was short (only about 15 minutes) and then we walked back to our Hostel. (Quick note: the Free Shuttle bus only picks up people from 4 different places in the city, one of them is the Hyatt Regency Hotel every half hour which is where we caught it from)

Once back at the Hostel we all ordered some food from the Beaver Bar downstairs and had a few drinks. Even though it was Saturday night, I was in bed by probably 9pm as I was so tired!
I did try and finish this blog but I started to get a sore tummy (probably from all the tomato I ate at dinner) so turned my light off and went to sleep.

Tomorrow’s blog – Granville Market!