My hectic work schedule does not leave a lot of room for vacations so I promised myself earlier this year that I would dedicate more time to traveling. Since I couldn’t take an extensive trip, I had to come up with a destination that I could go to for the weekend, but still manage to make a mini vacation out of it? I have a couple of close friends who live in Vancouver that I went to college with so I thought, why not pay them a visit? The best part is that I would be leaving the country all while being only a 3 hour flight from Los Angeles. I figured why not and spontaneously booked a mini Vancouver vacation.
These were my airport travel essentials. When I travel I do not like to bring too many carry on items.
Touch Down in Vancouver
After my flight, I was weary and starving. As soon as I landed my friend Chey picked me up and we went to drop off my luggage. We then headed to a popular restaurant called Earls Kitchen + Bar. My first night in Van City obviously called for a celebration drink so after dinner we went out to a bar called The American. Vancouver is an athleisure city. The nightlife scene is very different than in Los Angeles with people entering bars in casual attire. I liked that no one was really pretentious and there were no long lines.
Day One: Shopping & Exploring
My first morning started off a rainy one. The view, however, was impeccable. It was nice to wake up to the sound of rain and see greenery. I sat out on the balcony and enjoyed a nice cup of coffee. I was very content while anticipating the site-seeing that was yet to come.
After getting ready, my friend and I headed to downtown Vancouver to meet up with my old friend, Shawn, from college. It was still cloudy outside, but the rain had stopped. I did not expect downtown Vancouver to have so many buildings.
I met my friend Shawn on the first day of fashion school and we’ve been close friends ever since. After graduation he moved to Vancouver to work at Lululemon! This was our first time seeing each other in 4 years.
After brunch we went shopping downtown. For the most part, clothing stores are the same with the exception of a few Canadian based brands. I was most excited to visit the Off-White store since it has become one of my favorite brands. The only US location is in New York City and many of their products sell out quickly online, so I couldn’t wait to go in and explore the store.
After shopping we headed to the Olympic Cauldron which is a permanent landmark located in the Vancouver Convention Centre. The torches were built for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games and now reside in the Jack Poole Plaza as a tourist exhibit. They occasionally are lit during special Canadian holidays.
I attended a soccer game between the Vancouver Whitecaps and the Colorado Rapids. The game was held at BC Place which was the main stadium during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, and also held the opening and closing ceremonies. Unfortunately Canada experienced a loss but it was neat to see how patriotic Canadians are.
Being fortunate enough to be in another country and also wanting to celebrate Canada Day, I wanted to try a new cuisine before leaving. I decided to try Poutine from a popular food truck called Mean Poutine. Poutine is a Canadian dish that consists of fries covered in brown gravy, cheese curds, and green onions. Sounds crazy, right? I am not a huge fan of gravy, but it was not bad.
We decided to stay in later that evening and my friend cooked a lovely dinner of chicken parmesan with a caprese salad, paired with red wine. The meal was delicious and enforced the stereotype that Canadians will go above and beyond to make their guests feel welcomed.
The view from Granville Island was spectacular. This was the only day it didn't rain and the skies were clear.
Granville Island is known for it vast public market, where lots of yummy goods and produce are sold.
My friends Chey and Shawn who were wonderful tour guides.
I was also fortunate enough to be able to meet up with my other Canadian friend, Ryan. Ryan and I went to fashion school together and he frequently visits me here in LA. He had just gotten off a plane returning from Sweden so our meet up was very brief.
Overall, visiting Vancouver was an amazing and rewarding experience. I had recently been caught up with the stress of work and needed a quick escape. Even though I was only in Canada for 4 days, it felt longer because I got to enjoy the experience with some of my closest friends. The scenery was also unbelievable. You don't get to wake up every day and overlook nature and breathe in fresh air in Los Angeles so I really appreciated it. It was a great getaway from the city. I would highly recommend you visit Vancouver or Canada if you get the opportunity.
Tips / FYI
--Canadian customs is taken very seriously. Before you enter Canada you will be heavily questioned. They took my phone at customs and scanned it, which was scary.
--The currency exchange is amazing. $1.00 USD is equivalent to $1.33 Canadian dollar. You basically make money, while spending!
--The rumors are true, Canadians are VERY friendly people.
--Most Canadians don't speak French, but a lot of signage is in French.
--Canadians pronounce "house" like "howouseee." They also say "eh" a lot.
--Alcohol is not sold at grocery stores. To purchase alcohol you must go to liquor store. The legal drinking age in Canada is 19.
--Visit Cactus Club if you're ever in Vancouver. There are tv's in the bathroom stalls.
--You can pay for parking meters through your phone!
--No one drinks their coffee straight black. The Canadian way of ordering a coffee is by ordering a "double double," which is two creams and sugar.
--There are no A/C units in apartments because it never gets extremely hot in Canada.
--Canadian McDonald's is totally different than US McDonald’s, serving up items like Italian Chicken Pesto Sandwiches. Check out the menu. Jealous?
--Maple syrup in Canada is actually the best thing ever. These Maple Cream Cookies are all over the airport and souvenir shops. I made sure to stock up.
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