Thursday, August 18, 2016

Adventuring In Vancouver

If you follow me on social media, then you probably saw that there was MUCH MORE going on last weekend than just a race (although, if you missed my SeaWheeze recap, make sure to check it out and get the nitty gritty about my race experience along with my Sunset Festival recap). Seeing as the run wasn’t a goal race for me (meaning I wasn’t going after a certain time), the hubby and I knew we wanted to make the most out of the weekend that we could. We got in quite a few touristy activities and I thought I would share them in case you were planning on traveling to Vancouver any time soon (whether it be for a future SeaWheeze or just visiting the True North for vacation).

Renting Bikes

We were told that it was difficult to have a car in Vancouver. The parking is astronomical and most of the city is very walking or biking friendly. I will be completely honest that the biking freaked me out a bit because of the craziness of the vehicles, but as long as you obey traffic signals, watch your surroundings and stay in designated bike lanes (there are actually some streets that have bike lanes separate from traffic which is awesome) you can definitely do it safely. 

The views were pretty amazing... And the bike wasn't too ugly either ;) 

We rented bikes from Cycle City Tours on Friday for a ‘half day’, which was 5 hours. We ended up riding 20 miles around town and finished in about 3.5 hours {including plenty o' photo stops, a chip ‘picnic’ and ice cream treat}. It ended up costing us around $45 for the two bikes - which isn’t too terrible, especially because we were able to cover so much more ground than if we were walking and didn’t have to worry about public transportation schedules, cab costs (FYI: As of August 2016 Vancouver does not have Uber, Lyft, etc) or parking of a rental car - not to mention we got in quite the workout and earned our ice cream ;) Cycle City Tours has some awesome self guided tours that you can take (meaning they provide the route and map and send you on your way). Wherever you rent your bikes from, grab a map and always ask for some suggestions from the employees/ locals of 'off the beaten path' adventures you should take. 

Totem poles

A lighthouse around the backside of Stanley Park

Capitola Suspension Bridge Park

If you remember my “SeaWheeze Countdown” post, then you will know the hubby was in Vancouver (specifically Tofino) for a photo shoot last January. Well, he wanted to go to the Capitola Suspension Bridge Park on his last trip and they ran out of time, so he was stoked to put it on our list of adventures. I, on the other hand, was not too thrilled. All of the pictures looked like there were hoards of people and that it was more of a tourist trap (especially at $40 a person). I took one for the team and we made our way to the Park the morning after the race. 

There is a free shuttle offered, which we took and, lucky for us, picked us up right outside of our hotel (I believe there were 5 or 6 pick-up spots before heading out to the park, so if this is something you are interested in doing - check out the free transportation options). Also, when we asked at our hotel about the shuttle they gave us a $3 off coupon for each of us, so it never hurts to ask your concierge if you are staying at a hotel!

We took the first shuffle of the morning (left our hotel around 9:05am). We were hoping to beat the crowds (not to mention we had quite the day of events planned and needed to get an early start), which worked slightly. The ticket line was maybe 4 or 5 deep when we arrived (so I was hopeful that inside would be empty, but that was not the case). 

Walking among the trees

Can you see the lady in the background? So many people were
freaked out when crossing the bridge because it moves and sways.

So much more green than at home!

Look at the crowds of people behind us... I realize it was a weekend, but still... It was a little too busy for my liking.

Sure, the certificates might be for the kids, but who can pass up a
photo op?!
Not me! 

The cliff walk was pretty cool... And a little freaky!

Don’t get me wrong, we still had fun {but, if you couldn’t tell by now, we can have a blast just about anywhere} and it was enjoyable to see the cliffs, walk on the suspension bridge, learn a little history, etc, but at $80 for the two of us, I'd totally skip it. I felt like it was a large scale “Family Robinson TreeHouse” from Disneyland with just as many lines and tourists. In my opinion there are much cooler and cheaper things to spend your time and money on while in Vancouver. 

Grouse Mountain

As I’m sure you are well aware, we are quite the active couple. We would rather be outside enjoying the great outdoors and getting sweaty than sitting in a snazzy restaurant or swanky club (who has non-running clothes to go to those places anyway?!). With that said, I knew the Grouse Grind needed to be on our list of adventures. 

The Grouse Grind is a 2,830 step climbs UP A MOUNTAIN! The trail is a little under 2 miles long, but you gain about 3,000 feet in elevation change. There is a well maintained trail you can take from the bottom to the top (there was even a park official on the trail at one point making sure people were obeying the rules as well as were safe and healthy). Some parts are rocky, while other areas have 4x4s placed into the ground as man-made steps. And with that being said, you can understand why it is often referred to as “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster.”

Maybe jeans wasn't the best idea... But my legs were ready!

It took us one hour and three minutes to get up to the top (which included some photo stops and water breaks). I’ve heard that it can take anywhere from 50ish minutes (if you are cooking) to 2 and a half hours (depending on your athleticism and the number of hikers on the trail). The record is something crazy like 24 minutes, but we were taking it as easy as we could (although we were both drenched within the first 10 minutes if the journey - literally, I was ringing out my shirt and ponytail by the time we made it to the "1/4 way there" sign).

At the top you can flip the cards (sort of like rec basketball) to
tally the time it took you for a picture. 1:03 (and some change)

If hiking isn’t your jam, they do offer a gondola from the base of the mountain up to the top (which you take back down once you reach the top). They really stuff you in like sardines, so in case you are claustrophobic, it’s something to keep in mind. It was $20 to take the gondola down from the top, but if you plan to ride it round trip, expect to pay a bit more. 

Can you see the sweat on my shirt? Yup, not even a quarter of the
way done in this picture!


We heard on the trail that there was a little pastry shop at the top called BeaverTails - with pastries that are a Canadian MUST. Well, sign us up! After sweating through our clothes and getting in quite the workout, we decided we had earned a sweet treat (or three). Hubby went with the Reese’s option (with a Nutella spread) and I decided on Cookies & Cream. They were both super yummy (but oh so sweet!). They also have a grill/ cafeteria and a few other dining options when you get to the top, but since we had to stick to a pretty tight schedule we scarfed our beavertails, grabbed some quick photos and made our way back down the mountain (it’s funny that it only takes the slow moving gondola 4 minutes to cover the same amount of distance as we hiked in a little over an hour, but hey, it was worth the sweat equity!). 

Get in my belly!

Of course Ryan finished mine because it was a little too sweet for me (after I ate the first half or so)

PS There is also a free shuttle to Grouse Mountain, but since we were already at the Capitola Suspension Bridge we ended up taking the city bus (route 236, which was $2.75 in coins) from Capitola to Grouse and then took the free shuttle from Grouse back to the Convention Center.

There is a TON of stuff to do while in Vancouver and we really only scratched the surface on our visit (but I guess that’s what happens when you are technically in town for a racecation). We found a great site called “Bored in Vancouver” - if you're planning on visiting, you should totally check out the website to see other ideas of what to do on your trip.

Do you prefer to "do" on your vacations or "relax"?


Katrina Jean Carter said...

I used to live in Canada for about 6 years before I moved to California. I thought I wouldn't miss it anymore but reading this surely made me miss it. Thanks for making me homesick :( just kidding hehe glad you had a fabulous time! Vancouver is amazing. Do you plan on visiting other parts of Canada as well in the future?

Lauren said...

Great post! Grouse was TOUGH haha. I didn't want to spend $40 on Capilano so I went to the free Lynn Canyon Park instead which has a small suspension bridge. The bridge makes me nervous so I was happy to walk across once (for free!).

Elizabeth said...

That looks like such an amazing time! I love vacations that are "active" where you really get to experience new stuff. Your photos are amazing. Glad you had so much fun.