Welcome to this week’s Postcard From – the feature where I chat to some lucky explorer about their recent travels. If you would like to take part please get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org or @em_luxton – I would love to hear from you!
This week, I’m really excited to be welcoming back the lovely Julie Cao who has taken part in Postcard From a few times before, and is finally sending me one from her current home country of Canada! After completing her master’s degree in Windsor Ontario in August 2014, Julie spent two weeks venturing out to Canadian Rockies and British Columbia to explore the beauty of the Canadian west. She also decided to continue her adventure in South America over the next two years. To learn more about her past travels and adventures, please visit her blog at Always On the Way.
Welcome back Julie! Tell us about your recent trip…
I stayed in Vancouver for a week as a part of my graduation trip. I fancy the city and constantly believe it lives up to the reputation of one of the world’s most liveable cities. Water is in sight everywhere. The city also features a romantic atmosphere during rainy days, especially when you hold a coffee while walk down the street on a hazy morning. The locals are super active and sportive, constantly jogging and cycling irrespective of the climate, and they take advantage of the serene waters. There are multiple parks, beaches, hiking trails, cycling place, museums, and restaurants throughout the city.
That sounds gorgeous! So, how was the weather?
Four words: rain, rain and rain…. It was raining half the time when I was there. It rained especially hard during my day trip to the Capilano Suspension Bridge. My tour guide took us on a detour through the Trans-Canada trail, and I was soaking wet after spending four hours trekking through the rainforest on that day. Apparently, fall and winter is not a good season to visit Vancouver if you do not like rain.
As a Brit I’m used to the rain, but maybe a visit during summer would be best! Did you have somewhere nice to shelter from the wet weather?
I stayed at Hostel International Downtown Vancouver close to Davis Street. The hotel features free day tours to the major attractions around the city. Restaurants, grocery stores, bus stops, and English Bay are all within walking distance.
Perfect! Did you manage to see much of the city with all that rain?
I visited English Bay, Stanley Park, the Aquarium, Granville Island, the Capilano Suspension Bridge, the University of British Columbia, China Town, and hiked part of the Trans Canada Trail (the world’s longest network of recreational trails). Each aforementioned site has lots to offer and even a day tour is not enough to see it all.
What was your highlight?
The highlight of my trip was the day I spent at Stanley Park. I signed up for a free day tour in Stanley Park, and only two guests (including myself) joined this trip so it was a sort of personalized tour for me. We walked around the botanical gardens, smelt the flowers, and relaxed on the waterfront. On the way, I also visited Vancouver Aquarium seeing a list of interactive shows from dolphins, belugas, and critters. The finale of the trip was a two-hour relaxed walk along The Sea Wall where I had the opportunity to spot and interact with two baby racoons – they were running around and playing hide-and-seek with me. At the end of my trip, I realized that I did not see the park entirely, but I loved the serenity and the diversity of the park. Simply, it is a place I would love to explore if I had a return trip.
Sounds awesome – especially the aquarium! I love sea life! So how was the food in Vancouver?
I could extend my trip to Vancouver just for the scrumptious food scene. I prefer Asian food and I found ramen, sushi, pai thai, salmon and rice everywhere. The laksa in Banana Leafs on Davis Street is one of the best laksa I have ever had. For true and delicious Chinese food, you absolutely must visit Richmond. It has a night market and multiple Chinese restaurants that are well catered for the Chinese population.
Can you recommend any unusual or quirky things to do in the city?
Each year, The Word Vancouver, a primary literacy festival particularly designed for Canadian bookworms and literature enthusiasts, brings the literature of Canada, talented writers and artists, and an engaging audience together to share ideas and engage in brilliant presentations. If you are in the city at the end of September 2015, then you definitely have to check out this literacy festival to reignite your passion for printed literacy.
Wow! I love literature so a literacy festival sounds right up my street. Added to the wish-list! Speaking of literature: what’s your favourite travel read?
I often read “The Great Canadian Bucket List” whenever I travel across Ontario and Canada. The book is an honest account of Robin Esrock’s travel experience throughout ten provinces and four territories in Canada.
Perfect, good tip! Do you have any other great advice for anyone headed for Vancouver?
Vancouver is one of the most expensive cities in Canada, but the food is always tasty and worth the price. There are hostels equipped with a large kitchen, but there is a possibility that you will not need it often to make your own food. Fantastic restaurants exist in every twist and turn, and one cannot resist the temptation of the pretty decent seafood and a meat plate.
Additionally, if you travel to Vancouver in winter and have extra days to spare, take a short trip to Whistler, a winter Olympic town with fantastic mountain scenery. Be sure to enjoy the peak to peak Gondola, mountain ski, and mountain biking at the Blackcomb.
Ok, last question! What do you love most about travelling?
The loveliest part about travelling is when I woke up in a new place without knowing anyone. The spirit of adventure prompts me to explore and I am just so happy to get away from my daily routines.
NB – all images are owned by Julie Cao
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