Have you ever tried being a tourist in your own city? I’ve dreamt of pretending to be an out-of-towner in Vancouver for as long as my brain could sustain a thought. Recently, I achieved this ‘bucket list’ item. In fact, I’m positive this is a trend that both Devon & I will upkeep for years.
If you’ve visited us trekkers before and have read a post titled ‘Urban Jungle’, then you’re aware that I am a natural born Vancouverite. We are rare, people. In truth, Vancouver is such the city that most inhabitants are of the transplanted variety. Such imports come here for school, to visit friends/family and eventually plant roots. Actually finding someone with legitimate west coast DNA here is not unlike playing ‘Where’s Waldo’- Vancouver Edition ©.
I’m not a huge fan of planning, and this is no secret. Planning for a trip is essential and therefore a must. However, in my daily goings on I prefer to eschew hard plans and lean toward the softer kind. It is for this reason that I am huge on random. The more abstract the idea, the more I’m inclined to join in.
This past summer, around Canada Day (July 1st), it was a typical long-weekend. Devon & I spend a lot of time with my cousin, Stephen, for multiple reasons. He’s a raw/whole food fan, is hyper-outdoorsy and easy going. Devon & I invited Stephen on a bit of an errand adventure. Devon was nursing a hangover, and after having a particularly unfortunate incident occur on the Sunshine Coast the very same weekend… enjoying some down time with the über-Zen Stephen was just the right dose of medicine.
Stephen joined up with us while we were in downtown Vancouver. Our mission on this particular day was to find a new pair of flip-flops and a replacement bead for her Tragus piercing (relax parental units… that’s the Darwin’s Point cartilage in your ear). We needed to be downtown to secure a spot in an upscale hair salon in the Davie Village, for this was also hair cut day. Hair cuts are monumental for Devon because she usually gets one annually. If you’ve been following our blog for a while, you might have seen a trend in all of Devon’s photos. She rarely has her hair down. It’s almost always in a pony tail/bump style thingy which is then hidden under either a toque or a ball cap. Because of the infrequency of Devon’s shearing, she almost always has 10 inches shorn and donates this to Locks of Love. This is one of the many reasons why I heart her so… her compassion and thoughtfulness toward those in need.
Naturally lunch was in order after such an ordeal for her. So Devon, Stephen & I did what anyone looking for a good meal in our fine province would do. We hit the Spot. White Spot, that is. If you’re planning a trip here or coming here on business, do yourself a favour and eat at White Spot, home of the Legendary Burger Platter, with Triple O sauce. (Don’t worry; they have fantastic vegan/vegetarian options.)
After chowing down on excellent grub, we quickly found our various sundries and decided on a whim that today was the day we were going on one of the many tours around Vancouver. Since there are so many of these tours, it wasn’t hard to spot a bus, a Big Bus in fact, find their website and phone them for the details. The downtown core can be intimidating for those who aren’t familiar with it, but this wasn’t an issue for us. We made our way through downtown Vancouver and ended up in Gastown. This is a huge tourist spot and one of the first neighbourhoods established.
After paying our fees, waiting for and boarding the bus, we were off on our very first tour of the city. I didn’t mind the tour at all; our driver was alert and light footed which is what I look for when I pay someone to drive for me whilst I gaze out the windows and snap pictures at the attractions. The entire tour is 90 minutes in length, baring traffic of course. We three were surprised to find the stories and anecdotes of the city were piped through a speaker system rather than a guide actually gesticulating à la one-man theatre troupe. Perhaps if the roof of the bus weren’t removed and the speakers were set louder than the din that is downtown traffic, we would have heard more about this great city. I would have preferred a more personable, interactive tour, but this just leaves the door open for us to go on another tour altogether. We were left wanting more bang for our buck. You do pay a pretty penny for this one. (And yes, we’re aware that it’s hard to take the economical crisis serious when you hear the stock market say such gems as ‘the loonie is down’.)
It’s pretty hard to be a tourist in your own back yard, but I think we gave it the old college try. I was hoping for something more historical, instead of, well… touristy. I’m in no way slamming the company who provided the tour. This particular tour drives through the heart of the money district in downtown Vancouver. They show you such places as The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, which features swanky stores in the lobby such as Louis Vuitton & Gucci. The hotel itself has an impressive history and if you can afford it, I encourage you to go there at least once. Also on the route is Granville Island, one of my personal favourite places in the city. However, this tour simply takes you to the streets that access Granville Island (which is man-made) and doesn’t actually go on the island itself. This is probably a smart move since both traffic and parking is atrocious there. Still, if you’re in town you should find the time to visit the Public Market. Exceptional produce and a multitude of sights and sounds. The Kids Market is all kinds of fun for any child of any age, myself included. There are numerous famous and historical sites that this tour takes you on. Stanley Park is where I spent my Sundays as a child, feeding the squirrels with my family and helping my younger cousins learn their French terms for school (Qu’est ce que c’est?). Also shown is the Olympic Torch from the 2010 Winter Olympics, which was our nation’s finest medal showing on native soil. I could ramble on about the other locations, but really… come see for yourself. There is such a selection to choose from in Vancouver that every district/neighbourhood should have its own tailored tour. Maybe they do. I will continue taking random tours. I’m hoping to learn something I did not know about this stunning city I proudly call home.
Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends and family! 🙂
I plan on having a much needed staycation in Porta My Yarda this weekend.