Vancouver, BC | Travel Photographer
If you know anything about me, you probably know that traveling is my top priority and favorite thing to do. My husband, Jason, started nursing school this winter, so it was prevalent that we take a vacation (just the two of us) before he started. We didn't realize this at the time, but this was kind of like our second honeymoon. We married in the Bahamas, so we honeymooned in the Bahamas (Nassau and Exuma). This time we just wanted to explore, see a different side of the world, and be present. Our big city for this trip? Vancouver, BC!
Let's start this blog talking about how much of a wreck our first leg of the trip was. I don't think I have ever cried this much in an airport, but the sweet lady at Delta made our travel plans so much better. As you can tell, Jason and I just got married. Along with getting married comes changing your name and every single piece of material that has your maiden name. I updated my passport, my bank cards, social security and literally everything else that you could think of--I changed it. The day of our flight from RDU to LGA we show up around 4:30am (our flight left at 6am).
To my surprise, I could not get on that flight because I booked through Travelocity with my maiden name. These tickets were purchased just a month after I married, and I was currently in the process of changing my name, but this one fell through the cracks. Of course, Travelocity could not help us in changing my name (we were suppose to do this in advance--not the day of). The lovely lady, Shawna, at Delta worked her magic and found some other flights to take to get to Vancouver, unfortunately we had to pay out of pocket for these tickets. I am very thankful that she could pull some strings and change my name on the reservation. After hours of figuring out how to change the reservation--we were finally en route to Canada. Thank God! My best advice for you that travel would be to either have a travel agent, or just be on top of every single detail prior to departing.
Our first leg of the trip we stayed in the cutest of places, Squamish. Squamish is about an hour and a half from the big city of Vancouver. It's amazing how much the weather changes when you only travel a little further north. To get here we rented a car, a cute little Kia Rio, and traveled the beautiful Sea to Sky Highway. Now, once you are on this highway you have to be careful. Traveling north you have the gorgeous mountains to your right, and a breathtaking view of the bay to the left (with pops of mountains just hanging out sporadically in the bay itself). It was one of the prettiest things I had ever seen. I was so thankful that Jason was driving as I could not stop looking at our surroundings.
Once we arrived in Squamish it was snowing. We checked in to our lovely campsite, which we found via AirBnB, and just enjoyed the breathtaking views. The place we stayed at is called Mountain Fun Base Camp. Out of all of the places we stayed at, this was our favorite. It was not just the views that made us love this one more, it had more to do with the people who ran the space. We lucked up and booked a room with a triangle roof, beautiful large windows, a king size bed, and lush greenery located right outside with the sweetest of snow on every branch. This place was magical!
The people who ran this gave us great tips to where to go for the best views of Squamish. Although we had two feet of snow at the time, we drove our little Kia Rio as far as we could and walked the rest of the way to these local hot spots so we could see these views. I am not going to lie, this was probably my favorite day in Canada. There is something about going on a strangers directions, walking in two feet of snow, and then getting bombarded with the best sites your eyes could see. It was nervewrecking, exhausting, and extremely cold, but so worth it.
We also visited beautiful Whistler! If you keep up with the Olympics then you would know that this town held the 2010 Winter Olympics. Seriously, this place looks like a Christmas town. We only spent one day here, but we made the best of that entire day!
Let's talk about getting to Whistler, first. Kia Rio, remember? Not a good idea to trek up a mountain with a crazy snow blizzard, but that thing chugged it up the entire way without a hitch! Other than mini panic attacks, myself and not Jason, it was a beautiful drive. The snow would not let up and we could not see more than maybe 100 feet in front of us. Jason was such a beast driving, and he felt like he did a great job, but I kept thinking "oh my God, this is how we are going to die."
After about an hour and a half of me shutting my eyes and praying to all of the gods, we arrived in this quaint Christmas town. Two feet of snow, every single tree adorned in lights and ornaments, a huge mountain of snow for sledding, and rows and rows of houses with snow capped roofs. I don't think we had ever seen anything as pretty as this. It was literally like being in a movie. We spent the day taking in the scenes, wandering through the thick wooded forests, bouncing in and out of the small shops, and trekking through the thickest prettiest snow. I kept thinking this place would have made my mom cry as it was that jaw dropping.
After the few days spent in Whistler and Squamish, we started our trek heading back south to the actual city of Vancouver. Our next stop was Lions Bay, BC! From photos online we knew we were in for a treat, but we really did not know the extent. We stayed in an another adorable Airbnb high enough on the mountain that we could look out over the bay and see gatherings of mountains peaking out of the water. Being from the east coast, this was unbelievable to see. Lions Bay cornered a small ferry town of Horseshoe Bay, a town that Jason and I thoroughly enjoyed getting lost in. Some of the best views were buried in to our memories here. Imagine huge snow covered mountains hovering over the bluest of clear bays that held bouyant sailboats awaiting their next big sail. It was magical, romantic, and invigorating. The houses surrounding the town were adorable, they had the best tea house-- Butter Lane Bake Shop, on the main strip with the cutest of tea cups, and just a ton of nice locals. Jason and I give Hoseshoe Bay and Lions Bay 4 thumbs up. If you want to feel inspired, seek this place out. Trust me, it gave me so much inspiration--some of which you will see soon enough within my company.
If you are planning on visiting the area please for the love of God visit the restaurant Olive & Anchor. Jason and I were lost one night, in need of some really good food as we spent all day walking taking in the sights, and stumbled across this restaurant parrallel to the bay. Thankfully, we did not need a reservation, but I would highly suggest one for a later date. In our past lives Jason and I were servers, so we really appreciate a server on their a-game, but not too much in your business at the table; sort of anticipating when the right time is best to approach the table again. It's a skill. Our server had us, and we so wanted to give her a high five for a job well done. The menu was exquisite! Chef Lisa Kim put her heart and soul in to this menu, taking in Asian and coastal features for a completely leveled mashup of all ingredients. This is something I had never experienced before, and she did this so well. To give you a taste of what we experienced--here is what we ordered that gave our mouths an explosion of all things heavenly.
Appetizer--Korean Fried Chicken Wings: House-made Korean sweet and chili glaze, crushed cashews, sesame seeds, and green onion.
Nikki's entree-- Hot Stone Korean Bibimbop: Goggie beef, sunny side fried egg, brown rice, cucumber sunomono, zucchini, bean sprouts, Gochujang hot paste, and sesame seeds.
Jason's entree-- Chicken Tikka Masala: Chicken breast, garam masala, brown rice, onion, green beans, spinach, red pepper, sesame seeds, cucumber raita, pear chutney, and papadum.
Dessert-- Brandy-Raisin Bread Pudding: Fresh fruits, vanilla ice cream. <-- this was the absolute best, hands down.
For the full Olive and Anchor dinner menu please click here.
Although our visit to Lions Bay and Horseshoe Bay was short, it did not go unnoticed. The images that developed from this area have to be some of my all time favorites, but they are also countered with sweet memories of my husband and I in the cute little towns. We headed further south and our last leg of the trip was spent in Vancouver! It's such a little hipster city! We had so much fun and was definitely a great way to end the trip before we headed back to North Carolina!
You can see a trend, we stayed in a downtown Vancouver Airbnb. We can't help it, we are so millennial! For this key retrieval process we had to go to a Key Cafe, which was completely new to Jason and I, but so genius! I hope North Carolina can use this in the near future! In order to retrieve your key for your airbnb, office, or rental property, you go to these "key cafes" which is just a little box in some place of business, either a Seven Eleven, or coffee place, type in the address provided, and out pops a key. What?! We were impressed to say the least.
Our place sat pretty right on top of a weed convenience store. I cant make this up. We had no idea it was even legal. Our place was right down the strip of what seemed like a mashup of Nashville, TN, and New Orleans, LA. It was weird, but also so intriguing. There was a ton of neon lights, and I can't lie, I gravitated towards the buildings with the big flashy lights. Here are a few things we noticed in Vancouver:
- Inside the Nordstrom store was a full on bar. Like, they served alcohol. Genius.
- When you are pumping gas you don't have to be on the same side as your gas tank. The gas handle is on some sort of bungee cord and can literally swing over to the other side of your car. Genius.
- Hockey games are always on tv, no matter where you are in the city. Genius.
- Bowling is not like it is in America. There are half as many pins and the bowling balls are the size of your palm. This is perfect for me, but Jason was thrown off his a-game. Small hands for the win. Genius.
- Who we consider as Native Americans are called Indigenous People. There is a huge community, a lot of education about them, and a plethora of drop dead gorgeous artwork that their community makes.
- Huge gay community! This made my husband and I so happy! One night we had Indian food in the "gay" part of town, and it was the prettiest part of Vancouver we had come to see. I love pink neon, just saying.
- Canadians are funny. Way funnier than Americans. An example, we went past a strip joint on our way back to the apartment and written on the marquee was "NYE party cancelled. Thanks alot, Ben." On the flanking side it also mentioned "no, you can't tip with bitcoin." Ah, Canada. We love your humor.
- People are just really nice.
All in all, I feel as though this was the perfect trip for Jason and I. One, we really enjoyed the area, the people it hosted, and the views. Two, it was all just sort of magical. My best advice if you are planning on traveling to the western part of Canada, don't spend too much time googling everything there is to do. The best parts of our trip were impromptu, taking in the beauty, learning from locals, and just being present with the surroundings. Google maps and TripAdvisor can't help you feel that sort of feeling. Just take it in, turn off your phone, and hold hands with your significant other. It's worth it. Let's enjoy the life we have.