To celebrate being done another year of school, myself and my travel buddy, Pola (@russian.coffee) headed off to Vancouver for 4 days to enjoy the atmosphere of the city and the beautiful spring weather (which Calgary does not ever experience, so added bonus).
We stayed at the Barclay Hotel Vancouver located bang in the middle of Robson St., which turned out to be the perfect location for us!
The hotel surprised us in how nice it was! Based on the reviews and online photo's, we were not expecting much, but the whole place had an old-world charm with chandeliers hanging in every hallway, brown marble floorings, and tinted-mirror pillars in the lobby. Oh, and the super cute stair-well helped too!
The hotel is not a 5-star place, but it was perfect for 2 twenty-year-olds looking for some adventure!
The room felt scandinavian with its white plaster walls and simple design - but the real focal point was the super cute bared window overlooking green fields and cute apartment buildings.
On top of the cute design, the hotel staff was amazing!
The first day we were in Van we stopped at Whole Foods (another blessing to this world that Calgary does not have) to grab some lunch for a picnic by the marina in Stanley Park. When I travel I always make sure to find a grocery store and grab some food that I can eat cold and keep at the hotel! Pola and I grabbed some chicken-pot-pie for myself and some pulled pork for Pola, a loaf of Italian cheese bread, pasta salad and some dessert (of course), ate what we wanted and kept the rest at the hotel for lunch the next day!
(This is SO much cheaper than eating at a restaurant everyday, and way faster!)
Lots of our trip was spent down by the beach (mostly Sunset Beach Park), and drawing / painting the ocean. Theres just something about the ocean that makes me feel peaceful and alive!
On our walk back from the beach we stopped in for a drink at Timber on Robson, a cute gastro pub down the block from our hotel.
The next day was spent wondering around the Vancouver Art Gallery where I was surprised to find this Robert Rauschenberg collage included in the collection! I'm so in love with all his work and this was an "artist-fan-girl" moment for me.
We wondered down to Granville Island next to check out the market, shops and enjoy the day there!
Day two ended with a visit to Tomokazu for all-you-can-eat sushi - which was an experience! I was not aware that "all you can eat" also meant "eat all you order" and left the ordering to Pola, resulting in have 7 plates of sushi (which we calculated after was roughly 52 pieces of sushi for the two of us to eat).
There were tears, attempting to throw-up and eventually packing sushi into our purses to avoid paying for the left over rolls.
The next morning (after nursing ourselves of being sick from eating more than too much sushi) we got up early and headed out to Horseshoe Bay to caught the ferry to Nanaimo for a day trip!
Immediaetly stepping off the ferry we were both starving, so we walked across the street to Beefeaters, a marina side bistro that had food to die for!
We sat on this patio for a good two hours enjoying the view, the amazing food, our bottle of pino and two desserts (which resulted in a super cute sun burn on the whole left side of my face - worth it though).
Lunch took up most of the afternoon, but it was followed by a small, accidental, hike through Beach Estates Park. This is a small piece of heaven just off the coast of the ocean - this park is completely enclosed from the rest of the world by layers and layers of greenery with a fresh water stream running the length of the park into the ocean, complete with an amazing waterfall at the edge of the park.
After our walk through the park, we wondered over to the beach and sat in the sun for about an hour, enjoying the view of the coast and the warm weather (literally 28-degree's). That concluded our trip to Nanaimo, so we hopped back on the ferry and headed home!
On the way back from the ferry we learned that there is an express bus that does from Downtown West End Vancouver over to Horseshoe Bay (which is on the west edge of North Van) that is about $4.00 per person - the bus ride is 100% worth it; on the way there we coughed up $50.00 in cab fair - lesson learned lol.
Our fourth, and final, day in Vancouver was relaxed and calm - our flight was scheduled for 9:30pm, so we had a whole day before we needed to cab over to the airport and get ready to go home.
We checked out of the Barclay at 11:00am, but they kindly kept our bags for us for the day!
We headed out feeling slightly "homeless" in Van due to not being able to take a mid-day-rest (lol). We stopped at Greenhorn Expresso Bar for a coffee on our way to the beach
We found some sand along Sunset Beach and hung out by the ocean for an hour or so - I wish i lived near the water, there is nothing better then the sound of the water and the salt air.
After the beach, we walked to Gas Town (literally on the opposite side of downtown in our typical fashion) where we had lunch at 131 Kitchen & Bar (and shared a pitcher of sangria) then looked at cute shops and attempted to get Pola a tattoo, which we were unsuccessful because all the parlours in Gas Town didn't have room for us.
One of a Few was the highlight of the cute shops that we visited! I wish I would have ended up with on of their super cute swim suits - but luckily they have an online store! So i'll be shopping with them over the summer!
(My fav word :))) We stopped at Pure Bread for a treat on our walk back to West End - Pure Bread has a huge selection of baked goods, most of which are vegan or dairy free and are made with whole, pure ingredients! Makes eating an entire loaf to myself seem a little better!
To end off the day, and our trip, we rented bikes from Spokes Bike Rental and took a ride on the sea wall in Stanly Park (great idea for a break from walking! lol). This was a beautiful ride - the first leg of the wall is around the marina and then the wall follows open ocean!
Small tip for bikes - the SHAW Mobi bikes are just awful! They are really expensive to rent ($9.50 base rate then $5.00 for every half hour) and the quality of the bikes is sub par. The tires were nearly flat and the chains were just OK. The bikes we rented from Spokes were $8.00 ea for an hour; which was plenty of time to bike the sea wall - the SHAW Mobi bikes would have been 14.50 each, so $30.00 for two of us to rent for the hour - Spokes was $16.00 even to rent for one hour.
Vancouver is just simply beautiful. The trip was reasonably priced (at the end of the day it was around $600.00 to go for 4 days! - that includes hotel, flight food and fun!).
The vibe of the city is calm yet full of energy and there are so many cute and fun things to do and see here - definitely gets my recommendation for a small get away local.
I could have taken up residence here, easily, although thats not really an option right now, so I'll take it as an excuse to come back and visit soon! Can't wait to be back.
To see more of my trip, check out my Insta Highlight "Van" @maggiebowless and check out Pola @russian.coffee.
Comment below your fav places to travel or your fav places in Vancouver!