British Columbia Trip: Vancouver, Part I

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Eric and I agreed to a laid back celebration for our wedding anniversary a couple weeks ago. Homemade cards and a home cooked meal sounded perfect, we had said. I whipped up a killer meal and we were just about in heaven stuffing ourselves silly.

Eric kept asking me when we could open our cards.

“How about at the end of the night?”

“You don’t want to just open them now…? I can’t wait for you to see my card!!!”

“Really? Mine is nothing to write home about…”

After dinner, and more pestering by Eric, we finally opened the cards.

My card was taped closed and it read: “TOP SECRET! Do not open!!!”

Amused, I carefully pulled off the tape so I could open the card. Eric watched in anticipation. The inside of the card read: “We’re going to British Columbia!!!” along with printed pictures of Vancouver, Victoria, and Whistler pasted all over the card. There was a road map with dates and everything all plotted out!

It was just about one of the best surprises I’ve ever had. Tears welled up in my eyes as I lurched across the couch to hug him silly.

We talked about going to B.C. earlier in the summer, but we were both too busy to take time off. I just gave up on the idea and hoped we’d make it next year. Little did I know, Eric was planning this trip for weeks, staying up late at night to plan while I slept. He researched, booked the hotels, read up on restaurants, and planned a few things to do in each city.

“Wait, there’s one condition!! You have to agree to a few things I’ve planned…”

“Ok?”

“Zip-lining, cliff walking, and suspension bridges!”

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There’s always a catch!

So here we are, two weeks later, enjoying a wonderful time in the beautiful British Columbia. Can you believe it’s my first time in BC? Eric has only been to Vancouver once on a business trip, but didn’t get to explore much at all. We’re staying in Vancouver first, and soon off to Victoria and Whistler. I’ve passed two challenges with flying colours, although I’m quite scared for the 5 zip-lines I’ll be flying down in Whistler!! If I live to tell you about it, you’ll be hearing about it soon!

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Here is a short summary of what we’ve been up to in Vancouver:

1. Hotel: Carmana Plaza

– Condo-style. Comes with complete full kitchen. Great if you like making breakfast or lunch in your own room before heading out. We’re on the 29th floor in a premium suite and have a great view (see above pics). Free wi-fi. Cons: The bed isn’t very comfy, it takes a long time for things to be brought up to the room, and parking is expensive and difficult to locate. The location of the hotel is great though and we’re literally steps from all the shopping on Robson. See detailed room pics in album.

2. Capilano suspension bridge and park

A fun, touristy park that features a suspension bridge, cliff walking, treetop walking, and gorgeous scenery. I have a ton of pics from the trip – so be sure to check them out in the album!

3. Granville Island

This is a must-see! There are all kinds of artsy shops, including a large indoor public market. It was absolutely packed when we went on a Friday, off-season, so get there early as parking can be tricky to find.

4. Shopping

Our hotel is steps to a lot of great shopping on Robson and surrounding areas.

5. Exploring Gastown, Kitsilano, Yaletown districts. Be warned – navigating the city is tricky for a tourist!!

6. Food highlights include Nuba (a lovely Lebanese restaurant), Naam (a 24 hour vegetarian restaurant with huge portions and line-ups), Samosas at Buddha-Full, smoothies and juices throughout the city. Acorn restaurant is still on the list too.

Still planned?

Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge

Photography of cityscapes

Stanley Park

Anything we’re missing?

If you’re interested in seeing what we’ve been up to so far in Vancouver, here’s an album I put together below! [Apologies in advance for the uneven formatting – something wonky is going on.]

More to come soon…

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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

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Heather Boley November 28, 2014

I am so glad that while you were in Vancouver you got to NAAM! One of my fave places to eat… and if you make it next time you have to go to Gorilla Food!! Raw Vegan and super delicious food!!! I’m no longer living in BC, can’t complain, I live in Playa del Carmen, Mexico now. But I do miss the Vegan conveniences of back home dining at times. If you ever take a vacation here you must check out a local little place called La Senda…. You will simply love it!!! Thanks for always posting such interesting blogs! :)

xo

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Sharon @ Bit of the Good Stuff September 23, 2012

Happy belated anniversary Angela! That has got to be the most amazing anniversary present ever! Way to go Eric! ;)

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Kimberley September 20, 2012

Welcome to Vancouver!

Do the Grouse grind and enjoy the mountain afterwards! Up top they have a cute lumberjack show and Grinder and Coola, the resident grizzly bears, are fun to visit. The gondola ride back down is pretty cool too.

If it’s a hot day when you’re at Lynn Canyon, take a dip in the 30ft pool. It’s mountain run-off water, so it’s like a summer polar bear swim. It feels so good on a really hot day!
http://lynncanyon.ca/30-foot-pool.html

Another good hike is the Chief in Squamish, on your way up to Whistler. It’s a lovely mountain hike with breathtaking views at the top, especially if you go all the way to the 3rd peak. http://www.vancouvertrails.com/trails/stawamus-chief/

I would recommend a stop at the aquarium, too.

Have a wonderful trip!

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Janine September 20, 2012

So excited to see you have made it to Vancouver and Victoria and I hope your stay is a wonderful, exciting and romantic one.
This thread is chock full of amazing food ideas and yes NAAM is sooooo good.
Some other activity ideas would be:
The Bloedel Conservatory at QE Park, http://vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/bloedel-conservatory.aspx (Vancouver) gorgeous views
The Museum of Anthropology, http://moa.ubc.ca/ (Vancouver)
Jericho Beach to see the array of wild bunnies (near Kitsilano, Vancouver)
BRACKENDALE EAGLES PROVINCIAL PARK, in Squamish, you can visit the Watershed Grill on the river front and watch the eagles fly around

Have a great time in Whistler and enjoy Ziplining. The air is so pure up there that Lichen actually grows on the trees.

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Sherisse September 20, 2012

If you want an awesome burrito, check out this place: http://bandidastaqueria.com/ They have vegan options (such as daiya cheese) and vegan desserts. I went there for my birthday and got the Stella burrito, delicious!

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Christabel September 20, 2012

Those pictures of downtown Vancouver are stunning (as well as the rest of them!) and really capture Vancouver’s beauty. I am so glad I live in Seattle and can visit beautiful Vancouver easily. It’s my favorite city after my home.

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Kayleigh September 19, 2012

You have to go to Gorilla Food at Richards and Pender! Amaazzinnggg raw food!

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Jennifer September 18, 2012

Angela, for a hike, I vote for the Stawamus Chief, just south of Squamish, over the Grouse Grind. The Chief will be less busy and more of a wilderness experience and the views from the top are jaw dropping spectacular. Don’t let the photos of the ladder and chains or the cliffs scare you off. My personal preference is the Centre Summit (2nd peak). I think the views are a bit better than for the 1st peak. If you have plenty of time you could go on to the 3rd peak, but you won’t really be missing anything if you don’t. You’ll need to pack a lunch. Effort:reward ratio is great! The Grind is okay, but be prepared for a major heart pounding sweat-fest.

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Jennifer September 18, 2012

I live in Victoria and thought I would send some recommendations… I see most have said the same as me but maybe that will make you think they are even more delicious haha! I definitely recommend Cafe Bliss. So delicious! They have great juices and delicious food! Mole is great as well for breakfast/brunch. Rebar is another great option. My sister cooks there so I love to go get my fill of veg food! Sarah’s Place in Market Square is super cute too! She has a bunch of different things in her store. Lotus Pond is another vegan restaurant that we go to occasionally. It is chinese food and has some delicious faux meat options that I have tricked many a non vegan into loving that place! At lunch they have a buffet that is by weight so it’s a nice time to try a little of everything but seriously it’s delicious! Dallas Road, Ogden Point, and the inner harbor are great places to walk around! For hikes you could try Mt Finlayson it’s a little tricky but not too bad! Mt Doug is a nice easy hike and can actually drive up it and get some nice pictures of the whole city. There… I rambled. Enjoy Victoria!

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Kristin September 17, 2012

Yay BC! Your in my hood Angela, haha! I wanted to go to Acorn this week, please mention how it is in a post if you go there :). Foundation on main st is also very good, lots of hipsters and not fancy by anymeans, but great vegetarian/vegan food!

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Michelle {LiveLoudly} September 17, 2012

Welcome! welcome welcome to Vancouver.
What a cute surprise for your anniversary – surprises (especially trips) are always the best.
I would highly recommend walking, running, biking, or rollerblading the seawall (stanley park). It’s always a favourite of mine. You can make some pit stops along the way too. My favourite is the Aquarium in the middle of the park.
Hope you guys have a wonderful time!
-Michelle {LiveLoudly}

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Heather September 17, 2012

I just moved to Vancouver 6 months ago to study holistic nutrition and there are more vegan and gluten-free food options here than anywhere I’ve EVER been! It’s amazing! If you can, you must check out Aphrodite’s Cafe and Pie Shop. http://www.organiccafe.ca/ They have a huge selection of the BEST vegan and g-free pies in the world! A bit pricey, soooo well worth it! All their ingredients are organic and locally sourced where possible. ALSO – Edible Flours is an wonderful little vegan bakery on West Broadway. The gluten free, vegan cinnamon bun rocks my world! http://www.edibleflours.ca/ ENJOY your trip!!! BC is an endless land of beauty, fun, discovery, and over the top of yum food! :)

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Katie September 17, 2012

The Naam is definately a winner! If you didn’t have their gravy and fries the first visit, go back and get some! Their gravy is the best thing ever – and I don’t usually like gravy (or fries)! They also sell it in bottles, but I was thwarted in my stashing due to carry-on restrictions …

A fancier restaurant to try is Vij’s (parent restaurant) or Vij’s Rangoli (second restaurant and market – more casual) (http://www.vijs.ca/). They are owned by Vikram Vij, and are Indian restaurants. Vikram Vij is frequently on the Food Network, has been a judge on Top Chef Canada, and is also a regular columinist with Globe and Mail. The restaruants themselves have been highly praised by Mark Bittman, featured at James Beard galas, and even on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations! His cooking philosophy eschews fusion, trying to keep it as Indian as possible, and aims for sustainable, local ingredients.

Enjoy Vancouver (and area)! The zipline at Whistler will be a lifetime memory – there is nothing like it!

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Jenny September 17, 2012

Heyyy! You finally made your way to beautiful BC, more specifically Vancouver. 8D I hope you get a chance to check out Aphrodite’s – they offer vegan and GF dining options and have great food. (They’re in Kitsilano!) If you’re up for a challenge, try the Grouse Grind, if you haven’t already. :) I agree with another commenter that mentioned Commercial Drive – there are plenty of good places to eat along that road, and it’s also quite “funky”. Definitely keep with your plan to check out Stanley Park – maybe go around the Seawall at a leisurely pace on a pair of rented bicycles?

Have fun! Vancouver is a lovely city at this time of the year. :)

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Ashley Elaine September 17, 2012

I’m sure lots of people have mentioned this already – but if you’re a fitness lover, you gotta hike the Grouse Grind! Then explore Grouse Mountain at the top!

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Ashley Elaine September 17, 2012

And for eats: Gorilla Food, Bandidas, The Foundation, East is East (mmm!), Aphrodites.

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Lauren @ Oatmeal after Spinning September 17, 2012

How amazing of your husband!! Wow!!
My honeymoon last year included 2 days in Victoria and 2 days in Vancouver. Stanley Park is a must! Rent bikes!
My favorite thing we did was hike Grouse Grind. It was incredible (and pretty darn challenging!)- that would definitely be my #1 thing to do in Vancouver. Capilano was pretty cool too- but anything after Grouse Grind just didn’t measure up. :)

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paula September 17, 2012

What a great surprise!!
when you are in victoria a great thing to do is whale watching, this is really amazing. Also a wonderful yummy place to eat is called Rebar…fantastic food vegetarian and vegan food. You can also purchase their cookbook there…totally worth it. Have a great trip.

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Sarah September 17, 2012

Hi Angela
I just moved back to Australia after living in Vancouver!
You must do The Grouse Grind and hike The Chief (at Squamish, on the way to Whistler). There is the BEST view from the top of the Chief! It is not that hard, despite what the website and people might say. Jog or bike around Stanley park of course.
I really enjoyed eating at East is East (which is on W Broadway at Kitsilano and there is another one on Main St but I never went there) – The Gypsy Roti Roll is delish! There is a place in Gastown called “Meat & Bread” which probably won’t suit you but just putting it out there that they have THE BEST sandwiches I’ve ever had. Breakfast at Cafe Medina in Yaletown is a must as well. If you are looking for a cheap meal, Fresh Bowl is yummy, just ask for no meat and they will give you extra veggies! And like what another reader said, Urban Fare is a must (2 locations in town and another one down in Yaletown) – as is Wholefoods (not sure if you have that where you live?).
I am so hungry just writing this.
Have fun!

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Marina September 17, 2012

Welcome to Vancouver. You should try Organic Lives located on Granville and Hastings or on 2nd and Quebec. They have some great raw vegan food. There is also a raw vegan place called Gorilla Food on Richards and Pender. Nuba is delicious! I was just there last night.

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Natasha Kay September 17, 2012

Victoria is our hometown and Tatomme (above) is totally right about Rebar and Lady Marmalade. But Pagliacci’s (or Pag’s, as we call it), although delicious, is totally NOT vegan-friendly! Nor is it calorie-friendly! ;)

But if you want my fave hot spots, hit up lower Pandora Street and in a matter of 20 feet, you’ve got:

– a late breakfast at Mole (http://www.molerestaurant.ca)
– espresso next door at Habit (http://habitcoffee.com)
– an AMAZING cashew chocolate milkshake (vegan!) at Cafe Bliss (http://www.cafebliss.ca)

Finally, if you’re looking for the most amazing gluten-free baked goods, there’s only one place in all of Victoria — Origins Bakery (http://www.originbakery.com)

Have fun!

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Shannon September 16, 2012

Very cool you are here! I love hearing what a vegan tourist has to say.
There was an article printed in a local paper last week you may find interesting http://m.straight.com/s?fid=22&a=775676&f=latest&s=60
It’s top 5 vegan choices from Vancouver food trucks. I can’t wait to try them all! Also tons of choices on Commercial Drive.
Enjoy the rest of your trip!

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Stephanie @ Legally Blinde September 16, 2012

WOW, those pictures of the view from your hotel room are absolutely stunning. I keep scrolling back up to stare at them, haha. What a sweet surprise – that was so thoughtful of Eric! I’m super impressed that he was able to keep it a secret and did all of the planning himself. Thanks for sharing your pictures – looking forward to hearing/ seeing more of your adventure :) Enjoy!!

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Florence September 16, 2012

Wow- My heart hurts too looking at those pictures…of the city I spent 10+ years in and my kids were born in Squamish. We moved to Atlanta two years ago..
Enjoy, soak it up and congrats- you have an incredible husband! What a team you guys make. Looks like from what I saw everyone has made amazing suggestions, don’t think I saw Onatah Coffee Shop though- they are in Squamish and make a wonderful pitstop on the way to Whistler. you will really need some yummy nutritious fuel if you climb the Chief when you pull into Squamish- it only takes about 1-2 hrs depending.

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Evie September 16, 2012

Welcome to Vancouver! Definitely check out Dr. Sun Yat Sun Garden. It’s not too big but a lovely experience going through a traditional Chinese garden in the city. It’s nearby Stadium Chinatown Skytrain Station. And Stanley Park is really nice too! There is also a horse drawn carriage that goes around the park and an aquarium in the center.

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Brigitte September 16, 2012

hey welcome to our neck of the woods. Sounds like you are really enjoying yourselves. If you want a hike with scenic rewards try the Grouse Grind. Hike up ride down… enjoy

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Connie the Cookie Monster September 16, 2012

omg youre in my hometown!!!!! welcome to vancouver!

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Georgia September 16, 2012

Also, have you biked around Stanley Park yet? That is a classic must-do for downtown.

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Georgia September 16, 2012

Yay! you are visiting my hometown! Two things to do on the North Shore: Go to Deep Cove on and either hike up to Quarry Rock or rent a kayak and go for a paddle. Be sure to stop at Honey’s Donuts (although maybe not vegan?). Also Grouse Mountain! Hike up the Grind then enjoy the view over the city (you can visit the bears, have a drink at the restaurant then take the gondola back down).

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Emily @ Greens, Eggs, & Hamstrings September 16, 2012

My home city – and guess what? I am in Toronto right now! If you like sushi – go to Yamato on Davie St. They have the most amazing deals and it’s sooo good! Artigiano’s coffee is also amazing (multiple locations around the city). The Naam is really good! I have never done the Capilano Suspension Bridge!

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Amy September 16, 2012

I live in Victoria! This is so exciting that you will be here! My friend actually texted me saying that she thought she saw you! I guess she did :) Maybe I will see you around! I’ll be sure to say “hi” if I do! Don’t forget to check out Rebar while you’re here!!

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Morgan September 16, 2012

I’m so jealous! My husband and I went to those three cities on our honeymoon 2 years ago, and we would love to go back! Check out the aquarium in Stanley Park, Butchart Gardens and tea time at the Empress in Victoria, and the Peak to Peak in Whistler. Enjoy!

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Lilian September 16, 2012

You should totally try “the foundation” vegan restaurant in East Van! I’ve been craving their food since I’ve moved down to LA. *tear*

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Lucent Imagery September 16, 2012

What a wonderful surprise! Happy anniversary. My husband and I are approaching our 5th wedding anniversary and after initially thinking we would stay home or just go to a restaurant, we’re very excited with our new plans. I adore Vancouver and have been lucky to visit twice all the way from Australia. One of my favourite days is when we walked the circumference of the city from gastown past Yaletown around to Stanley Park. Just a beautiful waterfront walk. I agree that Granville Island is inspiring with all that food!

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christina September 16, 2012

I went to Vancouver at the end of July and I suggest the Grouse Grind (a pretty intense hike… picture a million and five steps carved into a mountain with very little breaks in the vertical climb), Savoury Island bakery/cafe, ziplining in Whistler (for extra excitement, ask the guides to teach your or Eric how to zip over the river upside down!!), walking along the seawall and/or biking through Stanley Park (there’s a bike rental place across the street from the entrance). BC is beautiful and the weather is perfectly moderate… I can’t understand why my grandparents ever settled down in Ontario.

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