Road Trip: British Columbia

Road Trip: British Columbia

Now that the blog is back-in-action I figured I could use this to document my travel for a couple reasons: 1) my memory is completely shot and I know if I brain dump the details here I'll be able to come back and relive it and 2) I read a tonne of blogs about BC and what I just HAD to add to my 'must-not-miss list' and what I learned could help someone else plan an upcoming trip. So here's my day-by-day vacay (as I'm crying with post-vacation blues and wishing I could go back)

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Day One:

We flew out of Newfoundland just after lunch; as always, leaving Newfoundland means a long travel day but heading to the opposite end of the country meant an extra extra long day. We stopped in Halifax and Montreal on the way to Vancouver and I had consumed copious amounts of wine (my anti-anxiety plane drug of choice) along the way since I have turned into a total wimp when it comes to flying. We thought we would have been exhausted by the time we landed at 10:00 pm local time (2:30 am at home) but we were excited to see Dave and to meet Kiki and we ended up staying up late playing Cards Against Humanity and drinking Dave's homemade beer (he makes an awesome honeydew melon brew). 

Day Two:

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We got up super early as we weren't adjusted to the time change and also because Blair got stung by 3 wasps ( yes 3 ) just before we flew out of NL when hiking the pups and his arm blew up like a balloon. Off to the pharmacy we went for Benadryl. I was super pumped to get outside to see the mountains surrounding downtown and I was mind-blown. It was this shock-and-awe feeling that comes with travelling and seeing  new city for the first time combined with the immediate feeling of love for this city and it's proximity to nature (and tonnes of it). After Blair was successfully treated we picked up Dave and head for Lynn Valley while stopping at the Tomahawk in North Van for lunch on the way. This spot was featured on 'You Gotta Eat Here' and although it wouldn't have been my first choice Blair wanted to check it out and we loved it. It was founded in 1926 and was Vancouver's first drive-in restaurant and the original owner's family still runs the place, cute right!

Lynn valley was super amazing. The trees were the tallest I've ever seen and we got to check out the suspension bridge. I'm terribly afraid of heights and it took an awful lot of fake composure to get across that bridge. We also hiked a little off the beaten path to check out spots where the boys used to go swimming and I was in awe over the crystal clear waters and amazing scenery.

After our little adventure we head right to Whistler! I've always dreamed of getting to snowboard on Whistler/Blackcomb but I was also pretty excited to check out the village in the summer. On the way we stumbled upon Horseshoe Bay which was this cute village where a lot of the ferry terminals are and it was gorgeous; and allowed us to get a coffee so double plus! The drive to Whistler along the Sea to Sky Highway was incredible; huge lakes on the left of a windy road along the coast with huge snow-capped mountains all around. It was easy to imagine the mountains as the volcanoes they once were! Arriving in Whistler and checking out our first AirBNB of the trip; the coolest studio condo with the most amazing rainfall shower right on Main street in the middle of Whistler Village; it was easy for me to think about packing up and moving right here. We worked up an appetite and stumbled into La Brasserie des Artistes in the village where we enjoyed the biggest nachos I've ever seen in my life and some amazing Chicken Massala as well as some local beer and cider. We had only been in BC for 24 hours but I was already loving it. 

Day Three

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We got up and on the go early and grabbed the first gondola up Whistler mountain! I was basically freaking out the whole ride up; there's something way more terrifying about riding a chair lift when there's no snow on the ground. We got to take in the amazing view and I was pumped to learn that the forest between Whistler and Blackcomb provides food and shelter to over 60 black bears! At the top we were chilled to the bone when we stepped off the lift and realized why there is snow on top of these mountains this time of year. No wonder everyone else was dressed with parkas and toques and we were there in jeans and tees. Oops. After a little exploring we took the Peak-to-Peak gondola over to Blackcomb. This gondola was a lot bigger (and scarier), holding up to 23 people, travelling 4.4 km through the air and sitting 1472 ft above ground. It is the longest and highest lift in the world. The views were breathtaking and totally worth the $60 ticket for the ride! After taking in the top of Blackcomb we again wished we were better dressed for the weather and head back over to Whistler and back down to the village for some lunch. As we got close to the bottom we saw a bear just nonchalantly walking up the paths below. The runs of the mountains which are used to being full of skiiers and snowboarders in the winter are open to mountain bikers in the summer and it was incredible to watch the agility of the downhill bikers from the gondola, but imagine making a turn and running into that bear? No thanks! We hit up El Furniture Warehouse in the village for lunch where there are 27 menu items all for $4.95. I can't pass up a Beet and Goat Cheese Salad so I joined that with some Soft Tacos and ciders (and Blair had to have wings, the burger, and a couple more local beer of course). The server asked where we were from and when told Newfoundland her response was 'the land of Pineapple Crush!', turns out we are popular for more than being a small island on the east coast with funny accents since we were greated with the same sentiment when stopping into the nearest ski shop. Whistler loves Pineapple crush apparently, I mean who doesn't. 

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For the afternoon we head towards Green Lake to take some photos (if there is a heaven I imagine it looking and feeling exactly like the atmosphere at Green Lake) before heading just south of Whistler village to the Interpretive Forest hiking trails and taking a short hike into the popular Train Wreck site. The train wreck dates back to 1956 when a train loaded with lumber (which was going too fast) got jammed in a narrow rock cut and blocked the railway line but the railway company was not equipped to move the boxcars on the track. The family who operated a lumber mill nearby was tasked with prying the boxcars out and moving them into the forest without damaging the trees and now the 7 boxcars sit in the middle of the forest with everyone wondering how they got there!  We expected the hike to be longer than it was so after getting to the wreck so quickly we we spent more time exploring the forest on our own before heading to the Brewhouse back in the village. They make 4 of their own regular beer and a variety of seasonal beer too. Blair took advantage of the beer selection while I enjoyed their Pomegranate Basil Smash (with Bulldog Gin; what can I say, I was missing Watson). We ordered the Hawaiian Pizza and Tuna Sushi Roll and both were amazing. We didn't last long after filling our bellies as bed was calling and we still hadn't caught up to the new time zone but we knew we were up early to get going on the next adventure!

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Day Four

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Blair left to head up to Powell River for the big Bachelor par-tay and I found myself at the coolest home-away-from-home in Vancouver. This Air BnB was actually a guesthouse built behind this amazing home. I relaxed in the home theatre before making my way to the Pacific Center to shop. I stumbled on the best juice truck outside of the shopping center- Nectar was amazing and I had a green shake which was absolutely delicious and I was craving healthy after a few days of eating out. After making my way back home it didn't take long for cabin fever to set in. So I set out to explore a bit more shopping at the Metropolis Center in Burnaby via the Sky Train. 

Day Five

Now it was my time to party - the bridesmaids involved in the upcoming wedding planned a surprise Bachelorette Brunch for Kiki and it was the cutest afternoon filled with lots of wine, delicious snacks and new friends! 

Day Six

Blair thankfully survived the Bachelor Party, apart from some scrapes and bruises and a torn rotator cuff,  so when he returned back to Van we moved onto our Air BnB in North Van. This place was a really neat bachelor pad with a big cozy sectional and huge fireplace. The host's name was Bruce and it was clear that a man named Bruce would own the place as soon as we walked through the door. I felt like I hadn't seen a whole lot of the city as we had done so much out-of-town activities so far so we drove around downtown, explored Granville Island and the Kitsilano neighbourhoods. The downtown still had this amazing feeling of being in a big city with lots of excitement but was in tune with the outdoors with trees and parks everywhere. Did I mention dog parks? My biggest concern with living in a big city is always 'what would I do with the dogs' but there's so many huge beautiful off-leash dog parks around Vancouver! 

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Day Seven

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We spent the whole day taking in as much as the city as possible; I may have been panicking since I knew we were going to be out of the city for a lot of the remainder of the tri; actually I was definitely panicking. We got up early and head to Kits to do some shopping and get a photo by the insta-famous KitsWings. There are amazingly beautiful murals on almost every spare wall face in Vancouver! The market in Granville Island was our first stop for some snacks. This place had everything you could ever imagine: Indian food, health food, macarons, a butcher shop, fresh hand made pasta, home made cheese, fresh pickles, etc. etc. etc. It was more than I could have ever imagined and I kept thinking that if I lived here I would get everything I ever needed from this dreamland of a place! We then head to the Gastown neighbourhood which I quickly came to realize may be my favourite area. I did some shopping and bought the most amazing big chunky wool cardigan that totally made my week. We stumbled into the Flying Pig restaurant and were so happy we did. I had the haliibut sandwich and it was to die for; dare I say that it was the best white fish I've had in a long time? Yeah I said it. Next stop was back to North Van to get Blair coiffured at the New York Barber shop and what a good idea that was ;). He was pampered for almost 45 minutes and has never looked so groomed. To end off the day we met my friend Meghan who I have only gotten to see in exciting places like Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Indonesia and had yet to meet up with in Canada. She suggested Chewie's Oyster Bar since she assumed us east-coasters could appreciate a good oyster. She may have been wrong about us enjoying that delicacy but we did really really love the half price bottles of wine on Monday's (timing = perfect) and the beet salad (can't pass up a good beet salad) and their prize-winning chicken! Amazing place, Totally check it out! 

Day Eight

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When I found out I was going to BC I said I wasn't going to plan anything except I did want to visit a treehouse, the rest was left to Blair. We were in for the get away of a lifetime and no idea what to expect. We set our GPS for Whaletown and realized we were in for a long journey including 3 different ferries to reach this locale on Cortes Island. We found a treehouse on Air BnB and it was the coolest place I've been in Canada, hands down. After about 5 hours of travel from Vancouver we arrived at the island and I was shocked with how many deer we kept seeing, I'm talking at least 40 in 30 mins! So already I was in my glee after seeing all these animals, but then we arrived at the Treehouse. We were introduced to our host Ken who is this really kind guy who brought us 3 lbs of fresh mussels harvested just down the road on the island. They actually harvest over 40,000 lbs of mussels from the island each week! When he showed us the treehouse I was in awe. We were housed about 30 feet in the air enclosed by massive trees. The treehouse itself was huge with a sectional inside and on the patio, a big bed, a kitchenette, BBQ, bathroom, and hammock  - everything you'd ever need! We drove around the island and checked out the 3 main communities and went to the only restaurant on the island in Manson's Landing. The food was amazing - Shrimp Tempura for an app and Chicken Thai curry as my main. We didn't get dessert as we knew we had all those mussels to cook up! We head back and relaxed with ciders and cooked up the mussels on the BBQ, they were gigantic - way bigger than those found here in NL! I should also mention that Ken had two dogs so this truly was heaven to me. He had a young Bernese Mountain Dog named Puna and an older mix named Rusty and I just had to maul each time I saw them. 

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Day Nine

We spent the day checking out as much of Cortes Island as possible. We went right to the Co-Op grocery store and coffee shop and I just couldn't pass up the Spanakopita (amazing); the same building had a really cute vintage clothing store around the back and I bought a fantastic little black dress. We asked what would be the best hike to do and after being recommended 2 we decided we had to check out both. We went to the beach and also explored the woods and spent 2 hours checking out Spruce Grove. I was mind blown (again) by the size of the trees, I finally felt teeny tiny for the first time in my life ;). On the way back we saw the most incredible sunset (and a tonne of more deer) and spent the night in the coolest and coziest place in the world.

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Day Ten

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We said a very sad goodbye to Cortes Island and started the long trek to Vernon for the wedding. We had to get back to Vancouver (taking those 3 ferries again) and then drive about 5 hours North through the Oakanagan Valley. The drive was beautiful (again); we drove along the ocean and then through the biggest mountains I've ever seen, then reached the big valleys of the Oakanagan and landed in Vernon. Our next Air BnB was a huge basement apartment style place in a fancy neighbourhood. We had our own pool table and outdoor hot tub! After a long day of travel we didn't last long and crashed super hard (after enjoying that hot tub!)

Day Eleven

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We woke up early and googled the best restaurant in Vernon which turned out to be EATology. It was this really cool spot with delicious eggs benny and definitely started the morning off right. When deciding our game plan for the day I said that I couldn't be the middle of the Oakanagan without checking out some wineries, or cideries. Wine isn't Blairs thing so he was pumped (as was I) when we found BX Cidery in Vernon. We showed up for a tasting at 11:00 am just as they opened and they thought we were crazy but I was that excited she laughed at us. The story of this place is so neat; it is after the Barnard's Express & Stage Line which was one of the oldest, largest, and longest running stagecoach companies in North America. BC Express owned and operated a famous 6000 acre horse ranch, called “The BX Ranch” at Priest Valley, which later became known as Vernon. The land was sold after the railways were built making the stagecoaches redundant and an orchard was started on the land in the 1920s. The man who runs the place today is the third-generation in the family to operate the orchard and his grandfather (who is in his 80s) still works every single day picking apples on the farm. This guy married a girl from Alberta who always dreamed of having a cidery, and she married an apple farmer - fate right? Now they run the cidery on the orchard farm while still producing tonnes of apples for sale (and the most delicious apples I've ever had). The cider itself is amazing, I tried the 2 seasonal ones they had in stock (a cascara one and a cranberry one) as they were sold out of their regular line of ciders and I'm told this happens a lot- I can see why! I brought a few home in my suitcase and am saving them for some special occasion. 

The rest of the day involved heading up to Armstrong for the wedding rehearsal and catching up with friends!

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Day Twelve

This is the reason why we came to BC in the first place - to watch Dave and Kiki get married! The ceremony itself was in a friend of the family's backyard and it was like I had stepped right back into the middle of Indonesia. The garden was overflowing with beautiful flowers and intricately designed furniture that came from Bali, my dream place really. The guests went into Armstrong to a local bar for some drinks and eats before heading back to the bride's moms place for the reception. There were huge gorgeous tents set up on the property surrounded by farms and hay bales. The bride made all of the food herself (amazing right!) and we indulged on homemade tacos with all the fixings. Blair made a very emotional Best Man speech, we had a fun outdoor dance, and a huge bonfire to cap the night off! Pretty incredible day/night for an awesome couple! 

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Day Thirteen

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We had another driving day ahead of us heading back to Vancouver and although we didn't arrive to the next Air BnB until late we decided to head out for sushi. Who is in BC for 13 days and has yet to have sushi? We again googled best sushi in BC and came up with Miku Sushi in Yaletown. We were like zombies after travelling all day and not dressed to the nines by any means, so when we stepped up to the door of Miku we felt out of place. This was a fancy smancy sushi spot for sure. Despite our appearance they did seat us, and thank goodness they did. It was the most amazing sushi I've ever had in my life. We went with the chef's selection, a variety plate, and their award-winning Aburi Salmon Oshi Sushi and paired it with a Moscow Mule and a fancy cocktail which I can't remember the name of for the life of me. Needless to say it was one of the best meals I had in my life, sushi had never tasted so good and the server was really helpful (and put up with us standing out of the crowd for being 'states'). We got back to our Air BnB and crashed, it was this awesome bachelor pad with a ground-level walk out patio and was styled exactly like I would do it myself and I again realized I could totally pack up and move to this amazing city. 

Day Fourteen

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This was it. The last day of our trip. I was depressed but excited to cram in as much as possible within the last 24 hours. First stop was biking the sea wall in Stanley Park. We rented bikes and after I got over the fear of crashing the thing it was actually quite relaxing. Blair had planned on eating for 24 hours straight because we felt like we didn't experience all of what Van has to offer in the food and drink world but we knew we couldn't come close if we tried. We went to Dish on commercial for breakfast, hit up more sushi for lunch, I crammed in some vintage shopping, and we head to the Alibi Room with friends for supper. This place was super cool, mostly because of the 2 page list of craft beers they had! To cap it off we spent the evening visiting friends and saying good bye, I did NOT want to leave, not one bit.

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Now that we're back I have a list of regrets. Well maybe 'regrets' isn't fair, so instead I'll call it the list of 'must-not-miss' activities for the next trip (or when I do pack it up and move there).

  • Get a new tattoo + possibly a cover-up at Adrenaline
    • We had planned this but showed up way too late one night and the artists were gone. 
  • Cathedral Grove
    • I know we saw a tonne of huge trees but I've been told this is where the biggest ones are.
  • Snowboarding 
    • I need to visit in the winter ASAP.
  • Victoria
    • Although we got to the island we basically just drove through and didn't get to check out Victoria at all .
  • Tofino - Surfing and Yoga
    • After hearing so much about this dreamland called Tofino we couldn't fit it in this time around, stay tuned because I will get there!

What else should I add?

 

- C xo