24 hours in Vancouver

Your First 24 Hours in Vancouver

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You’ve made it through the notoriously terrifying immigration team and have negotiated your backpack onto the handy airport train. You must be thinking “What next?” Here are our tips for your first 24 hours in Vancouver.

24 hours in Vancouver

Luckily I had my own personal tour guide, the other half of Two Scots Abroad, Craig, to plan an itinerary for my first 24 hours in Vancouver and I was stoked to finally be in British Colombia.

First 24 Hours in Vancouver

Craig lived in Vancouver for one year in his early twenties and has always spoken fondly about his time in Canada, even if he did spend most of it downing pints with The Irish. Keen to get back to Beautiful British Colombia, it was one of the hard core countries on our list along with Peru and Cuba (both done).

After reading scary stories online about immigration, I was a little nervous which is ridiculous when you consider we’ve breezed through five different immigration points in the last four months. As you’d expect, the team did not crack a smile but the officer did let us change our exit date from January first to second which is kind because let’s face it, who wants to travel on New Year’s Day (regrettably, it’s also my birthday)?!

Vancouver Downtown

For Downtown Central we took the train directly from the airport to Granville Street (approx twenty mins). Surprisingly, we were greeted by a man in a kilt (on stilts), playing the pipes. Many Canadians do have Scottish descendents I suppose.

After dumping our stuff, we headed out for dinner and it was only ever going to be one cuisine after four months of mainly bland food- Indian, Craig’s favourite. We dined at India Gate on Robson Street which was the closest to our accommodation. Not the best Indian I’ve had (Korma Sutra in Cusco, Peru was, surprisingly) but tickled that Vindaloo itch for Craig *insert joke*. The variety of restaurants stood out – I forgot what choice felt like after three weeks in Cuba.

My first impressions of a now dark Vancouver were that it felt like a smaller, quieter NYC with a touch of Glasgow. Not a bad mix.

The next day we set alarms for 08:00 which I complained was too early but I actually awoke with excitement before it. It did feel like Christmas but sunny.

Gastown

We headed down the street to Gastown. I was confused at why a small group of people were taking photos of a clock, it was only 09:30. Then I noticed steam coming out of the time piece. Gastown has a great mix of old and new.

24 hours in Vancouver

We dined at La Luna Cafe – ah yoghurt, fruit and granola! Oh how I have missed you. Everyone seems so healthy in Vancouver. I had already toyed with the idea of ‘going veggie’ and had been advised that Vancouver would be an easy place to have a stab at it. I washed down breakfast with a strawberry and mint tea whilst Craig read the free newspaper, Georgia Straight. He’s missed the hilarity of Dan Savage, and the coffee in Canada.

24 hours in Vancouver

Canada Place

My personal tour guide directed me down to Canada Place. I was mighty impressed by the boats and disappointed that we’d just missed Canada Day by one night, terrible timing on our part. Vancouver really is as beautiful as Google images boasts with its mountainous backdrop. Craig pointed out Grouse Mountain and told me about the cable car (add that activity to The List).

24 hours in Vancouver

Our next destination was Chinatown. I loved how the signs and pavements let you know you’ve arrived.

24 hours in Vancouver

The Chinese Gardens (free) is tranquility in the city. We spot koi carp in the pond and notice the city poke through in the background.

24 hours in Vancouver PIN FOR LATER

On our way out of Chinatown, I’m allowed to browse a vintage shop (hello, I’m home!) and we take a cultural trip along East Hastings Street amongst the ‘tweakers’ (homeless drug users). Craig can’t believe how much the deprived area has disappeared in the past years (we are later told than many users have moved out of the city as more programmes have been set up in towns).

And that’s our time up. My first 24 hours in Vancouver is over. I’m thrilled to be back in a city with skyscrapers and the prospect of nature lurking in the background. This has been an exciting introduction to Vanc. and I look forward to returning to sample more.

Our next stop is Roberts Creek, on The Sunshine Coast nonetheless!


Where We Stayed in Vancouver

Our hostel, St Clair Hotel Hostel, was on Richards Street which is a stone throw away from Chinatown; Gastown and B.C Place. Perfect location for your first 24 hours in Vancouver. And it has a theme (I love themes!)

It’s not a tacky theme though, it’s historical. The hotel hostel was built in 1911 for Captain Henry Pybus who was the commander of the R.M.S Empress of Japan, hence the nautical theme. You’ll find lots of seaside and boat paraphernalia around the Heritage Building.

24 hours in Vancouver

The double private room was cute and clean. The showers were hot and the WiFi was speedy (wow, hello WiFi after three weeks in Cuba).

24 hours in Vancouver

Carmen, the manager, was super friendly. She printed off maps to help us get a bus to Horseshoe Bay (where we were to catch the ferry). She also recommended places to eat.

There was a TV room and although there was no kitchen, each floor had a kitchen area with a kettle and microwave.

24 hours in Vancouver

We plan to meet my parents in Vancouver soon and will be booking into St Clair Hotel Hostel again as at $56 / £27.34 (week night), the private rooms are cheaper than some of the other hostel dorm beds (if purchasing for two) in Vancouver (how scarily expensive is accommodation in Canada after travelling in South America?!)


Email: [email protected]
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24 hours in Vancouver

 

 

 

 


Thanks to Carmen’s generosity, an honest review as always.

 

What would you do with 24 hours in Vancouver?

Gemma and Craig full-time workers with a life-long travel habit. Flirting with 30 and let loose on the world! Gemma writes, Craig looks good in the photos.

Comments 22

  1. Vancouver is one of the most beautiful cities–so clean and neat and so much to do as you described.

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  2. We go up to Vancouver from Seattle a lot and there are so many things that I love about it. I would definitely add Granville Island market to the list and of course the amazingly awesome Richmond Night Market, which is slightly outside of Vancouver, but you can take the train and it’s one of the best night markets around!

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      Excellent tips. We are heading back down on Monday to see the parents again. Mum loved Granville. We’re moving to Vanc. in September so plenty of time to tick your markets off. Let me know if you are up between Sept and Jan and we can blog meet 🙂

  3. I definitely want to visit Vancouver again some day — we were there for the TBEX travel bloggers conference years ago, and had budgeted no real free time to go exploring as we were on a tight schedule (we were nuts and flew to the conference for just the weekend from home in Taiwan. ha ha). I wasn’t expecting such a diverse food scene and i was sad we didn’t get to explore many of the great eats! I heard horror stories about immigration there as well — mainly due to the insane flight prices, we flew into Seattle and rented a car and drove up. We were questioned quite rigorously at the border — I think because a lot of people had already crossed for TBEX and the immigration officer wanted details on the conference, our tickets, etc. It was bizarre.

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      I have heard that about the Canadian / USA border. We’ll be leaving in January that way down to Seattle and Portland. I cannot wait to eat Thai food. Craig is not a fan though. Your trip was mad! Hope the conference was worth it (sure it was!)

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  4. What don’t I want to do in Vancouver would be an easier question to answer! hehe I’ve been dreaming of heading to Canada and checking out Vancouver for years now. I love cities and Vancouver looks like one of the most beautiful. Looks like you guys got off to a good start on your first day!

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  5. Steam coming out of a clock? That’s pretty neat! I’d love to see that! Anyways, Vancouver has long been on my list because I’ve always wanted to take the train from there to cross Canada all the way to Montreal/Toronto. Still working on the plan. ?

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  6. HA! I’ve been to Vancouver so many times, but all of them were just to party so I missed seeing so many sights! ARG! Thanks for letting me know what to hit next time!

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      Typing from Van! We are back down to say goodbye to my parents (sob) and house hunting for the big move in September. Can’t wait to tell you about this trip – teaser: open air Grease sing-along in Stanley Park!

  7. Really nice run through of Vancouver, a place I really want to visit. I’d probably do something touristy and see a hockey game or Vancouver Whitecaps, since I know very little about the city. You guys think like me though, and Indian is certainly my first choice when options are a thing. Where I live in Korea, it’s Korean or McDonalds or some other lame chain. Good Indian is a bit of a drive away, and there’s good stuff to be found here.

    Very happy to read this, and also happy to see you’re enjoying your time back in Canada. Take care Gemma and Craig!

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      Thanks Duke! Typing from trip two to Vancouver! We are apartment hunting this time around and seeing my parents off. I am buzzing about writing the sequel to this post, it’s such an amazing city. We went to a free showing of Grease in Stanley Park last night! Not everyone’s cup of tea but still a great offer.

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