Bowen Island

A couple of weeks back we paid a quick overnight trip to Bowen Island. It’s pretty easy to get to from Downtown Vancouver without a car. A Bus to Horseshoe Bay ($2.20 – 40mins) and then a ferry to Snug Cove ($10.40 ish – 20 mins). We booked an AirBnb about 10 mins from the harbour, so we dropped of our bags and got one of the two island buses to Tunstall bay. Luckily the island buses are on the same travel network as the mainland, and we where within our 90min free transfer window. Win.
We potted around the beaches at Tunstall Bay, and walked along a mix of road and trail to the aptly named Pebbly Beach. We even braved a dip in the sea for the briefest of swims. We where joined by a local women, who helped us identify some of the wildlife we spotted. Mostly Seals in the harbour, and I think I saw a Porpoise, but Row is suspicious of this claim. We also spotted something in the bushes, which we narrowed down to an otter or a mink. We then got the bus back and headed to the the only pub on the island, Doc Morgan’s, for a spot of dinner and watched the sunset.
We potted about in the evening exploring the cove, and even managed to spot a Bald Eagle hunting some fish in the lake near our AirBnb. On our second day we had a little lie in, enjoyed Breakfast, then headed down to the marina to do a bit of Sea Kayaking around the island.
After picking up the boat and a bit of time remembering how rudders work (opposite of paddling) we headed north. Following the coast line though small beaches and bays, we watched the ferries, seals and eagles going about their days. Chancing upon a quiet spot for elevenses, we stopped on on a quite beach at the north of the island. We where shortly joined by Sunny, a dog who’s owners we never saw, but presume where nearby at least.
We paddled back down the coast and had lunch in the park before a hike up to the nearby look out point, with views back to the mainland. Squeezing in a final swift half at the pub, we got the ferry back home in time for a rainy weekend in the city.

Lynn Valley

Last weekend we headed up to the Lynn Canyon Park, on the North Shore of Vancouver. A quick cycle from our apartment in west end to waterfront station, 15 mins on the ferry and a bus up the hill. Door to door it took about an hour or so, and your suddenly out of the city and into the country side. It was one of the things I loved about Bristol, and I’m pretty glad we are able to replicate it here.
We met up with Cara, a recent Aussie immigrant who Row met whilst Volunteering at Vancouver Web Fest. The three of us then trotted off into the woods, completing a figure of 8 circuit between the Suspension Bridge, 30 foot pool and the twin falls.
As we didn’t arrive until early afternoon, the crowds had gathered. So, there was a bit of hustle and bustle getting over the suspension bridge. Its a nice free alternative to the Capilano Suspension Bridge, of which we’re waiting for a sunny day mid week to avoid the crowds. The rest of the valley is pretty stunning to walk around, and we spent a good few hours exploring some of the trails. We even found a good picnic spot by the river, so all was happy. We rounded of the trip with ice creams on the harbour waiting for our ferry home.

The First Week

We’re slowly but surely getting there with the Canadian lifestyle, and more importantly being unemployed! Thursday was sunny again, so we headed up to cycle around Stanley Park. There is a good mix of Forrest trail and the Seawall around the perimeter of the park, and we did a bit of both. Though, when its a little dryer I am pretty keen to have a bit of a shred though the centre of the park. We’ll also need to return on foot try and spot some wildlife. We didn’t see any Beavers or Raccoons this time 😦

After this we pedalled back towards False Creek, locked up the bikes and hopped on the tiny ferry to Granville Island. There’s a pretty decent public market where we picked up some sushi / tofu, and sat in the sun people watching for a while. We then had a nose at the brewery, independent shops, theatres and even a concrete factory, before heading home. There is a play based on the Simpsons I want to go see, but I’m not sure Row is too keen on that.

Friday was very wet, but we cycled up to a freelancer meetup just over the water. It was good to go meet some new people who work in a similar way to me, but also start thinking about work again. Everyone was really nice and gave us lots of tips about living in Vancouver. There where a few Europeans and Aussies in the group too, so was nice to chat about how strange some things in Canada / North America are. On the way out we got chatting to a couple of guys who turned out worked for a company that Row would like to work for. After asking them what they did, they responded CEO & CTO, which was more than a little embarrassing, which we tried to laugh off then promptly ran away.

Saturday we pottered on over to Gastown, which is the oldest area in the city. It was quite refreshing to see “old” (by North American standards at least) buildings after being surrounded by skyscrapers for the previous few days. There are also some sights like the Steam clock to see.

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Admiring the old steam clock in Gastown

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We stopped for coffee in East Van Roasters, who by chance whee giving away free chocolates to celebrate their 5th Birthday. They also support women returning to work though mentorship programs and other charities, so where happy we chose this spot over the hipster coffee place next door. As we wondered around we also chanced upon Purebread, that was mentioned in the guidebook, so of-course we picked up a Brownie and Blueberry Biscuit (which was closer to a scone) which we sat and ate in the park.

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Eyeing up sweet treats in @purebread_canada

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That evening we got the Skytrain down to Queen Elizabeth Park and meet up with some friends of friends who moved out here just under a year ago. It was nice to meet some people who where in the same boat as us, and where happy to share any useful info they had learnt the hard way. The 4 of us then went to see the Spring Lights event, where they light up the Cherry Blossom trees with colours and even some projections. The heavens opened and we where soaked, but it was pretty cool to see, along with some great views of the city and Grouse Mountain from the parks lookout points.

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On Sunday we cycled to Kitsilano. From our understanding it used to be the major hippy part of town, but now days is pretty middle class. But its a really nice pedal on the bike path around False Creek and onto the beach. We stopped at Kitsilano Beach, headed up to West 4th Avenue to see the main shops, then cycled on to Jericho Beach which gave some pretty impressive views of Downtown. For lunch we stopped in Sophie’s Cosmic Cafe, which the guide book warns has queues on weekends. We where lucky to sneak in to a two person booth, an even luckier they had a pretty decent veggie burger on the menu. The walls are littered with signs and memorabilia from the 50’s onwards, so its quite the spectacle.

On Monday it was back to work 😦

The First Couple of days

We weren’t really sure how the first week was going to go, or what we would be doing. The forecast was poor at best, with the typical Vancouver rain welcoming us to the west coast.

Day one ended up surprising us. After a walk around the corner to get breakfast supplies, we unpacked the flat and worked out how to use the coffee machine. By about  11ish the rain stopped, so we decided to take a wander down town, and by the time we reached Canada Place the sun was shining. After mooching around town we headed back to the flat for lunch.

That afternoon we walked the other direction down to Sunset Beach, and walked up to English Bay. These two beaches are about 15mins from our apartment, which Row claims was unexpected, but I presume she’s been planning for months. From English bay you can get a view of the sea, the beach, the city and the mountains all in one. I guess that’s the appeal of Vancouver.

Wednesday was pretty wet, so we had an admin day. We built up the bikes and doubled checked everything was working as it should after the flight. Then we headed down-town, and a few hours later we had bank accounts, credit cards and social security numbers all set up. Which means we now have to get jobs 😦

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Can confirm it rains in Vancouver. A lot.



The Flight

So, we managed to survive the flight and get into our apartment in Vancouver. Checking in with the bags and bikes was actually pretty easy. Turned up at the airport, bike boxes on trolleys, then headed for the AirTransat check in. Staff saw we had boxes so brought us past the queue straight to the desk! They also guessed we where headed to Vancouver before handing over our passports. After some weighing / form filling and a £20 fee per bike, they where off down the conveyor belt. The hardest part was wheeling them past some of the bollards in the airport.

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Everything we own for the next year or so.

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The flight itself was rather uneventful. Turns out our plane had been upgraded, so the seats we booked didn’t exist, and we where put elsewhere. But Row asked the staff and they moved us to the emergency exit row, with all the legroom we could ever need! So that worked out pretty well too. 10 Hours later we where in Vancouver.

YVR is a pretty cool airport. Its got loads of Native American Art dotted around and huge water features. When we last entered the country they told us to bring our visas if we ever returned, so we where expecting some queues. But, again it was super easy to re-enter. We filled out the landing forms, handed them to an officer and that was that.

Picking up the bags and bikes took a while, but once they arrived they seemed to be in OK condition, with a couple of rips on the cardboard boxes by the handles. Then we managed to find a limo company who had an SUV that the bikes would fit in, and took us to our apartment for about £35.

We picked up the keys from a local 24hour supermarket that had a locker system and code to enter, then we went to bed.

Initial Commit

So, in 8 hours time we’re boarding a plane to Vancouver. We’re sat in my mums house doing the last load of washing, charging all our devices and giving meeter readings for our flat back home.
We’ve got an AirBnb booked for the first 2 months, pretty near the city centre / downtown area of Van. I think its pretty close to the LGBT area, and Street View tells me all the zebra crossings are rainbow coloured, which I’m pretty pleased with tbh. I think there may be cheery blossom on our street too, which will be nice to stroll around in a jet lag induced haze.
Other than arriving there and going to bed, we have no solid plans for the next year, which is an interesting thought The to-do list is pretty long though, including boring admin (Social Security Numbers, Bank Accounts etc) and fun stuff (see a bear, learn to snowboard).
I’ve got this week off work, but next week I have some work lined up for a company in Australia, via the UK. We’ve got some meet ups to go to this week including a freelancer thing on Friday, which will be a good opportunity to meet some new friends.