Fun fact: Justin Trudeau used to be a teacher in Vancouver so for anyone who is still unsure whether or not they should visit, this little piece of information should be enough to convince you to come thru.
Mandatory Quote:” I grew up in Vancouver” – Ryan Reynolds
If you are a fan of nature, good vibes and chill people, Vancouver is the place for you. I mean, it was home to both Justin Trudeau AND Ryan Reynolds, does it get any better than that? I took a solo day trip from Seattle–which was about a three hour drive–and crossed the border by car for the first time(it was an interesting experience and I will talk about it later on in this post). The drive was beautiful and it was nice to have the option of stopping and checking out certain spots along the way but if driving and renting a car is not in the cards for you, then you can fly straight there and Uber/take public transportation to downtown and walk to the little towns. Vancouver is a very walkable city. It all depends on where you are visiting from but I do suggest you rent a car for at least a day. I know what a hassle it can be, especially is you are under 25 because there is an extra charge so be mindful of that in terms of budgeting, but I think it will be worth it if you want to visit the more nature-y destinations.
If you decide not to rent a car for the entire trip, then your options may be limited in regards to visiting the places that are further out from town but there are plenty of things to see and eat in downtown. One of the spots I ended up visiting first was the Capilano Suspension Bridge then I drove up north to Stanley Park(consider biking this too if you’re into that) after making a quick stop at Whole Foods to pick up some lunch and enjoyed it by the Sea Wall in Stanley Park.
A trip to Vancouver would not be complete without visiting Chinatown, Yaletown and Gastown so that was my next to-do. It is a short drive from Stanley Park to the city center and everything from then on is quite close–approximately a 10 minute drive–in proximity.
- Capilano Suspension Bridge: This was my favorite part of the entire trip, mostly because it got my heart beating fast–due to my fear of heights LOL( and for those who know me, y’all know I am somewhat of an adrenaline junkie). If you are afraid of heights, don’t say that I didn’t warn you. I arrived around 11 am and the park was packed. I would suggest going a bit earlier to avoid the crowds if you have the chance.
- Stanley Park: Wow. That was what I uttered to myself as i drove through Stanley Park. Before you enter the park, you’ll cross a majestic bridge(Lion’s Gate Bridge) and as you are driving through, you will see many hiking trails and forget that you are in an urban city completely; that is how huge the park is. I found a spot to park my car while on the way to check out the Sea Wall and walked out to find the most beautiful view of a bridge and water. I strolled along the path and eventually made my way to the Wall(no, not that wall Trump) by accident after a short walk.
- Chinatown, Yaletown, Gastown: I did not get to spend as much time as I would have liked in this area since this was only a day trip and I got to the actual town around 6 pm and the drive back to Seattle was three hours. The first thing I noticed was a lot of Asian people 😄…it’s okay for me to say this, because in case you haven’t noticed, I’m asian. I saw a bunch of cool restaurants and breweries I would have loved to try out if it were not for the lack of time.
What I wish I had done differently or what I would change if I were to visit again:
- Border crossing- This was quite an experience for me because I had a strange encounter with the border patrol agent after but looking back at it, I think it was just protocol to make you slightly nervous enough to answer the questions honesly and what I thought were invasive questions were just aimed to get a feel of the purpose of my visit. My advice is to answer as thoroughly and concisely as possible while being transparent regarding the intent of your visit. Keep your cool, guys. And bring your passport. Getting back into America took over an hour and people started turning off their engines because the line was not moving…thank goodness I packed lots of snacks for the wait. I dunno if saying this will get the border patrol guy in trouble but the story is too funny to keep hidden from the world. I ended up matching with the dude on tinder after I got back to Seattle and we hit it off, too bad he lives in Canada LOL.
2. I would have visited for more than a day and went to Grouse mountain or driven to Whistler to snowboard. I definitely missed out on sitting down to eat at the amazing looking restaurants and other local experiences since I only had a couple hours to cross things off of my list. To be honest, everything felt rushed; I wish I could’ve slowed down to enjoy everything a bit more. I think you would want to ideally spend 3 days, if not more, if you are trying to do the snow activities too and you happen to be there during snow season.
Fun Fact: Montreal is the second largest French speaking city in the world, after Paris.
Another Quote:“I grew up in a town called Cornwall, Ontario, which is about an hour outside of Montreal.” – Ryan Gosling
–> another hot Ryan who grew up in Canada, what a place!
Im kidding, here’s a real quote:“Live, Love. Laugh.” -All the basic bitches of the world, including yours truly
Okay, enough with the quotes. Let’s get to the good stuff. As you can probably guess, I am not one to ever pass up an opportunity to travel and to hang out with friends so when a close friend(shoutout to Shon!) happened to be sent to Montreal for work, I took advantage of the opportunity and of how close New York was to Quebec and flew out for a weekend getaway. I was lucky enough to be visiting a new place and I get to spend time Shon, doesn’t get any better than that.
While I was at LaGuardia Airport, the person behind the lounge counter suggested checking out a spa called Bota Bota; he absolutely raved about it and said he would go back just to visit the spa. Shon and I tried to get reservations but we ended up not going due to us prioritizing other stuff over it(bagels) and time conflicts(she had to work like a normal adult). It costs about 50 USD for entry and you get to be on a boat(super cool) and chill in a jacuzzi. The massage packages are extra but seemed to be worth it so let me know if you end up trying it out yourself please!
I arrived to Montreal on a Saturday evening and was planning on flying back to New York on Tuesday, so I spent around 4 days exploring the city, which I would say is a good amount of time. I would’ve been fine with 3 days and if you are short on time this might be an ideal number of days since Shon and I were able to check out everything we wanted to see within about 2 days with ample picture taking time.
My first impression of the city was that it was immensely culturally diverse and liberal thus creating a laid back and accepting vibe. Most of the locals could speak both French and English and the food there was to die for, not to mention you had endless options in terms of cuisines to choose from. I noticed there were a lot of Korean restaurants in Downtown where we were staying as well as Middle Eastern, Chinese, French and about any other cuisine you could possible name. Remember to try the bagels, they are chewier and sweeter than American bagels. If y’all have tried mochi dough and you like it, you’re going to love St. Viateurs’ bagels…remember to bring cash, don’t be like us! They do have an ATM machine but we couldn’t figure out how to use it. Luckily, I had $8 USD on me and asked if they accepted American money(lol I was desperate) and they do but they charge a conversion rate; despite everything, we did score 4 bagels and some cream cheese for just under 5 USD hehe.
Let’s do something different this time and start out with food:
Cool, now that you’re hungry for more, I will continue with the rest of the itinerary.
- Old Montreal: Lots of french vibes. Cool pier with a wheel( have you noticed that most cities have their own version of a wheel? Seattle, London, even Paris now) and lots of cute shops/cafes/restaurants. We tried riding one of the Lime or Bird scooters but they were all taken so we opted to just walk, wasn’t as much fun although there a couple cobbled streets so walking may have been the better option. Biking along the water was also pretty common and we would’ve done that but there was a high demand for the bikes too at the time we were there LOL. You can envision Shon and I pouting as we struggled to find a cooler method of transportation.
- Botanical Gardens: We wished we had come earlier and spent the at least half a day here, since we came so late the outdoor portion of the garden was closed but we got to see the night show(which was the such a cool experience). This is one of the largest botanical gardens in the world and the one of the most impressive ones I’ve ever been to, with Singapore giving it a run for the money. The best part was definitely the night show which we spent 4 hours waiting for because of poor planning on our part. I suggest going early to check out the garden then leaving to do the rest of your activities and coming back for the night show later on in the day instead of coming at 5 and waiting until 9 like we did. We were so HANGRY by the end of the night(not a lot of places to eat around there but Olympic Park and a Sky tower is within walking distance).
- Notre Dame Basilica: The architecture was extremely beautiful and unlike any other cathedral I have ever seen. It seemed to be more modern and after learning that the building burned down and was rebuilt that makes a lot of sense. There is a fee to enter(8 Canadian dollars).
- Parc Du Mont Royal: I was fortunate enough to see this in the fall but omg it is stunning. Must see. Enough said.
Thanks for reading!