Hope you all had a terrific weekend. I sure did! I got the last three items checked off of my tourism challenge list and now redeemed my pass for the next year!
So what is the Tourism Challenge? It’s a partnership between the Vancouver Tourism Board and the Tourism industry. As an Arts Club Employee, I had the opportunity to participate in the challenge which involves going to the city(and surrounding areas)’s attractions, touring them and then answering a couple quick questions about what you saw in order to collect your stamp. 20 stamps collected and you get a pass for the whole year! The pass is good for free admission for you and a friend to almost every attraction in the city! (Others give you a promotional rate, but still a great deal.)
Quite honestly, this was one of the best things that happened to me since moving back to Vancouver. Due to the cost of some of these activities, I could probably afford to go to one a month, sometimes two, for about a year and still not get to everything. Over the month of May, I managed to visit 16 attractions with 5 different friends and had a terrific time doing it all! And now over the next year I’ll have the opportunity to take a bunch of different people all over the place! In fact, this July my friend Dex is coming in from Australia and now I can give him the full Vancouver experience. So thank you, Vancouver Tourism Board. This was the best month of my time in Vancouver yet!!
So with no further ado, here is my Vancouver Tourism Challenge!
I started my first day at the Vancouver Art Gallery. I had been twice before; Once in Film School with Sandra, Jayo and Benjas (memories :)) and once with my cousin Mike the following year (Aka the day I knew I loved Salvador Dali), so I was excited to be back.
First step in every tourism challenge : checking in.
Of all the works I found interesting, this is the only one I actually have the name of the Artist. And it just happens to be Picasso. This is said to be the first ‘deliberately executed collage’.
I walked from the Art Gallery on Robson and Granville down to Canada Place and hit the Canadian Trail.
This was my favorite spot to come sit when I lived in Vancouver in 2010-2011. Peaceful spot to watch the cruise ships leave the port before heading off to Alaska. Read a book, have a hot chocolate or passion tea lemonade and just soak up some sun. Living here this time around I have a tendency to go to the beach more often as I now drive, but whenever I get a chance to go hang out there I do.
Before I got to the Canada Place questions, I went and saw the line for Flyover Canada had no one in it! I made my way there and got a ticket for a show starting in 15 minutes. If you haven’t been to Flyover Canada, I’d highly recommend it. It’s a ride/iMAX style show with 4D capabilities. If you’ve ever been on Soarin’ Over California in Disney, it’s the same thing but with a Canadian spin. It lasts about 25 minutes altogether, with an 8 minute ‘flight’. Only $22 for a ticket at the gate with shows starting everything 15-20 minutes. Check it out today!
Kickin back before putting my phone in the seat pocket underneath me for the ride.
I went and did the Canada Trail after that and answered the 3 questions I received from the Tourism Desk. All fun questions about Canadiana and it was fun learning a few more things about my home country.
At around 4 o’clock, I decided to hit one last spot before heading home for the day and made my way to the Vancouver Lookout at the Harbour Centre for a 360 view of Vancouver and everything around it! Tickets are $16.25 + tax and are good for the remainder of the day, so you can come back at night and have another look at the city. Personally, I look forward to going there at sunset one night with my chou!
Once I had a few days off after Billy Elliot ended, I went on a museum day trip. I started with the MacMillan Space Centre where I had to answer a couple questions and try to lift a piece of a meteor (super hard) and read about the history of Canadians in space. Though this place is aimed at a bit of younger crowd or families, it was still very interesting and had a theatre you could see shows at as well. Just $18 for adults.
Right next door to the Space Centre is the Museum of Vancouver, which housed the exhibit celebrating the 30 year anniversary of Expo 86. The Expo has a special place in my heart because though I was not alive, it’s a trip that my parents took together. My mom always looks back on it fondly and whenever I drive by Science World, I think of her. At only $15 to go, this place is a steal of a deal with a new exhibit starting in June.
Awesome sculpture in the fountain outside
One of favorite my parts about going to Disneyland (as I’m sure will come to no surprise to anyone) is the merchandise. (The sheer amount of park exclusive coffee mugs I own would astound you though.)
There are also permanent exhibits about the history of Aboriginal Culture in British Columbia, the history of Vancouver during the War, and post war and even more!
Next I walked down to the Vancouver Maritime Museum which was by the dog beach I had recently been to with my friends Nikki and Marcel and the Tobester! (Love that dog!!). Going there brought back so many memories of being in Halifax with my buddy Stephen LeBail and going to the Maritime Museum there — miss you, friend! At just $11, it’s one of the best priced museums in the city and full of fun stuff to explore, including a replica ship.
And because I was there, I went to the beach. Ahhhhh. yeah. Vancouver.
The weekend after that, my best friend Jentre was in town with her boyfriend Chris on their vacation. They had just returned from the island a few days prior with his parents, and we had a lovely morning catching up after 6 months apart! We did a tour of the Berry Haven Farm in Abbotsford, a quick one of my house and then had lunch on the water at the Tap & Barrel before hitting up the Vancouver Aquarium!!
This was my second time to the Aquarium but first time visiting their new Stingray exhibit. As a particularly squeamish person, I really did not get the full experience.. every time they came near me I moved my hand away and squealed a bit. Jentre and Chris loved it though and made contact with 3-4 little guys before we got out of there (seriously creeped me out).
We explored the rest of the place and spent some time outside with the dolphin, false killer whale, belugas, penguins, otters and the seals before going inside and checking out all the jellyfish! There are so many all over the place and I loved the different colors and styles that each one had.
And I also love the Warty Frog Fish. Little cutie!
At $31 per person, it is a little steep, but worth it as there is a LOT to see there, whether or not you’re a fan of sea life.
The next day I hit the road to Squamish with my friend and fellow Arts Club Employee, April Green. We started out at the Heritage Railway Museum and I got a big kick out of all the antiques in the old houses we toured. I kinda wanted to live in those houses.
With such a beautiful backdrop, it would make for a great spot to take wedding photos. Just sayin.
There were a ton of old locomotives and cars to check out, and it took you back in time to a world where train travel was more common here in Canada. And made me want to time travel again. Of course. $18 + gst to visit.
Back down the sea-to-sky Highway heading towards Vancouver is the Sea to Sky Gondola. Having never been on a gondola before, I didn’t quite know what to expect and I was a little scared. On top of traveling way quicker than I thought it would (and thank god for that), it was way longer and higher than I thought it would be, but the view from the top made it all worth it..
This is where I started to get scared. Please note you can still see the parking lot which means we were about 1 minute into our trip haha.
Upon getting off at the top, you can eat at the lodge, cross a tree top suspension bridge and hike around the area. I’m also told you can hike up or down the entire way, though I’m not sure how long that would take. A round trip voyage in the gondola will set you back $40 per person.
After a quick lunch at the Brewpub in Squamish (mmmm pulled pork), we started our journey to our last pitstop, the Britannia Mine Museum. Full of history and so much to see, we really did not do it justice. We walked around the various galleries and peeked inside some of the buildings, but did not get to see much of the machinery due to us missing the tour. I want to go back and check it out properly at some point this summer with my beau in tow and we can learn more about the history of mining in these parts. $29 / per person which I do believe includes the tours.
The following weekend my friend Lauren and I hit up North Vancouver for some fun on the Capilano Suspension Bridge! Before getting out there though, we stopped in at the Tomahawk, for lunch. This place has a deep history in North Vancouver and was featured on an episode of You Gotta Eat Here — probably more for the experience more than the food is all I have to say about it. Check out this rubber duck collection!
We then drove on up to the bridge and found out that maybe Saturday afternoon isn’t the best time to go (so many people!), but we had a blast none the less.
View of the rainforest from the bridge.
Hat hair day for both of us ♥♥♥
The bridge itself is only about half of the attraction. There’s also the treetop walk with several smaller suspension bridges connecting to each other in one big circle, an animal exhibit with owls and hawks, camps for kids to learn about bugs and the rainforest and so much more. There are also food and drink stands (alcohol too!) and it’s just a beautiful place for a sunny afternoon. If you’re a local resident you get the added bonus of your $40 admission turning into an annual pass so you can go back whenever you want! (Though I do believe some restrictions apply).
The next afternoon, my friend Ian Berg and I went out to Sea Vancouver — and I’m very sorry every other attraction, but this was easily my favorite. Even at $42, it’s something I would absolutely do again.
You set out from Coal Harbour on this Zodiac boat and get a guided tour of the Vancouver harbour. We went to the Cruise Ship terminal, the Lionsgate Bridge, Stanley Park, the beaches surrounding the city, down to Granville Island and Science World and then back over to Coal Harbour. The boat gets up to 55km an hour and feeling the wind blow through my hair on the water was just magnificent — even if the weather wasn’t so hot that day.
Finally a new view of my favorite spot.
Stanley Park lighthouse and Lionsgate Bridge, connecting Vancouver to North and West Vancouver.
One of the lil ferries that takes you over to Granville Island.
As you can see, the wind did a bit of a number on my hair…
This past weekend I finished up the tourism challenge, once again, with April Green. We did the UBC circuit this time and did the Museum of Anthropology, the Nitobe Garden and the UBC Botanical Garden.
The MOA was probably my favorite museum on this adventure so far. The variety of items there is really quite wonderful and you get an opportunity to explore different cultures through time. The Ceramics room was a true gem for me, as it brought me back to my time in London exploring the British Museum with Chelsea. The plates and dishes from different eras mixed in with sculptures from fantasy worlds were just magical for me. I loved it. (Yeah I love plates that much, wanna fight about it?)
The last exhibit we checked out was Unceded Territories, the Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun exhibit. He is a local indigenous man who has been painting and creating these masterpieces for over 30 years. I don’t have the words to properly describe his work, so I’m using this blurb from the MOA website : Twenty years since his last major Canadian solo show, Unceded Territories will demonstrate the progression of Yuxweluptun’s artistry and ideas through hard-hitting, polemical, but also playful artworks that span his remarkable 30- year career, featuring a selection of brand-new works exhibited publicly for the first time.
In closing, for $18 (standard Vancouver museum price), this is one I’d highly recommend.
We then walked over to the Nitobe Memorial Garden which is a impeccably landscaped Japanese Garden. Once again I was having flashbacks, this time to my time at the Devonian Botanical Gardens for three years of Opera Al Fresco. So clearly, that is my favorite part about traveling. Going somewhere, exploring a beautiful place and being reminded of all the beautiful places before that one. I’ve been a very lucky girl.
It was just so peaceful.. If you’ve got a special person to take on a date this summer, give it a go for a low-low $7!
We then drove over to the last stop on the Tourism Challenge 2016 — The UBC Botanical Garden. This one actually reminded me also of my trip with Stephen Lebail in Halifax, but this time to the Halifax Public Gardens. Guess that means I gotta get back out on the road.
At only $9, it’s also a steal of a deal for a date walk with someone special. I know Cody is gonna get real tired of all the romantic walks I’m gonna take him on — and I don’t even care! 😉
After that we went for lunch at Burgoo and because it was so delicious and beautiful, here it is : Pulled pork skillet :
Yesterday was the big day. I walked down to the Convention Centre to cash in my prize and oh where would that happen to be? THE CRUISE SHIP TERMINAL!! Yup. My favorite! So I had a quick lunch of a Cartems donut and Passion tea lemonade and sat out looking at the Norweigan ship and …
THE DISNEY WONDER!!!!!!!
I’ve wanted to go on a cruise forever and particularly a Disney one — though I’m sure after one or two days the novelty and children will wear… but still! Anyways, I sat and did that for a bit and went in for about an hour and 10 minute wait to get my pass for the year.
And now I’m even more excited! Because there are things I didn’t get to do yet! Like the Vancouver Police Museum, the Richmond Olympic Experience, the Harbor Cruise, the Horse Drawn Tour in Stanley Park, the Hell’s Gate AirTram (outside of Hope) and so much more! So stay tuned for more of my adventures exploring the province I love so much, and thank you, Vancouver Tourism board, all of the participating locations and all of the staff who make those experiences that much more memorable.
Have a great day and rest of your week y’all!