Oliver is…

He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man

…done with Canada, for now

Having a backlog of blogs to post seemed like a great idea when I didn’t write them all at the time, but then not writing them at all until about two months later doesn’t seem like the perfect alternative. Although I know I loved Canada, things aren’t as fresh in my mind as they should be so if I’m not totally convincing that’s why.

vancouver skyline

First impressions are always important when visiting somewhere new and, although I completely negated the lack of jet lag (from cruising across the Pacific) by staying up all night, my initial thoughts about Canada were all positive. Although Australia wasn’t dirty by any means, there was something about Vancouver that was just remarkably clean — something later explained by the high number of shops that take pride in power-washing the pavement outside their store or sending teams of workers along the street to pick up rubbish.

The city itself comes with a great reputation. Although my longing to go to Canada came from friends who loved Toronto, Vancouver regularly tops those lists of best place to live. If it doesn’t win, Melbourne normally does, and I love Melbourne. Turns out I love Vancouver too.

As a city it has everything I’ve decided I like, and not too much of what I don’t. The buildings aren’t ridiculously big. The city isn’t so sprawling that I can walk most of it (and what I can’t there’s a decent public transport system). Even the centre feels open, with plenty of parks and green spaces — which is great for all the dog owners, which it seems is pretty much every single resident. It’s still busy enough that there’s plenty going on and lots of areas to explore.

Probably the nicest of those green spaces is Stanley Park, situated by the water with a 10km cycle track all the way round. I tried a tandem with my hybrid-girl, but we couldn’t manage and had to wheel it back up the hill to trade in for single bikes. Commercial Drive was my favourite urban area, mainly thanks to an amazing whisky bar and even better board game pub.

Stanley Park

Another great thing about being back on land was seeing animals again. I love animals. Loads of squirrels everywhere and even a skunk, which apparently is quite common over here.

Of course, wildlife is better away from a city so when I went on a tour of the Rockies it was amazing to play with gophers and see elk and black bears by the side of the road. Sadly I didn’t see any moose. Mooses? Meese?

black bear


The scenery was also amazing. As summer was approaching the lakes were sometimes still thawing, but the ice hadn’t gone completely. Nor had the snow and at one point we even got a fresh layer. These were generally the prettiest parts and although one lake claimed to have some sort of Nessie-like monster, I didn’t see it. Surely no one would make something like that up? Someone also told me I could see the northern lights if I got up at 2am one morning, but I couldn’t. Two potentially amazing things I didn’t see.

lake louise frozen

peyto lake

Aside from a little travelling and wasting time before getting to America, the last real event of Canada was the visiting the Slush Cup in Banff, essentially a bit of a festival to celebrate the last ski weekend. The highlight being a pool of water (slush?) put at the bottom of a run that people in costumes try to jump over, but invariably fail.

slush cup

Here’s that thing Dave does that’s pretty cool.

A: Vancouver
B: Kelowna
C: Banff
D: Jasper

And then he zooms out to make it even cooler.



Filed under: north america, , ,

5 Responses

  1. Dave says:

    Looking forward to an associated YouTube clip of a gopher trying to steal a girl’s camera going viral for a day.

    Did you get much of an idea of how Canada prices compare to UK/Australia? Vancouver sounds pretty perfect.

    • Oliver says:

      I’ve pretty much forgotten how much things in the UK cost, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s pretty similar. Everything was far cheaper than it was in Australia. On a scale we both have experience of, Canada’s somewhere between Thailand and Australia.

      I forget to mention a couple of things I didn’t like about Vancouver. One was a huge number of chain stores, particularly a popular sandwich shop, a coffee shop that everyone’s heard of and one I’ve never seen outside Vancouver. Pretty much every intersection had at least one of those three.

      Also, because Vancouver is the mildest part of Canada, all of the country’s homeless migrate there. They have some sort of scheme to help junkies as well, which boosts that population further. In one area of town it’s pretty intimidating because of the high number of down ‘n’ outs, but good on someone for trying to help them.

  2. Lynsey May says:

    Looks like a super place to visit, good work.

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