For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to visit Vancouver, although I had no specific reason why. There was just something about it. I almost had the opportunity a few years ago when I visited Seattle, but I was not in a position to extend my travel plans. Fortunately, I found myself traveling to Seattle again a few weeks ago, so I was determined to stop by Vancouver, no matter how short my stay.
This was designed to be a short, budget-friendly trip. I booked Amtrak Cascades for $36 from Seattle, WA to Vancouver, BC for a 4-hour scenic and pleasant train ride. If you have the opportunity to take the train north, try to sit on the west side, as you’ll have a view of the water during most of your trip.
The only inconvenient portion of the train ride was passport control upon arrival in Vancouver. It took about an hour from the time the train stopped at the station until I passed through security. I exchanged $10 for public transportation purposes, not realizing that the SkyTrain took credit cards, so exchanging cash proved unnecessary.
There was a beautiful park just outside of the Amtrak station, giving me an excellent first impression of the city. I made my way down the block to the SkyTrain, where I purchased a ticket for all of $2.50 to travel to downtown Vancouver.
Before arriving in Vancouver, I had difficulty finding affordable housing, so I booked the downtown location of The Cambie Hostel – it was $27 for a shared 2-bed female dorm room.
The SkyTrain dropped me off a few blocks away from the hostel. I checked-in early and lugged my suitcase to my room on the second floor. Although my roommate had already checked in, she was not in the room when I arrived.
The room was not spacious. If I stood in the middle of the room and spread my arms apart, I could almost reach the opposite walls. The room contained a bunkbed, a small round table, a single chair, and a window, so this was not a place to unpack and spread out. Both my roommate and I kept our suitcases under the bed. The bathroom was a shared dorm-style bathroom across the hall.
I loved Cambie Hostel, despite the size of the room and each bed spring that could be felt through the mattress. The place had character and a fun and friendly staff. And, I couldn’t have asked for a better location.
After dropping my luggage, I walked north to the water and followed it northwest to the peninsular park called Stanley Park (see the upper left corner of the above map – the big green section). I found a bike rental store along Denman Street (don’t walk into the first bike rental location you see on the corner of Denman and Georgia – they’re grossly overpriced) and biked the 8-9K perimeter of the park. That was one of the more difficult 8-9K bike rides I’ve attempted recently, not because of the broken toe (yes, still broken but finally healing), but because of the wind off the water. It was a beautiful bike ride, but I was not accustomed to the skinny bike path and it was a bit alarming at one point to look out into open water, seeing only fishing boats and no land.
After returning the bike, I walked back toward the hostel along a few main roads and the coastline. I love the architecture in Vancouver – the entire city looks modern. The buildings are metal and glass with lush gardens and parks everywhere.
After returning to the hostel, I talked to Eric on Google Talk via the video chat feature. I turned my phone off to leave the U.S., but even while still in America, this is our preferred method of keeping in touch when one of us is away. I then left to find sushi, ate dinner, returned to the hostel, took a shower, and went to sleep. As my roommate had not yet returned, I took the top bunk. After all, she was there first.
Day 2 coming soon!