By SANDY IRLE
(VANCOUVER, digitalBURG) — Vancouver, British Columbia, is a large Canadian city comprised of many smaller neighborhoods, all with their own special personality.
Spend time at Marinaside Crescent on False Creek and discover chic cafés and shops, bicyclists enjoying the dedicated bike path and a veritable fashion runway of people with shopping bags.
An apartment-style rental in the West End is a good lodging option. It’s incredibly easy to get here from the airport, and there are both an “aquabus” and ferry system on False Creek to take you to Granville Island with its live music and indoor farmers market.
Only steps away is one of Stanley Park’s seawall promenades where you can walk, bike or inline skate the 51/2-mile trail while enjoying views of English Bay. This national historic site has beautifully maintained flower and herb gardens, sculpture, beaches and a variety of places to stop and eat.
Go to Gastown, named for “Gassy Jack” Deighton, a longwinded but not short-sighted man who founded Vancouver when he thought to open a bar for loggers in this location more than a century ago. Here you’ll find, among other things, the Vancouver Lookout, a tower with an observation deck and a revolving restaurant on top. Opt for dessert and coffee at sunset and spend an hour watching the cityscape go by.
The ferry system in this part of British Columbia is very good, and a 90-minute ride from Vancouver to Vancouver Island is comfortable and fun. The view is lovely and you may be lucky enough to get a tour guide explaining the species of whales and fish found in these waters.
Arrive at the southern island region and visit Victoria, a small city with plenty of British charm, or the central island region and drive up the coast for a leisurely look at the curving beaches and old growth forests. In the north central region, the town of Campbell River is ready for your stay in this vibrant community. There are a lot of lodging options and if you haven’t made your arrangements yet visit the welcome center with its wonderful staff and learn of the many possibilities.
There are plenty of things to do and see, connected by an inviting sea walk built by the local Rotary club. Campbell River, known as the “Salmon Capitol of the World” is a close-knit community with a love for the arts. Besides art galleries and outdoor art space, you can visit one of several museums, independently owned businesses and restaurants or enjoy summer concerts in the heart of downtown. Drive a few miles out of town for opportunities to visit waterfalls and hike trails at Strathcona Provincial Park, home to lakes, glaciers, bears and cougars.
Our stay fell on the weekend of the River City Art Festival & Pink Salmon Festival, a wonderful street fair with art booths, live music and free pink salmon sliders served up by volunteers. There is also a “Driftwood Carving Contest” along the sea walk where huge carvings emerge in shapes of bears and mythical figures. The winner is purchased for permanent display. We walked all over town looking at past years’ winning sculptures, ending up back in the thick of the festival.
Later that evening, back at the cabin, we grabbed the “beach bucket” provided by our hostess, including a blanket, fire starter and skewers, and headed for the beach across the street. We roasted hot dogs and enjoyed the beach fire for a bit. On our return we got an invitation to join a neighbor for a glass of wine. Retired and living in an RV, Harry and Molly spend summers in Campbell River and winters touring the United States. We enjoyed the rest of the evening talking and laughing, and as they had traveled to Alaska, our next destination, they shared some great tips. The next morning found us saying fond goodbyes to new friends and looking forward to our next adventure, north to Alaska!
Sandy Irle is a travel journalist and digitalBURG contributor. You can read more of Sandy’s work at iplanetrip.com.