A whistlestop tour of Vancouver and Vancouver Island

We have now spent a week in Vancouver, with a side trip to Victoria on Vancouver Island, so I’ll try and capture the highlights here. The feature image is actually a sculpture outside the Vancouver Library. Both appropriate for there and here, I thought!


We were given a pass to the Hop-on-hop-off bus, but found it a frustrating experience as the buses were too infrequent. I can recommend a trip through Stanley Park on the bus though as the commentary is worth hearing. The rest of the time we used our Compass card and caught trolley buses, buses, trains and ferries. We found that bus drivers were friendly and really helpful, telling us when to get off the bus and where to catch the bus back. Whilst riding the buses we found that other travellers were eager to tell us where we should be visiting and we generally took their advice and found it always to be worthwhile.

There is so much to talk about that I’ve had to break the post into sections, and I’ve had to miss things that I would have liked to have mentioned.

Vancouver Island

We flew to Victoria, Vancouver Island, the home of the BC legislature. This is housed in the most magnificent building and we were lucky enough to be able to look through the building.


This is the handle on the bathroom door. How gorgeous is it, with the monogrammed door knob?


A shot of the building from afar.


Like everywhere else, the blossoms were amazing in Victoria. This tree captivated me and is right in the middle of town.


We didn’t have time to get to the Butchart Gardens, but we did get to Beacon Hill Park, which is a really nice park just at the edge of the town. Again, I took loads of photos, but my favourite is this one of all the turtles sitting on a log. I don’t think it’s a sculpture!


We managed to get some aerial photos of Victoria from the seaplane, and although I’ve been to Victoria before, I was still surprised at the extent of the city.



We had a lovely day on Vancouver Island, with the bonus of catching up with Linda from nicedressthanksimadeit and Jessica in her beautiful bookshop. Vancouver Island is definitely worth a visit if you have time.

Parks and botanic gardens

Vancouver has a lot of gardens and parks and we barely scratched the surface, but did manage to visit most of the better known ones.

Capilano Bridge Park

This is a famous park, and the bridge was built in 1889 and completely rebuilt in 1953. When I visited in 1997, the bridge was pretty much the only activity. Now there is a fabulous treetop walk and a cliff walk. We caught a bus to the park rather than take the free shuttle. I think this is a better way to go as I hate stopping at hotels for all the pick ups.

The trees in the park are unbelievably beautiful, and because of the shade, there was a lot of lichen for me to admire.

Followers on IG may recognise this Great Horned Owl, and I fell in love with her little tufty “horns” and was amazed to learn that she weighed less than a kilo. Interesting (to me anyway) is the fact that owls and other raptors have 14 vertebrae and can turn their heads 210° without moving their bodies and therefore staying invisible to their prey.IMG_1502

One of the main attractions is obviously the bridge, and I did post a couple of photos of this in a previous post so I won’t post more. Instead I’ll talk about the Cliff Walk. This has been designed to highlight water conservation and there are a few little activities showing how much water various things (like baths) use. I was pleased to see both adults and children viewing these. The cliff walk is new, so Mark and I did it twice, just to savour it and completely get my adrenalin going!


It’s one of those cantilevered affairs so you feel as though you’re standing on air. Lovely!


I look completely cheerful here, but I don’t think I felt it. Mark loitered on the edge of an airy outcrop!



Grouse Mountain

After Capilano we hopped on another bus and made our way to Grouse Mountain. You need a clear day for this as the views from the top are breathtaking, and you can see all the way to Vancouver Island.


It was 2°C the day we went, and I was slightly underprepared in terms of clothing, but managed – just.


There are lots of sculptures scattered about; this being one of my favourites.IMG_1582

Grouse Mountain is home to two orphaned bears, now adults. They are housed in a carefully designed research centre where they live independently and where their interactions with humans is limited. There is a video show which documents their life and the research findings. Very interesting. They were still in hibernation so we didn’t get to see them, but we did discover that they sleepwalk every day and stretch, which is how they keep their muscles and bones strong during the long period of hibernation.

Access to and from the mountain is by cable car and the views are spectacular.


After our visit we caught another bus to Lonsdale Quay where we caught the ferry back to the city.


Stanley Park

A walk around the seawall to Stanley Park is totally worth the effort. I could see this hut on stilts in the distance and couldn’t understand what function it could possibly have had. Imagine my delight when I discovered that it’s actually a sculpture!


There are some really charming houseboats in the marina along the seawall.


Once in Stanley Park there is a lot to see and do. The totem poles are always of interest to me. I hadn’t realised that these were actually used as house poles and somehow I was reminded of the Maori totems (Pouwhenua) which are used to mark territory and places of significance and which tell stories and reflect the relationship between the ancestors, environment, and the reputation of the people.


Stanley Park has the girl in the wetsuit, modelled on the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen, and perhaps Perth’s own Eliza in Matilda Bay.


A recent addition to Stanley Park  are these A-maze-ing laughter statues, made in the artist’s own image. They were a temporary installation in English Bay, but the founder of Lululemon gave money to the Park Board to buy them. They really do inspire joy and a sense of fun to the area.


After English Bay we walked to the water to catch the ferry to Granville Island Markets.


The ferries run very frequently and are quite small. It is about a five minute crossing to the markets, and it’s nice to see them from the river.


The markets are a “must do” for visitors to Vancouver as they have a wide range of local produce.

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and sometimes you can see the artisan working on the products for sale



Queen Elizabeth park

This is one of the places we were advised to visit whilst riding on the bus. We caught the train to visit this park.

The park was created from a couple of defunct quarries and was designed to commemorate Queen Elizabeth’s Golden and Diamond Jubilees. I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

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Van Dusen Garden

This park is listed as a “hidden gem” and we walked across from the Queen Elizabeth Park. The flowers in this garden are extraordinary and they were preparing for a massive plant sale when we were there.

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Van Dusen Park is divided into various sections and it’s possible to see Canadian native plants, walk in a stone garden, explore a medicinal garden and get lost in an Elizabethan Maze.

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There is an abundance of bird life in the gardens and I was thrilled to see hummingbirds. So sweet. The photo below was taken in the Heather Garden.


UBC Botanical Gardens

A longish bus ride takes you to the University of British Columbia. I attended a conference here once but hardly recognise the place now. The gardens are well worth a visit.


There is another tree walk here, the Green Heart Tree Walk, and this is perhaps the scariest one I have ever been on. You really do need to hold on with both hands. I was judicious in choosing moments when other people weren’t on it with me as it rocked rather alarmingly, and there was an unfortunate incident when Mark wobbled me and I was set to divorce him!


Some climbing was involved to really get into the tree tops.IMG_1775

I haven’t really done Vancouver justice, as it’s a fabulous city, but this post is becoming rather long and I don’t want to wear you all out. We are now getting on a train so will probably be in a situation of “radio silence” or whatever the internet version of that is. See you all on the other side!



17 thoughts on “A whistlestop tour of Vancouver and Vancouver Island

  1. BC is spectacular! This post is most captivating. But the bar is high now for us in the Eastern part.

  2. It looks amazing, love the pics. The suspension bridges would do my head in but I would have to do it if I was there. Love to you and Markxx

  3. I love that library building too – such a unique shape! Queen E Park is much like Butchart Gardens over here. I don’t know how you managed to climb so high up – I would be so afraid… and my husband would love to give me a scare up there too! Thanks for sharing your photos! I’m looking forward to seeing more from my favourite #travelingsewingblogger !

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