This summer, Flea and I are exploring Canada and the Pacific North West, kicking off our 3 week trip in Vancouver.
I’ve always wanted to visit Vancouver, and Flea said she wanted to do “lakes and woods” during her summer break this year.
We flew from Heathrow to Vancouver with British Airways, which was about a 9.5-hour flight. It made for quite a long day, but meant we landed at around 6pm local time, and only needed to stay awake a few more hours to avoid the worst of the jetlag.
Kudos to BA, too, for letting us know in advance that Canada now has its own version of the ESTA travel permit, and you’ll need one of these to be able to board a flight to Canada from the UK. They cost a few dollars and can be bought online.
For this trip, we’ve hired a car. As always, the rental company magically didn’t have the car we’d ordered with a GPS but I could upgrade to the tank and have a GPS for free. Joy.
Driving in Vancouver isn’t complicated – the streets are laid out grid-style, which makes navigation pretty straightforward. But the traffic can be busy, and we found driving in and out of the city to be painfully slow. With hindsight, I’d arrive and leave as early or late in the day as possible.
Our first rental was a suite in Kitsilano, an artsy neighbourhood in the West of Vancouver, popular with young people and families. Our apartment was just off West Broadway, with endless organic produce stores and ethical coffee shops.
The suite was perfect, with everything we needed, and I loved that we could walk around the neighbourhood without needing a car. West Broadway is home to restaurants of just about every sort of food you can imagine, from Jamaican to Korean, Greek and Indian. Flea – in a shocking turn of events – opted for a mammoth burger.
Just a 20-minute walk away, we found Kits Beach, which was beautiful despite the rain. It rained a LOT while we were in Vancouver! After an hour exploring, we ditched the worst of the weather (and our plans to visit Stanley Park) and headed to the mall to do some shopping, and catch a movie.
Because I’m a SUPER responsible parent we went to see Bad Moms which was absolutely hilarious and involved me covering Flea’s eyes and ears roughly once every six minutes.
I was sad to miss the park, but sometimes I think needs must, and Flea was certainly happier to do the rounds of Old Navy, and then eat herself into a popcorn coma.
On our final day in Vancouver, thankfully, we woke to blue skies and sunshine. It seemed the perfect opportunity to check out Granville Island, one of the city’s key tourist attractions.
Granville Island is essentially a quirky shopping neighbourhood filled with stalls, cafes and restaurants along the waterfront. There’s also a huge public market selling every sort of food you can imagine, along with artisan crafts and produce.
We ate fish tacos on the waterfront, and took a boat tour of the city’s highlights, and then just enjoyed the atmosphere.
Flea loved the Children’s Market, a dedicated market area where there are 14 stores just for kids, selling every sort of toy imaginable. We spent a long time here in the magic store where the owner was hilarious, testing out his jokes on passing kids. On the first floor, there’s also a VR booth where kids can battle zombies or ride a VR rollercoaster for $9 a time.
Another of our highlights was a store called “Make” where you can design and print your own shirts, boxes, cushions, bottles – well, pretty much anything. Flea designed her own skateboard t-shirt, which she’s pretty proud of.
By this time, the sun was getting really hot so we headed to probably one of my favourite things in Granville Island – the water park. This is essentially a playground filled with water slides, sprays and chutes, where kids can play freely. We especially loved the working fire hydrants. Flea stripped off her shoes and shorts and got completely SOAKED.
After leaving Granville Island, we were sorely in need of a lazy night, so picked up some cooked chicken and wraps from the supermarket, and ate them while watching a movie in our rental apartment.
Next stop, Whistler!