One thing that is great about living in Los Angeles is the discount plane tickets and flash sales you can utilize to take fun unexpected trips. Allegiant which is a budget airline online is generally pretty cheap, however, this day they sent out a notification of even lower fares to select cities. Lone behold me and my friends decided to jump on the opportunity to go to Vancouver, Canada. Given the options we had we were to fly into Bellingham, Washington, rent a car and drive an hour across the border to get there. Luckily we crossed the border about 10 pm so there was absolutely no line to wait in to cross. Arriving at our Airbnb at 11:30 PM we set out to take a look at the downtown area with what little time we had for the evening.
One thing which was nice is that the USD goes a little further there, it is $.075 USD per $1 CAD. After hitting a local Irish pub and grabbing some gyros we headed home to rest up for what would be a very long and exhausting first day.
We wake up at a decent hour, find a local coffee shop with sandwiches and breakfast goods, and hit the road. One thing to note about this city is just how incredibly beautiful it is. Everything from the views from our condo to the surrounding areas during our drive. It is absolutely stunning. Hour and a half away from Vancouver you will come to see signs for Garbaldi Lake.
This lake is our destination for the day and did I mention it is a 11 miles (9 km) round trip hike to get to? It definitely is. We start our journey up the side of the mountain at 10 am and I am only .65 mile (1 km) in when I feel my legs starting to feel the burn. One thing which was awesome given my lack of successful hikes in the past is how well this trail is marked. Each km has a marking and even colored tags along the way so you aren’t sure to take a wrong turn, even though there aren’t many places to turn until you get to the top, it is still nice to have.
The nature around you is breath-taking and the sound of a running stream will slowly fade away in the distance as you make your way up. I will be the first to say that I did not find this hike “easy.” We are fully aware that the “hard part” of the hike is the first 3.7 miles (6 km). Until then you are hiking at incline and at that mark it starts to level out. There is a small path to the right of the 6 km mark which takes you to stones and a wonderful outlook on the mountain.
Once you are done with the photos continue on to 8 km. 8 km is where you will see a gorgeous emerald-green lake (the smaller lake) and amazing colors of fall trees.
Again after the photo-op hit your last km and be prepared to be blown away. The main Garibalidi lake (teal lake) will definitely catch you off guard with the color, which is created from glaciers. It is positively breath-taking.
Wrap your way around the lake and you will come to a shed which is at the bottom of the camping sites and a place to eat your lunch and rest your legs.
I can see how people would spend quite a bit of time here in the summer, but giving the weather, getting in the water or lounging around wasn’t an option for us. We finish our lunches take the last of our photos and hit the trail to make our way down. Generally speaking going down is easier than going up of course, but the incline on your joints sure does take a toll after a while. We finally make it back to the car and it is now 5 pm. Crazy. The whole thing round trip with small breaks was seven hours. You read about it taking five to six, but then experiencing it is a completely different thing. However, regardless you will finish with a great sense of accomplishment and a lot of phenomenal photos to show for it.
Hitting a little traffic on our way to the condo we make our way back, get cleaned up and head to The Flying Pig for dinner which is located in Yaletown. The food and my compadres was average for me surprisingly given the high ratings, but I definitely wouldn’t return here the next time I go to Vancouver. After dinner, going out and having far too many drinks we finally wrap up our day at 3:00 am.
Day two was significantly less eventful. After a very long wait for breakfast we headed to the other side of downtown known as Gastown. We went to Steamworks which is what seems to be the only brewery in downtown and got ready for a very long day of food and booze. We each had a flight of beers at Steamworks and over all, I enjoyed them. They have flavored beers such as pumpkin, IPA’s, Pilsners, and Pale Ales, so overall a good mix for everyone to enjoy. Only doing one flight here we wanted to make an effort to get to another brewery since it was getting so late and we had an Iowa Hawkeye game my group wanted to watch.
The second brewery was beyond awesome in my opinion. Everything from the decor, the beers and the snack set up was completely my style. This brewery is called Brassneck and is located across the bridge in Mount Pleasant, which is a quick cab ride away.
(By the way cabs are very frequent and easy to get here, no uber or lyft are available in Vancouver. The beer selection I enjoyed a lot more, they had fun things to try such as Cherry Sour (my personal favorite) and a Hibiscus beer. The snack line up has a mix and blend of sausages and breads to choose from right out in front on the bar. I would definitely come back to this place when I make a return visit.
After having a mix up with the Iowa game and who was playing it we made our way back to Yaletown to catch the game. During this whole time there was one place in particular I was really wanting to go to. Luckily now was the time to make that happen. Cue Long Table Distillery, a gin distillery.
They have a tasting menu which is a choice of 3 samples and come in small sip shot glass. We opted for their famous Cucumber Gin, London Gin and the Limoncello which actually debuted that same day. This was the smoothest gin I have ever had and the people who work there are so incredibly nice and knowledgeable they were a joy to talk to. I really was hoping to bring some back with me and was so sad to hear I couldn’t buy any at the Bellingham airport to take back as they only sell at the Vancouver airport. I suppose this in itself is a reason to return. 🙂
Rushing off to dinner the decision for the night is The Parlour in Yaletown. This was by far the best meal we had the entire trip. With four of us we order three pizzas to share and take the rest home, my pizza of choice was called Roasted. The pizza was delicious and the ambiance of the place was not your typical pizza place – it is very loud, dark and nicely light with small lights. One fact about Vancouver I learned is that the bars and restaurants are on a “tier” of closing. So restaurants close about 11 pm, pubs will close about 2 am, bars will close about 3 am and clubs close at 4 am from what I can remember. Interesting concept and definitely something I have never heard of before.
As the trip is nearing the end my overall feeling of Vancouver is I absolutely LOVE it. Downtown has this “big small city” feel and I have every intention on returning. I only had two full days and sadly we did not get to see all we wanted to see including the Sea Walk and the interior of Stanley Park. If Vancouver is on your places to go and you are planning a trip, I would recommend having four full days there especially if you plan on doing a hike somewhere.