My trip to Canada was a jam packed, action filled, cultural learning adventure all in just 10 days. Yep, 10 days! and in this short time there were 4 flights, 3 separate accommodations, 2 ferry trips and 1 gondola ride. Crazy right?
With the flight books to Vancouver, we arrived in the afternoon, feeling worse for wear having to relive the same day twice. Fortunate enough to be staying with friends, we were collected at the airport and then whisked to their house to settle in. All we did that evening was visit a restaurant called Four Seasons which offered the most amazing views of the Vancouver city skyline and mountains. If you visit this restaurant, sit outside next to their fireplaces and overhead heating. You will certainly be warm.
The next day was a day of bike riding. Borrowing the family bikes, we made a short journey towards to City centre, passing some great places such as the Science Museum and the waterfront. We made a stop in China Town and bought some steamed buns and continued on to downtown, where we stopped to look at the Steam clock. An antique clock that is powered by steam and whistles to tell you the time. The scenic bike ride took us through Stanley park, with some amazing photo opportunities of Vancouver City and its lakes. We made a point of stopping at Brockton Point where a collection of Totem Poles dating back to 1920 are on display, and also Lions Gate Bridge. With a steep ride, we made it to the viewing platform overlooking the bridge and it was breathtaking. On the way back, we stopped at Vancouver City Hall.
Day two was a ferry ride over to Vancouver Island where on route to our destination we stopped at Craigdarroch Castle and Victoria. In Victoria, we managed to see The Empress Hotel and the BC Parliament Building. That night we were staying with our friends aunt and uncle (Oh yeah, Canadians are exceptionally welcoming). This was a beautiful house located on the lake in Duncan. The following day saw us go on a scenic hike with amazing views, followed by a visit to two wine tasting vineyards.
After our trip to Vancouver Island, we head off for our hike So they say!! at a place called SeatoSummit. It turned out not to be a hike, but in fact a mountain. This was an all day trek with an exceptionally steep journey, some points even having rope assistance. With a quick half way pit stop to chow down on a sandwich and a Marsbar, we were soon at the top and spent the time taking advantage of some great photo opportunities. Thank God there was also a restaurant at the top. Now I know what you are thinking… there is a long journey down. Thankfully there was a Gondola which got you from top to bottom, so for €60, the four of us took the ride down. Quick tip, before you head down, make sure to take a 3 minute walk to the viewing platform which overlooks the Chief and more.
As a reward for our mountain climb, we had made reservations at Harrisons Springs, a hotel that offered hot springs, a must if you are visiting Canada. It was a long drive but with the views that Vancouver offer, I was certainly not going to complain. Harrison is a very quirky place, somewhere that looks like its been picked up out of the 70s and dropped on this beautiful location on the lake. The hotel (a little ugly on the outside) was far nicer inside and the room was comfortable. BTW, the springs were not what you imagined, like the Blue Lagoon in Iceland. Instead, they were 4 swimming pools, heated but still with chlorine mmm..
wWe spent the next day on a gorgeous walk to Granville Island, a very eccentric and retro tourist area with a huge public market. It was a lovely end to our time in Vancouver for early the next day we were on a flight to Toronto to spend the next 3 nights in the city. We were staying at the Chelsea Hotel on the recommendation of a friend. This hotel was huge! with over 1500 rooms. The room was comfortable (a little hairy on the housekeeping side if you know what I mean, but was perfect nonetheless.
The first day in Toronto was walking around to explore, just five minutes round the corner was Yonge-Dundas Square, a place where a lot of live billboards are displayed. Here we took advantage of the best way to see the city in a short time, the bus tour. This allowed us to see everything we could and choose the sites we wished to see. The first for us was Casa Loma. Yep, another castle. This was an amazing place to visit, especially discovering its intriguing past and its relation to the film industry. It was such a beautiful building with amazing rooms to see, only set back was the unfortunate furniture which did not match the building at all. This took up almost a whole day! OMG. We had not seen any other locations. In the end we decided to try and grab the boat tour that was included in the bus tour which took us around Toronto Island. This gave some fantastic photo opportunities on route back to the main land. Dinner that evening was in this gorgeous Italian restaurant called Donatello. Amazing service!!
The second day was a bus tour booked to Niagra Falls. Being only an hour and a half away this is something that could not go a miss. The tour also included a boat trip up to Niagra Falls itself and involved getting very wet but was worth it for the views. After the falls we headed to this quaint town called Niagra on the Lake. A beautiful small town untouched by corporations with amazing houses and a great view of the lake. They even have a Christmas shop that is open 364 days of the year (closed for Christmas of course). The thing that made the day so much more enjoyable was the great tour guide named Michael. Be sure to try and get on one of his tours.
This was a once in a lifetime trip and I hope that should you get the opportunity to go, be sure to check out some of these places.