-- 48 HOURS IN THE CITY AND ONE MINI ADVENTURE --
Next up is a couple of awesome days in the home city of Anna. It is going to be days filled with sipping good coffee, trying rad beer from local craft breweries, cool shopping and enjoying some of the never ending amazing views.
Psst. Print the map and the mini guide to follow the exploration while reading.
We are kick starting the day with an awesome coffee at Greenhorn Espresso bar together with a quiche, a baked egg or just a delicious croissant in the residential parts of West End. This is a lovely spot where you can sit outside watching the lively neighborhood or sit inside in the middle of a photo exhibition.
We are then continuing the early day with exploring the sea wall of Stanley Park, either by bike or take a nice run. Watch after bald eagles, seals, otters, runners, raccoons and in-liners. Stop and look back at the amazing view over the skyline. This is also a great activity in evening light. You will pass under the Lions Gate Bridge and also pass the Siwash Rock which are mentioned in native legends and thought to be a symbol of 'Clean Fatherhood'.
Before start exploring Vancouver, make sure to visit the website of Vancouver 2014-2016 Art Biennale to not miss out the urban art on your way trough the city.
We take a refreshing break at the Vancouver Institution Cactus Club at English Bay beach, or at Third Beach enjoying a donut that you brought from Cartems Donuterie, enjoying the view of the beach life with the cargo vessels in between you and the mountains. It may still be some snow up in the slopes of Cypress Mountain.
We are now heading over Burrard Bridge to have lunch at the keen Go Fish, situated in a re-built container right at the Fishermen’s Wharf. Their fish and chips, where you can choose type and amount of fish, and tacones with tuna is exquisite. On Mondays they are gone fishin! Once a year the Spotted Prawn Festival is hosted here at the dock and you can buy alive delicacies from the fishing boats coming in.
Let's make a visit to Queen Elizabeth Park with its amazing views over the city and the mountains. They also have their own escape in form of a bubble containing a tropical paradise. Enjoy this for a moment before you head to pretty Le Marché St. George for a coffee a savory crepe and some Earnest ice cream. This coffee shop and mini retail store, selling perfect Vancouver souvenirs, is situated in an old residencial villa in a cosy residential area between Fraser St. and Main St. If you are lucky they will also through one of their theme nights or awesome pop-up shops with local creatives when you are there.
Beer time! We are making our way down Main St. browsing the small shops situated a few blocks down from 28th avenue and also between 12th and 7th avenue. Visit some of the local breweries as 33 Acres Brewing Company with its clean Scandinavian charm at 8th ave. and woody Brassneck Brewery at Main street with its quirky named beers. Do as a Vancouverite and take a growler of beer with you from the breweries to share with your friends later. In Vancouver local businesses love to collaborate. When getting hungry when being at a micro brewery it is just to glimpse outside to look what food truck is parked in front of the bar today, order and bring the food to enjoy it with your local beer. Genius. If it is Monday, stay at 33 Acres for dinner. Juno Kim Catering has a Monday dinner series at the brewery creating a unique meal every Monday night.
When visiting Vancouver it is a must do to eat asian. Today dinner are at Guu Garden at a roof in the middle of downtown. They serves Japanese tapas called izakaya, and you are able to indulge a mix of fantastic sushi, pickled veggies, tempura, different kind of meats and for good sake don’t leave without trying their pork belly.
We are ending the night with drinks and good music at Fox Cabaret and the Projection Room prior known for being an old school porn theatre.
Let’s start the day at Nelson the Seagull in Gastown. They have made their known all over the city for their amazing sourdough bread. Enjoy a sourdough toast with avocado together with great pour over coffee and don't forget to try their croissant. (I guess you have figured out that I really fancy croissants by now)
Now it is time for one of my favorite diversions; wandering the streets of Gastown. Gastown isn’t big but there are several really good shopping spots and neat coffee hangouts and bars at every corner. You should make your way between Columbia st and Richard st via Cordova st, Powell st and Water st. And if the weather is nice, a must do is to walk down to Crab park, a popular oasis in the city for the locals. From here we can enjoy the views of the mountain and at the same time the skyline of downtown Vancouver. Also pop by Union Wood & Supply Company at Railway St in Railtown. At the moment they are starting up their new location at 1340 E Pender St.
Don’t miss to check out Old Faithful Shop, Niftydo Clothing, Lichtfield, Oak & Fort, One of a Few, Neighbour , Livestock and Hach & Hart. When you need a break browsing stores visit Soft Peaks for the best soft ice and take a coffee break at Revolver Coffee.
When it is time for lunch, we walk up to Vancouver art Gallery (if you also want to visit the gallery, do it a Tuesday evening when it is admission fee by donation) and order a real Vancouverite lunch from one of the food trucks. We choose Mom’s Grilled Cheese Truck who serves the best grilled cheese sandwiches ever. You can combine different sorts of cheese by choice. Sit, enjoy the food at the stairs to the gallery doing some people watching.
Since we didn't have time for lunch at Meat & Bread, we have to go in and buy a jar of their mustard or their chocolate bar they have done in a collaboration with Beta 5 ( a contemporary chocolate and pastry shop situated in an old warehouse at industrial ave), containing bacon (!).
Let’s walk of to Chinatown. Chinatown is interesting, is is popping up new interesting places every month. If you are up for some coffee do a quick stop at Pazzo Chow indulging a coffee with a focaccia with nutella. Make your way to the quaint little shops at Union st also making a stop at The Shop, the Open Space and Studio 126. Also pop into el Kartel which sells the awesome Native shoes native from Vancouver. If it is a Saturday, reserve spots at the guided tours at Wing Sang gallery which is sited in the oldest house of Chinatown.
I love taking tours outside the everyday path; for example to the crossing of Nanaimo St and E Hastings St that currently is bustling. It is nowadays difficult to decide on at which of all the gems situated here to still your hunger or your urge for coffee. Take a coffee at Platform 7, a coffee shop with the looks of an old railway station platform.
On our way back to the city we stop by Odd Society for a drink. Odd Society is a craft distillery that opened in 2013 and founder and Distiller Gordon Glanz holds an MSc in brewing and distilling. Now they produce vodka, bourbon barrelled vodka, gin and cassis and have started their first batch of single malt that you can be the owner of a very own cask of.
Dinnertime and time to visit one of my absolute favorites in Van, Ask for Luigi. Situated in an small heritage villa in Railtown is this quaint Italian treasure. The ambience is really laid back with super friendly servers serving red wine in super small water glasses. There isn’t room for many guests so usually you come there, put your name on the list and wait for about 45 minutes for a text telling you that your table is ready. Luckily you have a great spot spending that time at next door. Alibi Room is situated in a narrow brick building right by the railway where the cargo trains enter and depart Vancouver. They serve about 50 different local and imported craft beers on tap and have a menu indicating the hoppyness of the different beers.
Let’s end the night with some drinks. For the ones that doesn’t want to move far we can go to Diamond in the heart of Gastown, or we can go to Bestie, a small wurst parlour in Chinatown serving beers in home made ceramic beer mugs and usually also have some really good cocktails on the menu.
Day 3, time for a mini adventure.
There is endless with great hikes and outdoor adventure to find close by Vancouver. Today we are doing the Stawamus Chief hike, or for those who doesn’t want to sweat for the view going up Sea to Sky Gondola. For the The Chief hike, bring water and snacks.
We are leaving the city early driving the Sea to Sky Highway with its amazing views over the mountains and Howe Sound. For a Swede it almost looks like Norway.
We are doing breakfast at Galileo Coffee at Britannia Beach just before Squamish. This little coffee shop also serves as a roaster. Here are you usually welcomed by a line with bikers waiting for their treats after a great ride from Vancouver.
We are parking at the parking by Shannon Falls. Here also the trail leading us up to the 3 peaks of the massive granite cliff starts. This big granite cliff is known for world known climbing. It is not an easy hike, but it is definitely worth it! The trail is steep uphill with a lot of wooden steps. For the best views over the sound hike directly to peak 1. For views also over the surrounding mountains start with peak 3 and make your way back. Between peak 2 and 1 there is some fun scrambling with ropes and stairs( kallas vad?). The views up there are just amazing.
SEA TO SKY GONDOLA (to get the views for cheap)
Sea to sky Gondola opened in May 2014 and has made the mountains by Sea to Sky Highway easy accessible and opened up the possibility for a lot of hikes and ski touring by winter. The views over the sound and the mountains from here are breathtaking and there are some really nice viewing points. There are a cabin at the top of the Gondola with a nice deck where you can buy drinks and snacks and there is also the possibility to have dinner.
Before heading home, let’s have a drink down by the Squamish River. The Water Shed in Brackendale is a great spot to have a beer in summer afternoons with views over the river and the Chief in a distance. In winter this is also where you go to spot the Bald Eagles wintering and feed easily on exhausted salmons floating in the river.
If we are lucky we are coming back to Vancouver right in time for on of the outdoor movies shown. Usually they are showing movies at 2nd beach in Stanley Park surrounded with food trucks and also at the tip of Canada Place. Do not forget to bring mosquito repellent and a blanket since summer evenings in Vancouver can get quite chilly. www.freshaircinema.ca/
After the cinema or if you didn’t fancied the films shown lets head to Oyster Express in Chinatown for some “buck a’ chuck” oyster and a drink. Then lets have an awesome Korean inspired snack at Dunlevy Snackbar that serves yummy bibimbap and steamed buns often combined with someone scratching vinyl’s.
Our best tips of what to bring home from Vancouver:
Chocolate or/and mustard
Meat & Bread/Beta 5
Locally designed injection molded EVA footwear, way cooler that Crocs
Lululemon - different locations
Van is the city of yoga pants and the birth city for lululemon. Try em, they're awesome!
Coffee roasted at one of the many roasters in town
Elysian, East Van Roasters, 49 Parallell, Matchstick Coffee Roasters, Timbertrain Coffee roasters
Clothes with a touch of Van
Find cool designed souvenirs at 33 Acres and Mount Pleasant Athletic Club
Beer Growler with Bike Case
From some of all the micro breweries. Bike Case can be found at for example Postmark Brewing, made in a collaboration with Union Wood Co.
Burbon barreled Gin
Long Table Distillery
They also have Gin & Tonic Fridays!
Vodka or Amaretto
Sons of Vancouver, really really small batch distillery
at Granville Market you can find salmon candy made of Pacific Salmon and Maple Syrup