My dear husband planned a brilliant overnight trip to Vancouver, BC for my birthday. He told me about it on Thursday then we left early Saturday morning, leaving the perfect amount of time to get things together but not obsess about the details or over-pack.
Forty eight hours in Vancouver really doesn’t do the city justice but we managed to experience plenty of highlights without getting stuck in obnoxious Labor Day traffic at the border crossing.
Rob scored an excellent last-minute deal at the Fairmont Pacific Rim, set near the lively harbor full of sea planes, enormous cruise ships, and the majestic sails of the iconic Canada Place. The Fairmont kindly let us check in early so we had our home base established, suitcase dumped, car parked, and we were ready to explore.
Our whirlwind of fun began with a bus ride to Granville Island, a mecca for art, shops, food, glorious produce, and all kinds of entertainment.
We wandered aimlessly enjoying the sunshine, street entertainers and musicians, and window-shopping until we stumbled upon the Kids Market and our children saw a wall of toys in a store window… they had William and Sara at Lego. Rob and I had other thoughts on the best way to spend our time, namely not indoors and not shopping, so after letting them look for a bit, we pried the kids away from the clutches of the insanely huge building full of toy shops with the lure of lunch.
Next stop: lunch at Bridges then the famous Granville Public Market. I’d like to say that we walked through this historic market full of exotic wares slowly and let all of our senses be delighted by the amazing sights, smells, and sounds but (here is where I wonder whether blogging should always be the whole truth and nothing but the truth) yours truly had a little meltdown… nothing embarrassing just a quiet yet abrupt “Get me OUT of here!!!” moment. The closed-in marketplace was absolutely packed with people, it was extremely noisy, I was clutching on to Sara’s little hand and feeling nervous that I might lose her, and hating that William and Daddy were so far ahead that I couldn’t see them. Plain and simple, I was overwhelmed. And since we had just dragged the kids out of the toy store I didn’t understand why we were “shopping” more.
This is about what I felt like, “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!”
Rob did not understand why I was suddenly freaking out and I was not in a great place to coherently explain myself. It took some time but we recovered. The refreshing water park smack dab in the middle of everything helped. We had fun running around in the mist, splashing in troughs of water, and spraying a couple fire hoses. After some fresh air, deep breathing, and being hosed down (kidding), I came to understand that (duh) people come to this island simply to experience the very market that had me out of my mind. We weren’t there to shop, rather we were there to experience interesting new things, one of the mantras of our vacation agenda… oops, Mommy forgot. Maybe I needed a nap. Anyhow, we gave it another try and did great the second time around. We got to sample local honey, check out vegetables and fruits we had never heard of, admire handmade hats and scarves, appreciate local art, drool over gorgeous pastries, and take a nice quiet little break perusing books (a wonderful little bookstore was right across the street in another building called the Net Loft).
A moving iron sculpture with balls rolling on ramps and chain “elevators” lifting the balls back up, located right next to the enormous cement factory. Even the massive cement trucks are decorated in colorful art on this Island.
Native artisans actually carve totem poles right on Granville Island — they weren’t working when we passed by but we got to peek a their workshop and see their creations up close.
After discussing the different images depicted on totem poles, Sara declared “dis one me!”
Pondering frozen treat options
Sara holding my hand
Our floating ride to the next destination
Taking the AquaBus was a relaxing and fun way to leave Granville Island. It took us to Science World.
We didn’t go in (it was under renovation plus we didn’t want to be inside on such a pretty day) but Science World looks great — maybe next time.
We were all a little tired by this point but talking about a ride on the SkyTrain perked the kids right up.
We started high above ground, zooming along with views of the city. The kids were fascinated when it went dark around us and our stop was underground
A transportation theme had emerged. We drove the car up, rode the bus to Granville Island, hopped on a little boat to catch the SkyTrain then back to the hotel which is right next to the busy harbor with seaplanes, cruise ships, and all types of marine vessels coming and going.
The hotel’s kid-friendly (only 3′ 6″ deep) pool was the perfect respite after our jet-setting day.
And the pool was the perfect start the following day. After a little morning splashing we said goodbye to the Fairmont and were back in our car heading toward the awe-inspiring Stanley Park. Having misjudged the distance from the parking lot to the Fish House restaurant where we planned to have brunch, the kids were a bit tired but the benches along the way were a good spot to rest and the payoff was an incredible meal.
William with his cornflake crusted, banana, nutella french toast topped with caramel, whipped cream, strawberry and mint. No, this boy is not interested in the kids menu, thank you
William was happy and the waiter was impressed
A family could spend a full week in Stanley Park and still have fun things left to do. After some time at one of the many incredible playgrounds, we opted to hop on the Stanley Park Trolley to see as much of the park in our limited time frame.
Worn out and waiting for the trolley
While we would have loved to get out and enjoy the park more, the trolley turned out to be perfect for the kids’ dwindling energy levels and it rounded out our “transportation theme” beautifully.
The Stanley Park Trolley, complete with a clanging bell at every stop
Next time we’ll have to stay a week (or two) to fit in all of the wonderful things that Vancover has to offer but we were happy with all that we managed to see in our less than 48 hours in this remarkable city.