Before starting our world trip Tjeerd Paul was looking for a laptop. He came across this particular laptop introduced by Huawai, which would be released somewhere in the spring. No release date was mentioned, but it would only be available in the UK, US and Canada. During our time in the Rocky Mountains Tjeerd Paul found out that it was just released in Canada! He was soo excited! As this was thé laptop he was waiting for, we tried to find out where we could buy it. Surprisingly at that time 1 laptop was still available at the Microsoft Store in Calgary. We couldn’t make a reservation so we took our chances and just went to Calgary. (Just before leaving we contacted customer service who confirmed 1 available laptop). But when we arrived at the store there was none available! Such a bummer. Tjeerd Paul was so looking forward to getting his new laptop. So when the time was there to go to Vancouver, there was another chance of getting that laptop! After settling in in our lovely apartment, rented via Airbnb, we immediately went to the Vancouver store. Six laptops where in stock, from which 5 reserved and just 1 available! Tjeerd Paul was sooo happy! He finally got it after waiting for more then 5 months. Visiting Vancouver was already a score!
The city of Vancouver
After spending some time in the more quite areas of Canada we are now back in the big city again: Vancouver. And you’re immediately reminded of it by all the heavy traffic all over the city. So no way that we would take our car to go into the city center. Luckily there was a bus stop very close to our apartment with a direct connection to the center. The best part of using the bus is seeing all the different neighborhoods you go through. This is one of the best reasons to use public transport we think. After driving through some residential areas we entered the city center via China Town, which is really big. One of the things we noticed along the way were all the homeless people we saw in Vancouver. There are quite many of them. Apparently most homeless people from West-Canada go to Vancouver because the weather is better here. Summers are not as hot and winters not as cold compared to cities like Calgary or Edmonton.
Cycling through Vancouver
Vancouver is known as a cycling friendly city. As Dutchies we couldn’t waste this chance to get on a bike again and explore the city on wheels. We were so glad that we did! It was a really change from all the walking and hiking and because you can go to all the main sights by bike, you can explore the city within 1 full day. During our cycling trip through Vancouver we managed to see the harbor, the harbor boulevard, Stanley Park (with it’s raccoons and totem poles) and Granville Island while enjoying the sun, scenery, wind, sea and food along the way. But don’t be fooled, Vancouver has some high hills, so cycling is not the same as in The Netherlands! Sometimes it was better to walk uphill, because the hills are so steep.
Home away from home
As weird and silly it may sound, the best part of Vancouver for us was our apartment. We had found these lovely, fully equipped basement apartment in one the residential areas of Vancouver. The apartment was decorated similar as our (sold) home in Groningen and even had the same couch as we have. Because of this, the apartment felt truly as home. Although we don’t have any problem with making ourselves at home along the trip, this was something special. It was really nice to have that feeling again, even if it was just for a brief moment.
After our cycling adventure through the city it was time to explore a different part of Vancouver: it’s green surroundings. Upon recommendation of our host we went to Lynn Valley. The Lynn Canyon park is the free alternative to crowded Capilano, which people mostly visit for it’s suspension bridge. Lynn Valley is a neighborhood in North Vancouver, well known for it’s natural parks, which has it’s own suspension bridge and has nice hiking trails, swimming spots and picnic areas. We went for the hiking trails and really enjoyed the quietness after a day in the city. Just you, the wind through the forest, birds signing and the occasional steps of other hikers.
After visiting the mainland it was time to go a little more west and cross the water to Vancouver Island. After a 1,5 hour ferry ride we arrived at Nainamo and continued our journey towards Ucluelet. Along the way there were another couple of nice stops, which we couldn’t miss. One of the most interesting stops was Cathedral Grove. This is a small area covered with some of the oldest trees in Canada. Some trees have a diameter of over 3 meters! Walking through this forest makes you feel really small. Because it’s densely forested, it can be quite dark in some places making it a mysterious walk through this ancient forest.
Checking off our bucketlist
Ucluelet was our destination for the next couple of days. It’s on the western part of Vancouver Island, within the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. One of the cool things to do on the island is taking a water plane to fly above the coastline and sea. This was one of our bucket list things, so we called one of the companies in the morning to see if they had any space left for a flight. ‘Of course we do! Can you be here within a hour?’ was their answer. Wauw, that’s quick. Lets go! So we hopped into the car and drove to Tofino for the scenic flight. Unfortunately the weather was grey with no sun, but it didn’t really matter. We enjoyed every minute of it! It was really awesome to be in a tiny plane, flying above the water, having these amazing views and seeing everything from this unique angle. We didn’t see any whales but we did see a lot of walruses, being lazy on the rocks.
Exploring Pacific Rim National Park Reserve
Because we did this scenic flight early in the morning, we had the rest of the day to explore. As we were already in Tofino we started in this surf village. It was pretty quite due to off-season but you can still feel the relaxing, hippy vibe that usually goes along in these kind of towns. There are some cute shops and restaurants among the surf and bike shops across the village. We didn’t spend to much time here, because we wanted to see more of the coastline, but now from the ground.
We continued our way towards Radar Hill, Schooner Cove, Long Beach, Wickaninnish Beach and Florencia Bay. Some of the pathways towards the sea are hikes on itself, taking you through the ruff forest on boardwalks and many, many stairs. Everything it felt like an adventure through the jungle.
The next day we had another short hike planned: the Wild Pacific Trail. This easy trial takes you along the rugged and dramatic coastline at the Ucluelet peninsula. It’s only 2,6 km long but due to the beautiful views and taking photos along the way, we easily spend over 2 hours walking this trail. But who cares. Afterwards we went to see Half Moon Bay. This beach isn’t easily accessed as you have to walk the Half Moon Bay trail. A lovely trail passing through a stand of old growth trees, ending with a very long and very steep descent, accessing the beach by climbing over a bunch of logs. But the walk is definitely worth it. The view and peacefulness are rewarding.
On this day we also saw sea-lions again, in the harbor of Ucluelet, chasing the fishing boats. When seeing them it’s almost like they’re playing hide and seek. Funny little fellas!
The east side of Vancouver Island
The next day it was time to cross the island again and move over to our next destination: Comox. Again we visited Cathedral Cove, but this time we went to the other side of the road. This part wasn’t as spectacular as the other one, but we did see this big, old owl which was kind of amazing. We both had never seen a wild owl before. But here he was, observing the area, making owl noises during mid-day! We were so luckily see this, because after a few minutes he was gone, like he was never there.
As you may know, before we came to Canada we decided not to rent a RV due to the high costs. Because we did want to experience living in a RV, we booked a RV in Comox as our accommodation. Nice way to try, don’t you think? It was a lovely place, very cosy and with all the facilities to have a comfortable stay. You just can’t compare Canadian RV’s with European ones, because the Canadian RV’s are way bigger. But the experience was really nice and something we’d like to try more often. Another nice thing about this accommodation was the location. It was right next to the beach with views over mainland Canada. As scenery which never gets boring!
The host had two kayaks available for us to use, so the next day we decided to give it a try and went onto the water. The strong current made kayaking quite a challenge, so after 30-45 minutes we decided to go back. Not what we had in mind, but better safe than sorry in this case.
This day we also visited another winery, very close to our accommodation. After enjoying some lovely wines and a tasty picnic, it was time to go back. As we had such a relaxing day, we ended our day at the beach with a warm campfire and a refreshing drink. This is something you can never get tired of!
So, we spend almost 5 days of Vancouver Island. It really is a beautiful island, which has a lot to offer. There are so many things to see and do, especially if you love nature. If we’d ever come back to Canada, Vancouver Island would definitely be on our list to visit again!