Rather than rent a car or go through the airport hassle, I decided to ride Amtrak from Seattle to Vancouver. Bought a 1st class ticket online (highly recommended – for a measly few extra dollars for a 1st class ticket you have no line to wait in at check-in, no crowds, no worries about baggage and you get a discount at the food compartment). The 4hr trip is scenic and you get FREE wifi in your seat. Canadian customs is located right at the Vancouver arrival train station exit, and it was a breeze. For my Vancouver stay I booked a room at Blue Horizon Hotel (http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g154943-d182513-r273115419-Blue_Horizon_Hotel-Vancouver_British_Columbia.html#CHECK_RATES_CONT), a terrific hotel in downtown. Rode the SkyTrain from the train station till I got to downtown and walked to my hotel. Vancouver is fairly easy to navigate; it is hilly in the center but flat as you reach the coastline. The view from my hotel room was simply stunning. (Hint: try and stay on a high floor).
Adventure Day #1:
Walked down to the waterfront and rode the Aqua Bus to Granville Island, which is a small walk- able island full of neat stores and a food lover’s paradise teaming with fresh local produce, cheese, cured meat, and the city’s baked goods. Made my stop at the JJ Bean Café/stall and ordered one of their fabulous espresso based drinks. I selected the much talked about “Mocha.” Grabbed dinner at the local market before heading back to the hotel.
After reading so much about the various food trucks in Vancouver, my wife and I decided to do our own tour. Most of the food trucks are within a ½ mile radius. I started at Smithe and Burrand Street and then made my way back towards Howe and Robson Street towards the Vancouver city center. If you take that route, you will pass all the food trucks. Following much discussion, we settled on two different food trucks, then grabbed the local bus to the Vancouver Aquarium (http://www.vanaqua.org/): terrific! This is a must stop for any visitor.
Day #3: Met up with friends and embarked on a 5-hour bike tour (http://cyclevancouver.com/tours/). This tour is the best way to sample different areas of the city; no real hills, as you follow the waterfront. You will get to bike through the massive Stanley Park, go to ChinaTown and Gastown, and various other different neighborhoods… great day while saving your feet…..
Day #4: Time for cruising to Alaska on the Norwegian Pearl.