I knew that I had wanted to squeeze in a trip to West Canada after already being so far up on the West Coast. And especially after seeing what Montreal and Toronto had been about, I was really itchy to get my hands on Vancouver – one of those beautiful cities almost unheard of. Therefore, booking an Amtrak ticket for the short 4-hour-ride came easy to me. Indeed, I was so curious about the city itself that I didn’t care if I only spent one short day up there. Flying out of Canada was not really an option so I decided to give Seattle another go and spend more time there overall. And you know, spending too many Canadian dollars can also be quite a handful…
So I was set to be in Vancouver for a full 28 hours! “28 hours? That’s NOT enough time to see this city!” cried the hostel attendant when I checked in. It had taken me only 4 ½ hours from Washington to BC and I had dealt with the nuisance of a Canadian train ticket automat not accepting my US American credit card. Had it not been for the kindness of another American tourist, I probably would have still stood there and tried to beg a few dollars off some passer-byers. Lessons learned – do not expect every ATM close to the train station to work right. I was therefore already short on currency but that did not divert me from exploring this beautiful city to the fullest.
After checking in one of the cutest hostels I’ve ever experienced, I walked towards Granville Island. The hostel employees had certainly recommended to start off with this part. “Once you go here and here, you are all set for the day. You can still explore the other greenery tomorrow if you want, but this is a pretty beautiful part to see during sunset” she exclaimed while still eyeing me suspiciously at my quest of conquering her city in a ridiculously short time frame. If you need a good place to stay at, go to HI-Vancouver Central, I was really impressed with their amenities overall.
After crossing Granville Bridge I finally got to Granville Island. This is a really cute part of town. It is right on the water (not the Harbour but it’s pretty harbor-like) and they had indoor markets in Montreal-style. I walked through it, paid for some fine lunch specialty, lost my sunglasses, recovered them from security, and minded my own business again.
Together with a few other people I hopped on a tiny boat and we were driven to Sunset Beach Park. What better place to be at when the – you guessed it- the sun is setting? I saw some magnificent lighting happening here and was still in awe with my feet stuck deep in the water when all of a sudden a local started a conversation with me. “You know that this part of water has the highest amount of feces found in entire BC, right?” some smart allack threw at me. I didn’t know if I wanted to laugh or stay serious. “I think I can handle it. Where I am from, you can actually see the feces swimming in the water” I shot back. This certainly impressed him and we got into a heated discussion of New York’s polluted waters as opposed to Vancouver’s clean waters in comparison.
At the end, we managed to part ways neutrally, which was certainly for the better. I then formed my opinion that Vanvouverians so far had been some of the nicest human beings I’ve encountered on my trip out West. So much nicer than Americans, and so much nicer than Canadians from the East Coast. This opinion stayed true when I wandered through dark streets at night and a random local wanted to give me directions because I “looked lost somehow.” The kindness of the people was certainly something that stuck in my memory.
After leaving the “infested” waters, I walked past some beach volley fields and enjoyed the warm lighting of the sun dancing on the water. I then continued on to the other side of town called Vancouver Harbour. Altogether, I must have been on the road for an hour from here to there but the sun was still setting. This must have been the longest sunset and blue hour I’ve ever experienced to that date. It was quite magnificent and a joy to watch. My first day had gone by quickly and I was looking forward to the next 16 or so hours in this magical town.