British Columbia Travel Diaries Part 1: Vancouver, Steveston and Granville Island

Recently, my parents and I went on a trip to British Columbia. As my parents lived there for a few years (I was even born there!) and we haven’t been back since I was five, this vacation was very long-awaited.

Day 1: Flight Day

We left the Toronto Pearson Airport around 8 p.m., and arrived at about 10 P.M.  Pacific Time. The family friends we were staying with picked us up at the airport, and whatever was left of the night was spent talking and catching up.

Day 2: Settling In

The next day was a lazy day of sorts; all of us were feeling a little off from the flight and my mother had some work to do, so we didn’t do much sight-seeing that day (unless Costco counts).

Day 3: Steveston

This was our first real “travel” day. We left around late morning for Steveston, a quaint fishing village south of Vancouver. The town is also used as the town of Storybrooke, Maine in the TV show Once Upon A Time. Though I’m not a huge fan of the show—I used to watch it when I was younger, but haven’t for a couple years—it was still pretty cool seeing all the places I’ve seen on TV.

granny's diner in storybrooke (once upon a time) in steveston, bc
Granny’s diner, where Ruby (Little Red Riding Hood) works.

 

storybrooke public library in steveston, bc
Storybrooke’s famous public library.

 

storybrooke cannery in steveston, bc
The Cannery, or, apparently, the outside of a museum.

 

boat in steveston, bc
I have no idea whose boat this is, frankly, but it’s pretty neat.

 

storybrooke heritage building plaque in steveston, bc
Here you go, guys: the official Storybrooke Heritage Building plaque (right outside the Storybrooke dentist’s office, too!).

 

emma swan's car (once upon a time) in steveston, bc
Emma Swan’s famous car.

Seriously, guys. I could live in this town forever (if it wasn’t so expensive).

steveston, british columbia
See, isn’t it so pretty?
steveston, british columbia
(Okay, there is no real rhyme or reason to this picture. I just thought it was cool.)

After that, we grabbed some frozen yogurt and stopped off in Richmond to watch water planes land at Vancouver International Water Airport, which turned out to be a lot busier than any of us thought it would be. (Huh. Who’d-a-thunk?)

Day 4: UBC, Kitsilano and Granville Island

We started off the next morning by travelling to UBC. Just driving in is amazing—the trees of the Endowment lands are gorgeous and more than a little inspiring. Hell, the entire campus was amazing. But somehow, Acadia Beach was even better.

skyline of acadia beach (ubc), in vancouver, british columbia
I like pretty skylines.
acadia beach (ubc), in vancouver, british columbia
Okay, seriously, isn’t this gorgeous?

Okay, it’s not an actual beach, and it’s certainly not Wreck Beach—in fact, there was no one on it, let alone any naked people on it—but to me, it was even better than a regular beach. Because it wasn’t used like the other beaches, it was more pristine, more natural.

Next stop: Kits, where my parents used to live.

The best way to describe Kitsilano is that it may just be one of the most hipster places in Vancouver. I’m not trying to knock the place, but that’s how it is. It’s vibrant, quirky, and probably the perfect area for 20-somethings to grow up in.

Most of our time in Kits was a memory-lane tour by my parents. We went down to Spanish Banks, one of the busiest beaches I’ve ever come across, and then Kits Beach, the place where my tiny (still tiny, honestly) feet first touched grass.

spanish banks, kitsilano, vancouver, british columbia
The message board at Spanish Banks.

 

beach, kitsilano, vancouver, bc
Okay, this is either Locarno or Jericho beach. Probably Locarno.

 

kits beach, kitsilano, vancouver, british columbia
Kits Beach

 

view from kits beach, kitsilano, vancouver, british columbia
View from Kits Beach. Isn’t this amazing?

 

Literally just a tree.
Literally just a tree.

Even the tiny little apartment they used to share, which now looks like it’s about to fall apart. (But hey! Not all things can get better with age.)

Finally, our last stop of the day was Granville Island.

granville island mural orgemeos (granville island, vancouver, british columbia)
Isn’t this so cool??? These street artists, OSGEMEOS, painted six grain silos into this huge mural.

Okay, I reiterate my previous statement. Granville Island is the most hipster place in all Vancouver, and intrinsically so—the entire Marketplace is full of small stalls, most of them taken up by hand-crafted jewellery or homemade deserts. There was a massive stall dedicated to 20 different kinds of soups. We even passed a macaron store that sold lavender and dulce de leche macarons. Iced cappuccinos cost $6.

granville island marketplace (granville island, vancouver, british columbia)
Ladies and gents, I present to you the most hipster fruit stand on the planet. And it is glorious.

The truth is, though, for all I’m slandering it, Granville Island might be one of the coolest places on the planet, and I loved it.

Day 5: Stanley Park and Downtown Vancouver

Our day started off with a visit to Stanley Park.

We started out by the Brockton Point lighthouse and slowly made our way forward. Now, I’ve seen a few spectacular water-related landmarks, but this might be one of my favourites.

stanley park, vancouver, british columbia
Looking out over the water.

 

stanley park, vancouver, british columbia
Seriously. Isn’t this beautiful?

 

brockton point lighthouse, stanley park, vancouver, british columbia
The Brockton Point lighthouse.

Onwards into the forest!

Totem poles in Stanley Park, Vancouver, British Columbia
We interrupt your normal broadcast for a regularly-scheduled totem pole break.

 

vancouver skyline from stanley park, vancouver, british columbia
If anyone’s wondering, this is what the skyline looks like from Stanley Park. Also, I’m 98% sure this is the skyline they show in Arrow.

Next on our list was Prospect Point.

prospect point, stanley park, vancouver, bc
The Prospect Point Marker.

And though I’m not a morning person by any means, the view was more than nice enough to get up for.

skyline from prospect point, stanley park, vancouver, bc
So. PRETTY.

 

lions gate bridge, prospect point, stanley park, vancouver, bc
The Lions Gate Bridge.

After Prospect Point, we continued on into the depths of Stanley Park until we found our final goal: the Hollow Tree.

the hollow tree, stanley park, vancouver, bc
The Hollow Tree of lore.

To sum up a long story quickly: when my parents asked me what I wanted to see when we were first planning our trip, the first thing out of my mouth was Stanley Park (the second may or may not have been where the filmed the City of Light scenes in THE 100). The last time we visited roughly 12 years ago, we went to Stanley Park, and though I don’t remember much, I remember stepping inside the Hollow Tree and feeling a sense of awe.

Stepping inside the tree again gave me the same sense of awe.

The tree was a tighter fit than I remember it being (though I have admittedly grown at least a foot since then). Regardless, it was still pretty cool.

I think one of my favourite things about the Tree is that when you go inside, you can see all these marks from people who’ve been in it before. I’m not a fan of vandalism, but something about all the initials and words scrawled across the inside of the tree seemed different somehow. Like a history of all previous occupants.

(Yeah, yeah, I know: I’m a nerd. Deal with it.)

After we finished up in Stanley Park, my parents and I went to Downtown Vancouver to look around. My mom wanted to see the Olympic Torch as well as the Vancouver sign, and though the Vancouver City sign remained elusive, we did manage to find the Torch.

olympic torches, vancouver, british columbia
My mother was really pumped to see this.

It’s official, guys: I’m moving here. No one can stop me.

The next part, featuring Victoria, Sooke and more downtown Vancouver will be up next week!

 

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