Adventures in Canada
I never really considered myself as a thrill-seeker, but in 2015, that all changed. My family and I decided on an intense celebratory holiday in honor of my Mum’s birthday. A three week Canadian adventure, exploring BC – Vancouver, Whistler, Jasper. A change from our normal sun-seeking trips, this holiday was set to be packed full of adrenaline and excitement. After a friend’s recommendation and extensive planning, our itinerary was jam packed. Suddenly, 3 weeks didn’t seem long enough.
Adventures in the Mountains:
Tackling heights seems to be a common theme in Canada, with tourist attractions taking you higher than the trees. Grouse Mountain was one of my favourite experiences. A skyride tram or gondola took you to what was known as the peak of Vancouver. Warning, this is not for the faint hearted. In a total of 8 minutes, you reach the top where shops, cafes, wildlife displays await. Feeling brave, me and my dad wanted to go higher, taking what can only be described as a ski lift, to the very top of the mountain. What happened next was truly spectacular, whilst brushing our toes along the tips of the trees, a family of bears made their journey up the steep slope, mirroring our movement. After hearing stories and adhering to local signs about the dangers of bears, it was only then that I realised how spectacular Canada was.
Taking a ferry, we arrived at Vancouver Island, greeted with endless flower beds along the water edge. This was home to the famous whale watching. Jamie’s Whaling Boats, a long-serving crew took us out into the water where we waited for sightings. It was the most miserable day with thick fog and torrential rain. Despite nature being against us, we were reassured that whales would not be deterred by the weather. After what feels like a lifetime of waiting, we finally set eyes on a large pod of orca (killer whales). Unfazed by the boat, the pod came up relatively close and emerged out of the water long enough for us to catch eyes on a baby. Seeing whales in the wild was definitely a bucket list experience for me, something that I had longed to do after watching numerous nature documentaries.
Alternatively, city living was another way we explored the beauty of Canada, providing a more chilled experience, yet still culturally enriching. From quite a drastic change from being in remote areas, we were thankful for our extra baggage allowance holding normal clothing. We put the mosquito nets away and moved into urban living. Each morning we walked to the local coffee shop and wandered around the streets to find shop boutiques and quaint stores. From using a map that we located at a visitor centre, we soon realised that this city was on a grid system like New York, bringing a level of comfort knowing we wouldn’t drift too far.
Aside from shopping and browsing retail, the city provided great activities to best explore its history. Cycling around Stanley Park was one of my highlights. For a mere $35 you can hire bikes for the day, exploring the city streets and detouring to see the Totems. British Columbia is lined with symbolic artwork, with the famed totems representing the country’s history from the links between air, sea, land. As a popular place to photograph, we soon realised that Canada was a culturally rich place, highlighted through the souvenir shops that promoted its background.
Bike hire is popular in the city with dedicated cycle paths and friendly trails. There are numerous companies that offer this and are all located in the central point of the city. We soon learnt that a top tip for exploring Stanley Park is to be early morning risers. As a commuting mode of transport, we made sure to keep pace with the locals. Pinpointing things to do, we visited the Vancouver Aquarium. The love of animals is at the heart of this country and is reflected in their tourist attractions. With over 50,000 animals, the aquarium is a great way to learn about marine life and popular mammals.
Canada offers a wide range of activities both remote and locally in the city. Planning is essential, especially during the summer months to avoid disappointment. My only regret of this trip was not accompanying my dad and brother on their fishing trip. The tales of this are still ongoing, where my dad happened to catch a huge red octopus. Canada offers irresistible adventure and it certainly makes for comforting memories. My family holiday to Canada was sure one to remember!
Top tips for travelling Canada:
Selfie Stick – Avoid the danger of taking selfies when high above the trees or near cliff edges. Use a selfie stick to avoid damage to tech devices.
Money belt – Walking the streets of any city holds safety worries, avoid going into your bag frequently to reduce the risk of losing valuables. Wear a money belt to avoid pickpocketing.
Lace up – Make sure to have laces or securely fastened shoes when on skytrams. I’ve seen people lose their flip flops before now
Dress for the weather – Depending on the time of year, the wear can be unpredictable and may surprise you at any moment. Make sure to pack raincoats.
Try maple syrup – As Canada produces 85% of the world’s maple syrup, be sure to try it on some breakfast pancakes during your trip!
Written by Grace Pheasey