I am back after my lazy hiatus and eager to share my tidbits about Vancouver! As of the day I write this, it has been 9 years in Seattle. So Vancouver trips happened one after the other for various reasons:
- H1B (work) Visa that needed stamping in 2014
- Friend’s sister’s (currently in Vancouver) birthday
- Dinner with family friend
- Extension of my I-94 (document of residence in the US)
- Friend’s friend is a fan of checking out Canadian boys
- Friend’s birthday
and so on…
And a few things that made Vancouver awesome:
- Canadians ✓
- The food ✓
- Chill border crossing ✓
- Nightlife ✓
I plan to go to Victoria this summer. That looks more like a summer trip.
When I used to have my Honda Fit, a low emission hatchback, it costed me 30 USD in gas one way. Now that it’s totaled and in a scrapyard in Vancouver, I take the Quick shuttle every time. I have tried the Amtrack train, Thruway and Bolt buses. Amtrack Cascades train are the most comfortable. You could buy snacks, wine and comfortably work on your laptop. The internet they provide on any of these options is not great. I tether or work offline. The train is $$$. I took the Thruway the first time. It was so long ago, I think I vaguely remember it being a bumpy and uncomfortable ride. The Bolt is just alright as well. They have a bathroom at the back of the bus and the whole bus faintly smells of it. It turns out pretty cheap if you are a member and book well in advance. The pick up in downtown for it is from the King street station. The Quick shuttle costs me 51 USD roundtrip and the pick up is from the Convention center in Seattle. So just a better neighborhood if you are getting dropped back off late by yourself. It is comfortable enough and does not smell. I have walked into Daawat grill many times after 🙂 The train takes 4.5 hours. The buses take roughly 4 hours. I have driven from Seattle at 8-8:30 pm and hit Vancouver downtown in 2.5 hours. Some border crossing times at port Blaine are better than others 🙂 Flying is expensive and not worth it in my opinion. Parking in Vancouver is a pain and cabs are easy to hail at popular places or using the Vancouver Yellow cab app.
The last time I went, my AirBnB shared condo costed me 30 USD.
If you need a Canadian Visa, try starting here and applying here. Just a heads up, my lawyer said US Visa stamping has gotten harder since I went. Request for more information has gotten more common and that could take months spending time in your home country, especially in the case of Indian nationals. So always better to get your US Visa stamped from your home country.
I recommend staying in Gastown or Yaletown.
Some outdoor things to do in Vancouver are Canada place , Stanley park and Olympic Cauldron (featured image)
Some bad weather things to do are Vancouver aquarium, Vancouver lookout and Bloedel conservatory at Queen Elizabeth park.
If the weather is nice, Capilano suspension bridge, Grousse mountain, Deep cove and Seymour mountain are worth a visit in North Vancouver.
I’ll wait till I get better at winter sports before I go to Whistler. If you are a snowboarder or skier, I highly recommend.
Vancouver has so many good restaurants, it is hard to recommend just a few. I love the Chinese there. Chongqing and Floata are really good. The donuts are top notch just anywhere I have been. The juice shots are refreshing. I wish it was a thing in Seattle. There are late night pizza places everywhere.
We end up at Roxy’s often but we’ve hopped in and out of so many bars and clubs in Gastown and Yaletown, we don’t care to remember. I tagged along with my party pro’s 😉
Car2Go is more popular here than in Seattle. Lyft is not available in Vancouver yet. It is well connected by multiple train and bus lines. I got myself a compass card. Several businesses accept USD. A lot of night clubs are cash only so make sure you carry CAD with you at night.
Weed is legal in Canada and in the state of Washington as of 2019 but be careful about not carrying it or any paraphernalia across the border either way. The US side has dogs to sniff it out. Can’t even pet them. Waste IMO 🙂 Duty free stuff is duty free if you stay on the Canadian side longer than 48 hours. Otherwise, you have to stay in line and pay tax, no biggie. We had someone hold up the line at the border because he didn’t want to give up his apples. It was funny but don’t be that guy. I like to travel stress free so I don’t carry any gifts or produce.
Overall, I look for an excuse to end up in Vancouver. The atmosphere and vibe relaxes me. Some of the border patrol officers recognize me and vice versa. Good feels 🙂