Vancouver for First Time Visitors

I had house guests this past weekend. They arrived late Friday afternoon, and flew out Monday morning. One is my cousin, whom I don’t see very often, but grew up with and have always been close to. The other is one of her girlfriends. They live in a small city in Alberta and had both been to Vancouver once, as children, and didn’t really remember any details.

They came for a “Girl’s Weekend Get-away”, leaving their partners and children behind. It was my birthday last week and I had planned a night out on Friday, to celebrate with several of my closest girlfriends. This planned event is what sparked the idea of my cousin coming for a visit.

Strangely, I was feeling a bit of pressure about showing off this beautiful city I live in. I also had several restrictions that definitely affected what we chose to do and see.

  1. My family doesn’t have a car (we live in the West End and don’t need one), and our guests are not going to rent one. So, it was walking, transit and cabs.
  2. Second, we have a definite shortage of funds, and our guests also had to scrape their pennies together to make the trip. So expensive restaurants and tourist sites were out.
  3. My husband was busy working most of the weekend, but my eight-year-old daughter was going to be hanging out with us at least half the time. She’s a pretty good sport, but it did restrict what we could do.

My visitors took the new Canada Line Skytrain from the airport to downtown Vancouver. They said it was very easy.

We started the weekend off, by going out for my planned birthday celebration on Saturday night. Our first stop was to a friend’s place for sangria. Then up the hill to Speakeasy on Davie Street for pub food and more drinks. After 11:00 p.m. we moved on to a fun little gay bar for more drinks and some dancing. Our last stop of the evening was for a slice of Mega Bite pizza on Davie Street. Great fun was had by all!

Saturday started with lots of coffee. Then it was off to walk up Robson Street for shopping, eventually getting to Pacific Centre and Granville Street. We stopped at a restaurant called Don Guacamole for lunch. Excellent Mexican food! Shopping went well, especially on Granville Street. Little shops like Mantique, Bedo and also Winner’s and Aldo Outlet provided great buys for everyone. By 6:30 p.m. we were ready to hit a pub. We settled on Johnny Fox’s Irish Snug on Granville Street. Both of my guests had a friend that lives close by, join us for the evening. Five forty-something women, great pub food, snakebites to drink, and much laughter made for the most fun I’ve had in a long time. We laughed so hard my face hurt!

Sunday dawned beautiful and bright, following the same wonderful weather pattern of the past several days. My daughter came home from a birthday sleepover and was ready to join us for sightseeing. We walked the Coal Harbour seawall from Stanley Park, all the way to Canada Place and Waterfront Station. We took the Seabus across Burrard Inlet to the Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver. Lunch was bought from various different food court vendors, including fish and chips, Vietnamese and Chinese food. We sat outside, overlooking the water. It really felt like the start of summer, which was wonderful. We browsed and shopped at several little stores in the Quay. My guests found some great deals on purses and unusual clothing items. We took the seawall back across to downtown. Next was a stroll through Gastown. We browsed and the visitors did a bit more shopping for loved ones back home. We tried to stop at the original Army and Navy store on Cordova Street, but it was just closing. We took a bus back down to Davie and Denman to check out English Bay beach and a stroll up Denman Street. This was the first really warm weather weekend of the year and Denman and Davie were starting to get that “summer resort” feel going. Dinner was a stop at Falafel King for shawarmas, and I grabbed some pizza from Nat’s New York Pizza for my daughter. The last stop of the evening was at Mondo Gelato. One of my visitors had never had Italian gelato before, so this stop for dessert was a must! We chose six different flavours between us, and nobody was disappointed.

The end of the weekend was bittersweet. I was happy to get back to normal life (and some sleep!), but sad to see my visitors leave and have all the fun come to a close. I once again realized that it’s not difficult to show people a good time in Vancouver, no matter their interests, or possible lack of extra funds. Hopefully it will happen again soon.

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