Sooo, I am still not done editing all photos the way I want them, but that will likely take weeks and I can’t wait that long to share the first part of our road trip in Canada! I’ll include lots of tipps on what to see and where to stay and eat. The route we chose worked out perfectly for three weeks and my friend S and I had some amazing food and accommodation along the way.
We flew out to Vancouver from London with one day to spare for exploring the city before we headed out to into the country.
In Vancouver, I fell head over heels for Starbucks Chai Latte (soy). It became my go-to companion drink on this trip.
I am not usually a city person but Vancouver is special – the architecture, the closeness to nature and wildlife and the incredibly friendly people made me fall in love with the city (I mean, a city with several beaches, come on!). We stayed at a hotel in Robson street and spent the day wandering all over Stanley Park, into Gastown and down to Sunset Beach in the evening.
We shopped at Roots, ate well at the Old Spaghetti Factory and got lost in a scary neighbourhood on our way into Chinatown.
By evening we were weary and our feet were sore but we felt content that we had crammed as much Vancouver as possible into our one city day. Jetlag had not yet kicked in so with that crazy mixture of tired out, travel fever and sleep-deprived elation we limped back to our hotel.
We had pre-booked a ferry to Vancouver Island for the next morning and were up bright and early to leave the city behind on a beautiful sunny day.
On the ferry we chose to stay outside and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air, watching the Vancouver skyline vanish in the distance. With a long day ahead we soaked up some sun and rest on the deck.
Arriving in Nanaimo we made straight for the Pacific Rim National Park in our rental car, a Ford that was huge compared to european cars and smallish compared to the vehicles we saw on canadian roads.
Our first stop was to buy an annual pass to all the National Parks at the visitor center. This turned out to be a smart move as it not only saved money but also spared us any hassle of buying new passes whenever we reached a new park.
We walked the Wild Pacific Trail near Ucluelet and marvelled at being at the sea on a warm, sunny, salty day. After that we entered the Pacific Rim National Park and walked several small trails. The Rainforest Trail was out of this world and that was as much fascinating as it was scary. We suddenly realized that we were in the wild now, surrounded by trees so thick and tall that we couldn’t see the their tops, with a population of around sixty blackbears in the area and no other people or tourists. A mix of exciting and downright scary and a sure way to make two city girls feel very small indeed.
The famous long beach was the last place of interest we visited that day, a windy, endless stretch of perfect beach with driftwood all around.
Arriving in Tofino we made straight for the “Tofino Travellers Guesthouse” a gem as far as accommodation goes. A bright, warm place with a handmade hippie surfer feel, a very friendly welcome from the owner and chatty guests from around the world. We had booked a mix of hotels, motels and guesthouses for the trip and the guesthouses won hands down.
Unfortunately by then jetlag, fueled by a mix of little sleep and the strain of travelling for hours in a new country, kicked in big time and I passed out on the bed, shivering. An hour’s sleep and a hot shower pulled me back on my legs and a pizza from Tony’s was the perfect hot, cheesy meal to end the day by the docks.
A full night’s rest and the waffle breakfast at the guesthouse worked wonders and we set out for the next adventure, whale watching by boat!
We went with Jamie’s Whaling Station and saw a humpback whale and two grey whales just off the Tofino coast line. ‘Amazing’ doesn’t suffice to describe the experience of seeing these animals in the wild, playing and feeding in the water.
We also saw sea lions and bald eagles.
After hours out on the rocking boat we were frozen and more than a little nauseous and had a rest before setting out again, this time back through the National Park towards Nanaimo, where we would take the ferry back to the main land the following morning. The bog trail within the park was our first stop on the way and it was there we saw our first animal tracks right beside the trail. We immediately became convinced a bear was near, posed to attack and pretty much ran the rest of the track, shouting loudly to ward off any predators. These two Canada tourists certainly had a lot to learn!
We were happy to be back on the road again after that, only stopping along the highway to walk through the awe inspiring Cathedral Grove before arriving back in Nanaimo.
Dizzy from so many experiences to process we were glad to arrive at our motel in Nanaimo.
For dinner we walked out to the harbor and had Fish and Chips at Troller’s, a floating restaurant serving the day’s catch. A perfect end to an exciting day!
So much for part 1 and I only covered the first three days. Oh dear. I will try to condense our trip into a maximum of 3-5 parts. That’s the plan, anyway.
I hope you enjoyed this walk through Vancouver and Vancouver Island. Have you ever been and done similar things? Or has your experience been completely different? Let me know :)