Part-time traveller, Full-Time Brummie

Canada Day by Day: First Stop, Vancouver

The first stop on our 2017 Canada holiday was the amazing city of Vancouver. Find out more at

Time differences blow my mind. We take off from London Heathrow at 10:45 am, spend the equivalent of a working day plus commute in a flying tube then arrive at YVR at 11:45am. This makes today around 32 hours long. As if a 5am alarm call isn’t enough to mess up my sensitive body clock.

Still, at least the weather will be….oh, it’s raining. We wrestle our suitcases – full on monsters this time, none of this carry on lark – and other items onto the Skytrain. We miss a train whilst we queue behind various people that stare at the ticket machine as if they are trying to crack the Enigma Code. It’s a fifteen minute journey to Yaletown-Roundhouse where we emerge into torrential rain. We manage to find the 7-11 where our apartment keys are being held (this Keycafe thing is great) and then juggle the suitcases with a photograph of a Google map to locate our destination. We have a slight tussle with a non suitcase friendly barrier but otherwise we soon find our studio apartment and home for the next three days (As a bonus, I receive a message from our host suggesting that we stay on at the apartment until 7pm on Tuesday so we don’t have to worry about finding left luggage facilities. This is why i love Airbnb.)

All I want to do is sleep, but this isn’t our first rodeo and we know we have to fight the jetlag. It’s only 2:30pm for a start. So we retrace our steps back through Yaletown to pick up vital breakfast supplies. The tea selection is highly disappointing. It’s still not bedtime so we pile on the layers and go for a walk. It’s stopped raining, and the sun is finally making an appearance. Our apartment is just steps from the False Creek Seawall so we head for the waterside to blow away the cobwebs. We share the pathway with joggers, dog walkers and others out for a late afternoon stroll. We’ve been up for around 20 hours when we decide to take advantage of Happy Hour at the Tap Shack underneath Burrard Bridge. Cos a large glass of wine will do wonders for that jetlag…

Walking Vancouver's seawallSunset at the aptly named Sunset Beach in Vancouver

Wine, beer and a couple of burgers later and we continue our stroll. We have our second wind. We feel like we can go on til…ooh, at least 7:30pm. We get as far as the appropriately named Sunset Beach before the sun does indeed set over the southern side of the creek. Sunset definitely means it must be bedtime for these TransAtlantic travellers. We’re back at the apartment at the crazy time of 8pm. I’ll just put my pjs on, I say, but I’m not going to sleep yet. I’ll just lie on the bed for a while, I say, but I’m not going to sleep yet. I’ll just close my eyes, just for a second, I say, but I’m not……zzzzzzz


Yes, inevitably after an 8:30pm lights out, I am awake early. 10pm to be precise. This is not a sensible getting up time. Neither is 12:30am, 2:30am or 3:30am. I concede at 5:50am.

After an hour or so pottering around, we decide to make the most of our day and get out early for our sightseeing. It is a beautiful sunny morning, if not particularly warm. We head past B.C. Place and Rogers Arena and into Chinatown. Dr Sun Yat-Sen’s garden is unsurprisingly not open yet so we carry on down into Gastown, skirting areas of Vancouver that the tourists probably don’t want to see. We feel much safer once Gassy Jack is in sight and we’re back on the tourist trail. Gastown is eerily quiet, but we acknowledge that it is only 9am on a Sunday morning and the only other people around are also those fighting jetlag.

Gassy Jack statue in Gastown, Vancouver

John Deighton – aka Gassy Jack because of his talkative nature – was a pilot turned saloonkeeper whose makeshift bar was the foundation for the area now known as Gastown.

I am taken by the quality of the souvenir shops in the area, in particular the range of nightwear featuring moose. I also want to bring home two huge I Love Canada mugs until Mr Fletche points out that the chances of them making it home in one piece after two weeks packing and unpacking and another 10 hour flight is highly unlikely. We emerge back onto Water Street just as all the Ho Ho buses do their first drop off of the day by the iconic steam clock. I patiently wait my turn for a photo with the clock. It toots in my ear, giving me the fright of my life.

The walk continues to Canada Place. The cruise ship terminal is bustling on this sunny Sunday morning, and there is a mighty big ship in town. We stop for coffee at Mahony and Sons on Burrards Landing, before continuing on the seawall to watch the sea planes taking off, and the glittering marina at Coal Harbour. We veer off the seawall at Denman Street and scope out our bike rental options for tomorrow. Spokes and Yes have both been recommended. We stroll along Denman Street, all the way down to English Bay Beach, passing the A-maze-ing Laughter sculpture. It’s definitely time to start thinking about lunch now…

Denman Street, Vancouver

The colourful Denman Street

A-Maze-Ing Laughter

These 14 bronze statues near English Bay Beach depict laughter and joy and certainly made me smile

English Bay Beach, Vancouver

English Bay Beach

We get the False Creek Ferry from Sunset Beach over to Granville Island. It’s a fun way to travel, and its the best way to get there from downtown if you’re on foot. Granville Island is home to a public market, lots of arts and crafts vendors, kid friendly venues and a selection of eateries. We’re planning on trying out Granville Island Brewing Company but the queue is out the door so we opt for Cats Socialhouse instead. I have fish tacos whilst Mr Fletche opts for the hash with poached eggs option. Both dishes are really good and we don’t regret missing out on our first choice. The only thing that surprised and disappointed us about Granville Island is the sheer amount of traffic. There is a constant stream of cars, all looking for an elusive parking space and for somewhere that markets itself as child- and pooch-friendly it’s frustrating to have to be on alert for vehicles.


We get the False Creek Ferry back to the Yaletown dock, just a short walk from our apartment. We seem to have been out hours. But tonight we have good reason to stay awake as we have a social commitment to fulfil! My second cousin Faye moved out to Vancouver to study 9 years ago – and never went home. Now she has a successful hair and makeup styling business, a Canadian boyfriend and an odd Brummie / Staffordshire / Vancouver hybrid accent. We make the trek out to Mount Pleasant – with a few photo stops along the way of an illuminated False Creek and Science World – and to Red Truck Beer Company. It’s great to catch up, and enjoy a flight of Red Truck’s finest each. We then venture over to Dubh Linn Gate to meet up with Faye’s other half and get a bit of food to soak up the beer. Good company, good food and good beer is clearly the most successful way to combat jetlag, as we’re still amazingly awake and manage to amble back to our apartment by midnight.

We aim to sleep through til at least 6:15 am tomorrow… Find out if we make it in the next instalment!

2018 Update: Did you know you can now download this city guide through the GPSmyCity app on iOS and Android? For GPS-assisted travel directions to the attractions featured in this article, and other related city walks and tour guides, search for “Vancouver”, or you can find all the Vancouver content here!

The first stop on our Canada Trip was Vancouver; find our more about our first day in the city at



20 responses to “Canada Day by Day: First Stop, Vancouver”

  1. Love 14 bronze statues near English Bay Beach depict laughter and joy, I can see how they would make you smile. Wonderful photography coming from you two.

  2. GP Cox says:

    Besides the beauty of the area or the local interests, you might want to check into the changes they had to make with the onset of WWII. They have history!

  3. josypheen says:

    Yaaaay! I love this post!

    I am a little sad that I didn’t realize you were here in time. I live in Mount Pleasant, so I could have popped out for coffee or showed you my favorite ice-cream place (they make the ice-cream in front of you, using liquid nitrogen!)

    It looks like you did really similar things to us in our first few days of Vancouver! Although English bay looks sooo different now! When we went it was always covered in people sunbathing or people watching!

    Did you like seeing all the doggos? I was surprised by how teeny all the dogs are in central Vancouver. People seem to have heftier dogs further away from the center and on the North Shore, but English Bay is a good place to see dogs that are smaller than my cat!

  4. Anindya says:

    Lovely post on Vancouver…..loved to see those wonderful pictures…..and nice write up…..:)

  5. Sounds amazing!!! What an awesome trip you had. I’m Desperate to get out there xx

  6. Vancouver is an awesome place. Cannot get enough of this place and been here for 20 years and counting. I so loved your pictures and stories as I took a virtual tour through our own city.

  7. carole says:

    Amazing blog Emma and wonderful photo from you and Chris xxx so glad you enjoyed meeting up with Faye and Brandon xx

  8. […] to know what we go up to in Vancouver on Days 1 and 2? Just click here and […]

  9. Loved your blog, it took me back there straight away. You write beautifully. x

  10. What a lovely post, I spent over a month in and around Vancouver and loved how the city is so close to nature with the beautiful beaches, parks and mountains not far away. We also nearly wandered into the slightly less pleasant East Hastings area near Chinatown… You’ve definitely done Vancouver justice though great post

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