One-Week Trip: Calgary - Vancouver
MY ONE-WEEK TRIP: CALGARY - VANCOUVER
Hi! My name is Dominik and I am from Germany. I have just returned from spending 10 weeks in Canada and would like to share some highlights with you. The majority of my stay was spent in Canmore attending a language school, making friends and touring the local sights. I decided to try living as a Canadian and stayed with a terrific homestay family, making my trip a true cultural experience. At the end of my stay in Canmore, I thought it would be nice to make a one-week trip to British Columbia and the West Coast. I contacted Marcel and together we built the following itinerary. Remember that this itinerary is based on my personal interests and time-frame but I am sure anyone could adapt this to make a great trip! I was in Canada in April and May, a shoulder season, and places were not as busy as in the summer months.
Thanks again Marcel for your support. Without your help I would have spent much more time searching for good locations. I had a great trip!
On Monday I drove all day to Kelowna with the following stops:
On the second day I drove all the way to Tsawwassen on the west coast to catch my ferry. I arrived after sunset, and it was very hard to find my accommodation without any street lights. Instead of sleeping at my usual accomm (hostel), I had booked a little cabin at a lake because I knew the hostel was closed. (It pays to do your homework!!) The cabin was great with a view of solitude. So I spent two nights at Salt Spring Island and had a great time hiking, kayaking and relaxing. Maybe I relaxed a little too much - I was lucky to get on the ferry even though I was 10 minutes late!! My car was the last one on.
Arriving at Schwarz Bay I drove straight to Butchart Gardens, fifty-five acres of flowers which all started in 1904, when Jennie Butchart began planting in an old quarry. What can I say - it was incredible. I've never seen such beautiful gardens before.
After visiting the gardens I drove to Victoria and checked into the hostel. It was a beautiful day, so I went down to the Inner Harbour and walked around. The harbour is of course where everyone first goes to catch a look at the beautiful Fairmont Empress Hotel. I of course had seen the Fairmont Banff Springs in Banff and this hotel is just as beautiful in an entirely different setting. The Empress claims that during the summer months, they serve Afternoon Tea to more guests than most hotels in London, England. Can you imagine? Then there is of course the BC Government Parliament Buildings which overlook the boats in the harbour. Take advantage of the two level waterfront walk-way and take a stroll! Downtown Victoria is not too big, so you can walk to many good spots.
The next day I visited the Royal BC Museum which was very interesting. I was lucky because "The Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition", which had begun 95 years to the day after the sinking of the "unsinkable" ship, was still showing! In the afternoon I drove out to Sooke Regional Park and took a nice long walk for a couple of hours. Back at the hostel, I made dinner and the evening ended at the bar in the hostel with some interesting conversation.
On Saturday morning I got my stuff ready to drive to Departure Bay. However, the traffic was much more than I had expected, so I missed the ferry and had to wait for the next one. From there I took a BC Ferry to Horseshoe Bay. Then I made the decision not to drive directly to the hostel in downtown Vancouver, but instead drive to Capilano Suspension Bridge and Grouse Mountain which are on the way to Vancouver. The suspension bridge was fun. It was very shaky and it was funny to see the all these people trying to walk across the bridge without using the hand rail.
Later I hiked up Grouse Mountain. I've never walked/hiked up so many steps before. You think the end is just after the next corner - that is when I saw the sign for the half-way mark! I was very exhausted at the top, but I did it in exactly one hour. On the top there was still some snow, and I saw an eagle show and of course the two Grizzly Bears, Grinder and Coola who now live in the 5-acre grizzly habitat at Grouse Mountain's Refuge for Endangered Wildlife. The view over the city was amazing. My Swiss friend had shown me some pictures of Grouse Mountain when he was there in December. I know I have to come back in the winter to see this view!
On Saturday night I went out to discover the city with an American guy from the hostel and had a fun evening.
On Sunday we went together to Stanley Park and visited the Aquarium and the park. The weather was beautiful, and we had a gorgeous day. The rest of the day, I walked around the downtown and visited the typical sightseeing attractions. I can definitely say that I like the city and I'll have to come back.
On my last day I bought the last gifts and continued the walking tour, although my legs were so sore that I was actually glad to relax in the plane.
On the way to the airport I visited UBC. It was unbelievable. The University is like a city in the city. On the Monday there was an alumni event on the campus with a lot of people. It was nice to see all the students in their black robes because we don't have this at my University in Germany. I only know it from the movies.
After visiting the University, I drove to the Airport, dropped of the car and had to wait for my plane. Unfortunately I didn't get an upgrade for business class (again!) and so I had to sit next to some old ladies with weak bladders. But after some wine, I got some sleep. In London I had to transfer and we had an hour delay but it was ok. So that was my one-week trip from Calgary to the West Coast! I hope you can identify some spots on the pictures and I can say that the 10 weeks in Canada have been the best in my life. The first week at home was very hard and I still miss Canmore and the Rockies.
Thanks again Marcel for all your support and when I come back to Canada, I'll let you know!
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