Most travellers want to experience as much as they can of a specific city and/or region in the quickest possible time frame. I can appreciate this feeling, as usually my thought processes are in the line of 'will I ever come back here, there is so much of the world to see and not enough time to see it in.' Factor in overcast skies and intermittent rain, then there is no better way to adventure through a city than on a hop-on, hop-off bus. Stay in the warmth of the bus whilst raining and hop off every time Mother Nature shows a touch of weather-wise kindness.
Please 'bear' with me, I just love these big boys!
We are presently in Vancouver, British Colombia in Canada, on a whirlwind three day visit, before moving onto the east coast of Canada, so the Gray Line Westcoast Sightseeing Hop-on, Hop-off bus was definitely on our to-do radar.
A perfect day on the Hop-on, Hop Off bus includes up to thirty different stops at world-class attractions and landmarks. All buses run at ten to fifteen minute interval frequencies and with two alternative routes - City Route (Blue Line) and Park Route (Green Line) - available to bus hoppers, one can easily spend a whole day day-tripping around this fabulous city. Packages for the Hop-on, Hop-Off bus start from:
$59 per adult for a 24 hour Classic Pass;
$69 for a 24 hour Classic Pass plus Electric Harbour or Evening Tour; and a
Premium Pass for $79, which gives hoppy adventurers a 48 hour pass plus a value-added coupon book, an Electric Harbour Tour and an Evening Tour of Vancouver.
One quick stop on and we had reached Robson Street Shopping District, Vancouver's bustling downtown shopping district. Except it wasn't bustling as yet, as it was only 9.30 in the morning and most retail outlets in Robson Shopping District only open at 10.00am. Hubbies were delighted! Robson Street Shopping District is where the big department stores are, where luxury brands will be found and where internationally known stores can be found. Robson Street is packed with more than one hundred stores and restaurants and is recognised as the epicentre of Downtown Vancouver's shopping district. An absolute must-do! Make sure your visit is after 10.00am.
Robson Street Shopping District is an absolute must-do!
The four hundred hectare Stanley Park is a magnificent oasis in the heart of the urban landscape of Vancouver, boasting spectacular views of the water, mountains, sky and majestic age-old trees along the Stanley Park's famous Seawall. Stanley Park is Vancouver's largest park and is home to kilometres of trails, beautiful beaches, local wildlife, great eateries as well as cultural and historical landmarks.
First Nations Art and Totem Poles, Stanley Park
The fact that our chosen day for Hop-on, Hop-off bussing was a rainy day meant that we could be more discerning with our 'stops' and next on the list was the nine First Nations totem poles at Brockton Point. Did you know that these nine totem poles are British Colombia's most visited tourist attraction?
First Nations colourful and beautifully carved totem poles
First Nations origin stories tell of animals and supernatural beings who helped found family lineages. These stories are celebrated in songs, dance and of course, totem pole carvings. Every beautifully carved and colourful totem pole has its own story to tell.
Prospect Point, Stanley Park
Prospect Point in Stanley Park has the dubious title of being 'Vancouver's unrivalled viewpoint'. I say 'dubious' because the day we visited we could barely see our hands in front of our faces for rain and the steam misting up our glasses from our hot breaths, did not contribute to successful viewing of the unrivalled viewpoints. I grabbed this inopportune opportunity to visit the Prospect Point Trading Post gift shop that was perfectly positioned for some indoor viewing. I am so in love with the big brown bears that can be found everywhere in Vancouver and am rather hoping to bring one home in my suitcase.
The Lions Gate Bridge, named after the pair of prominent mountain peaks on the North Shore, was built in 1938 by the Guiness family - yep, the very same ones of Irish beer fame. After the construction of the Lions Gate Bridge was complete, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth presided over the grand opening of this 1,823 metre bridge, which took a year and a half to complete. At the point that we passed the Lions Gate Bridge, our bus driver very obligingly paused for ten seconds to allow me time to take my photo and as you can see, the weather was certainly not up to scratch.
The following day we visited the Vancouver Viewing Deck and with the fabulous weather that day, you can really see from my photo what an impressive bridge the Lions Gate Bridge is - a twin of the famous San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge?
The impressive Lions Gate Bridge from a different angle in better weather
Right in the heart of Vancouver's Chinatown, visitors will find the Dr Sun Yat-Sen Park. The free entry Dr Sun Yat-Sen Park is a magical inner-city oasis with winding paths, rocks, plants and spectacularly coloured flowers. An experience of peace and tranquillity in a lush garden with its own water lily-covered pond, pagoda and greenery awaits visitors to the Dr Sun Yat-Sen Park. I'm no landscaping expert, but this fabulously tranquil Park in Chinatown reminds me of our visit to the Chinese Garden of Friendship in Sydney, Australia - perhaps there IS a worldwide blue-print on creating masterpiece inner-city gardens.
A magical spot in the heart of Vancouver's Chinatown
The world's first steam powered clock has been created for the pleasure and delight of locals and visitors alike. The live steam winds the weights of the clock, which blows the whistles. Every four and a half minutes one steel weight will travel by steam power to the top of the clock. Every quarter hour the clock sounds the Westminster chimes and the large whistle on the clock goes off once every hour. If you look carefully at my photo, you will see the clock letting off steam ...