Well, I couldn’t stay in the US for long. I think once you use your passport once, collecting stamps becomes an addiction. Nick got his passport a few weeks before we started planning our trip to Washington, so we thought it would be the perfect opportunity for him to get his first stamp! Vancouver is actually only about a four hour drive from Seattle, straight up Interstate 5, so the drive feels quick and is pretty easy. Again, we left early enough to beat traffic and were on our way. Similar to our adventure to Olympic National Park, we had a pretty loose itinerary and just a few places we wanted to see. This trip reaffirmed this type of traveling- it is so much more fun to have flexibility and just see where the day takes you!
Crossing the boarder was very quick and easy except we had to ask to get our passports stamped. Did you even go there if you didn’t get your passport stamped?! Plus, it was Nick’s first time using his passport, so we had to make sure to get stamps. We stopped at the visitor’s center to grab a few maps because we quickly realized we did not have the ability to use Google Maps anymore. We both would recommend renting a GPS with your rental car for the $10 or whatever it is if you are planning on driving in another country! It will make your life a lot easier! I struggle with directions, so it was interesting to try and get to our destinations with me as the primary map reader-you learn a lot about someone when you travel with them:) Nick has a lot of patience!
Our first stop of the day was to the Canadian staple coffee shop, Tim Hortons! These were literally everywhere. They are famous for their coffee and treats and they also have food at some locations. At this point, I was so hungry I was hangry, so their food and coffee tasted like a 5 star restaurant to me! I think all my travel partners have learned that it is in everyone’s best interest to keep me fed:) We stopped here for coffee later in the day, and it was just as good; the caffeine was also pretty effective!
Vancouver is known for it’s suspension bridges, so we decided that was a must-see. There is a pretty famous one that costs about $40 to cross, but that seemed pretty steep to walk across a bridge that was most likely going to be packed with other tourists. So, we opted for the free option which was a smaller bridge over Lynn Canyon, and it was perfectly fine! The suspension bridge is part of a small protected area and hiking grounds, so we were able to stretch our legs after many hours in the car. We actually got to the park at the same time as a bus of day care kids, so it was pretty busy, but it was nice to be outside looking at pretty scenery!
The suspension bridge was high above a river and there were nicely wooden trails all the way down to the bottom where there was a nice area to swim and hang out. We made our way to the bottom with the day care kids!
The river water at the bottom was crystal clear and there were many rocks to jump off which made us instantly regret not wearing our suits, but we decided if we had time at the end of the day, we would come and jump in! Unfortunately, it was a pretty steep trek back up to the top of the canyon, so we really wished we could jump in when we got back to the car! However, we needed to keep the day going, so we made our way to Stanley Park. This is where things got interesting with no GPS, but we made it! Maybe driving without a GPS is actually just a good test of a relationship?!
Stanley Park is located on a little peninsula-shaped piece of land. All of the land on the peninsula is part of the park, so there are many paths and things to look at and explore. The largest path follows the water and you are able to see the city of Vancouver from across the water! It was very beautiful! One of the things that we noticed the most about Vancouver was that it was very clean. Especially once you got to the tourist area downtown, it was apparent that this city had a lot of money. Robin told us later that this was because immigrants that come to this city have to have a minimum net worth, so they maintain a very wealthy population. It was very obvious!
There was a lot of green and chrome in this city. The buildings all had beautiful architecture and reflected the sunlight in different ways, so the city looked like it was expensive and shiny. After walking around Stanley Park for awhile, we walked along the boardwalk next to the fancy buildings! This is where their large event centers are as well as where the Olympic cauldron was!
You know the city is posh when they don’t have ANY tourist shops. Nick was determined to find a sweatshirt in Canada and found one at the very beginning of the day, but passed it up thinking there would be many opportunities to buy one. We literally looked for hours, and did not find one! Even though he was pretty annoyed, I thought it was hilarious. Lesson learned-if you find a sweatshirt or souvenir you like, just buy it!! We had to get tacos on the way back to improve his mood 🙂
We were pretty beat after walking up and down the boardwalk so many times, so we decided that the perfect way to end the day would be jumping in the river at the bottom of the canyon we visited earlier that day. So, we made our way back, ran down to the bottom, and jumped in! IT WAS FREEZING, but very refreshing after a long day! It was also some of the clearest water I have ever seen! We saw some cliff jumpers there who were jumping into narrow columns of water and sliding off of natural waterfalls/waterslides. It was impressive to watch.
After drying off and grabbing some coffee to fuel our four hour long drive home, we were on our way! It was another long day, but again, worth it! We didn’t even want to count how many miles we drove while on this trip! If you are in the Seattle area, Vancouver is a great day trip option. If you are not interested in driving, you could take a train up and stay a night as well! One day was enough for us, but again, it was a busy, long day with long hours in the car, so you have to be okay with that. It was fun to get out of the country again, even if it was just to Canada! Really the only difference that you notice is that instead of mph, speed limits are in km/hr and you buy gas by the liter. But, we got a passport stamp and many fun memories out of the deal! Besides not finding a sweatshirt, I would say that Nick had a pretty awesome first international experience!