Saturday, December 10, 2016

Western Canada Diaries - 18. Vancouver's Stanley Park

[ Continued from Part 17 - Vancouver's Capilano Suspension Bridge  ]

Vancouver is an amazing place. Our hotel was in North Vancouver, quite close to Yummy Donair Kabab (excellent sandwiches, by the way).

You cannot come to visit Vancouver and not visit Stanley Park, which is one of the highlights of the city. For us, it was literally a drive across the Lion's Gate Bridge, and we decided to visit the park one sunny afternoon.

The Lion's Gate Bridge can be a little uneasy to drive through, if you aren't used to such bridges. Route 99 actually continues from North Vancouver into Vancouver via this bridge (so the bridge is part of Route 99). We used to joke that how Route 99 never really left us alone. The bridge rises steeply (although you don't feel it), and it's one lane, AND traffic moves really fast when there's no congestion. And not to mention it is quite high, so don't look down.

The very first exit is Stanley Park, and it's not clearly marked, so if you are driving on you will miss it and then have to go quite the distance into downtown Vancouver, turn around and come back.

The first place any one visits in the park is the Prospect Point lookout, which offers fantastic viewpoint of the city of North Vancouver, and of course the Lion's Gate Bridge. This is a really scenic viewpoint and also has an excellent gift shop.

After that, its your choice on what to do. Some people rent bicycles and cycle the 8km Seawall, while others roam around or find picnic spots. We decided to drive all over the island and take in all the views.

One of the landmarks in the park is the Hollow Tree. It's a Western red ceder tree stump. It's quite huge, and an elephant can easily fit inside the base.

You can drive along Stanley Park Drive in the park to go all around the park. Another landmark is the series of totem poles north of Hallelujah Point.

Totem poles are quite popular in British Columbia and you can see them everywhere. It's part of the First Nations heritage of the province.

The Vancouver Aquarium is also on the island and that's almost 2-3 hours by itself. You can also visit the marina, the site of many a rich man's toys, and see across the bay the city of Vancouver.

Vancouver's marina hotels (such as the Westin) are quite high priced hotels, with rooms in the summer sometimes going from as low as $700 a night.

Overall, Stanley Park is a delightful afternoon's worth of a trip, and you can easily spend 2-3 hours here, if not more. Just like every time when I visit Dubai I make a trip to Dubai Mall and the Dubai Fountains, for Vancouver it would be Stanley Park. It's right there by downtown, yet so far from the hustle and bustle of the city. So many things to see and do, or not simply do anything at all but just enjoy the nature.


'liya said...

I have a photograph of my 6 year old self and younger sisters posed in front of that tree. Can't believe it's still standing. How old is your eldest son? I hope he remembers this trip. I have faint memories of our Vancouver trip but strongly remember jumping on the bed in the hotel to wake up my dad who was exhausted from driving there.

mezba said...

@Liya, my son does remember a lot about this trip, but that's probably because it just happened this summer. I had this post sitting around for some time. I hope he does remember it (there's tons of pictures now) later.