Our timeshare in Vancouver, BC was in the high-rise WorldMark at The Canadian right across the street from the Sheraton at City Centre. We received guest cards to the pool and exercise rooms at the Sheraton, which was a nice facility, but it was rather a pain to have to go out of our building and across the street to get to the pool, hot tubs, and sauna.
The condo at The Canadian was quite small as timeshare condos go, but it was efficient, lovely, well maintained, and in a great location with wonderful views. It had a gas fireplace and the TV was above the fireplace. It also used mirrors to great effect to make the living room feel larger. And the soundproofing was excellent – I never heard any noise at all from above or next to us! The condo also had a washer/dryer in one of the closets and even supplied plenty of detergent. In addition, it had a huge walk-in closet by the entrance that could handle sports equipment (skis, bikes, etc.), which we didn’t need.
We arrived about noon, and didn't expect our rooms to be ready since check-in time is 4pm, but the helpful young woman at the desk gave us tags to identify our luggage and space to leave them plus a few hints of what was nearby.
Ron and I chose to walk two blocks to Robson Street to wander and browse. Robson Street is sort of a Canadian Rodeo Drive with all sorts of up-scale boutiques, shops, restaurants, and bars – and at least one Starbucks in every block. (I think the Vancouver populace is even crazier for Starbucks than Seattle!)
When we returned to The Canadian in the late afternoon, we finished checking in and found that our luggage had already been taken up to our condo. We were on the 21st floor and each room had floor to ceiling windows looking out at beautiful vistas. (Our rooms looked north and northwest so we saw lovely tree-lined streets, the mountains with snow on their peaks, and a little bit of English Bay.)
The next day, we took a four-hour Greyline bus tour of the city to get a sampling of the different areas of Vancouver and see some of the parks – Stanley Park was impressive – could probably spend a whole week just exploring that park, but I think I liked Queen Elizabeth Park better – it was like a smaller version of Butchart Gardens.
I am so impressed with Vancouver – it’s a lovely and fun city and so diverse! There are so many different ethnic areas and restaurants – so wonderful although it made choosing very hard.
Vancouver is also very walkable – especially from our condo, which seemed to be in the center and just about 6-8 blocks from everything. Vancouver also has a marvelous bus system – whenever we were ready to return to our condo but were too tired to hike it, we hopped on a bus. (Almost any bus line brought us to within a block of The Canadian!) The city is so pretty with its many little garden areas – almost every block has flowers planted in a corner or a mid-block patch.
On Tuesday, we went out our lobby, turned left, and walked six blocks to take the Aquabus ferry across to Grenville Island (about a two-minute ride). Grenville Island is a fantastic farmer’s market -- think Seattle’s Pike’s Place Market. Besides produce, the island has more cheese, salami, fish, bread, pastry, meat, and flower booths than I could count. And some of the booths had sausages and salamis beyond imagination!
Ron’s only complaint was that Grenville Island is a perfect place to purchase the fixings for a neat picnic to enjoy outside watching the harbor – but Vancouver has some strict liquor laws so we couldn’t enjoy a glass of wine with the picnic. (No drinking in public places.)
While the booths are in two or three large buildings, the island also has open-air patios with benches (and street performers) as well as other buildings with art galleries, a glass blowing gallery/shop, a separate building with shops for children (child sized doors to go in with a few larger ones for big people), yacht sales/slips, restaurants, bars, and a culinary academy. We spent all of one day on Grenville and went back another day for a delightful lunch at the academy and more browsing of the shops.
Wednesday, the weather turned and we enjoyed a Pacific thunderstorm – magnificent – and a downpour. We decided to stay in, enjoy the fireplace, read, and watch the lightning from our condo.
Thursday was nice again and we walked down to Gastown – named after a guy who loved to talk a lot – so nicknamed Joe Gasser – he had the first saloon built in the 1800s (offered the sawmill workers free drinks if they’d help build a saloon – it was built in 24 hours!) Gastown has the pubs you’d expect as well as shops and restaurants and – my favorite – a huge corner steam clock! It’s run by steam and steam plays the Winchester chimes every quarter hour – sort of sounds like a tuned train whistle (or an old steam calliope). It’s not that old – built during the 1970s, I think – but I fell in love with it and managed to be close by for many of the "chiming" times.
Another day, we explored SoHo – a young professional district with the avant-garde shops, bistros, and dancing and drinking palaces. Since we were there in the daytime, we didn’t see much action, but it was a fun place to wander for a bit. We also found – just because we wandered in a new direction from The Canadian – a Greek area and enjoyed a wonderful Greek dinner.
All in all, we enjoyed every day in Vancouver, but in all of our wanderings, we never made it to Chinatown – which is almost as large as ours in San Francisco -- or to the Sun Yat Sen Gardens. And I’m sure we missed many other lovely areas, so we’ll just have to return!