Vancouver: Day 1

Last week, I took my first solo trip to Vancouver, BC, Canada. Day 1 in Vancouver was all I had anticipated and even more so! My dream of traveling more was finally becoming a reality and I was going to enjoy every minute of it!

In my previous post, I discussed some of the research that I had done beforehand pertaining to my safety, and what there was to do. Now was the time to finally experience solo travel, and all that Vancouver has to offer!

Leg 1 – To Chicago

My day started in the wee hours of the morning, leaving for the airport at 3 am. After all the usual airport chaos, I was on the first leg of my journey to Chicago. After landing in Chicago, my worry was having to change concourses for my connecting flight, and I only had 30 minutes. Luckily, Chicago O’Hare airport has this awesome tunnel to switch between concourses in Terminal 1! Between the moving sidewalks and the colorful lights, it made for a much easier transition.

Leg 2 – To Vancouver

Unfortunately, my flight to Vancouver was delayed due to minor air condition system issues on the plane. But once we were in the air, the flight was smooth and the views were beautiful!

Amazing views on the way to Vancouver

Then came customs. This was the second time I had flown outside the USA, and both times I’ve had to deal with insanely long customs lines. Luckily though, the Vancouver airport is very well organized!

I made it!

Once I made it through customs, I made my way to the Canada Line. The Canada Line is a train that connects the airport to downtown Vancouver, with several stops along the way. I took the Canada Line all the way to Waterfront Street. After I got off the train and made it up to street level, it finally felt real. I was in Vancouver on my first solo trip!

Waterfront Street

After having been seated for such a long time on two flights and a train ride, I was ready to stretch my legs a bit. I got off the Canada Line at Waterfront Station, which sits on Waterfront Street. I took the opportunity to do a quick walk through Gastown. There were so many souvenir shops and amazing restaurants all up and down the street. I made sure to walk down far enough to see the Steamclock and ‘Gassy Jack’.

One of my first sights in Vancouver

Steamworks Brewing Co

Once I had the opportunity to move around a bit, I realized how hungry I was. I hopped on over to Steamworks Brewing Co. I had learned of this place by searching through Google maps and seeing what sort of places were around Vancouver. It’s a cool pub atmosphere with indoor and outdoor seating, with fantastic views of the harbour!

This dining experience was new for me because I had never eaten in a restaurant alone. The only part of it that was awkward was when the hostess was at a loss as to where to seat me. But after I had been seated, my waiter was very kind. While I was waiting for my food to be served, I passed the time by jotting down some notes in my journal, and admiring the view!

I opted to go with the fish & chips for my lunch. The food came very quickly and it was delicious! While they had many drink options, I decided stick with water. I typically drink about a gallon of water a day, and I was far behind since I had spent the entire morning travelling. I knew I would enjoy some fun drinks in the coming days!

My first solo dining experience.

 

Canada Place – The Canadian Trail

Near Gastown, sitting on the harbour, is Canada Place. If you’re in this area of Vancouver, it’s really hard to miss because of the 90 foot white tents. Along the side of Canada Place is The Canadian Trail. The trail is decorated with colorful tiles, representing the 10 provinces, 3 territories, and communities of Canada. It’s a great way to spend some time learning a bit about Canada and seeing some fantastic views of the harbour and the mountains!

 

Check-in Time!

When 3pm rolled around, I was ready to check-in to my Airbnb. I had chosen a location that offered self check-in. For this process, they had me pick up my keys from a KeyCafe in downtown Vancouver. It was a really process; my host had provided me a key code to use, all I had to do was punch in the code and retrieve my keys!

After collecting my keys, I followed the directions to their building and found my way up to the apartment. When I arrived, my hosts were home. They were both very welcoming! My host showed me around the apartment and to my room.

I was so glad to finally be able to put down my backpack and relax for a bit. I also took the opportunity to take a shower; I was feeling a little gross after traveling all morning. Once I felt human again, I was ready to head to dinner!

Jack Poole Plaza

On my way to dinner, I stopped by the Jack Poole Plaza. It is located at Burrard Landing, right by the harbour. I knew I wanted to check out this location because it is the permanent home of the 2010 Winter Olympic Cauldron!

The plaza itself is named after the Chairman of the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee, Jack Poole. He’s a man described as having a strong commitment to service to his community, and he was very integral in shaping Vancouver into what it is today. I find it very fitting that the Olympic Cauldron lives in a place to honor him!

 

The Harbour

Located next to the Olympic Cauldron is the Cactus Club Cafe, which is where I would be having dinner. When I went to ask for a table, they had a 45 minute wait, yikes! But I figured I could handle it, I didn’t mind walking along the harbour. While waiting on my table, I walked along the path that follows the edge of the harbour. It was cool getting to watch the sea planes take off and land. Next time I’m in Vancouver, I’ll definitely have to book a tour on one of those!

Checking out all of the sea planes

 

Another benefit of walking along the harbour are the views! I love mountains, and I don’t have many around where I am from, so anytime I’m around them, I like to really enjoy it.

Another cool thing about the path around Burrard Landing are all of the info boards. They talk about many different topics, such as ‘First Nation, First Union’, ‘A Floating Bomb’, ‘Rosie the Riveter’, and many more. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about the history of the area!

 

Cactus Club Cafe

I finally got the text that my table was ready! I was taken to a cute little table with a great view of both the harbour and the Olympic Cauldron! I started my dinner off by ordering one of their drink specials, a Passion Fruit Bellini! This drink was frozen, which was unexpected, and very yummy!

Passion Fruit Bellini, so yummy!

 

While perusing the menu, so many of their items looked really good, but in the end, I went with the fish tacos with optional guacamole! The fish tacos were absolutely delicious, as well as the fries that came with them. I definitely enjoyed every bit of my meal!

End of Day 1

After I had finished dinner, it wasn’t long before I was ready to crash. I had had a long day of traveling and exploring! My first impression of Vancouver was amazing and I knew that the next few days would be nothing short of fantastic. I was looking forward to exploring Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, Stanley Park, Chinatown, Gastown, and so much more!

 

Checking out the harbor as the sun sets on my first day in Vancouver

Have you ever been to Vancouver? I hope you loved it as much as I did! What was your favorite part?

 

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