Sometimes a quick trip away is just what you need to hit the refresh button. The older I get the more I enjoy a mini vacation.
Last week I travelled to Vancouver with my younger sister Alice to see John Legend perform on his Darkness and Light Tour. A short 1.5 hour ferry ride away Vancouver is the perfect city for a mini vacation.
The trip was Alice’s first time taking public transit to Vancouver and her first time attending a concert, so we approached the trip as a sisters trip of first experiences. We would do a combination of things we loved from previous Vancouver trips and things we had always wanted to do.
Day One: Victoria to Vancouver, FlyOver Canada & John Legend concert
Leaving Victoria bright and early on the first ferry we headed to Vancouver, excited to pack in as much on our two day trip as possible.
Our mode of transport on this trip was our feet! I love, love love to walk and am an avid Fitbit wearer averaging approximately 20,000 steps a day most weeks, so any trip will include lots of walking to collect more steps while I explore. Alice was a great sport, rising to the challenge of walking all over Vancouver with me.
Because we chose walking as our mode of transport we got to stumble upon some really great and unexpected finds, like a Salvadore Dahli melting clock! The clock surrounded by spectators caused great confusion for the homeless man on a walk near by, who Alice noted exclaimed rather incredulously “People never seen a clock before”, shooting us all a look.
A great new Vancouver experience was the Canada FlyOver. If you haven’t had the pleasure of doing a FlyOver yourself I would recommend it. The ride is a combination of gentle flight simulation and Imax show. A highlight for me was the way the ride integrates in special effects, like scents and mist. You are fully immersed in the experience throughout your whole flight.
Our front row seats made the experience even more lifelike. The flight ended with a view of the Northern Lights that took my breathe away. I have always wanted to see the Northern Lights in person and the FlyOver made me feel like I was experiencing the real thing.
At night we headed to Rogers Arena, home of the Vancouver Canucks, to take in the sounds and sights of John Legend on his Darkness and Light Tour. The show lived up to all the wonderful reviews and Legend’s vocals were everything you would expect. The set design was intriguing and versatile with play on light and dark, fitting for a tour called The Darkness and Light Tour.
With a reputation for activism Legend expertly and sincerely integrated social movements into his show, such as Black Lives Matter. Even ending his concert with his hit song Glory from the movie Selma. Singing from his piano on centre stage Legend was surrounded with photos of the March on Washington, Dr Martin Luther King Jr., The Women’s March and other key civil rights moments from America’s history. The resounding message of his show being we have to love one another and continue to fight for what we believe in. Alice and I loved the show and took many a photo and video.
Day Two: Swimming, Biking Stanley Park and Shopping at Nordstroms
Our hotel included a continental breakfast with the price of our room, which helped us to get up early for breakfast and a swim, preparing us nicely for a jam packed day of exploring.
After our swim we checked out, left our backpacks with the hotel concierge and headed to our top priority activity, biking the Stanley Park seawall. Alice was quite keen on trying out a tandem bike, but as we quickly found out tandem bikes can be tricky to balance. After a quick exchange we set off on some stylish and very comfy granny bikes.
The ride around the perimeter of Stanley Park offers stunning views of downtown, North and South Vancouver. The ride is an easy 9 km round trip, due to the flat even nature of the paths and offers lots of convenient look out spots to grab a quick shot or take in the view. If you are really lucky, like we were, you might even see a seal or a few great blue herons.
After biking we walked along the water in Coal Harbour up to Canada Place and headed to the Bella Gelateria, a old-world handcrafted Gelato shop next to the Fairmont Waterfront hotel. The Bella was a must do on Alice’s list and to my surprise and joy featured some lovely vegan gelato for the lactose intolerant like me.
Next to the Bella Gelateria we found a shop simply titled G or Giovane, a cafe, eatery and market, which we discovered had lots of cute finds to window shop and admire. A highlight for me was the Push-Pop Confetti, a device that looks much like a push pop candy but instead of something sweet it contains sparkles and confetti! I was quite tempted to pick one up but decided to save a Push-Pop purchase for the next birthday or special event I attend.
Next, with our bellies full and the sweat taste of gelato on our lips we headed off to one of our favourite shops in Vancouver, Nordstroms. Just beyond the entrance doors you will find a candy lovers dream in the form of Sugarfina, a luxury candy boutique.
A must visit whenever I go to Vancouver, Sugarfina boasts the most decadent sweets. My personal favourite, the Champagne Bears, are imported from Germany and made with Dom Pérignon Champagne with Brut and Rosé flavours. These gummy bears are exclusively found at Sugarfina and worth every penny of the $11 or so dollars you pay for a small cube. I was given my first taste a few years ago by a friend for my birthday and I have been hooked ever since!
After buying some bears to share on the ferry ride home and a yummy gift for our Dad it was off to explore the rest of the first floor, where all the best goods live (shoes, makeup, jewelry, hats, bags, candles and makeup).
Just past Sugarfina and only steps into Nordstrom’s we stumbled upon the Goop Pop-In shop. This little shop contained more than a few products that made us giggle, mostly at the price tags but also at the content.
For the small fee of $56 dollars you could buy a Digital Detox Bath or for the seemingly more reasonable price of $28.35 you could have your own supply of Sex Dust to add to your nut milk, coffee or tea. After it was decided that neither of the above would make an appropriate gift for the Gwyneth fan in our family, our mother, we settled on the wonderfully fragrant French Girl Sea Soak. Scented with menthe and romarin, these pink and white bath salts smelt a bit like a Mediterranean heaven and were so pretty to look at.
After a fun shopping experience it was back to the SkyTrain to make our way to the ferry. A sunny ferry ride led us back through some of the iconic Pacific North West scenery that I used to take for granted but now fully appreciate.
The most beautiful sites can be seen when sailing through Active Pass. An absolute favourite of mine, I found myself rushing my dinner so I could run outside with my iPhone and catch a few last shots of ocean and islands on my way back to Victoria.