After a nine hour plane journey from Heathrow, we landed in Vancouver in the middle of the afternoon. Our flight path took us over Greenland, and the views were stunning. This trip had barely started, and I found myself thinking of future adventures.
Upon arrival, the immigration process was very smooth. We needed an electronic travel authorisation prior to travel, and at the airport, used the Primary Inspection Kiosks to scan our passports, take our photo and complete an on-screen declaration before taking a printout to show a CBSA officer.
From here we picked up our rental car and drove to The West End of the city, where we had rented a two bed apartment. For this holiday, we were joined by my brother-in-law. The plan was to quickly settle in, and then get an early dinner from a nearby Cactus Club Cafe. What we didn’t quite factor, was that the kids would fall asleep before we got there. Nevertheless, we had a decent meal and some cocktails, while the girls slept in our laps.
The problem with this, was that they then woke up at 1.30am, fully rested and hungry. Short of ideas for entertainment at that time of the morning, we fed them, and sat them down to watch Finding Dory, in anticipation of what we had planned for later that day.
We attempted to take advantage of this unexpected early start and got to Stanley Park for when it opens at 9am. Inadvertently, we’d picked the day of the Vancouver Marathon. This meant we couldn’t cycle round the Seawall first, as we had intended, so we went to the Vancouver Aquarium. I can’t be totally sure if it was the Finding Dory trick, that worked, but our kids were as excited as I’ve ever seen them.
After the Aquarium, we hired bikes from Bayshore Bikes, and my husband towed the kids in a trailer on the back. We first cycled round The False Creek and the city, stopping for lunch on Granville Island in the indoor public market. After refuelling, we got back on our bikes, and proceeded to complete the 8.8km Stanley Park Circuit. For dinner, we ate at AnnaLena, where every dish was clearly constructed with a lot of thought and effort.
The next day, we took the free shuttle from Canada Place to visit the Capilano Suspension Bridge. With it’s natural beauty, selection of food and drink options, and treetops adventure trail, this attraction is definitely worth a visit for both adults and children.
Tip: Tickets for Capilano, Vancouver Lookout and other attractions can be bought at a discount from the visitors’ centre on Canada Place.
From there, we took the short journey on the 236 Bus from Capilano to Grouse Mountain ($2.85 adult, children under 5y free, exact change or card payment only). However, the Eye of the Wind attraction was closed, and the thought of paying over $50 per person to ride the cable car didn’t seem worth it to us, so we got the free Grouse Mountain shuttle back to Canada Place.
As we now found ourselves with a little extra time on our hands, we went up the Vancouver Lookout for a 360deg view of the city. That night, we had dinner at the highly rated Tavola, which styles itself as a ‘family style’ restaurant.
The next day, we took the Trans-Canada Highway 1, then Crowsnest Highway 3, East out of Vancouver to The Rockies. We’d barely got past the city, and the breathtaking scenery began. We made our first stop for a picnic lunch along the way at Lightning Lake, in E.C. Manning Provincial Park. But for a handful of other people and a colony of marmots, the place was deserted, silent and very peaceful.
We continued our journey on through Keremeos, which is apparently famed as Canada’s fruit stall. However, being early May there was no fruit in season. Beyond Keremeos, we drove on to the desert town of Osoyoos. Again, we were a week too early to see the self guided boardwalk at the Osoyoos Desert Centre, so drove up to the Native owned Nk’Mip Winery, for a glass of local Cabernet Sauvignon and a view. From there, we drove North past a series of lakes and the town of Penticton, to our stop for the night Kelowna. We stayed in the Royal Private Residence, attached to the Delta Hotel, on the shores of the huge Okanagan Lake . It was very pricey, and a little dated, but the food and wine in the restaurant were top quality.
We started day five making the most of the hotel gym and swimming pool before a late brunch, while it rained outside. Relaxed, refreshed and with the kids happy, we hit the road again. This time another 5hrs (405km) journey to the Emerald Lake Lodge, in Yoho National Park, near Field.
Upon arrival at the resort, you park up in the Overnight Guest Car Park, and call for a shuttle up to the lodge. As we caught our first glance of the lake, our first reaction was simply, ‘wow!’ The lake was still frozen and gave off a misty blue glow. The tranquility of the place was simply amazing.
The lodge itself, is very thoughtfully constructed, and subtly blends in with the natural environment. There’s a choice of dining options, a bar, cozy fireplaces, a choice of games to play, and even an outdoor hot tub. The next morning, we walked part way round the lake clockwise, as far as the avalanche chute. The whole circumference is only 5.2km, and looked very doable, even in the ice, and with our children, however we were on a tight schedule so had to head back.
Leaving the Emerald Lake, we entered the final phase of our trip. Another scenic, 5 hour 30mins, 521km drive through the Rockies, took us to Edmonton, where we spent the last few days attending a family wedding.
This was our second trip to this part of Canada in two years, and on both occasions we were awestruck by what we saw and experienced. The itineraries for the two trips were completely different, yet we still feel there is more to see and do, and I’m certain, we’ll be back in this part of the world again in the near future.