Being a typical summer and winter destination, Vancouver in British Columbia attracts every year millions and millions of visitors from around the world. Skiing, Hiking, Camping, Trekking, Cruising, Flying, whatever you are looking to do on Canada´s Pacific Coast, you can do it right here. Not to forget the jaw dropping Nature just behind the city´s limits with endless valleys, crystal clear mountain lakes surrounded by snow-capped mountains and the extraordinary wildlife.It´s been a year since I´ve last visited, so I made sure to have a decent return before heading on to Sweden to celebrate Midsommar with our amazing Swedish friends there.
While the flight over was particularly strenuous (no, I am not complaining, LOL), Vancouver compensated with a gorgeous sunset over the Vancouver Bay. So after I took a well deserved shower, I jumped into a pair of comfy after-flight clothes and took a stroll down to my favourite grocery store Urban Fair.
There is nothing more relaxing than to sit on one of the benches at the Waterfront and feast on some healthy nibbles like Dolmades, Eggplant rolled with Provolone and sun-dried Tomatoes or the Tequila and Honey Smoked Salmon bits! Hmmmmm, perfect!
I haven´t made any plans in advance for the layover, except some ship spotting on the departure day back home, yet nothing was set up for the full day off. And though the crew had been very fun to work with, I was longing for a little solitude. So it actually came in pretty handy that the skies the next day were everything but blue. Luckily, rain stayed away.
After a decent run in the morning and a quite tasty coffee from my in-room coffee maker, I decided to take a walk through Stanley Park and do something that I haven´t done for ages: Go to the Aquarium.
And it was fun! Vancouver Aquarium is worldwide renown and even though it definitely is not one of the largest or most modern, it was spectacular to dive into the mystical Oceanic world with all these colors, species and shapes after all this time. I felt like a little boy, seriously!
Particularly their new “Discover Rays” touch pool thrilled me. While it mainly consisted of a large pool filled with cownose rays and southern stingrays and a few wall mounted blackboards with information, the real life experience made the visit very special to me.
I have never touched rays before. Have you? These animals are so fascinating. I could watch them for hours swim elegantly like angels through the waters, yet finding out that their surface is so soft (ok, and a little slimy 🙂 ) completely surprised me.
Rays are electroreceptive. That means they can identify their surroundings (in this case your hand) without movement. That does not mean though to wave wildly with your hands under water! Rays prefer it calm. So I kept it low-key. And it worked! Two of them seemed to particularly enjoy my caress, they came back for more and more. I think I spend almost an hour down there, but it was so exciting and fun to watch, I simply could not leave!
I finally did then at around 4:30 pm. It was great to see that the sun had finally found her way back through the clouds and enjoyed the warmth while strolling back into downtown Vancouver.
Since the visibility had improved so much by now, why not making the best out of it and combine panoramic vistas with a decent cocktail, I thought. A great location for this is the Cloud 9 in the Empire Landmark Hotel on Robson Street.
The revolving restaurant and adjacent lounge are located on the 44th floor and provide an amazing 360 degree view over the city and the surroundings. On clear days, you can see forever, seriously! While it is not the most chic rooftop bar, Cloud 9 does serve excellent martini cocktails at reasonable prices (10.65 CAD for a Negroni on Ice) in a casual and friendly environment. Absolutely unpretentious and for me a great spot to focus on a good drink and an outrageous view.
As a cruise ship photographer (have you already visited my website?), how can I not welcome Princess Cruises´ Island Princess and Holland America Line´s Volendam the next early morning. Vancouver is a hotspot for ship spotters like me and there are several places from where to catch the best shots of the ships during their early morning arrivals into port.
Canada Place (the cruise terminal) is the closest and easiest to reach for me when staying in Vancouver for work. The upper levels provide great spots for panoramic shots and are opened from 6am on. If I have time, I try to relocate in the afternoons to Stanley Park again (from this spot you can photograph the ships passing the mighty Lions Gate Bridge) or you even take your pictures from the bridge itself.
Today, I had to be satisfied with the ships´ arrivals. The day left further enough time for a little workout and writing this blog post before in just a few hours I will be again rocketed back home, where the next travel adventure is just around the corner!
Safe travels, folks! See you on the road.