May 10 - Vancouver, British Columbia

My first full day in Vancouver and I decided to spend it not in the city but across the Burrard Inlet in the district known as North Vancouver. To get there I walked down Georgia Street to catch the bus. Fortunately I discovered after waiting only 10 minutes that the direct bus doesn’t run unless it is peak hours. Since I was only a few blocks from the waterfront I headed to the sea-bus terminal.

The sea-bus connects the transit system’s on both sides of the shoreline along with the buses that run over the Lion’s Gate Bridge to the west. The journey across the inlet only took about 10 minutes and I jumped aboard a bus waiting at the terminal where I disembarked.

The bus wound through the tree lined, sun drenched residential streets heading uphill towards Grouse Mountain. A man sat in front of me turned and asked if this bus is going to the Capilano Suspension Bridge. Since this was where I was heading too, I certainly hoped this bus was going there. We ended up chatting for a bit and when the bus pulled up outside the Capilano Suspension Bridge we both headed in. It turned out he is an air steward working on Philippines Airlines and has a few days on layover in Vancouver.

I took a free tour around the park with history about this impressive bridge that spans 140m across the Capilano River canyon at over 70m above the river. After wandering around the park I crossed the bridge that sways gently as people cross. The sun was shining down and the temperature was increasing by the hour. The gentle breeze coming down the river valley made it quite pleasant to cross into the heavily forested area on the other side.

After spending some time on both sides of the bridge and seeing a First Nations native craftsman carving a totem pole I headed back onto the road and boarded the next bus continuing up the road to Grouse Mountain.

Grouse Mountain is Vancouver’s most popular and easily accessible skiing hill just 15 minutes drive from the downtown area. When I arrived at the mountain I bought my ticket for the Sky Ride – Grouse Mountain’s cable car and also the only way up the steep side of the mountain directly to the plateau near the summit. The views across North Vancouver and over the Burrard Inlet to the downtown were very impressive and as clear as they get. The heat haze and no doubt some air pollution made the view beyond downtown Vancouver a bit obscured.

Upon arriving at the top I was amazed at the 30cm deep snow yet the 25-degree wind free weather. I followed signs to the Grizzly Bear rescue environment where 2 young grizzlies were sleeping in the sun. The information centre perched at the top of the mountain overlooking the city commanded some of the most impressive views in the province. Located inside is the ‘theatre in the sky’ where I watched a short presentation on British Columbia from the air.

With this still in mind I headed outside again and to the other side of the complex where a Bell helicopter sat on the helipad. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to see some more of B.C. from the air so I chartered the helicopter and in no time we had lifted off and headed around to the east of Grouse Mountain.

The flight took me over river valleys, forests, a snow covered volcano crater and to the mountains just behind Whistler, one of Canada’s most popular mountain resorts.

When we touched back down on Grouse Mountain I took the Sky Ride back down the mountainside and walked down the road to the Capilano Reservoir and dam. From here I waited for the return bus to the sea bus terminal. As I stood in the street shaded by huge conifers lining both pavements I watched a squirrel desperately trying to cross the road towards me. Every time it made it half way across a car would come and it would scurry back to the pavement.

The bus stopped at Lonsdale Quay where I had a bite to eat and then took the sea bus back to downtown Vancouver. The sky train took me the rest of the way to Granville Street station.

Related Pages

Travel Guide - British Columbia
Travel Guide - Vancouver
Photographs of North Vancouver

Travel Diary

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