Travel Thursday: Vancouver Makes Visiting Easy, Rain or Shine

One of the historical pictures presented to visitors at the Vancouver Lookout

Our first visit to Vancouver was about four years ago. The trip north of the border followed a wild 3 day birthday extravaganza in Seattle. We felt since we were on that side of the continent and so close, we needed to give Vancouver a chance (original post – Travel Thursday: Vancouver, Canada Tingles All Our Senses).  This most recent visit to Vancouver was to be a time to get to know the city even more on its own pace.

Coming into the city after a beautiful and easy drive up from Seattle, the architecture of Vancouver presents itself as historical and grey with splashes of color and modern touches. The December weekend was to be rainy, but that was expected.  It’s winter in the Northwest.  We made our way across downtown and as we pulled up to our accommodations, the Fairmont Waterfront, great memories flooded back in and we realized that yes, this was the perfect location for this Vancouver exploration.

Settling into our top-floor room, we soaked in the damp and darkening view of Vancouver

Harbour and prepared for the evening out.  We didn’t want to sit down for a meal immediately, so we visited the hotel bar which supplied us with a chance to meet some locals and see some Canadian eye candy.  We lost count of the happy hour drinks we went through, a good sign of a good time, and also learned from some locals great dining options for that night and following nights.

The hotel bar at Fairmont Waterfront. It was a large draw as many if no most of the clients present were not staying at the hotel. A good local option for all.

We sifted through all of the wonderful options and decided on Coquille Restaurant in Gastown. As it was raining, we were charioted off in the Fairmont Waterfront’s hotel vehicle, a BMW 7 series long body sedan, and was just in time to beat the rush.  Our waiter, I want to say his name was Jacques, originally from Paris, France, was beautiful to look at, wonderful to listen to, and was perfect in his service and attentiveness.  The locals were correct in recommending Coquille as it will be on my list to return to in the future.

Coquille was recommended by locals and thoroughly enjoyed by these travelers.

We walked back to the Fairmont in the rain, using the umbrellas supplied by the hotel. One of us fell asleep while the other decided to venture out to Davie Street, the gayborhood, and one of my favorite bars in Canada, Pumpjack Pub.  Last time we were there, construction was being done to expand/double the size of the venue.  The addition was great as it added a spacious dance floor, a great sized pool area where private parties could be held, and another bar/service area.  Oh and a platform/shower area that was raised up off the floor. Who knew they would have beary men disrobing and getting wet in the shower.

Shower time at Pumpjack?

Out in a new city all by myself?  Totally fine in Vancouver.  I chatted with some great guys in the pool room, met a couple of dance partners, and several other guys being guys.  The ride home after a falafel was no problem.  Just be aware, it is the largest city in North America with no Uber and no Lyft.  Look for those taxis, which all seem to be some generation of a Prius.

The next day was still a little wet out so we stuck to inside activities.  First on the list was Fly Over Canada, which was still doing their winter/Santa themed video flight.  I had been to the Soarin’ Around the World ride at Disney so I knew what to expect of the more northern version, and I was very entertained as it was a ride for all ages to enjoy. They have a variety of rides throughout the year so this will be another venue to return to on our next trip.

We were not allowed to take pictures in Fly Over Canada. Take our word for it, it was festive, fun, and entertainment for all ages.

Does every city have a needle or observatory to overlook the landscape?  A quick walk from the once again very convenient Fairmont Waterfront, the Vancouver Lookout, probably one of the more enjoyable observatories I have been to, provided a great venue for the sunset over the city.  It was very well maintained and not only did it provide descriptions of what you were currently seeing, the educational plaques also described the history of the city which was helpful for this out-of-towner. I’m pretty sure I read them all.

As we waited for the sun to go down to attempt to capture the perfect sunset, we learned a massive amount of history, thanks to plaques like this one.
I took many pics of the sunset, but this one looking to the west was one of my favorites.

A simple walk from the Vancouver Lookout and our hotel was a place called One Under. In the basement of this downtown building is the site of a fun time had by all.

Down to One Under

Centrally set in Vancouver’s Financial District, One Under is a 5000 square foot urban golf club, eatery, and watering hole. The venue boasts six industry leading golf simulation bays, crafted cocktail bar, lounge, private party/meeting room and chef inspired menu.

Spotted some guys enjoying their simulator.

There were no strike-outs here and selecting One Under as one of our rainy day venues was a home run.  I know, wrong sport. We ended up having so much fun the drinks started flowing and food was ordered in the forms of a meat and cheese plate and some sliders. There were only two of us visiting and this venue and the rental of the simulator was a great activity, but we could have added more people and it would have been fine.

We had fun going back and forth from our drinks to clubbing to he sliders to putting.

The rest of the time in Vancouver, we did a great amount of enjoying some of the shops in Gastown, sitting down at the hotel bar, eating at random spots, and going back out into the gayborhood and Pumpjack, but we left time at the end of our trip for when and if the weather cleared up to visit Capilano.

Screen shot from the Capilano website

The Capilano Suspension Bridge Park had been on my list to visit for years before my first time to Vancouver. Across from our hotel, we picked up a free shuttle to get us to the park, roughly 20 -minutes away.  We spent a great deal more time than that enjoying the Canyon Lights at night, all done with a winter festival theme.  We were like kids walking around in this wintry wonderland.  Here we are learning that one of the wooden walkways was designed to be an interactive/responsive installation.

They say that three’s a charm, but our first and second visits to Vancouver were both already memorable and charming.  The walk of life and way of life seem rewarding, all happening at a nice simple pace, and in an environment that leaves you wanting for nothing. The third visit will have a lot to live up to. Maybe we shall return for Vancouver Pride at the beginning of August (Pride Parade on August 4)? And coming back during a summer month might be a great way to see if Vancouver would be a place to settle down in for a while for our first visit was in April and our second and most recent was at the end of December.

See you soon Vancouver!  For more information on Vancouver, visit https://www.tourismvancouver.com/ as well as one of our other posts on Vancouver (Travel Thursday: Vancouver, Canada Tingles All Our Senses).

Here are some more pics of our journey in December.

It was a rainy drive in, but we could immediately see by its architecture that Vancouver was a different city.
Coquille decorations
Coquille menu
Coquille’s Roast Scallops – squash gnocchi, capers, browned butter.
We love the architecture in Gastown, one of the more historical neighborhoods to walk around in while in Vancouver.
The Vancouver Harbour Waterfront at night with Canada Place, the Vancouver Lookout, and The Drop
Here are some of the lights at Capilano Park
Another amazing light display at Capilano Park, this one across the bridge.
We will have to come back next year to see if it changes each time. The blue lights across the top were more rope bridges through the park.
Closing time and back over the bridge to catch the free shuttle back into the city.
There were other gay bars in Vancouver, but this night two were closing for good. We went to those, but agreed we liked Pumpjack better.
One last view from our room. Of course, it cleared up and was beautiful for our drive out of the city and back to Seattle.


If you have travel ideas, places we should visit, or work for a PR company and are looking for writers to visit, please reach out to customerservice@instinctmagazine.com and address your comments to the Managing Editor.

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