Vancouver to Whistler Hints
is an lively and modern cosmopolitan city with a diverse
population. Activities are almost endless, so I'll just
mention a few of my favorite things.
Be sure to take some time to visit beautiful Stanley Park.
It is situated by the Lions Gate Bridge. The rightmost
lanes go to the park instead of crossing the bridge. If
driving, first take the drive around the park to get a feel of
what awaits. The drive is about 6 miles around, and the
traffic flow is one way.
There is always some activity going on in this beautiful 1000
acre park. There are viewpoints, totem poles, gardens,
beaches, play areas, walking paths, and dining.
In addition, a variety of art events take place in the park, so
be sure to check a local event schedule. While entry to
the park is free, you must pay to park. You can purchase
an all day parking permit, or pay for only a couple hours.
Park, then look for the parking kiosks where you'll obtain a
permit that you must leave on your dashboard.
Canada's largest aquarium, "Vancouver Aquarium" is located in
Stanley Park. There is an admission fee for entry. You can easily spend the better part of a day
here. The aquarium has both an inner and outer area, so
bring along an umbrella if rain is in the forecast. During our
visit, we had the joy of seeing a one month old female baby
beluga calf and her mother Aurora. It was fun to watch
them interact. They can be viewed both from the ground
level outdoor area and the indoor underground area. A visit
to the aquarium is a good way to learn about the
local marine life.
Once you've explored the city, why not set out on the
breathtaking Sea to Sky Highway for a trip up to Whistler.
Along the way you'll have the opportunity to experience
breathtaking scenery and to stop and see a couple impressive
Whistler is a busy place regardless the season. The winter
brings world-class skiing and the summer brings out the
climbers, hikers, mountain bikers, and off-roaders. If the mountain
biking looks a little rough for you, rent a bike and enjoy one
of the many bike trails in the valley. You can escape some
of the hustle and bustle of town on one of the many lakes of
whistler or taking a nice long hike. In the summer, take a
walk through the alpine meadows and enjoy the wildflowers.
There are a variety of trails available off the operational
lifts at Whistler Village. If you're not up to walking,
just go up the mountain lift and enjoy the scenery. The
peak to peak tram will take you over a beautiful evergreen
forest, and you can even queue for a glass bottom tram car
to enjoy this scene. From Rendezvous on the Blackcomb side
of the mountain, take
the shuttle to the Seventh Heaven chairlift, and take a ride up
to get a little taste of winter in the middle of summer, or
better yet, grab some skis and take a few runs on the Blackcomb
glacier. (Check for summer ski hours.) Several of the
hiking trails will take you through beautiful alpine meadows.
Consult the hiking trail map for recommended trails, recommend
hiking direction, distances, and estimated time to plan
for the hike. Remember to bring along a jacket, hat,
gloves, and sunglasses. You are at altitude and the
temperatures can be quite blustery. This is especially
true at Seventh Heaven, as riding the chairlift, you will
exposed to the weather, and as you reach the top you will be at
the glacier and the snow and ice really cool things down.
weekends, watch for mountaintop dining specials. The lifts
run longer on weekends, so be sure to check the lift hours
before setting off on your hiking adventure.
If flying international out of Vancouver, make every attempt to
arrive at the airport about 3 hours before your flight.
Arriving more than 3 hours in advance is not helpful, as you are not
allowed to check in more than 3 hours in advance of your flight. In my
experience, if you leave only 2 hours, you'll be biting your
nails wondering if you're going to make your flight. Part
of the problem is that you will be going through U.S. customs in
the airport, so there are more lines than normal to navigate
through, and the lines usually are excessively long and slow.
Once you've passed the airline check-in at the desk, you will be
hauling all your luggage as you pass Canadian Customs, US
Customs, and US security. You are not allowed to use
the rental trolleys beyond the airline desk check-in, so don't
even bother wasting your money to rent one. We have left
from Vancouver on multiple occasions, and we have always
experienced a long slow crawl through what seem like endless
lines. On our last trip, none of the self check-in kiosks
could complete the check-in process, but there were no signs or
other indications that this was the case. This caused
further confusion as most passengers would first go to the
non-functional machines and try multiple times, before realizing
they had to stand in line for check-in. It seems to me
that we've encountered this same problem here before. I
suspect that the machines may not work if you're flying
international, but some sign to indicate their status would be
nice. Heed my advice to get their early, keep your
patience in check and you'll make your flight.
Update: The situation in the Vancouver Airport seems to have improved
As of our 2010 trip, the check-in machines worked, carts
were allowed until we off-loaded our checked bags, and more
security checkpoints seemed to be available. However, this
impression may be influenced by the fact that we had an early
morning flight. I could hardly believe that we made it
through to the gate in just under 30 minutes! Perhaps the
2010 Olympic crowds helped influence the noted improvements.
-Therese & Reid
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