From King Street Station, we had directions to go to Skyview Observatory at the Columbia Tower. We chose this instead of the usual touristy Space Needle because 1) we wanted to be within walking distance of the train station, 2) it was cheaper ($9 each because we're "seniors", 3) it was taller. It has a wonderful exhibit of all of the things you were seeing and the history. It was a great choice! We loved it. The Space Needle looked absolutely miniscule from the Skyview.
It was a bit of hike to it from the train, some of which was uphill. There was also a fair number of homeless, etc. We were only approached by one person. But there was a group of young men drinking on the other side of the street, with several with sleeping bags and such.
We went from there to Pike Place Market, which was packed. It was Sunday afternoon, so I wasn't surprised but it bothered my husband. I had read about restaurants and had some in mind and found Lowell's and they had halibut fish and chips, which was perfect for my husband. You have to line up to order and then, hopefully, find a place to sit. We were able to get up to the third floor, shared a table, but were able to get our own table right before our food came. The food was fantastic, the view great. Great place. I wish we had more time to explore when it was less crowded, but it was just difficult for my husband. He has some vision and hearing issues, and so it gets very overwhelming for him.
We ended up walking down the stairs all the way down to the waterfront, per someone's suggestion here, and enjoyed the walk on the water most of the way down to the train station. It was pretty flat, thankfully, after about 5 levels of stairs to get down there. We were on the beginning of our adventure, and so no waiting for the darn elevator!
We enjoyed the train trip (Amtrak) to Vancouver. The King Street station is quite beautiful.
Customs and immigration was easy in Vancouver. Although it took a bit to get through the line. The taxi line was kind of nuts because one woman was yelling at everyone and did not want to get in the line. And the first taxi wouldn't take us because our luggage was "too big" so we had to wait for another. Same car, but more willing to take us.
He took us to the YWCA Hotel which I would recommend to anyone. Several folks here suggested it and most of the reviews on trip advisor were good. It was relatively inexpensive. It was after midnight when we got there, the doors were locked, and they had someone at the front desk who let us in. We got in our room and fell asleep, excited for the next day.
I had read about local restaurants and had decided long ago I wanted to go to the Jam Café which was about two blocks down the street from our hotel. We went there, waited in line about 30 minutes, and had a delicious breakfast at this charming little place. (We would go there for our other two breakfasts in Vancouver! We just loved it!)
After that we got a cab and headed to port, which was very easy embarkation process. The only wait we had was waiting after checking in through immigration and with NCL, etc. Waiting to board the ship.
If you have any questions about the cruise, ports or anything on the ship, please let me know. I am not going to do a trip report, but am happy to answer questions. We did back to back from Vancouver to Seward, back on 9-11.
Since I didn't want to fly home on September 11th, and because folks here encouraged staying in Vancouver, we planned a couple more days at the YWCA. Again, breakfast at the Jam Café. The first day (the day we got off the ship), we went to Granville Island. We got a little lost getting there, but had a good map, and asked along the way. We had wanted to leave from the Edgewater Casino dock but somehow ended up at the Yaletown dock. We took the ferry over and walked around - much calmer than Pike Place, but also a mid-day Monday. I had researched where to go to eat, but we saw a restaurant that hubby wanted to try so we did. Not really worth the cost - only ok. The service was good and wait staff was nice, but the food not anything special. It was the Sandbar. We walked around a bit more and then headed back to a different dock, this time the Edgewater Casino dock. Spent some of our Canadian dollars there and headed back to the hotel.
There was some kind of incident happening that had police and paramedics and was roped off. Sounded like someone was threatening suicide, unfortunately, but we were able to manage to find our way back to the hotel.
The next day, we had decided to go to Capilano Suspension Bridge. We went to Jam Café again, had a delicious breakfast and went to Homer and Robson to catch the free shuttle to Capilano. Enjoyed our bus driver's commentary and the scenery so much. Loved Capilano. A bit expensive, but we both felt it was worth it. We did all of the trails, all the treehouses, all the stairs, and had some nice soft serve ice cream on the other side of the bridge. Saw fish in the pond and squirrels around trying to steal food.
We ended up getting the bus back to Canada Place instead of by our hotel, thinking we could take the subway home from there. We had looked at the map and had seen the station by Jam, so thought we'd be fine. We went to Fly Over Canada. We both thought it was better than Soarin' over California, which we both loved.
From there we walked to the Vancouver Lookout. Unfortunately they don't serve lunch or dinner from 3 to 5pm, just appetizers and drinks, and decided to look around the shops and head back at 5.
If you tell them you're going to the restaurant, you do NOT have to pay to go up. We had a lovely, tasty dinner, hubby with the Pasta Arrabiata with Shrimp, me with the special, steak and prawns. Delicious meal, great view. I did go into the bathroom up there because I read on tripadvisor that the bathrooms were incredibly small. Maybe it's me, or maybe it's because I just spent two weeks in a tiny cabin bathroom, but I thought they were adequate.
We decided to go to find the train station, got our one time compass cards and took the train back to close by our hotel, which I believe was the Chinatown/stadium station. Very safe, very fast, very clean.
The next morning, we ended up at Jam Café. Our flight wasn't until 4:25pm and I wasn't comfortable enough going anywhere so I ended up taking some photos of the mural on Beatty between the Jam and our hotel. We got a cab, and headed to the airport. We were there too early to check our luggage, so had to wait, but with full bellies, until 3 hours before the flight. It was pretty smooth. The only thing that was bad was that they did not have an A&W in the airport - I had researched this because unfortunately, in our vicinity, they have gotten rid of all of them. It is still on the airport's website. The only thing they had fast food wise in our terminal that we could get to was Tim Horton's. While their fritters and donuts are the best ever, they are not Papa burgers and diet rootbeer floats.
All in all, I wish we had more time in Vancouver, and will hopefully get back there some time soon. We enjoyed the beautiful city, and felt very safe everywhere we went. We only saw some panhandlers by the train station down by the waterfront. Not much else.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask!
And thanks to those who helped with our planning. I took lots of notes, and used a lot of what I found here and there on the boards.
Star Princess (Cozumel, Princess Cays, Jamaica, Grand Cayman): December 2006
Sapphire Princess to Mexican Riveria: December 2008