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Vancouver, Rental Car, Hampton Inn at the airport

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We have a rental car reserved from Canada Place the Saturday morning we disembark, with return the next morning at YVR for our flight.  We have a reservation at Hampton Inn airport that night.  One of the options for the day that we’re thinking about is spending time at Granville Island and Queen Elizabeth Park, then having dinner, checking into our airport hotel, returning the car to YVR, and taking the hotel shuttle back to Hampton that night, then back to YVR in the morning for our 8am flight. Questions: 

 

1. Would that be a reasonable plan for the day?  If so, best way to structure?  How bad would Granville crowds be on a Saturday compared to other days? Anything else we should think about doing along the way if that’s the itinerary?  Should we aim for Chinese in Richmond for dinner before returning the car Saturday night?  

 

2. Does staying at the airport pre-flight make sense for our early flight?  We’re assuming we’ll save time in the morning by staying there instead of downtown. Any thoughts on the Hampton specifically (chosen for earning Hilton points)?  How long is the Hampton shuttle ride to the terminals? 

 

Thank you. 

 

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I'll do this in reverse order:

2) yes, but also no - it's absolutely not needed to stay at the airport. With an 8am flight you could take SkyTrain or a cab from downtown in ~35mins, arrive by 6am without missing out on sleep compared to the airport (airport shuttle you also need to assume ~30mins for - they only have one, it's a 10 min drive, so if you just miss the shuttle then you will have to wait for it to drive there and back again before taking you), be at no measurable extra risk of missing your flight, and enjoy all the delights of downtown instead of light industrial areas by the airport.

 

1) Granville is a b*gger to drive on when busy - there is parking, but the free/cheap stuff is snagged by locals who know where it is and the easily-found places are rather ka-ching. Plus, pedestrians roam everywhere, very few designated crossings, so assume walking pace driving and that a rando might jump in front of you at literally any moment! GI also has excellent transit connections to downtown core without driving - two competing ferry companies so fares stay down at bus ticket level (~$3pp), public bus, and you can even walk there over a bridge or around the Seawall. If you do a HOHO precruise, GI will be included too - so I would not waste part of a 'car day' on GI, but instead use the car where it is best on places where transit is infrequent or slow or both. Timing-wise I'd suggest that early is key - head here first if you are driving here! Tour buses ALL stop at GI, and it tends to be late morning/over lunchtime that there are most so that folks can use their ~hour of free time to buy lunch. You can wander a lot of it even before the shops open just fine - so even if you have an 8am car rental I'd head straight over.

 

QEP - driving is very practical, like Stanley you pay once by license plate so can even move the car around if you like (but the central car park up top is convenient to all the nice bits so don't bother unless you decide to park, explore, drive somewhere else for lunch, then come back again). Transit can get you here - SkyTrain station is at the bottom of the hill though, so less-frequent buses are necessary unless you're in good shape and want to burn calories. Either way, compared to driving you'd be looking at probably 75-90mins for the round trip from downtown vs 30mins in a car.

 

There's really nothing else en route between GI and QEP - but with a car the other options that become much more viable to visit include everything on UBC's campus (several excellent museums and gardens, it's the big green space on top of a cliff you see as you cruise out of Vancouver), the Steveston part of Richmond (well beyond the airport to the south, weak transit, but plenty of parking - a superb cannery museum that spanks anything in Alaska and a nice 'village' of Ye Olde houses to wander in with many little indy shops and restos), and Lynn Canyon also becomes a very viable alternative to Capilano with a car - personally I think it's better than Cap even with all the bells & whistles the latter has added, and it's inarguably much more unspoilt, natural, and waaaaaaaay less touristy.

 

If you do decide to stay at the airport, Chinese is the way to go - but personally I'd make use of the Hampton shuttle and return the car before dinner so that everyone can drink 😉

 

Overall I'd look at what the price is to return to your downtown Hampton post-cruise for a night compared to the airport one, the cost of a rental car with an airport drop vs RT rental from a downtown office, and also consider if in light of the above extra info whether you want to alter where you plan to spend time before locking in your hotel and car rental. Oh, and of course if you do stay downtown you need to factor in a cab (~$35) or SkyTrain tix ($2.95pp) to the airport Sunday morning.

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3 hours ago, martincath said:

I'll do this in reverse order:

Thank you martincath. Wonderful info as always, lots to process and grateful for all of it.  I’m so surprised about the airport hotel, I’ve never run into a one shuttle situation. That’s crazy. 

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I would skip the car rental and do everything by cab or public transit.  Save headaches on parking and congestion.  Vancouver is not that big.

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Thank you @xlxo, the insight is much appreciated.  Originally we were going to stay in Vancouver longer and a day trip up S2S was a top ‘must do’, hence the car reservation. Unfortunately we had to cut back our time away, so we cut down our list... S2S is one thing that still hasn’t fallen off it, but we’re exploring other options to convince ourselves to simplify. We won’t use a car unless we end up deciding on something outside the city.

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On 6/3/2019 at 4:16 PM, martincath said:

in light of the above extra info whether you want to alter where you plan to spend time

 

We’ve been pondering options and some juggling. Thoughts on this outline?

 

Arrive Thursday night.

 

Friday- Medina, Granville Island and kayak at False Creek, evening TBD. 

 

Embark Saturday- Flyover Canada, lunch in the general vicinity of Canada Place, embark ~2:30.

 

Disembark Saturday- (skip car rental) disembark, store luggage, rent bikes, pick up sandwiches and head to Stanley Park and the seawall.  Taxi to Hampton airport; dinner either before in town, or Asian afterwards in Richmond. Is Richmond Night Market worth considering?  

 

Sunday am flight. 

 

Thank you. 

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Seems logical - and with plenty of space to slot in more stuff as the mood takes you.

 

The Night Market is definitely worth doing - even if you just do some people-watching while grazing on the various food options you should enjoy yourselves, but there are also various entertainments inside too.

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8 minutes ago, martincath said:

Seems logical - and with plenty of space to slot in more stuff as the mood takes you.

 

Thank you Martin!  Would you have a recommendation for dim sum on embarkation day?  Also any further suggestions to ponder for GI day Friday?  

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I don't do dim sum in Chinatown at all any more - there really isn't anywhere great, unless you are looking more for the overall experience/vibe/surroundings than the food in which case Floata may be of interest to you (it's the largest Chinese resto on the continent, seating up to a thousand guests, so it comes closest to the sort of huge room that Indiana Jones would run through dodging gunfire from gangsters). Staying in the downtown core I'd point you to Kirin, which is the fanciest dim sum option and conveniently-close to the pier for walking (or a very short cab ride if you eat too much!)

 

What else to do on GI day does depend on how long you spend kayaking and shopping! The non-shopping parts of GI are a leisurely 2 hours tops - covering a quick walkthrough of the various market buildings without browsing of the contents, circling around the houseboats and old Emily Carr campus while taking lots of photos, going up & down the several streets with businesses on (there's a free walking tour of GI through Tour Guys - it used to be seriously-tight one hour with almost constant walking, but they've extended it to 90mins these days. The only downside is the timing - 11am daily so the crowds are already peaking, which I guess ensures they have more potential customers!)

 

Actually, with a Medina brekky first, that actually means you have a good chance of being able to take the free tour reasonably efficiently if you do want some spiel from a guide - you could perhaps pad the trip to GI by heading to the far end of False Creek and taking a wee ferry along to GI, or even walking all the way around (if you just walk to the Village and board a boat there, it's a hair over 2km/1.25 miles) but it might be redundant since that's usually where folks in kayak and SUPs tend to paddle past, avoiding the rougher water in the other direction.

 

Anyhoo - depending what time you get done with the kayaking, and where you're doing that from (I'm assuming GI, as there are several marine-equipment day rental places based there) you might consider staying on the same side of False Creek and heading out to Vanier Park - you can walk the Seawall again from GI, or the False Creek Ferries go out to the Maritime museum there (NB: Aquabus don't). As well as the Maritime there's the Museum of Vancouver and the McMillan Space Centre - all of these are very nice, tightly-focused places. If you are a huge nerd in the relevant areas you could probably spend twice as long, but most folks will pleasantly fill ~90mins each unless they add on an IMAX movie.

 

If that seems like a good way to take you up to about dinner time, that also opens up a few 'normally a cab ride from downtown hotels' restos along Broadway, first of which I'd recommend is Salmon & Bannock. We just got back there last weekend, as I'd heard that they were offering smoked sea lion as well as their more normal venison/bison - and they were, and it was delicious (though the missus felt that the blueberry elk sausage was even better, and I was all over the herring roe/kelp appy). There's the original branch of Peaceful (hand-pulled noodles) and also Dynasty Seafood for possibly the best high end Cantonese food in Vancouver.

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