(aka the best way to spend a morning in Vancouver)
As I mentioned in my post about making the most about work travel, I recently attended a conference for work in Vancouver, British Columbia. This was by no means my first trip to Vancouver, but it may very well have been the shortest.
Short for travel, but long for a conference. Five days of networking, participating in workshops, presenting my research, and just generally being ‘on’ is exhausting. I needed some time to get away. With that in mind, when I found myself with a few hours about halfway through my trip, on a glorious sunny morning, I immediately knew what I wanted to do: a Stanley Park bike ride.
In case you don’t know, Stanley Park is the jewel of downtown Vancouver. Named after Lord Stanley (also made infamous by the Stanley Cup named after him, for all you hockey fans), this thousand-acre park is surrounded almost entirely by water. Ringing the park is the SeaWall, a pretty stunningly beautiful bike and walking path. More paths wind through the park, leading to areas like the Vancouver Aquarium, the Lost Lagoon, and the beautiful totem poles.
Downtown Vancouver is rife with assorted bike rental places, the density of which increases the further west you go towards Stanley Park. Being on Winnipeg time, I was up before 6am, all ready to go; turns out that Vancouverites are late risers. I could not, despite all my research, find a rental shop that opened earlier than 9am.
After a leisurely breakfast, and a surprisingly isolated walk along the waterfront, I spotted Spokes Bicycle Rentals finally opening their doors. The employees there were kind enough to serve me, despite it technically being before opening (thank you!!!). Bike shares and bike rentals are common in a lot of cities nowadays, but not so in Winnipeg. Within minutes I was hitting the road on my trusty steed for the day…
…only to realize a crucial error! As you may have seen in my tweet, I completely failed to pack my camera battery. So there I was, surrounded by ultra-picturesque scenery, armed only with my iPhone. Apologies for the photo quality; I assure you, no one is more frustrated than me.
In any case, onwards! For my first lap, I stuck to the Seawall. All of the paths in Stanley Park are perfect for both cyclists and pedestrians, with a good amount of room and separation for both. Despite the beautiful weather, I was lucky in that there were not too many cyclists on the path, so no one was bothered by my near constant starts and stops to take pictures.
Living on the prairies, as I do, I still get so excited any time I’m near the ocean or mountains. The view from the Seawall gave me both. Making my way down the path, it wasn’t long before I came to Lions Gate Bridge, a beautiful suspension bridge crossing the narrow waterway between Vancouver and North Vancouver.
Unfortunately, as I stopped to take photos of the bridge from a distance, I noticed a disappointing notice: “Due to an oil spill from a cargo ship in English Bay, it is recommended that people and pets temporarily avoid going in the water.” Stanley Park is a well used and well-loved destination, not only for people, but for a variety of wildlife, most notably colonies of great blue herons. Headlines described the English Bay oil spill as “small, but nasty”. I’m not sure what the aftermath of the spill has caused or will cause in the future, but it saddens me to think of this beautiful area being affected.
With spirits slightly dampened, I cycled on. With every lap of the pedals, I could feel all the anxiety and worries and social exhaustion fall off of my shoulders. Add to this the epic scenery, both of the park itself and the city from a distance, and it was pretty hard to beat. Making the most of what little time I had left, I finished the Seawall and made my way through the inland trails. I didn’t make it to the Vancouver Aquarium this time around, but have been several times in the past and can fully recommend it.
Hands down, a Stanley Park bike ride is the best way to spend a morning in Vancouver.
Looking for other things to do in Vancouver? Be sure to check out Miss 604!