I was in Canada last fall and visited British Columbia on invitation from the tourism board. I had been travelling in Europe for almost ten days and instead of flying back to India, I decided to fly straight out from Amsterdam to Vancouver. It was a long flight and my travel companions was a family from Pakistan who were relocating to Canada. We connected instantly over Bollywood and cricket among other topics and we were facebook friends by the time we landed . The journey had set the tone for an amazing trip, filled with fun and laughter as we drove across the landscape.
After every trip most of my posts are about places to see and things to do but for me its the experiences and the moments that stay in my mind. So here are my favourite five experiences from British Columbia in Canada
1. Flying in a sea plane
There is my most favourite experience in BC. I saw sea planes taking off from the Vancouver Harbour when we went to see Fly Over Canada and I was mesmerised. It was threatening to rain and it almost got cancelled because of low visibility but we were eventually lucky. The bright yellow and white float plane was waiting for us as we took off from the sea, hovered over the skyline, saw islands glistening like emeralds in a sea of turquoise as we flew across mountains and forests.
2. The story of Gastown
Amidst the vibrant atmosphere of Gastown , the hip locales in Vancouver filled with bars and restaurants is an ancient steam clock that gives you a hint about the history of the area. Gastown is the oldest settlement in Vancouver and this 200 year old locale is named after a man, whose statue stands over Maple Square. We had a quick walking trail, sampling food and downing all the history with cocktails. But the most interesting story is that of the man, “Gassy” Jack Deighton, a sailor who came here in the 19th century. He set up his bar, Globe Saloon in today’s Maple Square but it was his tall stories that caught the fancy of people, earning him the nickname ” Gassy” and the locale its name. I would have loved to linger here longer, be in Blood Street or Water Street and listen to the tales while going on a food trail.
3. Kayaking in False Street, Granville Island
On a beautiful dreamy morning, we took an aqua bus and went to Granville Island from Vancouver, just to soak in the local flavour. Once upon a time it was an industrial area, but today it is a tourist spot with everything from farmers market to theaters, from breweries to galleries . Sipping maple beer from the local brewery, we roamed around meeting artists and farmers, but the best fun we had was while to kayak at the False Creek. I was terrible at it, but my partner was rather adept at it and sportingly, took charge as we drifted away
4. The search for The Lost lake
Whistler, the ski resort town , a favourite of bikers was vibrant with colours as the maple leaves were changing hues. The town named after hairy marmots who “whistle away” is a haunt of outdoor enthusiasts, especially those who love to ski. The mountains, Whistler and Blackcomb are the usual haunts but my interest was in the many lakes that dot the town – Alpha, Nita, Green, Alta and Lost lake. There was a ring of mystery when I heard the name and decided to go on a trail through the forests, stepping on fallen leaves, listening to the sounds of nature . We were lost too and finally we found it, hidden away from the tourist’s eye, its sandy beach , the favourite haunt of nude sunbathers at one time.
5. Blowing hot and cold at the Scandinave spa
This probably should have been right on top of the charts. It was by far the best experience in a spa. No massages or therapies, just the ancient Nordic tradition of alternating between hot and cold showers or pools . The most beautiful part of the experience was the atmosphere. Imagine being surrounded by mountains and forests and soaking your body and mind in the outdoors, where the pools are located in a 20000 sq feet of nature called Spruce Grove. And the cherry on the top is lying in a hammock, eyes shut, watched over the cedars sloping down the mountains.
Have you been to British Columbia, Canada ? What are your favourite moments or experiences ?