I decided to change things up and instead of just writing about historic sites, I’d include general travel posts. People keep asking how trips were overall and I’d like to share that stuff, too. Sooooooooo, here’s how Day 1 of mine and Holly’s trip to Canada went!
Our trip to Canada started out bright and early on Thursday. I had gone to bed super early the night before because I was getting up at 4am to pick Holly up at 5am, but my body decided it wanted to wake up several times during the night. Yay. lol. I finally decided to just get up around 3:30 and did random things until 4am. Got ready and picked Holly up about 5am and off we went! We were going to drive to Bellingham and stop there for gas, but we decided to stop in Paine Field-Lake Stickney, Washington, for breakfast and to stretch our legs. And since we forgot to take a ‘start of trip’ photo, we took one there before we headed back out.
We hit the Canadian border around noon and were across in about 20 minutes. Some friends who had recently driven up there had told me it would take 2-3 hours to get across the border, but traffic was light that day and we got across pretty fast. Holly took some photos for me since I was driving.
I know it sounds silly, but I was excited to drive across the border. There’s something fun about visiting new places and trying new things. I’ve never driven across a border myself. When I was 16, my school chartered a bus for a trip to Mexico and California, but I don’t remember what it was like driving across the border back then. That was spring 2000, so it was a looooooooong time ago. I was probably asleep or reading a book. lol. So, getting to actually drive across the border was pretty exciting.
This time, I was awake the whole time and we had a lot of fun. I had brought a binder of mix CD’s my friends and I had made in our teens and Holly would pick out ones she liked to sing and dance to while we drove. I couldn’t sing because I’d woken up without a voice after having a cold for six days, so I just mouthed words and laughed. When I did try to talk, we’d end up laughing more about my squeaking and how my voice would crack when I tried to do more than just a low tone. It was so fun. The six hours it took us to get there went by really fast.
When we got up to the window at the border and handed over our passports, the guy asked where we were going, how long we would be there, and the purpose of our trip. It was a little intimidating how severe his expression was the whole time, but I suppose they have to do that. He stamped my passport when I asked him to, which I really appreciated. I’d read that they don’t stamp passports at the Canadian border anymore unless people directly request it. When we drove through, Holly and I talked about how cute the guy was and that he needed to smile more. lol.
After crossing the border, we stopped and took pictures at the ‘Welcome to Canada’ sign. Yes, we are total tourists. lol. Pardon our exhausted looks. We got up early.
After we crossed the border, my brain clicked that the speed limit signs were in kilometers and my car doesn’t have the dual miles/kilometers speedometer. I panicked a little, thinking I was going to end up with a speeding ticket my first hour in Canada because I didn’t know how fast I was going. Luckily there were other cars around, so we just decided to keep up with them and hope they weren’t going to much over the speed limit. I was looking all over my dash trying to find a button or a knob or something because the ‘mph’ sign was lit up and I found where the ‘kph’ sign was, so we knew there was some way to switch it from miles to kilometers. Holly looked on the radio and I ran my hands all over the dash. Yes, while we were driving. We were bad. lol.
Holly pulled the car manual out of the glove box and searched through it until she found the directions to change the speedometer over. It actually said that we had to be going less than 2 miles an hour to change it. So, every time we got to a stop light, we’d try to change it over, but we weren’t able to slow down enough because the light would turn green and the cars would move just as we were getting down to 10 mph. It ended up being a game to see if we could catch a red light and change the settings before traffic started moving. Probably one of the few times in our lives where we were begging for a red light. lol. We eventually go it changed over and it was super easy. Next time, I’m going to do it while in line to cross the border (which is what we did when we left).
Once we got into Vancouver, we attempted to go to Playland, an amusement park Holly really wanted to go to, but when we were asking a lady about whether or not we could park in the parking lot across the street from the amusement park, she told us Playland was closing due to a thunderstorm warning. We were bummed, but decided to go visit Granville Island for a couple hours instead.
When we got to Granville Island, we wandered around until we found the market and wandered there some more, too. The market was a lot different that we’d expected. We were thinking it was going to be mostly trinkets and homemade products, but a majority of the market was farm fresh vegetables. There were stalls with homemade handicrafts, but not as many as I’d thought there would be. If I lived in Vancouver, I’d probably come here to buy my vegetables since they were all so big and very reasonably priced. Well, by American standards. I don’t know how reasonable the prices were by Canadian standards. I almost bought a bunch of mangos, but stopped myself. Kinda wish I’d bought one or two, but that’s okay.
I think we spent most of our time looking at the treats section. lol. There were lots of goodies there. The farmer’s market section was pretty cool, but the baked goods and chocolate were just so pretty. And looked really tasty.
And, yes, we bought some stuff. Holly got some chocolate for a guy from church who asked her to bring him back some, we got some macarons to share, and then we each got a little tin of bonbons. The red one with flakes is raspberry and coconut, the light purple is lavender, the light tan is creme brulee, the dark tan is maple caramel, the blue is blueberry cherry, and the purple with sparkles is black currant. There were so many we wanted to try, but we decided to stick with just six. Each of us chose three and then we split them all in half. They were all pretty tasty. The maple caramel was a little strange, but the rest were really good. I hadn’t had macarons before, but I’m totally willing to buy more.
For the bonbons, my box is the one with the flower and Holly’s is the one with the duck. The flavors I chose were hazelnut cream with white chocolate (lady bug), hazelnut with dark chocolate (Canadian flag), one I can’t find the flavor for (flower), and caramel with milk chocolate (red, white, and yellow). Holly chose one I can’t find the flavor for (duck), two hazelnut cream with white chocolate (lady bugs), and honey caramel with milk chocolate (bee).
After we left the market, we wandered around and saw a little outdoor market. There was a chocolate stall and this lady just kept handing us sample after sample after sample. She’d ask “would you like to try (insert flavor here)?” Sure! And then she’d ask again. And again. And again. We got to sample each one of the flavors, except the white chocolate coconut. We ended up buying two flavors: Holly chose mango and I chose coconut. The mango had a nice mango flavor, but the coconut was really subtle. It tasted mostly like white chocolate, but at times you could get a hint of coconut. I still liked it, though.
The only “problem” we ran into at Granville was the lack of wifi. I’d looked at whether or not we should get a sim card before going and Vancouver’s official website said they had tons of free wifi. It showed hotspots over almost all the areas we were going to visit, so we decided not to get a sim card. That turned into a slight problem at this point.
There was NO public wifi ANYWHERE at Granville. The website showed there was (we double-checked my screenshot), but we only found locked wifi and one open wifi at a restaurant. I’d told our AirBnb person (Jola) that we would message to let her know when we were arriving, but we’d been looking for public wifi since arriving and it took a little bit before we found the restaurant with free wifi so I could message her. We sat there for a few minutes to update people that we’d arrived and message Jola and then we headed off. More hilarity ensued.
As we drove, we hit traffic and were delayed past the time when I’d told Jola we would be there. Holly typed out a message in WhatsApp and then we began the hunt for wifi as we followed maps to our destination (I’d downloaded the maps for offline use before heading out that morning, thank goodness). We both had our wifi settings up (my phone was attached to the dash, I wasn’t holding it) so that as soon as we had wifi, we could connect and get the message sent. Every time we saw an open wifi, Holly would quickly tap it on my phone so we could connect before we got too far away. Again, we were begging for red lights. We actually got up next to a taxi with open wifi, but couldn’t get connected because he turned a different direction. Holly had been able to connect with one earlier, but no such luck with this one. And we passed a few Starbucks, but didn’t even think about parking. lol. We probably should have just parked and walked up to Starbucks. Oh well. That would have ruined our funny memory about sitting on the edge of our seats waiting for free wifi to pop up and hope we could get connected before it was too far away. #firstworldproblems It ended up feeling like a game, so it wasn’t the end of the world.
Eventually we made our way to our AirBnb in Coquitlam. It was about a 20-minute drive from Vancouver, which isn’t too bad. It was much cheaper than staying in Vancouver, was one of the few that had two beds, and was one of the very few that gave us a private space instead of just a bedroom with shared living space. Holly doesn’t mind sharing a bed or living space, but I have a hard time sharing a living space with strangers. It causes a lot of anxiety and I end up feeling like I have to stay in my room the entire time I’m there, which I know is silly, but it’s a real struggle for me. Thankfully, we found a place that met our needs and was a good price. We never did get wifi before we arrived, so Jola got our message after she’d let us in and showed us where the wifi password was. lol. She probably got a laugh out of that.
I’ll admit, I was a little nervous about the AirBnb. There were no reviews when I booked it, but the pictures were gorgeous and it sounded perfect for us. I’d never done an AirBnb before and keep hearing horror stories in the travel groups I’m in, which had me worrying the entire time about whether or not we’d end up being another horror story about AirBnb gone wrong. When we got there, though, it was pretty great. The road getting to where Jola told us to park had a few potholes and was pretty narrow, but the actual place was really nice and exactly what we had been hoping for.
Jola was really nice, too. She met us at the bottom of the stairs where we parked and then walked us up. She joked with us, teased me a little about my voice, gave us a little tour, and was very pleasant.
After resting for a little bit and eating some food, we showered, changed, and headed out again. We were both pretty worn out from the drive up, but we wanted to go to the Vancouver Temple since it was only 15 minutes from our AirBnb. Silly me, though, I picked the wrong thing on maps and we ended up at a church in the opposite direction of the temple. We didn’t have time to make the last session at the temple, so we went to the dessert place Holly was super excited about and ate more chocolate. lol. Holly got a chocolate hazelnut zuccotto and I got a triple chocolate mousse. They were both soooooooo delicious. It was really hard to choose which treat to get, but I was really happy with my choice. It was very creamy and smooth and tasted wonderful.
We also stopped by Walmart before getting dessert because I needed to get lozenges for my throat, a cross-body purse cuz I’d forgotten to bring something to carry my phone and wallet in, and Holly wanted to check out their chocolate for the guy at church. We also got some face masks because they had some fun ones we hadn’t seen here before. I laughed at some of the other things we saw while looking around. Canadians are very proud of being Canadian and their products reflect that.
We tried to call it an early night, but ended up seeing some pretty murals on the drive home and stopped to take pictures, after driving around the block a couple times to try and find out how to get to them. And, of course, we took pictures once we found the entrance to where they were. They’re part of a city-wide mural festival, which sounds pretty cool.
We beelined home to go to bed after that, but ended up staying up a bit longer to refigure our itinerary. We’d originally planned on doing Granville Market another day, but with the amusement park closing early, that called for some impromptu changes. And then with me mapping to a church instead of the temple, we weren’t able to do a session. So, we readjusted so we could still go to Playland and do a temple trip. And then we both crawled into our beds. I crashed out pretty fast and slept really well. It was a long, but very fun, day and we both really enjoyed it.