My vacations are usually rushed. My theory is that it’s better to see everything that a destination has to offer since we never know if we’d be able to go back there. But with my parents (who didn’t have Canadian visas), 2 kids and a wife who thinks vacations are for relaxing and not running around, I didn’t think I’d do as much as I would like to, on this trip to Seattle and Vancouver. But eventually we did everything that we had planned and then some!
With Vancouver as the ultimate destination, we flew to Seattle since we had to get the Canadian visa for my parents. Getting the Canadian visas turned out to be a smooth affair and my parents had the visas in their hands by 1 pm. We then visited the Space Needle and Pike Place Market in Seattle. The former afforded some great views of the city and the surrounding areas (though Kavya had more fun at the ‘Fun Forest’, with a bunch of kiddie rides, that was right next door) while the latter, a market open since 1910, offered a nice walk and a slice of history (the original Starbucks is located here and some of the shops, open since the market opened, have photographs of how the place looked back then).
We had originally planned to drive up to Vancouver but based on Filbert’s recommendation, we decided to spend another day in Seattle and drove to Mt.Rainier National Park. It was a great day and so we had some gorgeous views of the snow-capped peak of the mountain and as a bonus, got to see a couple of nice waterfalls too (Narada Falls was really beautiful and the 0.7 mile walk down to see it in its full glory could technically be called Kavya’s first hike!). We then drove to Vancouver that night.
In Vancouver, our first stop was the Capilano Suspension Bridge, where walks across the swaying bridge and between tree tops were rather unique experiences. We then drove to downtown for a walk through historic Gastown, the oldest area in Vancouver. The Steam Clock, which runs on steam and whistles every quarter hour, was the highlight of the relaxing walk through the streets there. Kavya’s favorite though was a ‘Dinosaurs in Gastown’ exhibition, where she dug for fossils at a dig site and saw dino skeletons and an animatronic T-Rex.
Rain confined us to our hotel rooms in the morning but it cleared up by the afternoon and we went to Grouse Mountain, which is called Vancouver’s peak. A cable car took us to the top of the mountain for great views, a lumberjack show (where Karthik, by virtue of being the youngest member of the audience, got to go down and win a cute, hand-crafted chair!) and a grizzly bear habitat. There were a couple of other shows we wanted to see but it got really chilly and we opted to head back. We then drove to downtown again where this time, we drove around Chinatown and stopped at the Dr.Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese garden.
We made a 1-day trip by ferry to Victoria. There we visited Butchart Gardens, which was truly a feast for the eyes. The different varieties of plants and flowers, in dazzling colors, were truly stunning. This was the only place where Karthik sat in his stroller quietly for 2 hours straight since the bright colors really caught his attention! Our next stop was the Butterfly garden, which had a lot of free-flying butterflies in some colorful settings. After that we drove to downtown Victoria, where we visited Miniature World. It was a place we strolled into only because we had time but it turned out to be a pleasant surprise. The miniature recreations of famous wars, the Canadian railways, castles, fairy tales, etc were really cool and the recreation of an entire fair with working ferris wheels, merry-go-rounds, etc. was stunning.
We had planned to drive back to Seattle in the morning but decided to visit Stanley Park, which is pretty high on the list of must-visit Vancouver attractions. The word ‘park’ doesn’t really do justice to the place though. We drove around the huge park for some nice views (the best view coming from Prospect Point, the highest point in the park), went for a ride on a miniature train and took Kavya to the farmyard (a petting zoo). From there, we drove back to Seattle. The long wait at US Customs and the Seattle traffic put us through some tense moments and after rushing through the airport, we made it to the gate just as the boarding announcements started.
Some photos from the trip can be seen here.