Worth the trip alone. The Pacific beaches are stunning and Tofino is a great little town - posh-hippy, laid back, with great restaurants. The Rainforest Cafe offers sublime high quality food. Walk through the temperate rainforests and the cathedrals of tall cedars and pines. You will probably see bears on your way too. In Tofino try the Wolf House bed and breakfast, a really great bed and breakfast with lots of character.
Tofino is on Vancouver Island;
Rainforest Cafe: 250 725 2215;
Wolf House: 250 725-2330
The Grouse Grind is a fairly intense hike up Grouse Mountain, one of three mountains on the North Shore. It's a rewarding hike, and you can further reward yourself with a pint at the top and a Gondola ride back down the mountain if you don't feel like trudging back down.
This incredible food market is packed full of fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, ice creams, pastas, cakes and much more. You can enjoy a huge variety of cuisine so make sure you arrive with an empty stomach or you'll be missing out. While the guide books tell you to take a bus or ferry, the walk along the waterfront from Science World is a pleasure.
Situated in False Creek, #50 bus
The place to be is along the river. You can't miss it. Try the beach bar on the "Rechtsrheinisch" (right side of the river).
The stadium is some way out on the left side of town.
Cologne is a cool, civilised town, enjoy it.
The highly atmospheric district of Kreuzberg was famed for its squat scene, punks and alternative culture (which was partly due to its status on the very edge of West Berlin). Now that the wall has come down its status as an 'alternative' district has diminished considerably. But despite encroaching gentrification, particularly in the west, it still has its own special character.
For an overview of Kreuzberg take U-bahn line U1 from Schlesisches Tor to Gleisdreick. Trains run along an elevated section. West Kreuzberg is traditionally more upmarket, whereas the east is still more down-at-heel.
The main sights include the Jewish Museum and the Transport and Technical Museum. Typical Berlin tenements survive in Kreuzberg, and there are particularly interesting blocks at Chamissoplatz and Riehmer's Hofgarten, between Yorckstrasse and Hagelbergerstrasse.
Kreuzberg is also a good area for budget accommodation and has decent bars and restaurants.
Kreuzberg begins immediately south of Checkpoint Charlie so it's within walking distance of the centre. U-bahn lines U1, U6 and U7 run through the district, as do S-bahn lines S1 and S2.
Schweizerstrasse is the main highstreet in the beautiful Sachsenhausen district south of the river Main.
Escape the massing throngs into a classic European tree lined avenue jam-packed with swanky bars for the beautiful people and cider taverns for everyone else. All mixed in with your normal highstreet shops, you can find everything here in one street without having search round and get lost.
Recommended is 'Zumgemaltenhaus' (the painted house) for a traditional local cider tavern, huge portions of quality local dishes and reasonable prices.
5 minutes walk from the city center, over the river Main via the 'Untermainbrücke' (bridge) leads directly to the start of the street.
Or via U-Bahn, U1,2,or 3 to Südbahnhof, get off at stop Schweizerplatz.
www.zumgemaltenhaus.de, (in german)
It is a street where you get a chance to see a part of Vancouver that most tourists (or even most Vancouverites) do not usually get to see. Lots of colourful local people and a first-hand view of alternative economies and lifestyles.
From Burrard Street in downtown, just walk eastward on West Hastings.
Commercial drive is a piece of unique heritage in an area of the world that is dominated by chain stores and coffee shops. The Drive is bucking franchises in favour of amazing shops and stores that are complete one offs.
Start by stocking up with fresh breads, fruits, herbal remedies and more, punctuated by a few coffee breaks along the way in one of many of the NON franchised coffee shops. Then finish your experience in one of the fantastic restaurants (many with outdoor heated patios) dotted along Commercial.
La Grotta del Formaggio is a treasured local purveyor of the best new-world Italian Deli sandwiches and cheeses. If you like kitsch then Urban Empire is the place for you - a shop filled with wonders and surprises. Havana is a great restaurant for good (if not traditional) Cuban food and it has a great photo gallery at the back. Waazubee is also a good rest stop or even better dining experience with a wide range of veggie dishes.
This all comes from a person who doesn't even live in Vancouver. Guess it must be great eh?
Between Broadway and Venables;
Just outside downtown Vancouver, Stanley park is a delightful wooded and grassed park on a peninsula in Burrard Inlet with wonderful views of Lion's Gate Bridge and Vancouver Harbour. You can spend several days here wandering around the forest paths, bathing at the beaches, seeing the impressive totem poles, as well as visiting the fantastic aquarium or relaxing in the Rose Garden.
Just go there and see for yourself why it's so great!
1 mile to the west of downtown Vancouver;
Main Street south of 49th avenue to about 55th is lined with shops selling wonderful Indian fabrics, foods and jewelery. Fabrics are beautiful, authentic and extremely reasonably priced, and the clothes are unique and beautiful.
Farther north on Main is also lovely, but quite different. Between about 33rd and 16th it has plenty of antique shops, second hand stores and cute little stores selling home furnishings and accessories (no chain stores). Between 16th and Seventh it's more eclectic, with some very good second-hand stores (the Salvation Army is on 12th just east of Main) and cafes. Urban Source, at 16th and Main, is a fantastic resource for craft supplies: they recycle industrial leftovers, and the results and the offerings are irresistable.
The strange triangle between Fraser, Main and Broadway is known as Dysfunction Junction, and hosts 2 outstanding second-hand bookstores, literary cafe Our Town, a pool hall, a neon art cafe, and several hole-in-the-wall galleries and restaurants. The Jem gallery is a particular gem; a recent exhibit featured the work of I.Braineater, an outstanding local artist.
Farther north again, Loomis arts and crafts superstore is an awesome place for paper junkies. Just to the west is the Seawall; you can go on the south side all the way to Kitsilano, or you can take the north side and go up to Yaletown, English Bay, and Stanley Park. If you know some tricks you can connect with Portside Road and skate all the way from Science World (near Loomis) to Stanley Park and back to the foot of Main street, a loop of about ten miles if you don't also skate around the park itself. And it's all on the Seawall, away from traffic, except for a mile along Portside Road.
North along Main is Chinatown, and then at the very foot of Main street is the Viaduct which will give you a fantastic view of the mountains, North Vancouver, and Downtown. It will also take you to Crab Park (closed after 10pm) which is the only beach on the Downtown Eastside, and features nesting eagles and hawks, seals in the water, and a marvelous break from city noise.
Nearby, on Alexander just west of Main is the Alibi Room, a very arty place with a very hot crowd, very good food, and very original (and tasty) cocktails. Open late, and for great Saturday brunch, but the DJ might be a bit loud if you're hungover. Not that I would know what that's like.
The Drive (Commercial Drive) is a street in Vancouver that boasts a vibrant community. All the stores and restaurants are unique and interesting. A Subway was proposed along the Drive and a committed campaign was raised to prevent it from succeeding.
Many coffee shops along The Drive have slam / beat poetry sessions if you look for them. Also, one place of particular interest is Magpie Magazine Gallery, wherein one can find magazines of all stripes. Feel free to browse forever -- it's easy to get lost in them. Slightly north along the Drive is Britannia Community Center, where there is an ice rink and a swimming pool as well as a large park.
Another place of interest is the Vancouver East Cultural Center where various dance groups and theatrical performances can be seen.
The Drive is uniquely Vancouver and it reflects a slightly anti-corporate sentiment here - as I said before, it belongs to small businesses and restaurants that are not chains. It is ideal to spend an afternoon (sunny, of course) walking along, starting at Broadway and slowly making your way north along the street, stopping for coffee or ice cream or sushi or Thai or...
Don't limit your stay in Vancouver to just seeing Vancouver. The dormitory town of North Vancouver is separated from Vancouver by the Burrard Inlet and your choice of one of two road bridges (we like it that way).
The best way to get there from downtown Vancouver is by taking the Seabus from Waterfront Station in Gastown (a 15 minute ferry ride costing $3.25 and is valid on all buses for 90 minutes). You arrive at Lonsdale Quay, a smaller version of Granville Island, but this is just the jumping off point for a whole range of activities. You can use your ferry ticket to take a bus to Grouse Mountain & take the cable car up to see the bears they have there. You can take a different bus to Lynn Valley & hike through forested trails. You can take yet another bus and browse the Persian stores on Lonsdale Avenue & end up at Brazza's (19th and Lonsdale) for a Cappucino and a gelato. The more energetic of you can take a bus to Lighthouse park in West Vancouver. A 30 minute hike through ancient forest rewards you with a view over the waters at the edge of Howe Sound, to downtown Vancouver.
If you are really committed to do something extensive like visit Whistler, then you probably have to drive. Take the Lions' Gate bridge from downtown Vancouver and follow the highway & signs there (don't forget to gasp in admiration at the North Shore mountains as you cross the bridge). You must appoint a designated driver who will watch the treacherous highway 99 (Sea to Sky Highway) while everyone else oohs and ahhs at the view up Howe Sound to the glaciers at the top.
I live in North Vancouver & I think it represents the more natural side of the city.
Take the Seabus (www.translink.bc.ca/Transportation_Services/SeaBus). Driving to North Vancouver requires an understanding of the local drivers - something even the local drivers don't have.
The Sylvia was built in 1912, and added to in the 80s. My wife and I prefer the old part just for flavour: the furnishing may be plain and unchanged since the 50s, 60 or 70s, but the beds are good and there is no musty smell or other odes to the past you might prefer not to experience.
In fact, I have not stayed in the new part but would not hesitate - you are there because it is the BEST spot in town.
English Bay and Stanley park are right out the lobby door. When you cross the street you are on the "sea-wall" which encircles Stanley Park. Even better, it is the part that is not a wall but English Bay beach, with a sidewalk. Robson St., for shoppers, is 6 blocks away. Going the opposite direction, a beautiful stroll along the ocean for 10 minutes (20 if you take in the air and view, which you will ) brings you to the water taxi stand, going to Granville Island.
I have stayed there 5 or 6 times since the '80s, and having travelled much of the world, can honestly say it has genuine character, history, an unrivalled location and reasonable prices. The Sylvia is clean, charming, and not "luxuried up" to the detriment of a budget. I would recommend reservations, but I have got lucky on short notice - in August no less. One of my favourite places on earth.
1154 Gilford St;
tel: 604 681 9321;
Mount Vesuvius is still one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world and as such is constantly monitored with a seven day warning system. Assuming that no warning has been issued, it's well worth climbing to the top to peer into the ashen crater and view the Bay of Naples which looks all too vulnerable as it spreads out from the foot of the mountain. Coach trips will take you so far up the ascent, but the last 1000 feet must be done by foot, once you've paid your entry fee of course. Unless you're feeling charitable, it's best to ignore the little man handing out 'walking poles', as they're not of much use and he'll demand a few euros from you when you've come back down.
To get there, it's best to take an organised trip - you can drive there, but there are very limited parking facilities.
Take the A and C lines of the subway to the first stop beyond the East River, which is High Street. Then walk back across the Brooklyn Bridge, keeping in the pedestrian lane - the cyclists come fast! You'll have a splendid view of the Manhattan skyline, though little is left of the tenements of Miller's View from the Bridge.
Likewise the free (yes, free) Staten Island Ferry will delight with this cityscape.
Get away from the bars and the tables to Red Rock Canyon, 15 miles west of town. It's a scenic loop off the main road and through extraordinary rock formations and wild cactus gardens.
Popular with masochistic cyclists, the one way road runs for 13 miles, climbing steeply for the first five and then undulating across the top of the canyon and back to the main road.
There are a number of places to park and walk. The rock formations are well known in climbing circles and attract technical climbers from all over the world.
Rent a car and drive west on Charleston Blvd. The turning for the visitors centre and the Canyon itself are well sign posted, off to the right of the road.
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