Canada – a country known for its beautiful nature, good ice hockey and high standard of living is a dream destination for many travelers. We were no exception because this destination has for very long time shone on our bucket list. We were pleased that for the centre of the XXI. Winter Olympics was chosen – Vancouver. When Erika’s brother Mato Kazar qualified among the best Slovak biathletes, the decision about our next trip was made right away…
We are going to Vancouver for our first Olympic games…
To save some money on flights rather than flying directly we had 2 stopovers, first one in Washington and second one in LA. Once we landed in Vancouver we tuned ourselves on the Olympic frequency which was pretty strong in the whole city. We were quite surprised with the temperature outside. Having 16’C in the middle of February was a shocker even for the locals and caused some problems with melting snow for the organisers. As we found out later on it was the warmest winter in last 20 years. They’ve managed to deliver the snow from elsewhere and everything went nice and smooth throughout the Games.
Vancouver put its magic spell on us right from the start and if we could we’d have immediately moved in here. For several years the city ranks as top tier among the best cities to live. Vancouver is very popular also among Canadians and high standard of living are visible at every step. Overall well-being is reflected in the people. Everybody is happy, smiling and very helpful. Once we got lost we were approached by a local man and instead of showing us on the map where we are, he took to that location to make sure that we found what we were looking for. Our first steps led us to downtown where we just went for a walk around the city center. Everywhere clean and neat and everything at that time with a number of accompanying measures connected with the Olympics.
The weather today was perfect and we decided to spend whole day wandering around Vancouver. We started as usual in downtown, then we moved to the harbour, from there to Chinatown, then to the marketplace and we ended up best as we could in the famous Stanley Park. A huge park with an area of 400 hectares is easily accessible and very popular not only for tourists but also for locals. Everyone here is on bicycles, skates or just walks same as we do. The park has a fantastic atmosphere also because of the fact that it consists of a peninsula with a beautiful northern coast of the Pacific ocean. Slowly it started getting dark and we still had one more highlight of the day ahead of us for which we needed to dress properly. It was the ice hockey match Slovakia vs Czech Republic. To see such a great match in the sold-out arena – home of the Vancouver Canucks was for me the experience of a lifetime.
For the second time we came to Whistler for another round of the biathlon races. This time it was the men’s race and again with the medal finish when Palo Hurajt has managed to get the bronze. Right after the race we went to Whistler to explore it more closely and especially what we like the most – the mountains. We took the cable car Peak 2 Peak Gondola which connects Whistler and Blackcomb mountains to enjoy the views from the top. It’s a wonderful feeling when you are on the other side of the globe and you still feel like at home because these hills are very similar to our High Tatras. The ride up did not last very long and it was really worth it. On top of Blackcomb (2440m) we went for a walk around, took a few pictures with Indian totem Inugchuk and went back. After returning to Whistler we also managed to get tickets to the skeleton competition. It’s really crazy sport because in the fastest areas the athletes reach speeds up to 150 km/h but on the other hand it’s really exciting to see it live.
Our stay in this amazing city was about to end and the last day we decided to spend in the famous Vancouver Aquarium. It is the largest marine aquarium in Canada and there are over 70 thousand marine animals. We liked the most dolphins and Belugas which are among the endangered species. From there we proceeded to the city enjoyed a walk through the centre and then we ended up on the beach. In the evening we managed to get to the Slovak Olympic House and so we could taste some of our delicious goodies and also meet some of our athletes.
What to say at the end? We knew we will like Canada but we didn’t expect to be so impressed by Vancouver. And it was not just because of the Olympics. The city itself, people, nature, all this deserves the title that Vancouver wins every year in the poll of the best places to live on earth. So when you one day go to Canada be sure to visit Vancouver as well. Just be careful, you might stay here for good…
Tip 1: In Vancouver make sure you visit downtown, marketplace, China town, Stanley Park a aquarium. The city is also famous for its delicious sushi and tea.
Tip 2: Go for a day trip to Whistler and take the cable car Peak 2 Peak Gondola. The views from the top are stunning.
Tip 3: If you are visiting Vancouver in summer go to the beach and enjoy the swimming in the ocean.
Total costs: 5 nights (Flights + Accommodation + Meals + Tickets + Transfers): £730.00
(Prices as of February 2010)
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