For the past month (mid Dec to mid Jan), Rob and I have been in New Zealand. Beautiful, summery New Zealand. But the weather is another matter. It takes 24 hours to fly to NZ from London (not including stopovers), so we decided to have a day long stopover in Vancouver. It’s a beautiful city.

Vancouver skyline

Mountains beyond Vancouver

I had been to Vancouver once before when I was 14 for an overnight stopover, so didn’t see too much of the city (at least, not that I remember). So, I was exploring the city with fresh eyes. Rob hadn’t been to Canada before, and kept chuckling at the Canadian accents. Good fun all round.

Vancouver has this brilliant park – Stanley Park – at the end of town. It’s 1,000 acres of evergreen trees surrounded by water on 3 sides. The park is a hive of activity – playgrounds, a fun train, a (closed) First Peoples village, a Christmas lights park and much more.

Stanley Park in Vancouver

Stanley Park Vancouver

The key attraction for me about Stanley Park was its collection of Totem Poles. In the 1920s and 30s, the Park Board purchased several totem poles from various aboriginal peoples. Several of the original poles had been carved as early as the late 1880s but time plus the elements took their toll over the ensuing decades. All the totems (except one) were sent to various museums for future preservation and new ones commissioned or loaned to the Park Board between 1986 and 1992.

I thought they were amazing.

The Totem poles at Stanley Park

Like our Maori carvings, they tell stories and represent both real and mythical figures. I was very impressed by the symbolism of the Canadian First Peoples, and the well maintained state of the totem poles. Beautiful.

Totem pole at Stanley Park

Totem pole at Stanley Park

After wandering round the park, we bused back into town for lunch. The blogosphere (yes, that’s a word) had told me about some mad foodieness in Vancouver. One thing is poutine – french fries covered in gravy and squeaky cheese curds. I had insisted we try some with dinner the night before, and wasn’t impressed. Tasty, yes. Heavy, very much so. We didn’t finish the bowl.

Poutine in Vancouver

The other foodstuff I’d heard about was Japadogs – Japanese flavoured hot dogs. This, we had to try.

A Japadog and a Canada Dry

We ordered 2 hotdogs – a Terimayo and a Tonkatsu. The Terimayo was a normal hotdog with mayonnaise and shredded seaweed sprinkled all over. The Tonkatsu one had a piece of fried crumbed pork covered in shredded onion and mayonnaise. Both were delicious and certainly an interesting twist on the standard hotdog story.

Terimayo hot dog Tonkatsu hot dog

Outside Japadog

We wandered down to Granville Island, which has a huge food market and plenty of shops and stalls. It also has a little brewery – Granville Island brewery. We ordered a selection of beers for tastings – highlights were the honey lager and the chocolate stout.

Tasting at the Granville Island Brewery

Drinking at Granville Island Brewery

And then we went out to the airport, which ended up being a sight to see! There is an amazing bronze statue in the departures area called The Jade Canoe which was done by a famous First Peoples artist called Bill Reid. It was spectacular.

The Spirit of Haida Gwaii: The Jade Canoe

The statue is of an ancient Haida dugout canoe bearing 13 supernatural creatures which are escaping a disaster that occurred at Haida Gwaii. I really loved the individual figures and the First Peoples representations of different creatures. Such an amazing artwork to have in an airport. I was so impressed.

A bear holding a cub

The bear holding a cub

Mouse Woman, grandmother of the Raven The beaver

The Mouse Woman and the Beaver

Ancient Reluctant Conscript

The Ancient Reluctant Conscript

The departures lounge after security is also a sight to behold. The area is meant to be relaxing and tranquil, flowing around a dry river with another stunning statue at one end and a beautiful aquarium at the other. I can see why this airport always ends up in the top 10 airports in the world. Wonderful.

Vancouver airport departures lounge

Vancouver airport departure lounge statues

Vancouver airport departures lounge aquarium

Based on what we saw in Vancouver in 24 hours, we’ll definitely go back again for a longer time in the future. I want to see the Museum of Anthropology, the Greater Vancouver Zoo and the Capilano Suspension Bridge. Also, if we came back in the summer, we could see the Klahowya Village in Stanley Park as well. Next time, next time.

Vancouver airport departures lounge fish

Now, onto New Zealand…

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