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July 5, 2005

New Travel Plans: Heading Off To Vancouver and Victoria, BC

Well, I finally did it. I took a bunch of Airmiles and booked a flight yesterday to Vancouver. I'll be out in beautiful British Columbia from August 3 to 8 to cover the Canada-US Servas Conference and to explore and report on my West Coast adventure first-hand.

In all the almost 19 years that I've been in Canada, I have never made it out to the West Coast yet, so I am really excited. Some of my absolutely favourite landscapes can be found where the sea meets the mountains, and from everything I have heard, Vancouver has it all. It has one of the most scenic locations in the world where the Rocky Mountains converge dramatically with the Pacific Ocean.

It'll be a very compressed trip since I'll head straight from the airport in a bus to the ferry docks to cross over to Vancouver Island where I'll meet meet my associate Clare in Victoria. Victoria is known as the "City of Gardens" and with the mildest climate in Canada, Victoria offers visitors a natural beauty that lasts year round. Victoria is the capital city of British Columbia located on Vancouver Island and offers visitors a touch of old English architecture.

I'll spend about a day and a half in Victoria and return back on Friday to the mainland to cover some events that are part of the US-Canada Servas Conference. Servas is a non-profit organization, an "international host and traveler network of peace builders" that fosters peace through travel. The motto of this year's joint US-Canadian conference is "Servas - Making The Connection". It has been my own personal experience, particularly through living in Toronto - one of the most multicultural cities in the world, that exposure to and interaction with different cultures is the most effective way to break down barriers and prejudices, in effect paving the way for a more peaceful co-existence.

While in Vancouver I will naturally explore the city. I am planning to discover the city in two half-day bicycling tours to get a good lay of the land. In talking to the people at Tourism Vancouver yesterday they recommended that I get in touch with a small company called Spokes Bicycle Rentals. I had a nice chat with Phil from the rental company who will assist me in developing the routes for my bicycling adventures so I get to see all the major sights in the city as well as Vancouver's beautiful waterfront, including the famous Lion's Gate Bridge and Stanley Park.

My good friend Shauna, a native of Vancouver, gave me some tips a while ago, and she recommended that I head up to the top of Grouse Mountain, the Peak of Vancouver. Vancouver is one of those extremely fortunate cities that actually has a real ski mountain right next to the city. In addition to skiiing, snowboarding and other winter-time delights, Grouse Mountain also offers opportunities for hiking, mountainbiking, wildlife watching and other outdoor activities. And apparently it has delicious dining options right at the top of the mountain which can conveniently be reached by cable car. So that sounds like a place I'll need to check out for sure.

It's hard to contain my excitement at this point, I have been dreaming of heading off to the West Coast for a long time now, and now this dream is coming within tangible reach. All I can hope for is some decent weather that will allow me to explore Vancouver and Victoria and sample some of its unique delights in the short time that I'll have there.

Useful Books for Travel to Vancouver, Victoria and British Columbia


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