When I won free plane travel at a company Christmas party, I coveted the Ninja Kitchen System a co-worker won in the same raffle. She thought me nuts for deeming her prize superior to mine.
I finally talked myself into booking a trip some months later. I arrived in Vancouver to my Airbnb pad, a garage turned cottage, complete with Murphy bed, kitchen and bath, and WiFi. And skylights! The perfect tiny house nestled in the backyard of my hosts, a retired couple with still active careers.
I saw a robin’s nest outside my front door and two more in a trellis.
My hosts turned out to be the nicest people on the planet. I had written off the rest of the travel day to settle in and prepare for the next few days of sightseeing. I had even tucked into my suitcase a few backpacker soups to reconstitute with hot water. But my sweet host, B, wouldn’t hear of it. She wanted me to have a nice dinner on my first vacation day. She drove me to the grocery store so I could buy some salad vegetables, fruit and cheese.
She then dropped me off at a trailhead on the lower slopes of Mount Seymour, with a photocopied map and her handwritten notes. The trail was a short walk from my (already) sweet home away from home.
That night I ate a simple and satisfying dinner of a red pepper/cucumber salad and a local cheese.
The next day, I took a guided sightseeing tour of Vancouver. It was a quick introduction to the city, covering Stanley Park, Granville Island, Chinatown, and Gastown. Here’s Vancouver’s North Shore as seen from Stanley Park.
View of Vancouver’s North Shore
A visit to the Maplewood Flats Conservation Area, a birdwatching park that overlooks the Burrard Inlet was in my top-three list for the trip. I planned to hoof it there and return by bus, but B offered to drive me there. We went a little after dawn one day. There were waders in the mud flats, including some kind of heron.
Flora at Maplewood Mud Flats
Then B showed me squatters’ shacks that were moved here, relics from the city’s past.
Squatters’ shacks, Maplewood Mud Flats
B then dropped me off at Deep Cove, a seaside village that is home to Honey Donuts (endorsed by Kate Winslet in Lonely Planet). A 45-minute hike up Quarry Rock (part of the Baden-Powell trail) led to a panoramic view of Deep Cove and Indian Arm, a salt-water fjord.
View of Indian Arm from the top of Quarry Rock
When I had plans to attend a concert in the city, B and her hubby gave me a lift to Bao Bei, a Chinese restaurant with a contemporary menu, where B suggested I enjoy dinner before the show. I had chickpea tofu for the very first time. Tasty!
One sunny morning I went on a guided hike in Lynn Canyon, which included a walk across a suspension bridge. The other hikers in my group were a pair of graduate students from Toronto and an academic counselor from New York. Our guide’s love of the outdoors showed in his knowledge of local flora and fauna, as we took in the crisp air and canyon views.
Waterfall in Lynn Canyon
B and her hubby thought nothing of giving me spontaneous rides/lifts. They dropped me off at Lonsdale Quay one afternoon so I could take the SeaBus to Stanley Park and walk the Seawall.
On board the SeaBus
When I booked my stay, I had no expectations of my Airbnb hosts other than a quick initial meeting and key handoff at departure. On the flight back to Dallas, however, I realized that B and her husband had helped me experience their beautiful city in ways I could never have planned.
I felt at home.
I couldn’t have asked for a nicer perch or better tweetment!
For more armchair travel, see my previous posts on British Columbia:
Queen Elizabeth Park – Vancouver, Canada
Pun-tastic British Columbia