Vancouver, British Columbia

Some cities are far more than a collection of buildings. I know this seems like a strange comment to make, but very few cities truly have a spirit that’s immediately evident.

I can only list a handful of cities that exude an energy that you can only miss if you happen to enter the city limits in a box.

For a city of it’s size, Vancouver has a pace of life that feels almost village like. People just don’t seem to be in a rush. Perhaps it’s a combination of the famous Canadian friendliness and the Pacific Coast that dictates a pace that you would sooner expect on a sleepy Island.

The Vancouver Skyline as seen from Stanley Park

My first experience of this was on the Skytrain as we travelled from the Airport into the city. There was something very civilised about the experience, despite the busy time of the day.

When we took a bus later that day, I noticed that everybody thanked the bus driver, even if they exited from the back of the bus well out of earshot of the driver.

Seaplanes near Canada Place, Vancouver

The local geography with its network of islands and inlets has resulted in many seaplane companies operating out of the area. We didn’t avail of one of these trips, but it certainly seems like an interesting way to see South Western BC.

The Steam Clock at Gastown, Vancouver

Gastown is the original downtown core of what would later become known as Vancouver. Today the Steam Clock is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions.

Perhaps the most striking and appealing thing about Vancouver is that even though you’re in a large city, you’re always surrounded by easy access to nature. From downtown you can see the snow capped mountains from virtually anywhere.

Stanley Park is by far one of the most impressive urban parks that I have ever encountered. As you venture down the harbour by the marina and into Stanley Park, it feels like you have left the city completely.

Stanley Park
Siwash Rock, Stanley Park
Squirrel in Stanley Park

A trip to Vancouver would be incomplete without making your way to the peak of Grouse Mountain. For the exercise addict, you can go on foot, or take the somewhat pricey cable car to the top.

Once at the top there’s a chance that you’ll be rewarded by spectacular views. I say chance, because Vancouver is known for clouds and rain. Unfortunately I didn’t get to take photos of the breathtaking view that you would experience on a clear day.

Grouse Mountain is home to two Grizzly Bears that were rescued after becoming orphaned. This gives an opportunity to capture photographs of an animal that you don’t want to encounter at this distance in the wild.

As Vancouver is often the start and endpoint of a visit to BC, it’s well worth taking a few days to really appreciate the city.


3,800 KM across BC and Alberta

If you’ve never been to Canada, the raw beauty and feeling of freedom is hard to describe. As a visitor from Europe, you don’t grasp the size of the country until you get in your car and try to cover some ground.

And that we did….

What better vehicle to explore the Canadian Back Country with than a 2019 Jeep Wrangler with just 46km on the clock?

Even with British Columbia’s gas prices, or petrol as we say on this side of the pond, this machine wasn’t the cheapest vehicle to run. When you don’t know if you’ll have a road surface though it makes you glad you didn’t rent a Clio.

Range anxiety is real. If I have one tip for you when driving in the Canadian Back Country, it’s never to leave your fuel tank go below 50%. The next gas station could be 300km away and with no cellphone coverage to speak of outside of towns, you don’t want to get stranded.

Moraine Lake, Alberta

Located near the famous Lake Louise is the much lesser known, but in my opinion superior Moraine Lake. If you prefer being able to take a photo without 20 people jumping into your frame then this is the place to go instead.

Wanting to experience a real adventure, we decided to rent a tent. I’ve always wanted to pack a tent into a 4×4 and camp in the North American wilderness. Now we just had to make sure that we didn’t get eaten by a Bear or a Mountain Lion.

Jasper National Park

Armed with Bear spray every time we left the tent, we made the woods our home. There’s nothing quite like truly being in the middle of nowhere.

Seemingly Jasper wasn’t remote enough for us, so we headed further West…

The Freedom Road (Heckman Pass, BC)

Located five hours west of Williams Lake is the beautiful Bella Coola Valley. To give you an idea of how remote this area is, it’s a 14 hour drive from Vancouver.

The only way to get there by road is via Heckman Pass. It’s also known as the Freedom Road and it’s not hard to understand why. The Canadian Government didn’t build it, the people of the Bella Coola Valley did. This made Bella Coola accessible by road where as before you could only get there by sea.

Don’t expect tarmac surfacing, or a safety barrier. This road is not for the faint hearted. Rumour has it that many tourists drive down there every year and choose to take the ferry back as they refuse to drive back via this road. We did, but we made sure not to look down while close to the edge…

The Bella Coola Valley

Once you’ve made your way down the seemingly endless road, you’ll be rewarded by truly spectacular views. The Bella Coola Valley is located in the Great Bear Rain Forest, home to many types of wildlife including the enigmatic Kermode Bear.

Eagle in Bella Coola
The lush vegetation of the Great Bear Rainforest
Ancient Petroglyphs

We came across a wonderful local tour guide organisation called Copper Sun Tours. One of the guides, himself a native Nuxalk person, was kind enough to welcome us to the site of one of the many ancient Petroglyphs in the Bella Coola Valley.

Our guide treated us to a story telling extravaganza that we will never forget.

This remote community, 450 KM west of Williams Lake on Highway 2o gained a special place in our hearts. To say that it was memorable just doesn’t do it justice. If you ever get the opportunity to make this difficult trip, please do, you won’t regret it.