Welcome to the next installment of our ongoing feature, TEFL Nomads on the road. This month we join Caitlin in Vancouver.
Is it close?
Vancouver is best for teachers visiting or living on the West Coast of North America. There are hundreds of flights daily to Vancouver International Airport (YVR). You can also take the Amtrak train or the bus (many choices) from Seattle.
Is it expensive?
Yes. But! The Canadian dollar has been weak recently (around 75 to 80 cents to the US dollar) and there are tons of free events and activities to do every day.
What should I do?
Where to start! One of the best things about Vancouver is the nature. You can snowboard in the mountains and relax on the beach by the ocean in the same day. Stanley Park is one of the largest urban parks in North America, and you can rent a bike or get some roller-blades to roll around the seawall. You get amazing views of the mountains, ocean, and Vancouver skyline from Stanley Park.
Grouse Mountain is nearby, and you can take a gondola to the top for amazing views, to see two big bears, and to watch a lumberjack show. Not bad, eh? If you don’t want to pay the $43.95 to take the gondola to the top, you can also climb up on the Grouse Grind. It’s kind of a right of passage for Vancouverites and people often brag about their “Grind time”. The hike is challenging and takes about 1.5 hours, but it’s a great way to get some exercise in before drinking a few beers at the top.
If you have more time go go further afield, Squamish and Whistler are just up the road. There’s great hiking in Squamish (try making it to the top of all three peaks of the Chief), and Whistler is amazing for skiing or snowboarding in the winter and mountain biking in the summer. Even if you’re not into outdoor activities, Whistler Village has great bars, restaurants, mountain views, and an amazing spa (Scandinave Spa Whistler).
What else should I do?
That’s a lot of nature! If you’re more into urban exploring, there are some great neighborhoods in Vancouver to check out. Gastown is close to the city center, and it has great bars and restaurants. My favorite Mexican restaurant in the city, Tacofino, is in Gastown, and Happy Hour is from 3 to 6 daily. Commercial Drive is a bit edgier and has unique restaurants and cafes, and the Main Street neighborhood has excellent craft beer. 33 Acres, Parallel 49, and Brassneck are some of my go-to breweries for a cold IPA or growler re-fill.
You can also go to the Vancouver Art Gallery for free on Tuesdays after 5:00, eat a Lucky’s Doughnut in Kitsilano, take an Aquabus to Granville Island, explore Canada’s largest Chinatown, and lots more.
Any language pointers?
It’s a great place to practice your English! Although French is an official language, you won’t find much French in Vancouver as it’s about 4,000 km from the French-speaking part of Canada. You would have more luck practicing your Punjabi or Cantonese, which are the second and third most spoken languages in Vancouver.
Although it’s expensive, Vancouver is an amazing place to visit! Bring an umbrella, get outdoors, and take advantage of all that Vancouver has to offer. See you soon!