In July 2014 while on a cross-Canada & USA road trip by car, I arrived in Vancouver, my final destination before I would eventually turn back to drive back to Montréal, my hometown.
I spent a week there and it was my first time. I really loved it. I had my camera and took a total of 744 photos in Vancouver but here are few that will summarise my trip in this British Columbia city.
What exactly did I love about Vancouver? Well… see for yourself below!
1) The drive
Driving to Vancouver from Montréal is an okay drive until half way into the province of Alberta. That’s until you get to Calgary, Alberta and head towards the mountains that separate this city to Vancouver.
I have taken many road trips across the USA and Canada and this has to be the most breath-taking one I have ever taken! To say that the route is scenic would be an understatement.
The roads are windy which is perfect for my MINI John Cooper Works car that enjoyed taking some of the bends at questionable speeds but it fared well thanks to its impeccable handling ability!
2) The City
In itself the city centre of Vancouver is nothing to write home about. It is not Paris, it is not London, it is not New York City, it is not Rio de Janiero (my favourite cities) and it’s not even Montréal and to be polite, it’s not even Toronto. It’s just a normal city with normal building without a vibe so to speak.
Then you have to step outside the city and that’s when the hammer drops as you will see next.
3) The Ocean
Vancouver has the Pacific Ocean. Montréal has some polluted river and Toronto has a big pond called Lake Ontario. Ottawa has a canal that even a baby that cannot walk yet can quickly jump over.
As soon as I parked my car, I got on my bicycle rolled down a crazy hill and within 15 minutes, I had my feet in the ocean. I knew I had arrived! I even did the ceremonial “dip your front wheel into the ocean” thingy!
4) The Mountains
Now, I really won’t say that the mountains are in Vancouver because you still need to drive at least a good hour to get to them but locals told me that it’s totally possible to ski in the morning then go to the beach by noon (although I would never venture in that ocean in Winter no matter how mild it is compared to the rest of canada’s).
I never got a chance to go to any mountain but I spent 5 hours driving through them to get to them so I had had my share dose by the time I arrived in Vancouver.
5) The cycling
Most cities are better explored and experienced by bicycle and Vancouver is a prime example. I happen to be a lucky bugger and a friend of mine offered to my tour guide for the whole duration of my stay since biking is a passion of hers also and she is blessed with the hospitality gift.
Each of our daily bike rides was two hours at least and would cover 20 KM on average which is a lot! And Vancouver is very hill compared to all the previous cities that I had ridden in before getting there (Washington DC, New York City, Saskatoon, Calgary and even Montréal) and since I ride a fixed gear bike with a single speed that is not exactly hill friendly, I suffered at first but learned to control my cadence and fared better afterwards.
I have an iPhone application that records the area covered and I realised that even with all the cycling, I never even visited 20% of Vancouver which is actually very exciting because it’s the perfect excuse to go back and discover some more!
6) The Healthy Lifestyle
I think that every Vancouverite does Yoga and eats salad for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I seriously doubt that they know things like bloody steak or extra rich ice cream. They don’t even stay up all night partying it up like Montréal which happens to be quite a bummer for me as a DJ because it means that it would be almost impossible to make a living in that rather expensive city.
And I really thought that I had some healthy habits but Vancouver amazed me this department.
Even my friend grows her own food! It was quite something to see her pick something out of her garden and an hour or so later it was in front of my plate! It reminded me of my childhood in Africa.
7) My friends
It’s funny. I travel because I love to discover new places on this planet. But I will admit that the most fulfilling aspect of globetrotting is meeting people that I already knew or that I have just met. No matter how awesome a place is, it cannot generate more excitement than when humans are involved. It turns out that I am a people’s person after all!
It seems that everywhere I go on this Planet, I am blessed to have friends. Not random acquaintances. But friends. I met up with quite a few and here are some that agreed to be photographed. The rest must be in witness protection or something to refuse to be featured on my blog. How dare they? :)
I went to primary school with Karina at the French School of Nairobi in Kenya and then she moved in 1990. So that means that by the time I saw my beautiful friend, it was a good 24 years later and we were no longer babies but full grown human beings! As a matter of fact, she’s a new mum! We spent two afternoons together and it was as if 24 years had not passed but only a few days!
I know Nicole from Montréal. Always good giggles at training. Unfortunately for me, she is a busy nurse in Vancouver and the only time I was able to meet up was at 7AM when she had just finished a crazy 12-hour night shift and she just wanted to go to sleep. On the other hand, I had woken up super early to drive back to Montréal. So she invited me for breakfast and I don’t know what happened but my hoodie found itself on her body and she promised to take good care of it!
Grace and I are old friends from Montréal. I had promised her for years that I would pay her a visit in Vancouver and she had given up until I told her that I was in town! I fondly remember the fashion show that she organised in Montreal’s Botanical Garden because to this day, I cannot figure out how in the hell she pulled that stunt off! Thanks to her, i was also able to DJ for my fans as she graciously allowed me to bring turntables into her store and do my thing.
Oh and with her is Mr Art, a respected humanitarian photographer who is as witty as Grace!
Noriko and I are supposed to be friends but I am embarrassed to say that I was utterly surprised when she told me that she now lived in Vancouver when she saw on Facebook that I was in town!
What a bad friend I have been! Nevertheless, I went to pay her a visit in West Vancouver where she lives, a rather posh area if you ask me!, and we went to the beach and of course that had to be the day when there was an alert against swimming due to whatever was in the water that was making everyone sick! Noriko is the person who basically told about the realities of a DJ living in Vancouver (i.e.: not favourable).
Chris is actually a friend on Instagram! It seems bizarre but not really. He works for MINI Richmond and is in charge of customisation among other responsibilities and he has a very respected Instagram feed. Since I am a MINI owner, I started telling about some changes that I wanted to make about my car and from there we sort of became friends.
Him and his team at Richmond could not believe that I drove all the way to Montréal! They did spoil me rotten with so many gifts that I did not know how to thank them LOL. I promised to drive back for some work that needs to be done on my MINI!
I have known the “Uwi family” the longest. Even before Karina. Our parents used to roam in the same circles when we were kids. As a matter of fact, I remember when their mum was pregnant of Lévi and Reuben aka the UWI Twins! That is a family of multi-talented individuals who are good at what they do and I was truly blessed to have them welcome me with open arms (that food was spicy though!!!! I am still traumatised LOL) but also to congratulate me on my career. Compliments from people of similar backgrounds and journey is the one that marks me the most.
Thanks for the t-shirt too! You will see me rocking in on a forthcoming DJ mix on YouTube!
The most beautiful woman in Vancouver is from the East Coast of Canada. Almost 10 years ago, I met Harmony in Toronto where she hails from and we kept in touch. When she heard that I was in Vancouver she said that she could show me around. As a matter of fact she said “I hope you are into bicycling and BBQ” because that is the only thing I do. I replied that I happened to be travelling with my bicycle and that of course I liked meat so I was totally game!
Well… everyday, we rode bikes and we had barbecue. Every day! I mentioned that Vancouverites are healthy eaters so everything but the (white) meat was from her garden! I managed to corrupt her by getting her some chocolate as my thank-you and farewell gift though :-) But I should also mention that my welcome gift was chocolate so that’s pretty cool of her! Oh… she also like spices :-)
So now do you see why I enjoyed Vancouver? It really comes down to friends and easy-going lifestyle. I would totally move there if there were more DJ opportunities for me but there aren’t any and the thing is that also flying from Vancouver to Europe where my biggest fan base is a whole lot farther than flying from Montréal so tactically, it would be an unwise decision.
However, nothing is preventing me to come back for a longer visit :-)