Wow, what a trip. That’s a summary of the last 2.5 weeks. This is part 1 of a four part series of our camping trip through western Canada. Part 1 will cover Vancouver and Vancouver Island. How the rest of the series will be split up is not yet decided, so stay tuned for updates. As pictures say more than words I will post some of the more interesting pictures we took and focus less on written words.
Frankfurt to Vancouver
Our trip started in Frankfurt on Thursday the 9th of June 2012. British Airways was our carrier for our flight to Vancouver with a short stop in London. I was surprised by how well the flight went and also kinda surprised by the service and on-board entertainment on our flight. Big plus point was definately the possibility to use ones own headphones (noise cancelling) as opposed to the crappy ones you get by the airlines (at least in economy class). That made it actually possible to watch a movie AND understand what they actors were saying.
Upon arrival in Vancouver we went straight to the hotel and used the public transportation system to get downtown. The first impression of the city was a little bit disappointing, but that might also be due to the weather that was welcoming us (rain). We did most of the ’standard’ tourist attractions but unfortunately missed out on the Stanley Park which is a pity.
Whenever you make it to Vancouver, try doing the lookout, that is definately a big must. The steam clock, well, watching a video of it on YouTube and you know what it is, I would not call it really impressive. Vancouver also has one of my favorite places to eat chicken: Nando’s
Saturday morning we got picked up around 9am by the rental company at our hotel and were taken to their offics to take over the RV. That would be our next home for the next 14 nights. We were kind of surprised by its size. Well, we knew it would be big, but actually seeing it was surprising at least. It also did come with sime extras that we were not aware of: Navigation system, clinch hookup (if I only brought cables for that), USB port (sigh, no micro USB to charge my phone with me) and a slide out that increases the size of the interior by quite a bit. We were pretty happy with the RV though it looked kinda used inside after just 33k kilometres.
As soon as we got the keys (took around 1-2 hours including paper work and demo of how things are working) we hit the road. It felt kinda weird at first but one gets used to the size pretty quickly. And hey, there is plenty of room on most streets in Canada.
To get to Vancouver Island you need to take a ferry (takes approx. 90 minutes but with a great view on a couple of islands). Well, that could be fun with a 3.5 metres high and around 8 metres long vehicle for the first time. But it turned out to be no problem at all. The ferry is kinda expensive though (~100 CAD each way). There are waiting terminals at the ferry stations which offer free wireless internet that you will also find on the ferries themselves. Big nerd plus point for that.
One of our highlights of the island was the drive from Parksville to Tofino which takes you through skme really cool landscapes, you pass giant trees and see so many things allmg the way that just the drkve theere was a highlight for us.
Wie took the ferry from Tsawassen to Swartz Bay/Victoria to get to the island and went for the Departure Bay/Nanaimo to Horseshoe Bay ferry on our way back.
Dos and don’ts
If you are renting a RV make sure you rent an axe from the vehicle supplier. You can buy burning wood at every park/campground but those giant blocks of wood can be hard to get burning. I also think the water plane (actually called float planes I guess) airport in Vancouver was really nice to watch for a while if you are interested in these kinds of things. It is one of the largest water airports of the world.
As a don’t for camping here, before going to one of the private campgrounds, check the provincial parks (at least in British Columbia), we found some really good ones that were a lot cheaper than private ones and even nicer, more beautiful and closer to the nature than private ones. We actually only spent one of our 14 nights on a private campground and regret it. There are also some provincial parks which offer full hook up at lower rates as the private ones. Think about if you really need anything that a private campground would offer and if not, support the BC parks and go to a provincial park for camping.
We wish we would have had one more day in Vancouv to check out Stanley Park. But with only 2 nights in town we did not have enough time for that. Vancouver Island was fascinating and one could spend at least a week there tk discover it and then hike, bike, surf, whale watch, or do some other outdoor activity while there. We had 3 nights on the island and think that for a first impression (and only the southern part of the island) that was enough.