Tailor made holidays to Vancouver, Canada, are always a good call: the region boasts some of the most beautiful scenery you'll ever experience, and has more to offer than meets the eye...
Working in travel has its perks
I've been lucky enough to sleep under the stars in the Moroccan desert and dog sled through the virgin snow in Swedish Lapland. So when I got invited to do a research trip to Canada at the end of September, I was curious.
My trip was to British Columbia, known for its natural beauty. The most surprising element was just how much variety there is within a small area of the province that I visited, and how easy it is to get around. There is a superb network of ferries, trains, float planes, and it's incredibly well suited to fly-drives, too.
Vancouver Island offers a wide range of viewing opportunities for wildlife. On the day we went whale watching, there had been a huge storm overnight. The sight of the RIB boat and raging waves filled me with dread. However within 15 minutes of getting on the water, fog was lifting over the mountains, splashes from the Pacific Ocean were spraying on my face, three whales were feeding close to our boat and I felt entirely at peace.
A city with a view
Next stop: Vancouver, the buzzing and shiny clean capital of British Columbia. It's got everything you would expect from a cool city - good bars and restaurants, funky hotels, shops and museums. But my personal favourite is Capilano Suspension Bridge, a 136 metre long and 70 metre high bridge above Capilano River, a mere 10 minute drive from downtown Vancouver. For those wanting an even better bird's eye view of the city, complete with temperate rain forest vegetation and some highly impressive mansions, a scenic float plane tour is an absolute must.
Our final destination on this whirlwind tour was Whistler, host to the 2010 Winter Olympics. As far as the journey up to Whistler goes - it is spectacular. We boarded the Rocky Mountaineer for the three hour Sea to Sky climb. As it was the train's last trip of the season many residents who live in houses along the route came out to wave and say farewell.
Whistler, a premier skiing destination is a lot more affordable than many of its American counterparts. I am not a skier, but spending 24 hours there made me want to learn, just to have an excuse to return and sit at one of the cafés at the bottom of Blackcomb mountain, sipping a Ceasar and munching on Poutine. If you don't know what they are, I highly recommend you find out!
Vertigo? What Vertigo?
On the last day of our trip, to top up our adrenalin pre transatlantic flight, we did the Eagle run of Ziptrek Ecotours. A year round activity, this particular tour consists of five zip lines criss-crossing the narrow valley between the Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, the longest one being nearly 700 metres long and 80 metres high. The guides are wonderfully knowledgeable, telling you all about the surrounding nature while hooking up your harness. A mere two hours later I was getting out of a car at Vancouver Airport, grinning like a maniac having just zip-lined, upside down, through the temperate rainforest straight down into Whistler village.
Canada, you have given me many dinner party stories, fantastic memories and inspiration to learn a new skill. Thank you.