Up until last December, I had never flown with a scheduled airline, had never flown longer than four hours, and had never been skiing–but everything can change in an instant, as I found out when I was invited to spend a week in British Columbia, Canada.
I flew Canadian Airlines from Heathrow, and, although there is a direct service straight to Vancouver, I flew to Calgary for a plane change. This makes clearing customs a little bit easier, and it gave me a chance to stretch my legs after a long nine-hour flight.
My first stop in Vancouver was my hotel, the Canadian Pacific. A five-star hotel in the centre of the city, just around the corner from Robson Street, the Rodeo Drive of Vancouver–perfect!
After a very comfortable night at the hotel, I took a tour of the city, incorporating Gastown, China Town and Stanley Park. I then headed up to the North Shore for the Capilano Suspension Bridge and Park, a 450-foot bridge suspended 230 feet above the Capliano river. After all that excitement, the only place to spend the afternoon was in the underground shopping mall!
My third day in Canada, and it was time to move up to Whistler. After a two-hour drive along the sea to sky highway, I checked into another Canadian Pacific hotel, the Chateau Whistler, which is situated between the two mountains (Whistler and Blackcombe), and is the perfect base for exploring all that both of these resorts has to offer.
The following morning I was taken to the top of Whistler mountain for breakfast before getting my first ski lesson. Unfortunately, I sprained my ankle during the snowplough so I missed the afternoon lesson and the following morning’s cross-country skiing run. I managed to survive this tragedy by consoling myself with the hotel’s facilities, which included a half-inside-half-outside swimming pool! Sounds strange, I know–but believe me, it was fantastic! After a very relaxing morning, I found myself heading back to the slopes. Although this time, rather than skiing, I would be snowmobiling. I highly recommend this, and found it the perfect way to end my stay in the number one ski resort in North America.
The last hotel on this trip was the CP Waterfront Centre Hotel, situated at the harbour, within walking distance of Gastown and The Lookout at Harbour Centre Tower. The hotel is a triangular shape and so can offer three different views of the city: Stanley Park, the harbour and the city centre. My final evening in Canada was spent on a Christmas cruise along False Creek, watching the parade of ferries all with their Christmas lights trailing behind.
Vancouver is such a fantastic and clean city (especially since January 2000, when the entire city turned non-smoking) with so much to offer, that three nights were just not enough! So needless to say I shall be planning a return trip soon. Why not let me help to plan yours?