Posts in travel
Vancouver → Victoria: Celebrating Andrew’s 30th!

On the last day of June, Andrew’s 30th birthday, I took the ferry over from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay in Victoria, BC. I’ve been to the island before, last year with dad. I took a different ferry then, but the route this time was actually way more convenient. After a bus ride, a train ride, and an additional bus ride I arrived at the ferry, bought my ticket at the self service machine and boarded the ferry.

Before starting my journey I dressed up in my best Agneta Fältskog outfit (a blouse I found in a 2nd hand shop for $3 the day before (and yes, I washed it) and flowy 70s pants for ultimate comfort). On the way the bus, a young woman with her dog stopped me to say I had gorgeous hair, and it made my morning. The week had been spent bleaching my hair and having mad in-between colors so to finally get compliments on the end result felt so, so great. Bless strangers giving strangers compliments for no reason at all!


On the ferry I chose to sit in the back where the restaurant’s located. I had a coffee while watching the water twirl outside. The weather was gorgeous, I was sitting next to an outlet so I could plug in my phone (always makes a difference!) and the universe just provided. The ferry from Tswwassen takes you through some amazing islands off Vancouver Island with some incredible houses. Definitely worth the $17 I spent on travel just for the views alone.


Andrew picked me up in Swartz Bay, I wished him happy happy birthday and we drove straight to Victoria to visit Beacon Drive In, a 50s inspired diner next to Beacon Hill park. I bought him a burger, fries, strawberry milkshake and a large coke as a birth day treat. It wasn’t Eddie Rockets, but still!


After lunch we went to the beach by Clover Point Park. It’s not a sand beach, but we still put our picnic blanket down on the stony surface and made the most of it. We watched people playing with dogs, dogs playing with dogs and looked out for killer whales down the Salish Sea towards the coast of United States.

I decided this would be a good time to give Andrew his birthday gift; a bowl of Swedish chocolate balls (his favorite, no birthday cake for him) and a very flat package containing a aerodynamic frisbee and a ticket for a seaplane tour around Vancouver!


Had to take a couple of more selfies because 1) the weather 2) my hair 3) why not? Also took some pictures of Andrew and my incredible wrapping skills. As you can see he was delighted to finally be turning 30.


As we walked back to the car, we hear a man telling his elderly parents who were sitting on a bench: “Look, look, can you see? The family of ocras there?” We turned our heads and could see the family swimming along far out from the shore. It was amazing; we actually couldn’t believe our luck. We had booked a whale tour later that night, but were happy to see them all for free with this gorgeous view. I decided there and then that I love Victoria as a city.

(you can’t see the killer whales on these photos, you just have to believe me)


We had time to kill after lunch and picnic. We decided to go downtown Victoria and find a parking spot for our car so we didn’t have to stress later on. I took a picture of the floor number of the parkade we finally found. The first parking spot we found wanted to charge us SIXTY- FIVE DOLLARS for overnight parking. Which was ridiculous. I looked up other parking spots around town and found View Street Parkade. This is only relevant because I want to mention the power of online reviews. The online reviews for this place was crazy, and I laughed at people who actually took the time to review a PARKADE. Yes it’s local, yes there were loads of spaces, but what else could they possible do that will spark such joy in people? Anyway, the day we left we realized why. The whole visit had been for free due to parking there on a Sunday and leaving on a Bank Holiday (aka another Sunday!). We were thrilled, and obviously left a Google review as well. This is in contrast to the $65 we were quoted for another place close by!


We went and checked in to our AirBnB. It was a loft apartment in downtown Victoria on Yates street; so, so cute. Unfortunately we had no meals at this table, but I took a picture and that’s good enough I guess! I wished we had stayed a couple of extra nights here, but we were only here for one night. These are the only 2 pictures I took (I think?), but according to Andrew this was his dream apartment, so I guess that’s saying something!


After a nap in the apartment we walked down to the harbor. It was the day before Canada Day, so Victoria was popping! Victoria is way cuter than Vancouver in many ways. There’s more historic-looking building, no skyscrapers or litter covering the streets. Victoria takes care of itself, and you can tell. We spent the evening doing the whale tour, which I’ll post more about later. We ended the night with pizza at Fiamo Pizza & Wine Bar right next to our AirBnB, a really cozy well-priced Italian restaurant. It was Andrew’s actual birthday, but I made sure to wish him happy birthday throughout the week to really make him know how much I love, love him and want to celebrate everything with him.

Postcards From VanDusen Botanical Gardens

Don't ask me why we went to a botanical garden in the middle of February. Or do, why not. Answer: It was one of the first days of spring, the sun was shining gloriously and the garden is within walking distance from where we live, so it was all a win-win really! Also, my allergies during spring are r i d i c u l o u s, so better hurry up and visit nature places before it all gets wild (ed. note: it's gone wild now)!


Nothing was in bloom yet; the same hue of green surrounded the grass and the trees. The darker type, the one that survives the winter. The one that reminds you of witchcraft and fantasy novels. The type of green I want to surround myself with, always. 


I love botanical gardens. I mean, how couldn't you; they're basically lusher, more luxurious versions of parks. With less trash on the paths, and people being quiet and respectful because they paid actual money to be there.


VanDusen Botanical Gardens had lots of great stone art all over the place. The garden also has a maze (which we got lost in) and bees (most of them asleep during our visit). I can't wait to go back in the summer, to fully enjoy the vegetable garden and the big grass field. I'll wait till spring is over, I'll let the trees be done with their pollution and love making so I can spend time with flowers, bees, and roses in peace. 

Postcards From Capilano River Regional Park

After our trip to Grouse Mountain, we wanted to see more of North Vancouver, so instead of taking the bus all the way downtown we decided to walk downhill from the Gondola through Capilano River Regional Park. The views did not disappoint. 


Capilano Regional Park is most famous for its suspension bridge. We didn't visit the suspension bridge this time but saved the experience for another weekend. Instead we stopped by Cleveland Dam overlooking Capilano Lake. After that, we walked through down through the River Park on one of the many trails through the green, deep forest. 

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Walking through the trees just made my heart so mushy of love and appreciation. It made me miss home; it made me realize how much I belong to this type of terrain; so much more than I belong on concrete streets. This trip really made us fall in love with North Vancouver for this very reason; the closeness to nature and the general calmer pace. 

One of the things Andrew and I discussed on the trails through the park was how pointless this all was without a dog. Just imagine how much better life would be with a dog? The very thought makes me just illogically annoyed at myself; I should be at a place in my life where I have a dog (or two) by now! Life, you are a mystery. 

Postcards From Grouse Mountain

Two weeks ago or so we went up to Grouse Mountain. It was our first trip "outside" the city, and we loved every minute of it. The sun was shining for the very first time since we got here, and we finally got to see some snow.

Grouse Mountain is very much still in Vancouver; you simply take the Seabus over to North Vancouver and from there take a bus up to the Skyride, the Grouse Mountain gondola. On a clear day, you're able to see Vancouver from the mountaintop. Even though it was sunny throughout our visit, we were unable to see the city due to a fog coming up around the mountain - but it didn't really matter. We were happy out taking a break from downtown! 


The gondola up takes a couple of minutes (after standing in line for way longer). You can see the fog forming here. 


No Smoking! Fragile Mountain Fresh Air. Where can I buy this sign for my future home? 


Upon arriving, seeing happy families playing in the snow and in the sun my heart just melted. This was exactly what my spirit needed after two weeks of almost constant rain and grey skies in the city. 


There are plenty of activities here for all ages. You can skate/play hockey, rent ski-gear and snowshoes. We did neither, which was okay too! We walked a bit along the mountain on the snowshoe trail and just relished the views + air. 


We didn't complete the whole trail: there are some really steep parts where you really could use those snow shoes. Plus we weren't really dressed for a hike, so we decided to turn around. A mix of fog, sunshine and snow-cannon created snow generated such a magical effect around us. All I kept on thinking about was how much we needed this.


Next up is visiting Grouse Mountain in the afternoon/evening time so we could enjoy the Light Trail and hopefully get a glimpse of a lit up Vancouver under a night sky. Can't wait to go back in the summer as well; to enjoy more of the nature surrounding the area. 

A daily ticket (including Gondola and access to area without a ski-pass) costs us around $46, and was well worth it. A great day trip if you want to get out of the city but don't have the resources to go too far! 

vancouver, travelEmma Carlsson
Postcards From Jericho Beach

Dear people at home, missed friends and curious strangers. I'm aware of how dreary I've been sounding lately, my apologies! It's not all misery; it's not all dressed in a desaturated green and blue. Some things are golden. 

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I have so much to write about, I'll tell you all about it later. Tonight is spent in front of the "fireplace"; there's a snowstorm outside and we spent yesterday in glorious sunshine doing the toughest hike here in Canada yet (not on Jericho Beach!! The pictures are just for show). More about that later. Hope you are taking care of yourself, hope you listen to some great music and take some time to think deep, meaningful thoughts while cooking delicious food or browsing the internet for motivation (make the definition between motivation and comparison, one is good and one is evil).

No guilt this weekend, let's shake on it. 

vancouver, travelEmma Carlsson
Count It All Joy - 1 Month In Vancouver

I'm sitting at my local Starbucks, located only two blocks from our apartment. It's snowing outside; yes, it's snowing.

I had written such a long text for this post, but now upon publishing it's all deleted. Someone out there must've realised the rawness of the text and decided the words weren't ready for the public eye. For someone who constantly dreams about hiding and throwing away all tools of communication, I'm surprisingly open in my texts. Lesson learned! 


Did I tell you that we've been in Vancouver for over a month now? Seems strange and unreal. It both feels longer, and shorter.

What follows are some things I like and dislike about Vancouver. The photos might have nothing to do with the text, but that's okay. 

Photos are all taken in Stanley Park, on a day before the sun came but after the rain left. We thought it was such a glorious, bright day. Looking back, I realise how it's all about perspective. Looking back, the pictures look gloomy. But know we smiled in bliss on the actual day! 


Like: There's a coffee shop wherever you go. This is by far my favourite thing about cities in general!


Dislike: They say in general the quality of life here is high in comparison to other cities. And that might be true, but there is a lot of destruction here. A lot of people are not enjoying any of that statistical life quality. A lot of people on the streets. Sure there are lots of vegan cafes and yoga studios and dog walkers, but Vancouver is currently experiencing both a housing crisis and a drug crisis. 


Like: When it's sunny and you see the mountains in the background, Vancouver is b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l. You notice things you didn't look at when it was raining: street art, beautiful buildings, smiling people. 


Dislike: The rain, obviously. So far the weather's been 50/50. It was raining pretty much every day for the first two weeks when we got here. Then the sun arrived, and the whole city changed. We changed. Now it's snowing, so you get it all really. 


Like: Cute boutiques with local art. 


Dislike: The lack of plus size fashion stores, or stores with a plus size section. 


Like: Walking trails! Not just in nature, but around the city as well. 


Dislike: The lack of smaller parks in the city areas. You have to travel to just visit a park, they're mostly located in the outskirts. Queen Elizabeth Park is close to us, but I just wish there were smaller parks to have a coffee in on a nice day out. 


Like: Public transportation. It's really easy to get to places, plan your trips and pay for them. We have a compass card, which we basically can travel wherever with. 


Dislike: The fact that we have to use public transportation. Both me and Andrew are so used to driving. When you have your own car, it just means so much freedom to do whatever whenever. A big reason why we haven't explored outside Vancouver yet is because some days you're just too tired to take 3 different buses for 2 hours to get somewhere.


Like: Stanley Park, Kitsilano Beach, North Vancouver! 


Dislike: Downtown. I love a good city if it got character and history, but when it's just blocks of tall buildings with general stores it's kind of boring. Downtown is best experienced from a distance, as a nice view. 


Like: Our AirBnB, it's a perfect basement apartment in a residential area that's still very local. We're one bus ride away from most things, we got a local pharmacy, local grocery store and a Starbucks. 


Dislike: Not having our own place yet, knowing we're only here temporarily and can't make ourselves completely at home. 


Like: Spending time with Andrew alone for such a long period of time, for the very first time ever. I love being with him, thank god. 


Dislike: Missing my family and friends, the time difference makes it harder to keep in touch. My dad's coming over to Canada in April - June for some work and I can't wait to have him here, even if it's not in Vancouver! 


Like: The conversion rate right now! 10 Canadian Dollars is only 6.4 Euros, which is crazy low! We're basically making money (no, not at all.)! It's really saving us right now. 


Dislike: Traffic. Andrew says he's never seen drivers as bad as the ones here! Such a silly thing to dislike, but I'm getting to the end of my list and I'm scraping here, okay. Both me and Andrew really need to start driving here. The goal is eventually to get a car if we do well, but the traffic scares us, not going to lie. 

To sum it up, it's hard to feel home here. I'm not gonna lie. But then again I always knew it would be a struggle, it always is when you move somewhere completely new. In many ways Vancouver is just like any other North American city, what I like the most about Vancouver is how nature is so close by. You don't have to go far outside the city to get wilderness. My goal this year is definitely to try to stay out of the city as much as possible. That all depends, of course, on what type of job I'll get and how my economy looks like. It's all a guessing game at the moment, which is why I'm trying my very best to enjoy the moment exactly as it is. It's not easy, in fact it's very hard some of the times. But I'm cutting myself some slack; I'm doing the best I can with what I got. 

vancouver, travelEmma Carlsson
Granville Island → Kitsilano Beach

After our trip to Granville Public Market a couple of weeks ago, we decided to walk along the shore to Kitsilano Beach. The views were spectacular, and we loved watching the landscape change in colour as the sun was setting. The clouds were hanging over the mountains, and you could see downtown Vancouver plus the ski-hills on top of the mountains lit up. The air was crisp and the temperature was perfect. I'm getting cheesy now, but it's these types of walks that makes me fall in love with this city. Keep them coming!


(Reoccurring thought whenever I'm on a beach / in nature / out for a walk in general: why don't I have a dog yet? My quality of life would improve so dramatically there would be no point in comparing before and after.)

winter, vancouver, travelEmma Carlsson
Granville Public Market

A perfect sunday activity in Vancouver is to venture to Granville Island to visit the Public Market. It's probably on every tourist's top 5 list of places to check out when here, even for a shorter visit. Me and Andrew went a couple of weeks ago now, and we loved it. It was one of the first days here in Vancouver when it wasn't raining, which made the whole day + place seem more magical. We were just smitten with the place. It was perhaps the first time during my stay here that I felt a spark between me and the city. 


(I love this picture of Andrew taking the exact same photo as the other visitors. I love that about humans? How we stop at crowded places and want the exact same picture as thousands before us? It says so much about us. I don't know, I'm rambling maybe)


We had read / heard about how you can purchase bird feed and try to get the island birds to fly up and eat it straight out of your palms ala Beauty and the Beast. We didn't try it, but had to stop and watch this old man trying his best to befriend the birds. 


While the island is filled with restaurants and cafes, we decided to go into the market for food. It's the type of market you look for in every city, where they serve local dishes and specialities, the energy is buzzing and everyone is enjoying themselves. 


What we ended up going for says so much about us as people and as a couple: I went for butter chicken at Curry2U which was delicious (although a bit too watery) with four different types of dishes in one basically. Andrew went for the most basic thing he could find: a margerita pizza slice. Both happy and content with the choices! 


Have to give this guy cred for being so patience. He also did a great job at defending our table to any outsides that also wanted to try their chances! 


View from our outside table: the Granville Street Bridge. Granville was the name of Vancouver city before it got renamed to Vancouver. 


The produce in the public market was amazing and the different stalls really did an excellent job in making you want to buy all the veggies and fruit! I swear, more than half of the staff were only there to stack up and polish the different produce into desirable piles! 


There were also regular stalls of local companies. We tried the famous Lee Donuts, both being donut lovers. However, we weren't too pleased with the two different kinds we got. Andrew had a regular sugar glazed one because they were out of the sugar ones. To be honest glazed donuts never taste as fresh as just regular sugared ones. I had an apple fritter one, which was all gooey inside due to the batter not being properly baked. It was like eating fresh batter when baking. Too bad! I'd still go again though, trusting everyone else's great reviews of the place. (Pss, best donut in town that we've had so far: Lucky's Donuts from Forty Ninth Parallel Coffee Roasters on Main Street!) 


Outside of the market in the beautiful sunset!


Loved the views of downtown Vancouver from here! Love all the views of downtown more than I love being in downtown haha. Tall, modern buildings are pretty from a distance, not when you're a little tiny human walking next to them. 


There, there, all finished! Ten out of ten, would recommend. Granville Island is so much more than just the Public Market; we can't wait to go back and discover some of their restaurants and shops as well. Or who knows, perhaps visit the theatre? There's something for everyone on the island, so we agree with Tripadvisor / Yelp / TourismVancouver etc.; put it on your to do list when visiting!

Ps: Andrew made a video of our visit there, have a look! 

winter, vancouver, travelEmma Carlsson