24 Mar Splendour without Diminishment – British Columbia on a budget
I would love to take credit for the first part of my title, however that goes to Queen Victoria who chose ‘Splendor sine occasu’ as the provincial motto of B.C. in 1871 and she couldn’t have chosen it better. A gap year is not just for the kids these days, everyone is taking one it seems, but whatever your age or budget, nothing will lessen your experience and wonderment of this western Canadian province.
Arriving in Vancouver in late spring, I found the trees awash of candyfloss-pink blossom and the air scented with saltwater and flowers. I love seeing a city from above, so my first point of call was the Lookout, (only $10 with student i.d. or $15 without). Riding up on the sexy glass elevator was cool in itself but once at the top the view was breathtaking. 360 degrees of everything you can want from a city. Below; beautiful parks, a vibrant downtown and the glimmering ocean lapping at the coastline, the backdrop; a lush green landscape of rolling snow capped mountains. I couldn’t wait to explore further. Heading into the metropolis I moseyed over to Gastown, you gotta love anywhere that’s named after a ‘gassy’ sea captain who opened the districts first saloon. If you’re looking for culture, history or nightlife, it’s all there, and if you’re a foodie then you won’t be disappointed in some of the best British Columbia restaurants to be found.
I wish I’d had time to visit Vancouver Island, but as the size of England, it’s a whole trip of its own. Instead I was heading inland by train. The Rocky Mountaineer is one of the world’s most famous rail journeys, running several routs through the Rocky Mountains, funnily enough. If money doesn’t stretch to the five star carriages and glass roof, don’t despair, Canada’s VIA Rail runs along the same routs, is far more affordable and has more opportunities to stop along the way.
With just a week I only had time to visit a couple of the stunning national parks B.C. has to offer and there are so many nature watching opportunities it’s hard to know which to choose. One must see is Lake Louise, the lime-bright turquoise water is utterly mesmeric, but my particular favourite experience was a bear spotting river safari from Blue River (between Kamloops and Jasper) it wasn’t especially cheap but it was well worth the $72.
Author Bio: Liah S Thorley