Vancouver: Grouse Grind, Seawheeze Expo (August 2016)

The Seawheeze Lululemon Half Marathon. This is their 5th year! I’ve always wanted to do it & finally got the chance to. First of all, the registration process is intense: You definitely need reliable internet. I was on a computer at work 10 minutes before it opened and clicked into it right away. I got in with no problems, but I read that a lot of people couldn’t get through and had to use different devices to get into the server. Second, because the registration is a year in advance, I took the chance that I could get out of work to go. I had to make a lot of switches with coworkers and it was well worth it. The flight was around $555 but thanks to Chase Sapphire points, it was free!

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Cathay Pacific meals are so good. Smoked salmon mmm.

I took a late flight and got into YVR at 1am.

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At YVR. Jellyfish!

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Because my Airbnb check-in wasn’t until 10AM, I looked for a place in the airport to sleep until 6 or 7am to go into the city. The security guards approached me when I tried to relax on a bench inside the baggage claim area (I read some forums saying it’s possible to sleep there, but it was quite noisy and bright anyway) so I left to go to the departures area.

Going through customs was easy; they use kiosks and there weren’t many people getting in that late/early so I finished in 5 minutes.

It was actually dim and quiet at Departures, so I was glad I came here. I walked around both floors just to check it out, and a LOT of people were sleeping! I was lucky to have found one bench that was clean and available… right across from this random stranger lady who didn’t seem to care about her luggage being stolen while she napped:

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At around 6 or 7AM, I woke up and washed up in the bathroom and went to take the train to the city:

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From the airport, you can take the skytrain which was SO easy.

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I bought a compass card ($6 CAD) because I figured I’ll come back to Vancouver. Also, I wanted to be able to reload easily. But you can also just buy a single-fare ticket. I bought a day pass which was $14.75 from the airport (there’s a $5 surcharge for buying it here) but would’ve been $9.75 from other stations.

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I stopped in Richmond for breakfast at a HK diner I visited last time called Lido. After I got off the Skytrain, I took a bus to get there. Buses in Vancouver tell you what the next stop is, unlike some buses in New York where you have to guess when you can get off (and risk getting off too early or too late). T-mobile lets you use data and texting for free in Canada, so I relied on my phone for maps and directions.

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Vancouver is so green.

Nothing was opened at this hour (9AM). The Aberdeen Centre opens after 10AM, so I was sad that I had to leave but I had to meet the Airbnb guy for keys. So I took the Skytrain to downtown… to West End.

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Colorful neighborhood. Lots of pride.

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This was a great location. 20 minute walk to the Convention Center, 5 minute walk to the beach and Granville Island ferry.

After I got settled in, I headed out for coffee:

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Honolulu Coffee — their hawaiian latte was so good, coconuty but not overpowering.

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Matcha mousse was also delicious.

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Canada Place. From here, you can see the mountains!

After circling for half an hour, I finally asked for directions to take the Seabus across. You have to go to “The Station”:

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I used my compass card with the daypass to take the SeaBus to Lonsdale Quay. It took about 15 minutes.

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This is also how you would get to Capillano Suspension Bridge and Lynn Canyon. But that’s for next time!

The SeaBus is just a small boat — sit next to the windows for great views. After that, I took the 236 bus to go to Grouse Mountain. They do offer shuttles from downtown to Grouse, but you have to purchase a package that cost about $50 (includes the ride up and down the mountain). I wanted to hike up the mountain, so it wouldn’t be worth it.

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The Grouse Grind, notorious for its 2,830 flight of stairs. It wasn’t bad because there were tall trees for shade and some benches along the way. I stopped to take water breaks. I did not bring enough water.

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I liked that there were clear markers and signs that tell you how far along you are. Especially when it says 39/40:

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The 2nd half of the hike seemed easier and the numbers advanced much quicker.

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Finally reached the top! This is where you can purchase the gondola ride ($10 CAD) down — they won’t let you hike down yourself because it’s so steep, although I did see a few people do so.

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There is also a smoothie place inside and a gift shop. I walked around the perimeter before heading inside.

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I got a smoothie and bought my gondola ticket — then had to wait on a long long line to go down! There were tons of people who just took the gondola up and spent time there, and only a few who attempted the Grind, so everyone happened to leave at the same time!

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The ride down was pretty cool. Great view. It only took 5 minutes to get down.

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After I took the bus, back on the SeaBus again.

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I walked to Guu Original Thurlow (Yelp review here)

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After dinner, I headed back to nap before my friend arrived on a late flight. We had to wake up at 4AM for the exclusive Seawheeze Lululemon shop…

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We got there around 5:15AM and the line wrapped around and around and around and around… to the back of the Convention Center. We expected this already — the first person on the line had been there since 11AM the previous day. We were not about to do that. People had sleeping bags and chairs.

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We watched the sunrise and made friends with people on the line.

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The line behind us.

After we got inside the Convention Center, we still had a long line to the showroom. As soon as we were allowed in (they let a number of people in at a time), we ran in and grabbed everything off the shelves. They organized by size, so I ran straight to size 6 and 4.

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We made a big pile in the middle of the floor like everyone else did, and started to sort through them.

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The checkout line.

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There were entertainment while you wait to check out.

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There were lots of freebies too.

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Free hair braiding… but long lines. I braided my own hair.

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Nooner yoga. They did not provide mats (only a few to be borrowed) but I brought my own travel mat (free from Athleta from Times Square yoga years ago — felt blasphemous at a Lululemon event).

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Freebies at yoga. Inside were some oils for headache and to relieve muscle tension.

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Free manicures but also very long lines. I already had gel on.

After that, we walked to Marutama Ramen! (Yelp review here)

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EGG SO GOOD

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After we got back to the Airbnb and dropped off our stuff, we decided to nap and go to Granville Island via the ferry. It was only a couple of dollars to go across! And you can buy roundtrip to save money.

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This is my 2nd time at Granville Island, they have a lot of gelato stores so we just had to.

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I saw standup paddleboarders! They were kneeling and paddling.

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We went back to the Convention Center for Sunset Yoga to end the night. Next day: Seawheeze Half Marathon! Stay tuned.

 

 

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