It comes as no surprise that my favourite way to see a city is to get up at the crack of dawn and give it the runaround. There’s simply nothing quite like waking up alongside a city; whether it’s skirting around delivery vans dropping off fresh baked goods for the start of day, or darting businessmen and women hustling to get to work on time, taking an early-morning run while traveling is by far my favourite way to discover a city. You never know what you’ll see before the sun creeps up! Rising early to hit the pavement has led me to discover a Canadian cemetery in the North of Wales, and accidentally join a 5km while spending an anniversary weekend in Pittsburgh and been yelled at by a fellow hostel guest in Geneva who must have dreamed her alarm went off and blamed it on the early risers, or, I suppose I should say runners.
While I’ve had my fair share of fabulous runs to kick-start my travels around the world, here are my top 5! If you’re ever in the area, don’t miss out on the chance to take in the fresh air, the beautiful landscape and hit the ground running:
1. Stanley Park, Vancouver, B.C
Starting at Canada Place and ending at English Bay, the approximately 12 kilometer run through Stanley Park is the most amazing and memorable runs I have done to date (the fact that I ran it alongside one of my best friends was totally just the icing on the cake). Next to cyclists, joggers and walkers galore, you’ll weave in-between greenery set directly net to a never-ending coast-line in one of the most beautiful parks in the world. Check out more about Stanley Park and other things to see an do in Vancouver in my blog series on Beautiful British Columbia.
On a sunny day in Vancouver, nothing beats a visit to Granville Island. On the island itself you’ll find many an artisan gift shop or quaint boutique but the highlight is Granville Island Public Market, offering fresh produce, gourmet cheeses, hot coffee, bread straight from the oven and treats to tantalize even the most skeptic of taste buds (it even makes my list of the best eats in Van city). Grab your favourite snack and head outside where, if you’re lucky, you’ll be serenaded by a wandering minstrel or street performer. Sit back, relax, and watch the world, and the boats, go by.
There are tons of places to enjoy good food and drink in and around Vancouver. While it might make sense to some to divide this post into “coffee”, “food”, and “drink” (the hard stuff), I’m going to write about my favourite hot-spots as they appeared over the course of my trip… because it’s simply more fun to write it that way. Ready? Here we go!
First up is the best cup of coffee in town! Okay, I lied. It’s actually the best place to grab the best cup of tea in town. In all truth, I’m not a huge coffee drinker – I just like the idea of “grabbing a coffee” which is really giraffe-speak for tea or espresso-based beverage. In pursuit of this caffeinated experience, I discovered (actually, I was introduced to) a wonderful little coffee shop called Our Town where I enjoyed a smooth, creamy, English Fog (tea-misto) more than once. Not only is this cafe the perfect size to share an intimate meeting over your choice of bevvies, it also hosts really interesting activity-nights like “ukulele night” and “documentary night” – how cute is that?
My second favourite place to hang out – and by hang out, I mean work – was Blenz! With free wireless internet available and locations scattered throughout Vancouver, it’s the perfect place to grab a seat, a hot drink and a newspaper and sit down for a solid hour or two. I typed up many an article here and sipped on a number of delicious London Fogs – yes, it appears that was my drink of choice for the entirety of this trip (and I don’t regret it for a second! They’re fabulous).