A Lesson On Time From The West Coast

 We came across this sign in downtown Vancouver. It captures the vibe of much of the sites we visited...who knows, maybe it just felt that was because we were on vacation. :)

We came across this sign in downtown Vancouver. It captures the vibe of much of the sites we visited...who knows, maybe it just felt that was because we were on vacation. :)

Mr. F2P and I spent a wonderful four days in Vancouver this Labour Day weekend. It was our first vacation together since 2011 that didn’t involve attending some sort of conference or training workshop. A long time, I know! However, this is not the only surprising fact arising from this latest trip.

What I took away from this vacation was much more than pictures and memories. It also offered a good reminder that how we view and use time affects how we experience life.

The trip consisted of what we typically do when we’re visiting a new city*:

  • Spend as little on transportation and lodging as possible.
  • Walk about and discover the city and local culture(s).
  • Eat amazing food.
  • Repeat daily.

The list above is a reflection of our what we care about most. We value the experiences of travel much more than how fancy our accommodations and transportation choices are**.

We tend to stay in hostels when we travel. In this case, it was The Cambie Downtown.  That hostel was a third of the cost of what we would have paid at a downtown Vancouver hotel and we were close to everything so there was no need for paid public transportation except for getting to the airport and back via the Skytrain.

We managed to spend the vast majority of our travel budget on food, food and more…food. And sites, of course. We walked an average of eight hours per day and visited the following areas:

a few Vancouver pics :

By enjoying a walkabout-style vacation, Mr. F2P and I got to really take in the sights and get a good sense of what living in Vancouver might be like. We navigated the residential and commercial streets just as we would do at home. Of course, it didn’t hurt that early fall is a great time for a visit. The weather was perfect for our multi-day trekking and we barely needed our rain gear. 

This style of vacationing also allowed us to slow down and appreciate the experience to its fullest. We didn’t feel rushed. We didn’t have a schedule—other than our day at Capilano Suspension Bridge and Grouse Mountain, which required us to time our departure based on their free shuttle services.

We walked when we felt like it, ate when we were hungry and slept when we were tired. No schedule to keep, no obligations, just a set amount of time to invest as we saw fit.

The pictures above offer a snippet of what we experienced on our trip. I'll admit we spent more time capturing the vistas with our eyes as opposed to our camera. The marina was located at Granville Island, the grizzly bear and cable car station fog were at Grouse Mountain, and the food was from Water St. Café in Gastown, Hamilton Street Grill in Yaletown and Steamworks.

It’s amazing what slowing down and paying attention to the present can do. Our pace allowed us to really take in what we were seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and feeling. As a result, four days felt like a long time away. It felt rejunenating. It felt satisfying. We really felt that we’d soaked up as much as we could in those four days and we left pleased with our investment in time, energy and money.

 I stumbled across this thought during one of our excursions into Gastown. Loved it!

I stumbled across this thought during one of our excursions into Gastown. Loved it!

Interestingly, the most important thing I brought back from that trip was not the associated memories—though these are plentiful—but this sense of what I’m missing out on when I don't take the opportunity to slow down enough to be able to pay greater attention to the sights, smells, tastes and feelings right at home. I’ve been improving in this area (thanks to unexpectedly ditching my calendar over a year ago), but this trip tells me there’s still more I can do to enjoy being in the moment.

Even though we've already been back for over a month now, I still have that “Vancouver feeling”. I hope I keep it alive for a long time to come and learn as much as I can from it, at least until our next walkabout experience.

Life is richer when you take the time to experience it.


*This was Mr. F2P’s first time in Vancouver and my fourth. Here’s a list of everywhere I’ve travelled so far and my far and wide aspirations to do more.  

**I did luck out on this one though with inexpensive direct flights at very convenient times (woohoo).

***Finding the best lookout point for any city is a wonderful way to enhance your trip, as David Cain explains. We went to the Lookout on our second morning and it helped us tremendously in both appreciating the cityscape and in determining where we wanted our feet to take us over the days that followed.