I always said I wanted to go to Whistler on my first week here in Canada.
On my last visit to Vancouver, we just didn’t make the time to go anywhere that required a day or more, and I wanted to make sure I went this time before I started working, because with every year of my life that goes by, I realise how quickly time is passing and how many things realistically don’t get done (as much as I never like to admit it! Which is half the reason for this trip in the first place).
Then I got a job within three days of getting here. My friend, with his best intentions, had very kindly got me a job working in the kitchen of the restaurant he works in, and I was due to go in for my orientation on the Monday (I’ve actually been offered three jobs since, which I don’t know whether it’s because I’m awesome or just pure strange luck!). Whistler might have to wait, I thought, as I looked at buses and worked out logistics, wondering if it was worth just going for a day. I probably couldn’t get back in time on Monday, so I started looking at Sunday as a potential day trip… before having a moment of madness and booking it late on Saturday night.
I’m very glad I did! Whistler is kind of what I expected but also not what I expected at all – because it’s primarily famous for being a ski resort, and here I was, visiting in April. The sun was out; locals (or Australians who live there) were talking about how it was the nicest day they’d had for a long time. Everyone was chattering about it like it was officially the beginning of spring. In fact, it was the last day some of the ski lifts were running and snow was still rife, so I couldn’t have chosen a better day!
Even the journey there was something I hadn’t really thought about. I actually got so many rubbish photos of the views from the bus because the window was steamed up and it was still brightening up. But here’s one from the way back.
Spoiler: not even the best view.
Here’s my best one from the morning run too.
The first thing I did, which kickstarts any adventure, was run into the visitor centre because it had a toilet. Then I got a Tim Horton’s hot chocolate because of course I did. And then I turned around and came face-to-face with a girl I’d been chatting to in the hostel a couple of days before! I’d since moved on to stay with a couchsurfer and had been convinced that I wouldn’t see her again.
I was pretty sad about this because her story is AWESOME. I mentioned her in my last post; she’s the one who was in Vancouver for a few days before setting off from Seattle on a sailing race. To Panama. And then they’ll be sailing back up to New York after two weeks cruising through the canal and stocking up on supplies. I think this is the coolest travel story I’ve ever heard (especially as she has NEVER SAILED BEFORE), and ironically I was thinking of her as we passed those mountains on the bus, wondering if I’d ever hear how she got on.
And here she was, in Whistler’s visitor centre, and she had been on the bus the whole time! She was even on the same one back.
So we decided to spend the day together, which immediately got torn apart when I invited her to come on the ziplining tour with me. Unfortunately, I had got the last space, so I asked if they could move my booking to a later one with her, and they smiled at me as they told me sure they could… for a $25 admin fee. Are you freaking kidding me?!
She made the snap decision to go on the next one, and we agreed to meet a few hours later once I was back from mine. This was fine because it gave me a chance to wander Whistler village and take it all in.
Whistler feels – and looks – like a winter Disneyland. It feels like the village at the top of the Ngong Ping 360 in Hong Kong, next to the Big Buddha. Except this is authentic. This is where real skiers come to play, and in winter proper, it’s not so much a Disneyland as a mecca. But it still felt strange walking around!
Gulliver enjoyed it, too!
If you go to Whistler, I fully recommend doing a ziplining tour! SO MUCH FUN!
It includes a trip up Whistler mountain in the gondola and then a short hike through the snow (not necessarily applicable) in which I found myself sliding all over the place like an idiot and eventually, in a bid to avoid a particularly slippery patch, ended up WAIST DEEP IN A DITCH.
For a moment I genuinely feared for my life, and we weren’t even at the first damn zip line yet, where we’d be hurtling ourselves through a forest high above the ground.
In case you hadn’t guessed, I lived, and not only that but I survived all five ziplines!
The tour was a lot of fun, although I didn’t go upside down for fear of killing my camera dead! Maybe next time, huh?? I’m actually really pleased with how my videos came out too, so no regrets taking it!
(Ziptrek do hire out GoPros for free, but you pay for the SD card afterwards, and I was surprised that they allowed you to take your own stuff)
The tour lasted about two and a half hours, but felt like it was over too soon! Lots of fun, we even stopped by a tree to check out some bear claw markings! These were from a baby bear, whose claws are still bigger than my hands!
Plus the views were just amazing as we made our way down the mountain.
I did the Eagle tour which was great! (Unfortunately the Sasquatch tour wasn’t open yet with the biggest zip line in North America, although I actually think this one was probably better!) Even though I’d never been ziplining like this before, the instructors totally put your mind at ease and have fun with it.
After some much-needed poutine (in which I waited by the wrong bit and ended up having to go round and ask where my food was – turns out it had been ready for ages!!), my new friend and I decided to take a little hike.
We made our way around Alta Lake towards Rainbow Park, with the sun beating down on us, and the walk was nice although not as picturesque as I had hoped.
Then we got past the golf course we’d been following, arrived at the lake and found a viewpoint.
For some reason, we decided to sit around there for a while. Can’t think why.
We had heard that Rainbow Park was nice though, and so begrudgingly we moved on. Rainbow Park is nice, but it wasn’t as mindblowing as the view at that little platform.
We had fun though, and Jess took some great photos of me on the jetty! We had held back from taking photos because a girl was at the end of the pier gracefully extending all her limbs into different poses while we stifled laughs. Once she was out of sight, we had a go at doing some of our own.
In a moment of achieving the impossible, an actual decent photo of me appeared out of the chaos!
We slowly ambled back towards Whistler, making sure to stop at the platform for another few minutes of course.
Worst mistake ever.
A couple of minutes later, we came to a fork in the road. 2.1km back to Whistler the way we came. But the other direction was 2.1km, too. Let’s take the different one, we said.
It’ll be fun, we said.
At what must have been at least 2km later, as we nervously checked the time (20 minutes until our bus), we finally came across another sign.
What the hell had happened?! There had been NOWHERE to turn off. The only other path I had seen had been on the golf course, but there was no way to get onto the golf course itself. We literally couldn’t have gone wrong, but there was no way we had only walked 500m!
We quickly picked up the pace, but my legs were aching. You might remember that I did a lot of walking last week. We were almost running in despair because it felt like Whistler wasn’t getting any closer. I feared for my life when I got stuck in that ditch; I thought I was going to die again now. At 3.52pm, I was sure we were going to miss our bus.
And then I spotted a path I recognised! An underpass leading straight to the road opposite the bus station. Thank GOD! Of course, it wasn’t quite as close as I remembered. There were extra corners and a small hill thrown in. We had to cross a road. And we desperately needed a) a drink and b) the toilet.
It was 3.58pm when the bus station came into view, and we ran. Storming up to the bus, we breathlessly asked the driver if we had time to run in and use the toilet… and he said no. He obviously saw the desperation and anguish in our eyes because he glanced over and added, “well, if you’re REALLY quick, you can use the one in there.”
And so I ended my day in Whistler exactly the same way as I had started it.
Frolics, indeed. We were both exhausted after our more-intense-than-expected “walk”, but it didn’t stop us walking even more when we got back to Vancouver, to English Bay for the sunset and cocktails, which to be honest was the perfect end to the day and a lovely send-off for her next adventure!
I’d recommend staying longer in Whistler if you can, but on a time restraint, Whistler is TOTALLY do-able as a day trip! I’m really glad I went, and apart from that last half hour, I didn’t feel rushed at all.
Plus spring was a perfect time to visit Whistler because it was right in between the winter crowds and the summer crowds, so I kind of got the best of both worlds!
Where are some of your favourite spring destinations?
Like this? Pin it!