We’ve been to Vancouver, BC, several times but always by car. It takes about three hours to get there, but since we haven’t gotten around to getting our Nexus passes yet we always end up waiting at the border crossing and adding time to our journey.
Each time we go we want to return, so I thought it would be fun to go for another weekend getaway, but this time by train!
I found tickets from Everett Station to downtown Vancouver and because we were flexible on our dates, I was able to buy them for $40/person roundtrip. I also managed to Priceline a hotel in Vancouver’s West End for $60/night so our getaway was more than reasonable!
The Everett Station has some overnight parking spots so we set out early on a Saturday morning to get parked and secure our seat assignments.
The vast majority of my train travel has been in Europe so I spent some time on the Amtrak site making sure we were compliant with all of the rules, especially around border crossing and baggage. There are luggage restrictions for the train, much like air travel, and you sometimes have to check bags to a luggage car. Since we were only going for the weekend we just had carry-on bags, which we were able to put in the overhead areas during our ride.
I bought a coffee and some snacks in the station and before we knew it we were boarding and on our way!
The ride was wonderful! You have a bistro, bathrooms, WiFi– all the amenities of air travel only so much better because you have roomy seats, beautiful views of the scenery passing by out the large, airy windows, and the ability to comfortably move around and stretch throughout the journey. I love it!
Our train veered toward the coast as we entered Canada and we had some spectacular views of the Sound. I hardly knew we crossed the border–it was hardly a blip on the stop schedule–and soon we were in downtown Vancouver.
I didn’t do a great job looking up how to get from the train station to our hotel so we ended up jumping on the SkyTrain to the downtown station farthest north. From there we walked through the West End to our hotel. Much of it is residential so people were out walking and we loved going by the dog parks and seeing all the puppies at play!
After checking in we were ready for lunch, and my boss had recommended MDG Ma Dang Goul, a Korean restaurant that ended up being about a block from our hotel. It was small and fairly busy, but we got seated and had a delicious meal of Jjin Man Du (steamed pork dumplings) and Ya-Chae Jeon (pancake with vegetables). It was yummy and held us over until we could grab dinner on the North Shore.
I hadn’t looked up things to do in the West End–I had really been thinking about it as just a place to stay– so we spent much of our day exploring other areas of the city that I had researched ahead of time.
Our loss– the West End has lots to offer! We both thought we should try to stay there again the next time we’re in Vancouver so we really spend some time there and in Stanley Park during the summer or early fall when the weather is prime for outdoor exploration.
While we were out and about the city we did meet up with some locals who recommended we check out Lolita’s at the end of our evening. It ended up being a perfect recommendation! It was only a couple blocks from our hotel and it had the perfect end of the evening atmosphere–some music, but not too loud; some lights, but not too bright; some people, but not overcrowded. Just right. We sat at the bar and ordered drinks, and Brian ended up having one of the best jalapeno margarita’s he’s ever tasted.
In addition to MDG and Lolita’s we had one other positive West End culinary experience in our Sunday Brunch at the Red Umbrella Cafe, which was also just a few blocks from our hotel. One of my work colleagues recommended it and we were not disappointed! Brian didn’t love that the tables were somewhat crowded together (I would say ‘cosy’) but we had a little table by the window and could enjoy our food as well as a view of people out walking their dogs and taking in their morning runs as they headed to the trails along the water.
We followed their lead and headed down to the water after brunch to walk off our meal and although it was cloudy and starting to sprinkle, the water and mountains were beautiful.
Our train ride home had a few extra stops that added some time to our trip, but after a full weekend of activities and tons of walking I was so happy neither of us had to be awake and alert enough to drive all the way home on a Sunday night.
We slept on and off and caught some beautiful views of the sunset over Puget Sound, and our car was safe and sound when we returned to Everett.
I signed up for the Amtrak frequent rider program so I can start collecting points during future travel. We will definitely be taking the train again soon!