Last weekend, me and a couple of people took a road trip to Whistler via Squamish.
We decided to hire a car as the Greyhound didn’t go direct and the times of departure were not great. It turned out that I was the only one that could drive so of course after my 2 hour driving disaster around Vancouver (see previous post), I was obviously very nervous. After paying for the car, I had to get out of the downtown area, luckily it wasn’t too busy and after I got on to Lions Gate Bridge to go to West Van, I was fine.
The drive along the ‘Sea to Sky’ Highway was easy and had some of the best views.
It took around an hour or so to arrive just outside Squamish at the ‘Sea to Sky Gondola’ – a tourist attraction that takes you up the mountains for views of the Howe Sound Fjord.
The gondola is $35 and is a little bit fast but perfectly safe. At the top, there are different hikes you can walk as well as viewing platforms and a suspension bridge.
The views are totally awesome and you can see across the highway, Squamish and the mountains.
We took a small walking route to the Stawamus Chief viewing platform and saw more spectacular views before taking the gondola back down to the car park.
After a lunch stop at Boston Pizza it was on to Whistler, which took another hour of driving.
We were booked into the HI hostel just by ‘Function Junction’ around 5kms from Creekside and 10kms from the Village. (The main areas are Whistler Creekside and Whistler Village). My first thoughts were that the hostel was a slightly far out from all the action and public transport consists of a bus costing $2.50 for a single trip.
The hostel itself is nice and clean. It was very quiet when we arrived as it is before the winter season but you only share the wash basins and shower with no more than 8 people as they are individual to two dorm rooms each with 4 beds. Downside of hostel is that they don’t provide a free breakfast.
In the evening I went to the Whistler Brewing in Function Junction and tried one of their local beers. The brewery provide tours over the weekend for $15 and this includes a tasting tray but I just went to the bar.
I tried the ‘Powder Mountain’ brew and spent some time speaking to the ‘locals’ (mostly drunk Europeans and Australians on their working holiday visa). Unfortunately the bar shut at 10pm but with the beers at $5 a pint it is worth a visit. After a long drive and a beer, I was ready for bed.
The next morning, we headed to Whistler Village. There is plenty of free parking lots so this was no issue. The village itself was busy with tourists and mountain bikers as Whistler Mountain is used by them in the summer months. There is Blackcomb mountain as well as Whistler, which is used by skiers and boarders in the winter season.
Whistler was used for the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010.
I walked around the village checking out the shops. There were quite a few ski and board shops selling off their last seasons gear. I have all my kit but I was tempted by a Burton board bag with wheels…:)
There are other stores like Billabong, Helly Hanson and this sodding yoga shop everyone seems to love in BC (Lululemon). $100 for yoga pants – jog on haha!
There are a few different restaurants and bars around, which range in price. We had lunch at the warehouse where every meal is $4.95 (+ tax).
I finally reached the base of Whistler and Blackcomb mountain at the end of the village walkway. There is a peak to peak gondola that takes you up Whistler mountain and can go across to Blackcomb. At the time, the gondola was only going to the top of Whistler Mountain and at $50 it was pricey but the gondola is included in the lift passes during the season along with the chair lift in Creekside (this is meant to be less busy).
I really enjoyed seeing the village and throughly enjoyed messaging my friend ‘S’ from back in the UK whilst I was walking around. (I know your reading this lol). She asked me about all the places she went to when she was in Whistler in 2003 to see if they were still there (most of them were).
I also messaged my other friend ‘A’, who is very keen in coming out to Whistler next year. We started to do some planning, which was great fun and I felt better knowing the route and where everything was.
At this point though, I felt slightly down as I wanted my two friends to be with me there and then to see it all – hopefully soon though :).
After the late lunch, it was time to head back to Van. Again, this was an easy drive although busy over Lions Gate Bridge and downtown but I didn’t kill anyone or crash the car so it was a successful trip 🙂
I really can’t wait to go back to Whistler in the winter to snowboard. The only downside is Whistler is expensive for accommodation, food and lift passes but I think it will be well worth the experience.
I also think driving would be better than taking the Greyhound or public transport. There is plenty of free parking and as it is spread out, it saves on buses. However, I have been informed that the drive along the sea to sky highway can be treacherous during the winter months and it is mandatory that vehicles have winter tyres or carry chains. I think as long as your careful it should be fine.
Roll on November 25th when the slopes open up 🙂