First I'd like to thank everyone on this forum for your tips and wisdom. My brother and I (he in his early 20's, I in my early 30's) traveled to your fair city for an all-too short overnight visit during a recent trip to Seattle. Once we arrived in Vancouver, we never wanted to leave. Below is a recap of our time there, hope this may be helpful to others planning a trip! Our Seattle trip report can be found on the Seattle forum.
Day 3 (Sunday - Vancouver)
Woke up early to catch Amtrak train to Vancouver. Due to a mudslide, the first portion of our train journey had to be done via bus, which was fine. The train got delayed a total of 2 hours on the way north due to mechanical issues with another train blocking the track. So, our 4 hour trip ended up taking a little over 6 hours, which was frustrating but not within our control. The train staff was amazingly polite, and even provided free snacks due to the delay, which was nice. We had never ridden a train before and were very impressed with the leg room and comfort onboard. Also, the water views were INCREDIBLE - there were times I was sure the train tracks were actually IN the water, we were so close. Loved the train and would highly recommend, even with the delay. Going through Canadian customs was done once we arrived at the station and was quite easy with minimal wait time. I also got Canadian money out of an ATM conveniently located in the train station, then we were on our way.
From the Amtrak station we headed straight to the Deeley Motorcyle Exhibit as a surprise for my bike-loving brother. We got off the Amtrak train, got on the Skytrain, and then a bus to the exhibit. It wasn't terribly easy, as we are not used to using buses for transportation and almost got on the wrong bus, but eventually found our way. The staff there were very nice and accomodating, and even stored our luggage while we browsed the exhibit. The exhibit itself was smaller than I thought it would be, it only took us about 30 minutes to walk through. My brother enjoyed it, but I don't think we'd go out of our way again to see it.
Sidenote: I had planned to go to Lynn Canyon on this day as well - however, we were tired, both mentally and physically, from all the walking in Seattle and trying to make sure we were on the right forms of transportation, so we decided to skip Lynn Canyon this trip. I was disappointed but also wanted to enjoy Lynn Canyon and not be exhausted and grumpy. :) This will be at the top of my list next time.
We caught the Skytrain back into the city and walked to our hotel, the Blue Horizon. We were immediately impressed with its clean appearance, and were notified that we were upgraded to a room and it was ready for us. I requested a harbor view (thanks to reviews here on TA!) and was blown away by the view of English Bay. The sunset over the water that night was awesome, and we could see it right from our hotel balcony!
The room itself was huge and clean. The complimentary wifi worked perfectly, the staff was very nice and accomodating, and the location was great. I did experience the "room check" that I'd read about - a member of the housekeeping staff came into our room not long after check in stating she was doing a room check and if we needed anything, which I thought was odd (even though I'd read about this happening on TA). Other than that, a wonderful stay and good value for the price we paid. We would definitely stay here again when we return to Vancouver.
After we checked in, it was late afternoon so we grabbed a bite to eat at Steamrollers further down on Robson. We both had burritos, which were affordable and filling. The staff there was really, really nice too. Everyone we encountered in Vancouver was really nice, come to think of it. We had to ask for directions a few times and the locals were happy to oblige, and didn't seem like we were bothering them at all. Lovely people.
After we ate we wandered around Robson and did some shopping. GREAT shopping here, with a lot of stores we don't have in the States. We each bought some fun Canada and Vancouver souvenirs and headed back to the hotel to admire the beautiful night view of the city from our balcony.
Day 4 (Monday - Vancouver, back to Seattle)
Woke up, got directions to the sea wall at our hotel concierge desk, then grabbed coffee on the way down to the sea wall. (I got a Maple Macchiato from Starbucks - we don't have these in the States which is hugely disappointing, it is now my favorite coffee drink! Also an interesting fact: my Starbucks card with US dollars loaded on it worked without issue in the Canadian stores. I checked with the baristas before I used it, and they all confirmed that US cards work in their Canadian system. Good to know!)
After we got our caffeine, we walked down to the Sea Wall and headed for the Totem Poles. I was not expecting to enjoy the walk to the totem poles as much as I did - the weather was gorgeous and sunny, and the views we got of English Bay and looking back at the city were just gorgeous. We took our time and enjoyed the weather and the views.
Once we arrived at the Totem Poles, a tour bus had just unloaded. We waited awhile for them to disperse, then were able to admire the totems and read their histories. Very interesting to see what each section of the poles meant. We continued on the sea wall and walked to the lighthouse, where we got amazing views of Grouse Mountain and Lions Gate Bridge.
We had a Bolt Bus to catch at 2 pm to head back to Seattle, and I don't think either of us were ready to leave Vancouver. Our time there was too short, and we spent some time meandering around Stanley Park before we (begrudgingly) decided we better get back to the hotel to check out and get to the bus station. Check out at the Blue Horizon was a breeze, and we hopped in a taxi to the bus station. Our Bolt Bus to Seattle left right on time.
On my next trip to Vancouver, I plan on focusing on outdoor activities - doing the Grouse Grind, maybe even getting over to Vancouver Island, etc. There's so much to do and so much natural beauty to see that my next trip will be much longer. I absolutely fell in love with this city! Thanks again for all the tips and suggestions on this forum, you all made our trip even better!