Hi all- thought it might be useful to let you know how our trip went and also would like thank you all for your very useful advice!
Arrived Vancouver and stayed in Executive Hotel (see review). As we were jet lagged we only managed to walk to Yaletown and have a beer at Yaletown Brewing Company- but that was great- although noticed that beer was very expensive.....
Next day we walked up to Stanley Park and because we got there so early (jet lag) the bike rental places were closed. We made an attempt to start to walk around the sea wall- but the jet-lag and rain caused us to be fed up so we left to hide in a cafe and, when it brightened up,with a little help from the Visitor Centre, made our way to Lynn Valley on the ferry then bus to have a look out of the city. Interesting few hours spent there. After that, had another expensive beer (or 2) at Steamworks Brewing Company which is great.
Next day we set off on foot again (we walk everywhere and all is very walkable in Van if you're fit) and went up to Canada Place, Gastown (managed to stray in to the dreaded 'East side' very easy to do and quite unnerving but live to tell the tale), and Chinatown. Went over to Granville Island in the afternoon, which was lovely, and watched a few street entertainers do their bit. The ferry over to Granville is so funny. So short and ridiculous, but very cute.
We then changed our plans and rented our car a day early. Got totally upsold at Budget and ended up paying double what we had been quoted on the net after some scare-mongering about insurance. Feel quite annoyed about this now that I am home and thinking straight I think we will be making a complaint...Anyway- we went up to Whistler. Couldn't have picked a worse day for it as it was pouring down and the Sea to Sky Highway was more like Sea to Cloud highway- we didn't really see any views. We got up there and had a walk about then came back down. It cleared up a bit on the way down and I can only imagine how picturesque it must be!
Next stop Victoria on the Tsawassen- Schwarz Bay ferry which is all very exciting and a beautiful journey. Found Victoria and our accommodation (Carriage House B & B) fairly easily and spent 2 relaxing days here. Weather was much better than Van. Rain made way for warm sunshine so raincoats disappeared to make way for t-shirts. Glorious. Had a great lunch at Spinnakers with a nice view, and a decent evening meal in Chinatown. Also found the best price beer here at the Swan Brew Pub which was great. Oh also had fabulous fish tacos at 'Red Fish Blue Fish'. Spent a few hours driving around the suburbs which was interesting and then another few hours just chilling with a book on Inner Harbour. Loved Victoria but some might think it boring.....
Then off up North to stay in Nanaimo for the night. We went via a few of the wineries/ cidery but sadly we were too early (still jet lagged) and they were still shut. Nanaimo not somewhere I would go again and it's just as well our accommodation (White House on Long Lake) was lovely as there isn't a great deal to do in Nanaimo!
Then off to Tofino for 3 nights, with the weather being mean again. It poured the whole way there.. so no views again. Arrived in Tofino (stayed at Sand Dollar Tofino) and were upset at the appalling weather so went to the local pub for a couple of hours (we're not alcoholics honest). It was actually quite nice with a beer watching the waves crashing around out of the window at Weigh West pub. Next day rained again, so drove over to Ucluelet to have a look (preferred Tofino). However in Ucluelet we were given a tip by a local that there were bears in a certain spot- so we went and saw them! A family of black bears with cubs! Amazing to see and we forgot about the rain and cheered up immediately. Then we went for a long walk/ trail in Ucluelet. The next day was the only good weather day so we took a trip to Hot Springs Cove and were nearly killed by crashing waves (still a bit stormy) but immensely enjoyed this day as also saw grey whales and bald eagles.
We left Tofino to stay the night in Cumberland (Riding Fool Hostel) before getting to the Sunshine Coast. In hindsight we didn't need to do this and could have got the ferry straight over to Powell River, but the guys at the hostel were fabulous and cooked us Thanksgiving Dinner and Pumpkin pie!
Ferry to Powell River from Comox was a quick hop and we managed to spend a good part of the day admiring the beauty and tranquillity of little Lund and the surrounding areas, where our next accommodation was. Had an amazing meal at the Laughing Oyster. What a wonderful restaurant and a fabulous host. He even got his guitar out and sang us a few songs! The next day we drove down to Gibsons on the lower Sunshine Coast so enjoyed another ferry ride and a scenic drive along the water. Gibsons is a lovely little village and would be a great place to live.
Then finally back to Vancouver for one night and as the next morning the weather was better, went back to Stanley Park, hired bikes and cycled the sea wall- lovely morning and glad we went back to do that.
Loved what we saw of BC, but in particular the Sunshine Coast which doesn't seem to get enough advertising. Everybody we met was hospitable and willing to bend over backwards to help. BC was certainly more expensive than I imagined and we are still shocked by 12%HST going on everything and (being stingey Europeans, the required 15% tip) Basically any food/ drinks bill you need to add 30% on, which seems a lot. HOWEVER, this will not put us off and we will be back again as soon as we can.
Thanks for everybody's help to make this a great trip. PS sorry if i've rambled on!