As a travel enthusiast with a love for visiting and exploring new places, Faraz Qureshi, a young entrepreneur, was on the lookout for a destination which wasn’t that much of an obvious choice to the Indian market. Having already got a taste of a few places in Southeast Asia and not wanting to settle for the tried and tested European and Asian tours, his options had boiled down to either New Zealand or Canada. This week, You & I gets a glimpse of the frosty white plains and a few vibrant cities of the latter through Faraz’s eyes.
The trip lasted almost a month and this was the first time that I travelled on my own. My first stop was a small town called Pemberton, 200 kilometres away from Vancouver, where my father’s friend lived. As most people do, I too had a pre-planned itinerary in place. My visit to Pemberton was followed by spending a few days in Whistler before I moved into a bed and breakfast space in Vancouver.
The small town of Pemberton had a population of less than 2000 people, while Whistler had a population of around 12,000 people. During my visit I climbed Mount Joffre and it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. The mountain range was covered in snow, with frozen lakes in between, providing a breathtaking view.
Fortunately for me, I was in Whistler during a long weekend-break and was able to witness the small town fill up with people from other states in Canada and the US. Renowned for its ski resorts, I came across people between the ages of three and 70 skiing or snowboarding in Whistler, down some ‘not so easy’ hills, rather effortlessly.
My next stop was Vancouver. In contrast to Pemberton and Whistler, this city, known to be the second business hub in Canada after Toronto, was quite busy. I’m glad to have stayed in two different parts of Vancouver since it’s quite a large city. During the first week I stayed close to Stanley Park and the Kitsilano Beach, and the second half of the trip was spent downtown. Every other day I would either walk or cycle around the seawall or cross the Lions Gate Bridge to go downtown, where there were hordes of restaurants and nightclubs. I visited the Vancouver Zoo, the aquarium, Science World, and a few other places too, and they were all great.
Throughout my visit I mostly stayed in bed and breakfast spaces and it was great because I got to meet other travellers from different parts of the world. I met and hung out with a vast group of people who were engineers, musicians, and even helicopter pilots!
As a diverse country, Canada did not have one fixed culture. Therefore, I came across many people who had moved here from various countries. And as a by-product, there was no limit to the amount and types of food that was available, from Lebanese and Chinese to delicious pizzas and burgers. Being an out and out foodie, I tried multiple restaurants, but my favourite amongst them was ‘The Turf’. It served the most scrumptious and fresh salmon.
It’s never easy to pick just one special moment, especially from a journey like this. However, if I had to choose, the one experience that comes to mind was when I was climbing Mt. Joffre, we had crossed one lake and we climbed further to reach another one. There was one point during our climb that we got the most spectacular view of the forest and a frozen lake that we had walked across. Apart from that, the peak to peak gondola ride between Blackcomb and Whistler Mountain in was spectacular as well.
As a holiday destination, Canada has a lot to offer all year round. Every season has its own specialty. During the summers people tend to partake in a lot of water activities while the winters are all about snow related games and activities. Some activities that I missed out on were orca spotting and sky diving, and I’d surely love to go back and fulfil it. Hopefully, my next trip can also include Quebec City, which is predominantly inhabited by French people.
Canada as a country is very peace loving despite its diverse populace. People there, no matter what race or country they belong to, get along well with one another and treat each other with respect and warmth. What I loved most about Canadians was that they were always up for conversations and were willing to help in any possible way. It was moments and experiences like these that made my first solo trip truly great. – Faraz Qureshi