Mardi Gras 2016 in New Orleans – Day 2


After our first jam packed day in New Orleans, I think we managed to cram in even MORE stuff the next day! We started out with brunch in a New Orleans neighborhood called the Magazine District (we took an Uber there from our hotel since it was about a 15 minute drive. Also, more on where we ate in New Orleans in a separate, future post!).

After brunch, we walked around the Magazine District. It was such a cute neighborhood!

Magazine District

Magazine District New Orleans Magazine District New Orleans Magazine District New Orleans Magazine District New Orleans

Of course, many of the houses and business were decorated for Mardi Gras!

Magazine District Homes decorated for New Orleans Magazine District Homes decorated for New Orleans Magazine District Homes decorated for New Orleans Magazine District Homes decorated for New Orleans

One of the interesting things we noticed during our trip to Mardi Gras is that there are a lot of um, I’m not sure how to describe them, missionaries / preachers / religious folk trying to remind Mardi Gras goers about Jesus. To the point that they were even skywriting about it:

Jesus skywriting

The next photo is not from the Magazine District, but from Bourbon Street, where we saw a group of men carrying a cross down the road.

Cross bearing men on Bourbon street during Mardi Gras

Anyway, after the Magazine District, we decided to walk around the French Quarter to take in all the daytime Mardi Gras revelry.

French Quarter during Mardi Gras French Quarter during Mardi Gras

Chuckling at the bead whore sign!

French Quarter during Mardi Gras

And bra decorations on the balconies!

French Quarter during Mardi Gras French Quarter during Mardi Gras French Quarter during Mardi Gras

We made our way to Jackson Square and the St. Louis Cathedral area. We just walked around the area for a while and we didn’t even take that many pictures, mostly because we had visited that area extensively on our previous trip to New Orleans in 2008!

Jackson Square New Orleans

The entire area was packed!

Across from Jackson Square

We couldn’t believe it, but we were getting hungry again thanks to all the walking, and stopped by and grabbed some lunch. And then, you guessed it, we resumed walking! There was this cute open-air (but covered. Is that a thing?) market. We walked through there and did some people watching!

Farmer’s Market in New Orleans French Quarter Farmer’s Market in New Orleans French Quarter Farmer’s Market in New Orleans French Quarter Farmer’s Market in New Orleans French Quarter Farmer’s Market in New Orleans French Quarter Farmer’s Market in New Orleans French Quarter

And then, just more photos of the stunning French Quarter. I am IN LOVE with all these gorgeous buildings.

French Quarter during Mardi Gras French Quarter during Mardi Gras French Quarter during Mardi Gras

We had grandstand tickets for the Bacchus parade later that night, so we started to head back to the hotel. Our legs were aching and we tried to decide between walking back to the hotel and taking an Uber, and we just decided to keep on trekking on our sore legs.

And wouldn’t you know it, just like the previous day, we tripped across another parade on our way back to the hotel! (Not sure which krewe this is though!)

Mardi Gras Parade Mardi Gras parade

It was during this parade that I was NAILED RIGHT IN THE FOREHEAD with an enormous BAG OF BEADS that was thrown from the floats. From that moment, I was very cautious of entire bags of beads being thrown. I much preferred the strands!

Mardi Gras parade

We stood around and watched the parade for a bit.

Mardi Gras parade Mardi Gras parade Mardi Gras parade Mardi Gras parade

We relaxed at the hotel for a short while and then headed to the grandstands area for the Krewe of Bacchus.

It was COLD that night. Really, it was cold our entire trip. When we packed for our trip, I had seen that the lows in New Orleans would be like 50–55. Compared to DC’s lows of like 20 at that same time in February, 55 seemed downright balmy and we didn’t pack anything heavier than a fleece for a jacket. But man were we regretting it that night! I wish we would’ve packed our heavy winter coats! Sitting on cold metal grandstands didn’t help much either!

Anyway, a word to the wise, even if the weather seems “warm” for winter compared to northeast standards, pack a heavy jacket (and dress in layers).

See, these women were smart. Heavy coats!

Waiting for Bacchus parade to start

The parade was running crazy late. Like probably 2 hours late. But when it did finally get started, there were these two gorilla floats among the first floats. People tossed their beads AT the floats! I guess this is pretty common knowledge, and we quickly joined in, trying to toss our beads at the two gorilla floats!

Gorilla floats during Bacchus | Mardi Gras Parade Gorilla floats during Bacchus | Mardi Gras Parade Gorilla floats during Bacchus | Mardi Gras Parade

Then the bulk of the parade started. Like the other ones we had seen, it mostly followed the “float followed by marching band” order. Although there were some horses mixed in on the parade too!

Krewe of Bacchus | Mardi Gras 2016 Krewe of Bacchus | Mardi Gras 2016 Krewe of Bacchus | Mardi Gras 2016 Krewe of Bacchus | Mardi Gras 2016 Krewe of Bacchus | Mardi Gras 2016 Krewe of Bacchus | Mardi Gras 2016 Krewe of Bacchus | Mardi Gras 2016 Krewe of Bacchus | Mardi Gras 2016 Krewe of Bacchus | Mardi Gras 2016 Krewe of Bacchus | Mardi Gras 2016 Krewe of Bacchus | Mardi Gras 2016

The parade was the same night as the Super Bowl, and this guy marched in the parade watching the Super Bowl from a TV on the back of an SUV!

Krewe of Bacchus | Mardi Gras 2016

After a while, the wind really started to kick up, and we were getting even colder. The parade kept getting “stuck,” and sometimes there was a 5, 10, or even 15 minute wait in between the different floats and marching bands. We decided that we had seen plenty of the parade, and we wanted to go back to the hotel to warm up.

We would need to cross the street of the parade route to get back to our hotel, so we walked several blocks down the street to Canal street, where the parade route was not operating, and waited for a break in the parade and for police officers to temporarily open the street barriers (we had seen law enforcement do this several times during the other parades we had watched.)

And we waited. And waited. And waited. And the police officer there wasn’t opening the gate to cross the street, even though there were long breaks in between the floats. There was a huge crowd forming waiting to cross the street, and people started to get pushy. Somebody asked when he would open the gate to cross, since there were no floats within sight. With an extreme attitude tone, the police officer said to the crowd, “Why don’t you all just go enjoy the parade?”

And we’re like, wait, what? Does that mean he won’t open the gate at all? Ken and I were cold getting pretty tired, and I was starting to envision some sort of stampede. Someone else asked where they could go to cross the street, and once again, with that terrible attitude, he said, “GO ENJOY THE PARADE.”

Ken and I broke free from the crowd and walked back up St. Charles Avenue several blocks to another police-staffed barrier. We had just missed a opening, so at least we knew that gate was staffed by reasonable officers allowing people to cross the street. So, we just waited for a few minutes at the gate.

Waiting to cross the street during Bacchus Parade Waiting to cross the street during Bacchus Parade

Then, when there was a break of a few minutes in between the next float, the police officers opened the gate and allowed people to cross.

We still have no idea what the problem was at that first crossing point. We had seen people crossing there previously, and if the police officer didn’t want to open the gate, we don’t understand why he didn’t just say, “I can’t open the gates right now, but there’s a gate about 4 blocks away that they’re opening during breaks in between the floats.” I certainly don’t envy New Orleans police officers during Mardi Gras, and I’m sure it’s terribly stressful, but all our other encounters (including at the place we finally crossed) were just so pleasant. That “GO ENJOY THE PARADE” command just really irked us. Not a good way for law enforcement to represent their city.

We had a short walk back to our hotel. We decided that we weren’t even terribly hungry, so we just skipped dinner, cranked up the heat in the hotel room, and cozied up for the rest of the night.


A few hours in Vancouver, B.C. (Alaska 2015 Trip Report)


Arriving in Vancouver in the wee hours of the morning and then having a train to catch to Seattle at about 6PM, we certainly didn’t have much time do see even a sliver of the sites that Vancouver has to offer. But, since our transportation option to the Pacific Northwest took us to Vancouver, we decided to make the most of the short time we did have in Vancouver. We spent all that time at Stanley Park. And holy smokes, we probably could’ve spent another full day or two JUST seeing that park.

Well, first, we started off with breakfast at Le Petit Belge, just a block from the hotel. They offered some amazing Belgian Waffles, both sweet and savory! (I got savory, and Ken got sweet!)

Exterior of Le Petit Belge Sign for Le Petit Belge Savory waffle with prosciutto, asparagus, and egg salad Large waffle with maple syrup

It was fantastic, and we definitely recommend it!

Since we were so short on time, we took a taxi to Stanley Park. From some of the first sites in the park, we were enthralled. Take a look at that skyline!

Skyline view of Vancouver from Stanley Park Sailboats and Skylines at Stanley Park in Vancouver

As we walked along the path in the park, we came across the First nations art and totem poles exhibit.

Totem poles in Stanley Park in Vancouver

According to the City of Vancouver’s website, “Three beautifully carved, red cedar portals welcome visitors to the Brockton Point Visitor Centre and to the traditional lands of the Coast Salish people. Their form represents the traditional slant-roof style of Coast Salish architecture. The gateways show the history and thriving modern culture of Coast Salish people.” They were installed in 2008.

Brockton point totem poles Totem poles in Vancouver

As we walked around, we saw a seaplane taking off! We were watching it closely because we would be going on a seaplane in just a few days time on a cruise excursion in Ketchikan, Alaska!

Seaplane taking off near Stanley Park in Vancouver

The paths were well marked with lanes for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Paved paths in Stanley Park Bike and pedestrian lanes in Stanley park

And again, the views of Vancouver! Stunning!

View of Vancouver skyline from Stanley park

As we continued our walk around the paths in Stanley Park, we came across the Brockton Point Lighthouse.

Brockton Point Lighthouse in Stanley Park Lighthouse in Stanley Park | Brockton Point

Just past the lighthouse, we saw a lovely sculpture, which we later learned was called “Girl in a Wetsuit.”

Girl in a Wetsuit Sculpture in Stanley Park | Vancouver Statues Sculpture that looks like Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid Statue | Girl in a Wetsuit

And right near the statue was a replica of the S.S. Empress.

Replica of SS Empress in Vancouver’s Stanley Park Description of the SS Empress Replica of SS Empress in Vancouver’s Stanley Park

And a few more fun finds in Stanley Park:

You are here sign in Stanley Park

A sign that I thought was most stereotypically polite Canadian: “Water not suitable for swimming.”

Funny signs in Vancouver | Water not suitable for swimming

And of course, those views!

Water views from Stanley Park

We reached a shadier area with lots of trees, and we even spotted a splash park for kids.

Stanley park trees Splash pad in Stanley Park

It was at this point we had burned off all our Le Petit Belge breakfast calories, and we were getting crazy hungry! And we had no idea where to pick up a taxi. (At the time, Uber was not operational in Vancouver. Not sure if that’s still the case.)

But, we actually located a bus stop and waited there for a bus. Only one problem. When the bus arrived, we realized we had ZERO Canadian money. Since we had verified that taxis took credit cards, we just assumed that we wouldn’t need any cash during our VERY short time in Canada! The bus driver still let us board, and we were apologizing profusely. We were mortified.

We were going to take the bus all the way back to the hotel, but we were driving past a strip downtown that looked like it had a good concentration of restaurants. So we got off the bus, and headed to a pizza place. Except the pizza place was open air and didn’t have A/C. And we were pretty sweltering at that point (it was pretty hot weather for Vancouver. Seattle was the same way, pretty unusual). So, we opted for a pub-like place right across the street called Malone’s.

Malone’s Restaurant in Vancouver

We started out with some poutine (of course, right?)

Poutine

And we both had burgers, albeit with different toppings!

Burgers from Malone’s Burgers from Malone’s

We finished up our late lunch, rested our legs for a little while longer at the restaurant, and then decided to walk back to our hotel, which was about 15 minutes away. We needed to get our things packed up and to get ready for our train ride. Since the train was going to Seattle, we’d have to transit customs at the train station, so we wanted to allow ourselves plenty of time for that.

We definitely need to get back to Vancouver for a more thorough trip! I think I envision a Pacific Northwest road trip sometime in the future!


Florida and Space Shuttle Launch 2010 (Blast from the Past Post)

This is a Blast from the Past post. These posts chronicle our travels and other life events before we started blogging!  These posts are usually heavy on the photos, but lighter on the narrative text.


 

I wanted to revive my “Blast from the Past” posts. Thanks to a recent trip to Florida (and another one forthcoming for our trip to Disney!), I started to think back to previous trips to Florida and thought I’d cover those trips!

Back in 2010, Ken and I knew that the NASA shuttle program was coming to a close, and we decided to get tickets to see one of the last shuttle launches. In May 2010 we watched the last launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis.*

It was truly one of the most tremendous experiences of my life. I don’t throw around that phrase lightly.  I know one of the other experiences in my life that has that designation was my trip to the Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Fiesta.

I had seen a few shuttle launches as a kid, but mostly from nearby Cocoa Beach and never actually at Kennedy Space Center property. Being closer was just incredible.

As the countdown went to zero and we could see the shuttle lift off the launch pad, there was this incredible ROAR that followed.  It was several seconds after the shuttle was in the air, and the vibration from the rocket engines was so amazing.  Powerful. Humbling. That there are things just SO powerful that can be made by humankind.  HUMANS CAN LAUNCH THINGS INTO OUTER SPACE.

Anyway, on to photos.

Shuttle launch tickets

When we got to Kennedy Space Center, there were MANY MANY lines to stand in.  One line after another to get us on the right buses that would transport us to the causeway where we’d watch the shuttle launch.

Lines at Kennedy Space Center

We were tremendously unprepared for this trip!  We thought we’d have some time at the Kennedy Space Center before heading to the site to watch the launch. But nope, we were bussed out to the launch site a good six hours before the launch was actually scheduled. Which left us in May Florida heat, with no sunscreen, no water (that we brought anyway, we could purchase it on the causeway), and only one lowly towel to sit on (on the grass).

Laying on the grass waiting for the shuttle launch

The people next to us were much more prepared with folding chairs.

Folding chair

The Florida sun was BEATING down on us.

Florida sun

We walked around for a little while. We saw the big countdown clock.

Shuttle countdown clock

There was also a makeshift post office. If you mailed something there, you’d have a commemorative cancelled stamp.

Post office at shuttle launch Post office at shuttle launch

As the clock counted down, the crowd became electric!

Crowds waiting for shuttle launch Crowds waiting for shuttle launch

Then the clock approached zero, steam started to spew from the base of the rockets.

Shuttle beginning to launch Shuttle beginning to launch

For a moment the shuttle and entire launchpad disappeared behind the plumes of smoke/steam.

Shuttle beginning to launch

And we had liftoff!

Space Shuttle Liftoff from Kennedy Space Center

The shuttle moved with such speed that my camera had a hard time focusing on it!

Space Shuttle Liftoff of Atlantis in 2010 Space Shuttle Liftoff from Kennedy Space Center Space Shuttle Liftoff from Kennedy Space Center Space Shuttle Liftoff from Kennedy Space Center

And within a matter of 90 seconds or so, the shuttle was completely gone from sight and all that was left was a giant plume of smoke.

Space Shuttle Liftoff from Kennedy Space Center

Kennedy Space Center

The next day, we actually went BACK to Kennedy Space Center to visit.

Ken and I at Kennedy Space Center Kennedy Space Center Kennedy Space Center

There was an incredibly somber area, a wall of remembrance for astronauts who lost their lives in the line of duty.

wall of remembrance at Kennedy Space Center wall of remembrance at Kennedy Space Center wall of remembrance at Kennedy Space Center wall of remembrance at Kennedy Space Center

We boarded the bus tour that departs the main area of the Kennedy Space Center every 15 minutes or so.  That took us up close to a lot of the launchpads and buildings!

Kennedy Space Center Kennedy Space Center Kennedy Space Center Kennedy Space Center Kennedy Space Center

We had just seen a shuttle launch from one of those launchpads the day before!

And then we walked around a really cool area of the Space Center, which included a Saturn V rocket (which is HUGE!), and the original mission control stations for the Apollo missions!

Kennedy Space Center Kennedy Space Center Kennedy Space Center Kennedy Space Center Kennedy Space Center Kennedy Space Center

Cocoa Beach

After KSC, we made a brief stop at Cocoa Beach (Ken watched reruns of I Dream of Jeannie when he was a kid! And since that show took place at Cocoa Beach, he wanted to make a stop there!)

Cocoa Beach Cocoa Beach

Gatorland

One of our last touristy stops during our trip to Florida in 2010 was one of my favorite “off the beaten path” spots in Orlando.  Gatorland!

Gatorland in Orlando Gatorland in Orlando Gatorland in Orlando Gatorland in Orlando Gatorland in Orlando Gatorland in Orlando

That was it for our 2010 trip to Orlando! The shuttle launch was a truly amazing experience. Although the shuttle program has since retired, I’m hoping to go to another type of launch at some point in the future!

 

Mardi Gras 2016 in New Orleans – Day 1


 

After we arrived in New Orleans around 12:30 in the afternoon and checked in at The Roosevelt, our room wasn’t ready yet so we headed to the French Quarter for lunch (more on where we ate in a future post!). While we were eating, we got a text from the hotel front desk that a room was ready for us. We finished our lunch, and as we headed back to our hotel, we tripped upon our first Mardi Gras parade!

Krewe of Iris | Mardi Gras Parades Watching the Krewe of Iris

This parade was the Krewe of Iris. (A Krewe is the group putting on the parade. It’s an organization, similar to a social club. Members pay to become members of the Krewe).

Parade watchers (us included) go CRAZY for the “throws” from floats, which include beads, cups, stuffed animals, and all sorts of other fun things (many are unique to each krewe).

Krewe of Iris | Mardi Gras 2016 Krewe of Iris | Mardi Gras 2016 Krewe of Iris | Mardi Gras 2016

And people always look so pleased when they catch something!

Catching throws at Krewe of Iris during Mardi Gras

The Krewe of Iris is female only, so there were lots of girly touches, like this giant lipstick on a float:

Krewe of Iris | Mardi Gras 2016 Krewe of Iris | Mardi Gras 2016

We got back to the hotel (as I mentioned, the hotel was RIGHT next to where most of the parades turn around on Canal Street,) we got our hotel room key and our luggage out of storage, and went up to our hotel room to unpack and get settled.

We had tickets for “grandstand seats” later that night for the Krewe of Endymion. (I mentioned in a previous post why we decided to get grandstand tickets for some of the parades).

But first, we discovered another parade on Canal Street just a half block from our hotel. This time, it was the Krewe of Tucks! (The tail end of the parade).

Krewe of Tucks | Mardi Gras 2016 Krewe of Tucks | Mardi Gras 2016 Krewe of Tucks | Mardi Gras 2016 Krewe of Tucks | Mardi Gras 2016

When I first started researching travel tips for going to Mardi Gras, I was dumbfounded by some of the jargon. One of the words I kept seeing was “neutral ground.” Usually that term was seen near the term “sidewalk side.”

Okay, native New Orleanians, please chime in here, but best I can tell is that the folks you see standing at the metal barrier gates are standing in the “neutral ground.”

Neutral ground during Mardi Gras Neutral ground during Mardi Gras Neutral ground during Mardi Gras

The neutral ground is the large median strip where the New Orleans streetcars would normally be running.

As far as I can tell, if you are in the neutral ground, you are basically stuck there the entire duration of the parade. Perhaps there might be breaks in the parades where the police might open the barriers for a short duration, but not that we saw. Since it’s basically a median strip, there are no restaurants or bathrooms. But, we did see lots of porta-potties set up in the neutral ground.

We were standing on the “street side.” I’m not sure if it was because it was close to the end of the parade, but we didn’t have any trouble getting close or seeing the floats well.

The parade ended and the gates opened and people started to walk down the streets while traffic was still closed off.

After Krewe of Tucks | Mardi Gras 2016 After Krewe of Tucks | Mardi Gras 2016

Shortly thereafter, we made our way to the grandstand area for the Krewe of Endymion. However, we couldn’t get into the grandstands yet, even though the entrance time was indicated on our tickets. Apparently the previous parade was running REALLY late, and so the folks with grandstand tickets to THAT parade were still sitting there.

We found out that this is a recurring theme of all the Mardi Gras parades. They run late and long! I mean crazy long! I’ll talk more about that in a future “Mardi Gras tips” post! It’s all good, given that it’s such a fun atmosphere. Just something to consider if you’re trying to run a tight schedule during your trip (which, for the most part, we were not).

We were finally able to get into the grandstands a little bit later.

Mardi Gras Grandstands Ken and Melissa at Mardi Gras

Since the parade wasn’t at our location yet, we were able to get in some great people watching!

Crowds at Mardi Gras Parade Crowds at Mardi Gras Parade

Lots of families would bring these ladders for their kids at the parades, so they’d have a good vantage point. They were basically a ladder with a little bench seat on top.

Mardi Gras ladders for kids

And finally, the Krewe of Endymion started! I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking here!

 

Krewe of Endymion | Mardi Gras 2016 Krewe of Endymion | Mardi Gras 2016 Krewe of Endymion | Mardi Gras 2016 Krewe of Endymion | Mardi Gras 2016

The parade followed a fairly predictable lineup, alternating floats and marching bands.

Krewe of Endymion | Mardi Gras 2016 Krewe of Endymion | Mardi Gras 2016 Krewe of Endymion | Mardi Gras 2016 Krewe of Endymion | Mardi Gras 2016 Krewe of Endymion | Mardi Gras 2016 Krewe of Endymion | Mardi Gras 2016

Like I mentioned earlier, people went WILD for the throws from the floats!

Catching throws at the Krewe of Endymion Catching throws at the Krewe of Endymion

Before buying grandstand tickets, I had read a lot of criticisms of them, including that it would probably be more difficult to catch the throws from the floats. I definitely found that to be UNTRUE. We went to three different parades in three different grandstands and we definitely felt “up close” enough to the parades to catch the throws!

Krewe of Endymion | Mardi Gras 2016 Krewe of Endymion | Mardi Gras 2016 Krewe of Endymion | Mardi Gras 2016 Krewe of Endymion | Mardi Gras 2016 Krewe of Endymion | Mardi Gras 2016 Krewe of Endymion | Mardi Gras 2016 Krewe of Endymion | Mardi Gras 2016 Krewe of Endymion | Mardi Gras 2016

We weren’t sure what these were at first, but we later found out that these folks, who would be carrying flames every few floats, are called “Flambeaux.” The flames were traditionally how the floats were illuminated at night. Although the floats have their own lights now, Flambeaux remain a tradition. It appears that a lot of regulars were “tipping” the Flambeaux with dollar bills, but I’m not sure about that part of the tradition.

Flambeaux at Mardi Gras Krewe of Endymion | Mardi Gras 2016 Krewe of Endymion | Mardi Gras 2016

After several hours at the parade, it still wasn’t over, and we were getting hungry. So, we left the grandstands, went back to our hotel to change around and warm up (it was COLD during the parade!), and then we headed out to dinner. We snapped this selfie in the elevator in our hotel after the parade:

Post Mardi Gras Parade Selfie

We had dinner in the French Quarter, and then started to head back to the hotel. As we crossed Canal Street on our way back from dinner, I captured my favorite photo of Mardi Gras (and maybe one of my favorite photos ever!) The AFTERMATH of a day filled with parades:

Post Mardi Gras parades mess After the Mardi Gras parade ends Canal street after a Mardi Gras parade

The photos just make me chuckle every time. It’s like some post apocalyptic scene! Especially in that one photo where the girls are kinda huddled together. For what it’s worth, the streets were GLEAMING clean by the next morning (and every morning we were there). It was amazing.

That was it for our first day in New Orleans! Man, it was a packed day considering we didn’t even land in New Orleans until noon!

Have you been to Mardi Gras? What were your favorite aspects?

Westin Grand Vancouver (Hotel Review)


By the time our flight landed in Vancouver, we transited Canadian immigration and customs, and stood in a long taxi line, it was about 3AM when we got to our hotel, the Westin Grand Vancouver. We were only staying for one night, but they had graciously already pre-approved a (very) late checkout for us of 4PM the next day.

I had long lamented what hotel to stay at in Vancouver. Which was silly because we were going to be there for such a short time. Did we want to stay close to the airport? Close to Stanley Park? (since that was going to be our primary place to visit during our short stay?)

I had been ogling the Fairmont Pacific Rim, but alas, couldn’t justify the price. Although the Westin Grand Vancouver was not terribly close to Stanley Park (we took a taxi there), it was centrally located in Downtown Vancouver and was very reasonably priced.

I booked a Deluxe Corner Suite, with view.

Upon entry to the room, there was a bathroom door straight ahead, and a living room to the left.

Deluxe Corner Suite at Westin Grand Vancouver

The living room was nice, but oddly shaped and not as spacious as I expected.

Living room in Deluxe Corner Suite at Westin Grand Vancouver Living room in Deluxe Corner Suite at Westin Grand Vancouver Living room in Deluxe Corner Suite at Westin Grand Vancouver Living room in Deluxe Corner Suite at Westin Grand Vancouver

There was a small nook in the hallway with a closet, coffee supplies, and a small fridge.

Coffee Nook | Westin Grand Vancouver review

The bathroom was spacious and had a separate tub and shower.

Bathroom at Westin Grand Vancouver | Hotel Review Bathroom at Westin Grand Vancouver | Hotel Review Bathroom at Westin Grand Vancouver | Hotel Review

There was also plenty of counter space, which is greatly appreciated.

Bathroom at Westin Grand Vancouver | Hotel Review

The bedroom was a decent size, and had wraparound windows.

Bedroom Deluxe Suite Westin Grand Vancouver

The windows were gorgeous and allowed for great views of the city, but it was summer, just shy of the solstice, so the days were LONG and the sun was up early. And the room darkening curtains had some unfortunate gaps, especially in the corners. Not usually a problem when we travel, but when you’re not getting to bed until after 3AM.

edroom Deluxe Suite Westin Grand Vancouver edroom Deluxe Suite Westin Grand Vancouver

There was a door to a small balcony next to the desk in the living room.

Door to balcony in Deluxe Suite

There were some fantastic views of the Vancouver skyline from the balcony. And if you peak far in the distance, you can even see the coast! (er, the bay?)

Views of Vancouver at Westin Grand from hotel room balcony Views of Vancouver at Westin Grand from hotel room balcony Views of Vancouver at Westin Grand from hotel room balcony

One minor complaint about our stay is that the elevators in this hotel were HORRENDOUSLY SLOW. There were only two, and the hotel had at least 30 floors, if I recall correctly.

But, the hotel location was great, and I was so appreciative of the late checkout that they allowed. Since our train to Seattle wasn’t leaving until 5PM, I didn’t want to have to pack up and put our luggage in storage before heading out sightseeing for the day. I’m never a huge fan of having to put my luggage in storage after checkout and before moving on to our next destination. So, the late checkout gets a big thumbs up from me!

Have you visited Vancouver recently? Where did you stay?