I left my final Cowgirl Diaries ranch 11 days before my flight out of Canada, giving myself enough time to explore a little more of British Columbia and really travel. It was early December and I desperately needed to see snow so, after a short stop back in Vancouver to drop my luggage, I caught a bus to one of the most fmaous ski resorts in the world, Whistler.
The bus from Vancouver to Whistler takes only about two hours and costs around $35 Return (I used epic rides). There are multiple departures every day in the season so I arrived mid-afternoon.
I have never been skiing or snowboarding in my life and getting off the bus in whistler was like getting off the bus into another world. One where everyone was wearing funny boots they couldn’t really walk in and people kept bashing into me with very expensive looking skis while talking about powder. I got a few strange comments along the way from people who didn’t understand why I would come to Whistler and not ski, but I was just excited to experience somewhere new and completely different to anywhere I had been before.
Whistler is quite spread out in terms of accommodation, the only rooms available in the main village are very expensive and as I was travelling alone I wanted more of a social, hostel vibe. I have been told that the HI hostel is way out of the village and so instead I opted for Whistler Lodge Hostel (previously UBC Lodge) which is about a 10 minute/$2.25 bus journey from central Whistler. Whistler Lodge has a sauna AND a hot tub, as well as beautiful snowy views, it spoiled me in a way no other hostel has.
I was delighted to be walking around the village on my first night and discover another Warehouse restaurant (as seen in my Vancouver post) where all food is $5 all day and so this was an obvious choice for dinner.
I also spent a slightly excessive amount of time at the Dubh Linn Irish pub where I enjoyed reasonably priced Guinness, epic plates of chips (fries) and made many a new friend.
For breakfast I became one of those travellers and went to the McDonalds at the end of the high street. But what can I say? Large triple triple coffee and a blueberry muffin for $1.50? Sold.
While everyone else headed off up the slopes, I spent the first full day in Whistler just wandering around the village. There are a million different little souvenir shops (which I will admit are a weakness of mine) as well as countless ski wear shops, which are still interesting to look at even if you don’t ski. I also spent some time taking photos with the many remnants of Whistler’s crowning achievement to date, hosting the 2010 winter Olympic Games. The Whistler Medals Plaza is home to a sculpture of the Olympic Rings which is a favourite photo op for visitors, as well as the winter ice skating rink (not open until December 10th unfortunately and I left Whistler on December 5th…) There is also a sculpture of the Inukshuk (an ancient Inuit traditional cairn) that became the symbol for the Vancouver/Whistler olympics.
The last ‘download’ from the slopes is at around 3pm at this time of year, making that the prime time to grab a seat in the aforementioned Irish pub for a drink while the live music starts up around you.
Being the lover of snow that I am, I was desperate to get up on the mountain even without skis or a snowboard. Luckily for us non-skiers there is a special lift pass that enables us to enjoy the same views as the skiers but without the regular $100 a day lift pass. The ‘Sightseeing’ pass coats around $60 and gets you one trip up the mountain, one trip down the mountain and as many trips back and forth on the gondola as you want. I spent some time on both Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain and took the gondola journey three times back and forth with one journey in the special glass-floored gondola to fully take in the sights.
Throw in a few more drinks, some dancing, lots of playing in the snow and due to my awkward timing (next time I’ll go later in the season and go snowshoeing, ice skating, tubing and snow mobiling) that is pretty much my weekend in Whistler!