One of my favourite things about Vancouver, is playing tourist in my own town. Exploring the city that I have called home (on and off) since 1997, helps me keep the travel bug at bay through the months when I am not abroad!
In order to try something different, last weekend I joined two fellow travel bloggers (Sushiyama Travels & Urban Xenophile) on a Context Travel Made in BC walk, a culinary tour of Granville Island, one of Vancouver’s biggest landmarks!
Considered to be one of the city’s most successful revitalization projects, this former industrial wasteland was converted into a thriving urban centre within Vancouver which is home to multiple theatres, art galleries, unique retail shops, and the 50,000 square foot market. The famous Emily Car University, Vancouver’s premier art institute, is also located in Granville island, although they will be relocating elsewhere in the coming years.
One of the coolest things about Granville Island is that all the retailers on site are independent or unique, as big chains and corporations are not allowed in. This means that a visit is truly special, a chance to explore new local businesses and support the local community and get fresh produce and artisanal products along the way.
Over 70% of all visitors to Granville Island are local Vancouverites, but the area is still one of the city’s major points of interest and rates within the top five attractions in the city!
I was very excited to join this walking tour with Context Travel – Private Guides and (Very) Small Group Tours for the Intellectually Curious Traveler – because I am a big fan of the ideology behind their tours. Context believes in exposing their guests to have a true connection with the cultures in the cities they run tours in, and for their guests to connect with each other and their private guide. To do this, they keep the tours really small (6 guests per tour maximum!) and they customize their tours to appeal to their guests, rather than following a check list of places that may or may not be of interest to everyone.
The docents who lead the tours are also important, as Context Travel tours are run by locals who are experts on their field. The docent for the Made in BC walking tour I joined was Heather Nichol, a Vancouver foodie who has worked in the artisanal food industry. Her knowledge about everything to do with British Columbia’s food products is impeccable, and made the tour not only interesting and entertaining, but also taught me things I didn’t know about my own city and my province!
During the Made in BC walking tour, we visited a number of retailers within the Granville Island Market, and had the opportunity to taste the British Columbia products at each stop, starting with a chai tea at The Granville Island Tea Company; moving on to try a variety of delicious cured meats at Oyama; a fresh fruit platter at the #1 Orchard; tastes of different breads at Terra Breads; oil & vinegar tasting at the Vancouver Olive Oil Co; a variety of cheeses at Benton Brothers; shrimp, Dungeness crab and salmon jerky at Seafood City; and a craft chocolate at chocolaTAS. We continued our culinary walk by leaving the market to visit Edible Vancouver and try a number of locally made manufactured products including drink cordial, crackers, chutneys, salts, and chocolate. We finished our tours on an unofficial stop with a sake tasting at the Artisan Sakemaker, a local sake distillery made with rice grown in Abbotsford, BC.
Context Travel runs a number of different torus within Vancouver, and judging from my experience in the Made in BC walk, I highly recommend you check them out! The Made in BC culinary experience cost is USD$66 per person, although you can book your own private tour if you have a friend or two who you’d like to go with. There is also a US$16 tasting fee which will get you enough food to be more than satisfied.
From my experience here in Vancouver, Context Travel is a great option for those looking to dig a little deeper when traveling. Wherever you are traveling to next, check their tours out, as you might find an experience that will take your trip to the next level!