Start of my journey

Whistler Travel Blog

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Lost Lake before the snow arrived

Ok, so I’m actually going to try and make full use of his brilliant site and write a travel blog, instead of just looking at pictures and trying to improve my ‘percentage of the world seen’ score. I am about to start a trip around the US, in which I plan to see all the major cities along the east and west coast, as well as hopefully a national park (Yellowstone and Yosemite being fist and second choice respectively).

Yesterday I purchased my Greyhound Discovery Pass which gives me unlimited travel around the US and Canada (excluding Quebec), for 60 days, at what I think was a very reasonably priced $500 + tax. Actually, I paid less than $470 altogether, because my Hostelling International card entitled me to a healthy discount. All in all I have budget about $4000 for the entire journey, which will in fact be 50 days long.

A stone Inukshuck at the Whistler mountain peak - a native symbol used for the Olympic branding

As today will be spent simply travelling to Seattle and probably doing little more than grabbing dinner and having a walk around downtown with my sister, who just happens to be visiting the city at the same time, I will spend a little time telling you where I have spent my past six months.

After finishing university in 2007 I decided to spend a winter in Canada and choose to spend a ski season in Banff, Alberta. Banff truly has to be one of the most beautiful places in the world and I would urge everyone to see it if they have the chance. Going there was one of the best things I have ever done, but I have to admit that after a wild first couple of months, the small natue of the town ground me down a little and towards the end of my stay I was simply working to save-back-up the money I had spent and using my days-off to ski and sleep.

unbelievable day up the mountain, when the cloud formed a complete layer just belo the peak
Despite this, tales of Whistler’s more upbeat vibe and the lure of the Olympics meant I couldn’t resist another ski season, so after another year at university I packed my bags again in November 2009.

Whistler is equally as beautiful as Banff despite being much more commercial and very intentionally designed for tourists. In fact, Whistler reminds me of Centre Parks (an adventure holiday firm in the UK and parts of Europe), but an AMAZING one set within beautiful mountains. By this, I mean it is designed in such a way that everything you need can be found within a 5 mile radius and as a result, it has a real closed-community feel. Locals often refer to it as a bubble and they are exactly right - which made leaving very difficult. If I hadn’t had these plans to travel America and SE Asia later his summer, I know I would still be there now and I will be doing everything I can to get back out there next winter and reunite with some of the amazing friends I made there.

unbelievable day up the mountain, when the cloud formed a complete layer just belo the peak

As I spent a bit of time there, I feel I should give a bit of advice about places to stay. Basically there are 5 hostels, sadly none of which are in the village itself.

The Southside Lodge - This is the first hostel I stayed at and was in the area known as ‘Creekside,’ about a 10min bus ride from the village Although the rooms were decent and Creekside has the advantage of having a ski lift, this hostel lacks a bit of character as it has only a very small kitchen and no other common. And because the kitche is so small you are waned not to hang around in there unless you are cooking. Maybe if you are already in a group and being first up the lifts this is a good option for you, but otherwise I would avoid it.

Fireplace Lodge - This is in the ‘Nordic’ estate and is a very nice place to stay, however it is not a typical hostel.

beautiful day up the mountain
Essentially it is a country club and the members rent out a few dorm ooms to help with their running costs. The kitchen and lounge are spectacular and there is a half-decent games room, but to be honest I always felt as I was intruding on family and couples getaways. Nordic is between Creek side and the village (though much closer to Creekside) and is still a 10min bus ride away, but you can walk to the slopes (although mayb not in your ski boots!).

UBC Lodge - Also known as the AMS Lodge, this is by far my favourite of the three I stayed at. Again in Nordic, this is owned by the University of British Columbia and therefore doesn’t feature on many of the big sites like Hostelworld.

the luge medals at Whistler Sliding Centre
Because it is affiliated with the Uni, it has a great atmosphere, particularly at weekends when it quickly fills with UBC students, who get a discount. I stayed here for 5 weeks and honestly, I would have stayed the whole winter if I could have afforded it. There are a few odd quirks (like no shoes anywhere in the building and only curtains to divide the rooms) but the pool table, TV room and hot tub, more than make up for this. There are lockers in the rooms as well so security was neve an issue while I was there, despite the open-plan design. Best of all the staff are amazing, in particular Hailey, who helped me so much throughout my stay that I stated to feel guilty about the attention she was giving me.

Arts - First of I have to stress I DID NOT STAY HERE so what I am telling you is only what I have heard from other travellers.

the village centre during Olympic festivties
Arts (again in Nordic) is essentially a squat house, where the owner charges you $40 (in peak times this is standard for Whistler) and tells you to go find a bed. It is very relaxed and you should expect open drug use and no rules in terms of etiquette. Having said that, I met plenty of people who loved this idea and even a few who raved about their stay there, so its your gamble.

HI - As a big fan of the reliability of HI hostels, I was going to book myself in here when I first arrived, but I dodged a bullet by avoiding it. Although I understand it is in a beautiful location, it is also in a far-out location above the Alta Lake. It is about a 30min walk in to town (and bare in mind the weather could be terrible) and through large parts of the year there are only 4 buses a day running between it and the hostel.

the main road leading into the village
Again, I DID NOT STAY HERE, but unless you are after real tranquillity and are looking to simply hike the mountains in that area, I would avoid it.

If anyone has any other questions about Whistler I’m happy to answer them to the best of my knowledge.

steve300 says:
f..kin' awesome!
Posted on: Jul 12, 2011
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Lost Lake before the snow arrived
Lost Lake before the snow arrived
A stone Inukshuck at the Whistler …
A stone Inukshuck at the Whistler…
unbelievable day up the mountain, …
unbelievable day up the mountain,…
unbelievable day up the mountain, …
unbelievable day up the mountain,…
beautiful day up the mountain
beautiful day up the mountain
the luge medals at Whistler Slidin…
the luge medals at Whistler Slidi…
the village centre during Olympic …
the village centre during Olympic…
the main road leading into the vil…
the main road leading into the vi…
whistler village centre
whistler village centre
photo by: alitoronto