“Deal of the Day” sites for Vancouver

You know you’re hot when Google wants you. Such was the case with Groupon recently, although they rejected Google’s 6 billion dollar bid. :o  Groupon and the “social buying” phenomenon that it is is so popular that it’s set to become the fastest business to earn a billion dollars in sales in a year, ever.

Seeing the potential of social buying, a lot of  other “deal of the day” sites have sprung up lately and it’s all the better for us consumers. :)  I’m kinda new to this myself; it seems to me that 50% – 70% off whatever product or service a company has to offer is the norm, although these “deal of the day” sites claim we should see offers upwards of 90% or more once in a while. I have yet to see those jaw-dropping offers myself, but I’m not gonna complain at getting something at “just” 50% off either, you know? :) I would think these sites might hurt a long time favorite of mine, the “Entertainment” coupon booklet, unless they switch to this type of “deal of the day” site as well.

So far, I can vouch for these sites:

http://www.groupon.com/
http://livingsocial.com/
http://dealoftheday.redflagdeals.com/deal/vancouver/

And I just found out about this one:

http://www.facebook.com/socialshopper

I was a bit suspicious when their email showed up in red warning color in my email inbox, but after looking at their Facebook page, I guess they must be legit, with almost 7,500 people who like them? I have bought a deal from them; I’ll let you know if I still have all my money soon enough. :)

Let’s hope that these sites will become so popular that they’ll have a huge backlog of partners waiting for their turn and “deal of the day” just won’t cut it anymore. Instead, a “bundle of the day” will be in order, giving us consumers us a plethora of deals to consider every day. :D

Let me know if you have some more sites to recommend.  In this beautiful but expensive city, we need all the deals we can get! :p

UPDATE: Everything is fine with Social Shopper… I was able to redeem my voucher without any issues at the restaurant. As much as I’d been a fan of the Entertainment booklet for a long time, I must say that this is even better (all those deal sites, not just Social Shopper) since those vouchers act like gift cards and you can use them to buy whatever you want. At the restaurant, this means you’re not limited to just entrees; you can use the voucher to buy appies, desserts or even alcohol if you want (unless the fine print says otherwise). Sorry Entertainment… It was good while it lasted. lol

I found yet another deal site:

http://www.stealthedeal.com/vancouver

UPDATE #2: Yet a couple more sites to add:

http://www.dealfind.com/vancouver/ (seems to be legit, after checking out this blog)
http://www.teambuy.ca/vancouver/ (they appeared on the “Dragons Den” on CBC, so…)

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FREE OLYMPICS ENTERTAINMENT

(Another edit… I think this is the simplest way to go about telling/showing you where the free stuff is)

Summary:

LiveCity Vancouver/Yaletown
Richmond O Zone
Ziplining Downtown
Place de la francophonie
Vancouver Art Gallery

And this page with its great collection of free venues. The above links can be found on the map right here:

LogoFree
Free activities at the Olympics? Now here’s something to smile about. :D

You don’t have to break the bank to enjoy the Olympics. Have fun while they last; in just a few weeks it will be all over! ;)

GRANVILLE ISLAND

Taiko Drummers
Taiko drummers

Granville Island is a great place to “chill”…  [More on this great attraction at a later time…].

 

Shoot me! Shoot me!
The playground area offers lots of fun for kids

Mini-Venice
I call this area of Granville Island “Mini-Venice”… Cool — but surely expensive — place!

Directions:

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CANADA DAY 2008

Better late than never…  Enjoy some pics from Canada Day earlier this year.

HMCS Winnipeg
HMCS Winnipeg, in the distance

Fire Juggler
Some fun entertainment early in the day

Maple Syrup Taffy Lineup
I was actually up a few stairs in this long lineup.  Nice to see people enjoying Quebec’s traditional “tire sur la neige” (or maple syrup taffy in English) so much.

En Français
A French singer at the Quebec 400 stage, in celebration of Quebec City’s 400th anniversary

New Wave
The band “New Wave”, singing covers from the 70s to the 90s

Marion Torres
12 year old Marion Torres.  She had won a singing competition at Canada Place in 2006.  Great voice and great future for her I believe.

54-40 #2
The great Canadian band 54-40 sang all their hits for us — for free! :)

54-40 #3
On the last song, the singer invited people over to the stage to dance…

54-40 #4 - Invading the Stage
It didn’t take long for the crowd to answer the call…

54-40 #5 - Can You Spot the Singer?
This has GOT to be the best finish to a rock concert ever.  The band was totally submerged by the fans!

A WEEKEND IN VANCOUVER – DAY 2

***** This article takes much longer to write down than I expected (I like to blog about my city, but I’m pretty busy, and a perfectionist too)… I’m putting out this “BETA” version in the meantime, for someone. ;) Forgive the “bugs” and I hope the pictures are enough to get you excited about visiting Vancouver anyway! *****

I have created separate posts for each attraction as I feel they should be able to stand on their own also. This article will nevertheless remain, as some people may of course need ideas for a fun weekend in Vancouver.


9:16AM – SEABUS RIDE TO NORTH VANCOUVER

[Check the SeaBus schedule to make sure that the times have not changed since the writing of this article]

Wherever you are, head for the Waterfront SkyTrain station 10 minutes prior to the SeaBus’ scheduled departure. The SeaBus runs every 30 minutes around that time and you don’t want to miss it… You’ll need to purchase your fare first and you can do so from one of the automated teller machines located in every SkyTrain station. Buying an all-day pass is recommended as we’ll use the bus at some other point during the day and the fact that you don’t have to worry about transit fare for the rest of the day is nice too.

OK, back to business… Our first stop is an appetizer of sorts: the 12 minute SeaBus ride across Burrard Inlet is a fun and inexpensive way to get great views of Canada Place and Stanley Park on the way to “North Van” (as people call it here). And once you exit the SeaBus terminal, you can enjoy postcard-like views of the city and its skyline from a variety of vantage points:

Vancouver Cityscape
After exiting the SeaBus terminal, turn right and this is the view that you’re going to get

Q Sunset Silouhettes
Same location, different time, different viewpoint

Vancouver, from Burrard Pier
About a 5 minute walk from the terminal — still to the right (East) — is this interesting viewpoint: Burrard Pier.

I haven’t explored North Van that much myself, but there doesn’t seem to be many options in the immediate surroundings, from a tourist’s point of view, except enjoying the view. Once you see the SeaBus closing in on the North Van side again, this will be your cue to get ready to head back to the terminal for your return trip downtown.

10:15AM – GASTOWN

Gastown
Gastown is a tourist hot spot

Our short SeaBus round-trip over, exit the terminal by following the “Buses” signs. These will lead you to Waterfront Station’s main entrance — on Cordova St. — where we’ll officially start today’s tour. Our first stop will be the cradle of Vancouver — Gastown. For a brief history of Gastown, click here. As we head to our left immediately after exiting Waterfront Station, Gastown quickly comes into view.

Gastown is where Vancouver all started, back in 1867 (for more details on Gastown’s history, click here). Its core area is pretty much all contained within four blocks of Water St., between Richards St. and Carrall St. Trendy boutiques and galleries, restaurants, and souvenir shops line up the cobblestoned pavement of this historic landmark. Gastown is also the setting for a few noteworthy events such as the Jazz Festival (free shows) and the “Tour de Gastown” bike race.

Festival Banner in Gastown
Gastown is the setting for some free shows during Vancouver’s International Jazz Festival

Gastown’s pièce de résistance is undoubtedly the Steam Clock. This may very well be the most photographed item in all of Vancouver. Every 15 minutes it belches out steam from its musical pipes, delighting the hords of tourists that surround it.

Leaving the commotion behind, we head one block further East, to Carrall Street, to spend a moment watching Gassy Jack’s statue overlooking the oddly shaped Europe Hotel, which is now an affordable housing complex.

Gastown B & W

Our short visit of Gastown over, we stay on Carrall Street, going South three blocks, just past Pender St., to your left, for the next stop in our tour: Dr. Sun Yat-Sen’s Classical Chinese Garden.

11:00AM – DR. SUN YAT-SEN’S CLASSICAL CHINESE GARDEN

Water Lilly

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen’s Classical Chinese Garden is a small, but beautiful and authentic garden that is incredibly rich in tradition and history.

Make sure you take the guided tour. Knowing all the intricate details that went behind the building of this garden will make you appreciate it so much more, and makes the admission fee (10$ for adults) worth it.

BUT… Be warned that not all guided tours are created equal. I’ve been to the classical garden twice, and as much as my first experience was fantastic, the following one was utterly atrocious (both times the guide was a volunteer). While my first experience was 90 minutes of sheer fun and interesting facts and stories about the making of the garden, my second time around was nothing but stumbling embarassment (maybe it was her first presentation ever?). So much so, that I convinced my parents — who were visiting me at that time — to bail out and wait for the next one. The following tour was definitely better, but although our guide (a trained staff member this time) was dynamic, it was obvious he kept only to the script and added nothing more to the tour. I was stunned to learn this second time around that the tours are apparently supposed to last 45 minutes only.

Intricate Carvings
Intricate carvings

See-Through Drawing
Double-sided see-through Silk drawings

I’m not sure if my amazing first guide still volunteers there, but I can tell you I stumbled upon her on a Sunday morning (11AM presentation) last Spring. The guide can definitely make or break ANY attraction…

P.S.: You can visit the free Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Park right next door also. It’s actually bigger than the classical garden, but less refined — still a nice walk in the park:

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden

12:00PM – LUNCH AT “WILD GINGER” (TINSELTOWN)

Continue South for half a block and turn right on Keefer Pl. until you reach the Tinseltown building. There is a food court there and also a few more elaborate restaurants. Among those, I like Wild Ginger. It’s good, very affordable Chinese cuisine.

Once you’re done eating, walk South on Abbott St. until you reach Expo Blvd. and wait for the Westbound C21 Beach “community” bus — an odd mini school-bus type of bus — at bus stop #60777. About 3 minutes later, drop off at the corner of Pacific Blvd. and Cambie St. (bus stop #59914) and walk a few blocks toward the Yaletown Marina. Here is the map for your convenience.

On the map:

* A = Tinseltown
* B = C21 Beach stop # 60777
* C = C21 Beach stop # 59914
* D = Yaletown Marina

You can always walk too…  It’s 15-20 minutes walking distance from Tinseltown to the Yaletown Marina.

13:30PM – AQUABUS RIDE TO GRANVILLE ISLAND

Yaletown Marina
No, this is not the AquaBus, unfortunately… It’s just nestled beside the AquaBus’ waiting area at the Yaletown Marina.

The AquaBus runs a mini-cruise which, at 6$ per adult and 4$ per children/senior, is an inexpensive way to enjoy the wonderful sights surrounding False Creek. Note that the official web site mentions that this mini-cruise starts at Granville Island — our destination — every 15 minutes. I didn’t know about that when I did mine and I didn’t feel like I’d been “robbed” of a few bucks for the shorter cruise at all. The Yaletown marina is, in my opinion, the most interesting AquaBus “station” and I saw the same things that the longer cruise would have offered me anyway: Science World, BC Place and the Edgewater Casino, Yaletown (the condos and the marina), Granville Island, the mountains in the distance, etc.

Science World

Science World

Downtown/Yaletown Condos
Modern, expensive condos line up the seawall on the North side of False Creek

In case you’re a little confused about how this modified mini-cruise works, let me tell you how mine went: at Yaletown marina’s waiting area for the AquaBus, I simply asked the first AquaBus skipper I saw if it was possible to stay for more than one stop in order to enjoy the sights from False Creek a little longer. He said yes, but that I would have to wait maybe 10 minutes for the one doing the longer tour. No problem. Two AquaBuses later, the “touring” one arrived and my cruise consisted of three stops: first, Science World, then I came back to the Yaletown marina, and we finally headed for Granville Island. About 15 minutes of nice sightseeing.

15:00PM – GRANVILLE ISLAND

Taiko Drummers
Taiko drummers

[More to come on this topic, soon, I hope]

Shoot me! Shoot me!
The playground area offers lots of fun for kids

Mini-Venice
I call this area of Granville Island “Mini-Venice”… Cool — but surely expensive — place!

18:00PM – ENJOYING DINNER OVER SUNSET AT ENGLISH BAY

Solar Clock at Sunset

Sunsets at English Bay are spectacular!!! The best way to experience the sunset, in my opinion, is over a romantic dinner — or with the kids :p — in one of the few waterfront restaurants near the corner of Denman St. and Beach Av. If you’re on a budget, picnicking alongside the sandy beach works too. :) And if that doesn’t inspire you, Denman St. has tons of dining opportunities for you to choose from — take your pick. ;)

Silhouettes

Inukshuk at Sunset

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