Canada – it’s true what they say about this place. At least from what I experienced for the few days I was there. Everyone in Canada is friendly! I took an evening flight from Los Angeles (LAX) to Vancouver (YVR) and the flight was fairly short. The plane landed 30 minutes earlier than expected.
As this is my first travel article covering a location outside of California, I’ll be covering the trip itself for anyone who’s interested in taking a similar trip. I’ll also cover gyms (dojos) to train at and the easiest way to get to them.
- Pack light and only bring what you think you will need (you can always head to a local convenience store if you need additional items).
- Be sure to check if all your items comply with TSA rules.
- A lot of places in Vancouver takes credit card so if you have Visa Debit/Credit Card that has no foreign transaction fees that is the best way to go.
- Plan to exchange some money for Canadian Dollars (CAD) as some places will only take cash (such as gym drop-in fees).
- Learn how to fold your gi to maximize the amount of space in your luggage/carry-on:
See How to Fold by SportMental: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYe49HMVVAE
Places to Visit as a Tourist
Vancouver is a beautiful city as you can experience nature, urban culture, and historical districts all at the same time. Places of interest if you plan on visiting Vancouver, Canada that I personally enjoyed include:
- Capilano Suspension Bridge
- Grouse Mountain
- Granville Island
- Downtown Vancouver (Granville Street)
- Shopping at Granville Street and Robson Street
- Stanley Park (Great during the day and amazing views of the city at night)
- Richmond Olympic Oval
- Gastown (Vancouver’s oldest neighborhood)
- Tip for “Mat Surfing” is to always call or contact the school ahead of time to see if you are even allowed to take a drop-in class or come by for an open mat session.
- On this trip I was able to visit Lions MMA (Located at 1256 Granville St #1, Vanvouver, BC V6Z 1M4, Canada).
Lions MMA was somewhat hidden. It’s easy to miss if you don’t pay attention. When the gym is open they usually display some sort of signs outside.
The gym is actually located downstairs in the building so you will have to take the staircase down. If you see the Muay Thai poster you know you’re in the right spot.
Prior to this trip I was in contact with Coach Paulie via the Lions MMA Vancouver page (https://www.facebook.com/LionsMMAVancouver/)
I didn’t have the opportunity to meet Coach Paulie in person but through Facebook he said it was fine for me to drop by open mat even though it’s usually just for his students.
Upon my arrival, I was greeted by Daniel Richard, one of the trainers at Lions MMA. After paying a fee and signing a waiver I was directed to the changing room in the back which also included a shower. As you walk across the mat you’ll notice pictures of Helio Gracie, Carlos Gracie Sr., and Mitsuyo Maeda on the walls. A boxing ring can be found in the further end of the room where you’ll see people practicing their muay thai.
The rolling experience was great. Everyone that I met at the gym was welcoming and had great tips (both BJJ and recommendations for travel/food). I wasn’t able to get footage this time around but was an honor rolling with these guys:
- After asking several locals, I was convinced that Japanese food here is a must. Since Vancouver is near the harbor, there’s fresh fish all the time. Sushi or chirashi is the way to go if you’re a fan of raw fish. If not, I would recommend ramen.
- Take a break from Starbucks for a bit and visit a Blenz Coffee.
- Granville Island has a good amount of craft beers and desserts if that’s more your type. Just take a short Aquabus ride across the waters and you’ll be there in 5 minutes.
- There is a lot of French influence in Canada so be sure to check out the French pastry cafes for either breakfast or dessert. Also, don’t be afraid to start a conversation with the locals who are having their morning coffee. One gentleman gave me some great advice for exploring the city.
- Brunch at the Flying Pig in Gastown. You won’t be disappointed. Great presentation and food/service. (Free Wi-Fi too!)
- Visit the good ole’ Tim Hortons for a cup of joe and some donuts.
- French-style Cheesecake at Cheesecake etc. is a must while you’re in town. Not your typical NY style cheesecake. The cake itself is unique and the atmosphere is not what you would expect for a place that just has cheesecake. Candlelit and Jazz playing as you enjoy your dessert.
- Poutine! The food that Canada is most known for (at least by outsiders). Check out Fritz to get a cup. A small should be more than enough for one person but be sure to add some Smoked Montreal Meat to it.
The people are great, the food is amazing, I had a good BJJ experience, and the city itself is fascinating. My only complaint would be the weather but it’s typical for Vancouver to rain often. Even in the rain the city still looks fantastic and people are still about. I also wished more BJJ gyms were closer to downtown where I was staying but I’m spoiled being from Los Angeles where there’s almost a gym on every block.
Definitely will be back sometime soon in Vancouver, Canada.
Vancouver, Canada – May 2016
Return to Homepage