Before we arrived in Vancouver a couple of events had put the city in the news. In February it was named as the world's most liveable city for the fifth year in a row by the Economist, a table where London comes in at only 53. Then, in June, riots erupted after the Vancouver Canucks lost the final game of hockey's Stanley Cup. So which reflects the real Vancouver?
It certainly has a lot going for it. Its waterfront location and dramatic skyline - with mountains looming in the background - is very attractive. And while it's big, you can escape quite easily to the relative peace and quiet of Stanley Park, a huge area - larger than New York's Central Park - north of the main city.
Granville Island, once an industrial area, is now a large market and home to lots of funky shops.
But like every other North American city we've visited it has its problems too, and there are some very sketchy areas in downtown, near to where our hostel is located. But then again there's Gastown, one of the oldest areas in the city, which features a steam clock that whistles out the Westminster Chimes.
Our experience has inevitably been coloured by our choice of hostel, which really hasn't been much fun, and by the weather, which has been terrible. Karen, though, saw the city from a different perspective when she lived in Canada for her gap year ten years ago and has happy memories of weekends spent here.
We're now moving on to Banff, and have a thirteen-and-a-half hour Greyhound trip tonight. After the hostel though, we're actually looking forward to it. Perhaps we'll get some sleep!