For nine hours, twice a week, seven months a year for the past 15 years, Erik Graff has been taking groups of travellers from all over the world on his famous Vancouver tours. But what makes Erik different from other tour guides that work here in Vancouver is that he’s a volunteer and has been running these tours for HI just for the love of hostelling and Vancouver!
Erik, originally from Copenhagen, Denmark, was also a tour guide in his former home and continued his love for guiding when he moved to Vancouver in the 1960s. He, like many of his guests, has a real passion for travel. Each winter he heads off on a trip to far flung destinations and, he has visited 90 countries, travelled around the world four times -to all the continents- including Antarctica. He hopes to hit 100 over the next couple of years.
In April, Erik welcomed his 15,000th guest on his tour, an amazing accomplishment by any measure. Hostelling International is extremely proud of Erik and his continuing popularity. His tours have been mentioned in the Lonely Planet, travel blogs and newspapers all over the world.
I wondered what made this spritely 70 year old man get up each day, rain or shine, to take a bunch of backpackers on a tour. I recently joined him on his Lynn Canyon and City tour and asked him just that. Erik said “I love the feedback I get from the guests, they keep me going!” I also asked him if he thought it was time he should retire and take it easy. He replied that he’d retired 15 years ago and this is his way of enjoying retirement
The tour lasted the whole day and took in the sights of downtown Vancouver before heading over to Lynn Canyon north of the city. After a little hike around the canyon, we took the sea bus back to the city and had a look around Chinatown and the Roman forum-style Vancouver library before heading back to the hostel. Erik was full of energy, information and stories to share. Everyone on the tour including myself agreed that it was time and money well spent.
At $12.50 per person, Erik’s tours are a steal. The cost of the tour goes primarily to the cost of transportation, utilizing the city’s transit system, and over less environmentally friendly alternatives. As thousands of guests will attest, Erik’s tours allow them to discover parts of Vancouver which they probably would never have seen on their own. On behalf of Hostelling International, and 15,000 travellers – we want to say: “Thanks Erik!”
If you are coming to Vancouver to visit or you’re a resident of Vancouver, you too can join Erik on one of his legendary tours. The Lynn Canyon and City tour runs every Tuesday and his Capilano Canyon and City tour runs every Friday. Please contact HI- Vancouver Downtown to book your spot.