A month skiing in the Rockies is at an end. My visit to Canada is nearly at an end.
I had heard so many good things about Vancouver that I decided to spend a few days in the city before heading for the airport and flying back home. I haven’t been disappointed. The only problem is to do the place justice in a short blog.
Opening the curtains high on the 6th floor I looked out to clear blue sky and tower blocks blazing gold in the early morning sun.
Navigating around a city of 2 million when you know nothing about it is ….. interesting. I wanted to go to Sunday service in a large Anglican Church which had been recommended. Located by a Google search on “17th and Cambie” I had intended to walk but became suspicious when I saw the address was “Baillie and 37th”, between Cambie and Oak”, obviously a lot further out from the centre. A quick phone call confirmed the latter to be correct and the need to use the Canada Line of the Skytrain transit system. I had harboured a hope that the Skytrain would be an elevated monorail but it isn’t, it’s an underground system. Very fast, very efficient, very clean, very cheap ($1.75 concession fare) with information clear and unambiguous. I had negotiated my way around Athens on the Metro which is not too difficult given a knowledge of Greek and in comparison this was a piece of cake.
Back to the hotel at the northern end of Granville Street bridge and in time to walk across to Granville Island for a bite to eat. Crossing the bridge afforded great views down False Creek to Burrard Street Bridge, the many high rise residential towers bordering the ocean front and the cloud-shrouded mountains beyond.
If you have only time to visit one place in Vancouver, from my very limited experience I would say make it Granville Island, it’s an amazing place. The Food Market is like no other I have seen anywhere, with an amazing range of top quality fresh food and cooked meals, packed with people so you can hardly move. Outside the Food Market the many shops sell everything from fine art to sea kayaks with a pause to have a beer in the Granville Island BrewPub should you so wish. The island is edged with a dense fringe of boats of all shapes and sizes which, together with the fact that the Vancouver Boat Show was on meant that yachties and wannabees rubbed shoulders with locals doing food shopping and tourists like me. On Sunday afternoon in the sunshine it was a great place to stroll around or just sit and soak in the music and the atmosphere. I did both.
At one point the cloud lifted off the mountain peaks in the distance showing snow-caps which made me nostalgic for skiing. But that was now over and I distracted myself with the new place.
I could have stayed much longer on Granville Island but wanted to go explore further. I had walked across the bridge but decided to take one of the tiny ferries back across the Creek, rectangular tubs of boats which are confusing by not having a pointy bit at the front. Very quick, very efficient and very cheap ($1.75 concession fare). It took me under Burrard Street Bridge and set me down at the end of Sunset Beach for a walk along the The Seawall.
That’s when it struck me that this was the not just the seafront but the Pacific Ocean. I know the Atlantic, the Mediterranean, the Adriatic, the Aegean but somehow the thought of the Pacific conjures up an image of something altogether vaster. On the other side lay Japan and China, not the USA and Canada. Hardy types have rowed across the Atlantic, I guess the Pacific is just too vast to even contemplate that.
So I walked along The Seawall promenade past Sunset Beach to English Bay with thousands of others enjoying a sunny Sunday afternoon in February. They strolled, walked, jogged, ran, roller-bladed, bicycled, unicycled, tandemmed. The Seawall was separated into two with a small kerb, each clearly marked as to whether it was for those on foot or on wheels. At one point a knot of people gathering to watch as about 12 or 15 stripped to their swimwear and plunged into the sea for the benefit of TV cameras, shrieking with the shock of the cold water. I wasn’t tempted.
I have often said that though brought up in a city I’m not a city person. But for Vancouver I could make an exception. If only I could afford the price-tags of the high rise apartments along the ocean front.