Oh, How I Love Vancouver!

Vancouver is, perhaps the most beautiful city in all of Canada. We were fortunate enough to spend a week there for my husband’s work recently, and I plan to highlight some of my favourite experiences there in the next couple of posts.

Armchair travellers take note: as far as Canadian urban destinations go, with its food scene, its architecture, its active lifestyle, its incredible parklands, its hordes of coffee shops, and its fresh fish (did I mention the food scene!?), it’s right up there at the top of the heap of places to put on your bucket list!

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Fresh fish is in abundance at local restaurants, and not just in its sashimi form. Here is salmon ceviche on a bed of avocado and cucumber. SO yummy!

Vancouver has ocean coastline and mountain vistas, temperate rainforested parks and salmon-running rivers, lots of indigenous culture and terrific museums and galleries. It is a relatively “new” city as it became a city in the late 1860s and the result is a fantastic, modern skyline with a scattering of iconic “historic” buildings.

Perched on the shore of the Pacific Ocean on the waters of the Inside Passage, protected from violent and raging storms in winter by the off-shore presence of massive Vancouver Island, it is a place with a warm (well, warm for Canada) and temperate climate.

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Looking back from Granville Island.

Divided by English Bay and a large seaway passage called Burrard Inlet, it has the rather tony neighbourhoods of North Van and West Van rising up the mountain slopes on one side, while others, like the downtown core, Chinatown, and neighbourhoods with neat names like Gastown, Yaletown, Kitsilano and Coal Harbour extend out into the flatter areas to the south.

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Streets of Gastown washed down by a light rain.

Being in a zone 7a-8b planting zone, and having milder winters than the rest of Canada, things grow there that can grow nowhere else in our country, and the Vancouverites and urban planners have certainly taken advantage of that with flowering trees scattered throughout the cities parks and boulevards, an abundance of roof top gardens and lush plantings in public parks and private gardens. Spring is my favourite time to visit when the cherry blossom petals rain like wedding confetti on parked cars, when the tulip trees are in full (giant mango-sized) bloom, and when the flower beds are bursting with tulips.

Vancouver has an incredibly high standard of living, and so it is a fantastic place to visit, but prohibitively expensive to live there. We noticed an interesting spin off from this: any home decor shops had small furniture in them with a tremendous attention to detail, and slim profiles… a result of the fact that homes in Vancouver are by & large quite small, with many people living in tiny condos.

The buildings of the downtown are spectacular. I remember a time when our son was just learning how to use my “big” camera. He was about 8 years old and he took about 100 shots of one modern building there, playing with its panoramic-macro lens.

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This is the building that captured our son’s attention, years ago.

Most construction is of the steel, glass and concrete variety in the downtown core, and urban planners have been sure to have all glass have a grey-green or grey-blue tint to them: the result is a spectacular city skyline that suits the light, and the often rainy dark days there perfectly with the buildings acting like gigantic mirrors, opening up the space, visually and reflecting the beauty all around.

It’s amazing just to walk its streets with a gaze directed upward, looking at all the mirrors… as that’s what many of the buildings are. And if you know anything about earthquake construction design, it is fascinating to take in those details too, as Vancouver is perched near the active edge of the massive North American plate and the smaller Juan de Fuca plate.

Here are a few images taken from our walks there that will give you a sneak preview of what is to come:

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The downtown skyline & Yaletown condos as seen from Granville Island.
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Buildings mirrored in the faces of buildings.
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The Vancouver marathon was on when we were there and they had spectacular weather!
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Old and new side by side. Just look at the curve to that skyscraper!
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It’s not all straight lines in Vancouver’s architecture.
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Looking uptown from the waterfront. Can you see the words repeated over and over on each floor of the Fairmont hotel? And look at the reflecting light on the old building… beautiful, isn’t it!?
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“Lying on top of a building, the clouds looked no nearer than when I was lying on the street.”  Such strange words to write on the side of an expensive hotel in a city with a large homeless population. Words, by U.K. artist Liam Gillick.
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Old, relatively speaking… as in, around the turn of the century (1900), set against the new in its downtown streets.
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The downtown core has beautiful trees & public spaces.
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Look at the building peeking up in the distance… can you see its massive rooftop garden with protective glass walled sides?

But Vancouver is not all about its architecture. It has other fantastic elements to explore too, like its incredible parks system. Step inside some of the larger park spaces and you would never know you were in the city!

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Here’s a park we explored along the shores of the Capilano River that divides North & West Van.
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And here’s a peek at Stanley Park, a large urban park on a peninsula of land jutting into the sound that is steps from downtown’s skyscraper-lined streets. It’s hemlock, red cedar, douglas fir and sitka spruce trees are massive!
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The seawall goes around Stanley Park and continues along the shore of the city and it is an incredible place to walk, run, rollerblade, bike or stroll with a coffee in hand (Vancouverites like their coffee as much as Seattleites).
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There are plenty of marinas.
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You can take taxis in the city that drive on land… or float in the water! $3.50 gets you a ride from downtown to Granville Island.
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There are artist & food markets.
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What’s a travel related post from me without a shot of a farmers’ market, I ask you!
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There’s a great craft beer scene (Bill loved this salted caramel porter).
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And the food scene…. well, it is OUT OF THIS WORLD!
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Some restaurants have incredible vistas, like this one that looks out over Queen Elizabeth Park across to downtown.
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There are lots of artists out and about.
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And there are some incredible bridges.

In upcoming posts I will highlight a few of our experiences. I’ll touch on the unusual Prohibition Tour that we took, with its unique insights and fascinating historic stories. I’ll cover two “must do’s” for any tourist: visits to Granville Island and Stanley Park. And I’ll cover what was a new adventure for us: our hike up to the Cleveland Dam. Stay tuned….


For more posts about our Vancouver trip, please go to the Vancouver Travel section of my blog. And for other places we’ve been around the world, poke about under the Travel tab of my Blog.

14 Comments on “Oh, How I Love Vancouver!

  1. It is an impressive city, although the only time I’ve spent any time there was for Expo ’86. Guess I’m due for a revisit (along with 1000 other places.) Have you been to Victoria?

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      • There’s a lot of places we’re overdue to revisit. We spent a few days in Victoria about 5 years ago, and have stopped there for a couple hours on the way to Barkley Sound on a few occasions. No current plans to head up there soon.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Over the years we’ve been there for a few climbing competitions (indoor) and then used it as a means to an end… to get to places like Tofino & Ucluelet, the Juan de Fuca Trail and Salt Spring Island. It’s sunnier than Vancouver, for sure. But I much prefer Vancouver.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ok i wasn’t sure if it was a typo. I thought it must have meant Tory. I did guess in context it meant up market. Anyway it was great post. Not sure if we will ever get to Canada.. so many places too little time… too little dollars! Anyway if i ever get there I will go to Vancouver. It’s a lovely photo of you and your husband.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Sheri, we really need to take an extended trip to Vancouver! Rather than the bleak and claustrophobic feeling of most highly urbanized centers, this city looks spacious and welcoming, with lots of interesting nooks and crannies to explore.
    I suspect your beautiful photos and patience had a lot to do with capturing the best of this trip, but still…this is going on the bucket list.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Quite a departure from your other posts on mountains or travel, Sheri. 🙂 It shows a very different side of you. And just when I thought you’d made it about urban jungles, you saved the best for last with the gorgeous green trails!

    Liked by 1 person

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