Vancouver - Pleasant But With An Edge
By Chris Potter
Writer Jan Morris once described Vancouver as being “the last resort of pleasantness.” Well, here’s some news: Vancouver is also pretty edgy.
Today’s Vancouverite lives among some of Canada’s most exciting architecture, can shop in stores like Gucci and Tiffany, might live in a trendy loft and take for granted a restaurant scene with more eateries per capita than San Francisco.
A vast range of recreation choices includes the extreme: mountain biking, rock climbing, snowboarding, spelunking, or whatever is the movement of the month.
Happily, though, essential Vancouver – a jewel set in the blue Pacific with a rugged mountain backdrop – has kept its west coast soul intact. Locals still boast of skiing, golfing, and sailing in the same day, and delight in a mostly mild climate allowing gardeners to indulge their passion year-round.
Passenger ships gleam in Vancouver’s Cruise Terminal each summer, serving the Alaska cruise market. Picture perfect, they glide beneath Lion’s Gate Bridge, entrance to Vancouver’s Harbour, and a photography vantage point is from the 10.5-kilometre-long seawall surrounding Stanley Park. Stroll, cycle, or skate its length, or just enjoy a section of it.
Vancouver has no lack of lovely scenery, and one of the best views is from Grouse Mountain. Take the Skytram (rising 1,128 metres) to meander alpine trails and view the stunning cityscape (weather permitting) below. It’s true about the rain, but the annual 144-centimetre average keeps the city green and the gardening great.
Check out VanDusen Botanical Gardens, the nearby dome of Bloedel Conservatory in Queen Elizabeth Park, and the University of BC’s Botanical Garden with its collection of temperate plants from around the world. While you’re on campus, don’t miss the Museum of Anthropology’s fabulous display of First Nations artifacts. And if you’re feeling cheeky, hike the steep path on UBC’s south bank to skinny dip on nudist Wreck Beach.
For a touch of Europe, visit Granville Island’s fresh food market, pick up a Greek salad or a wrap, and take it outside to watch the action on False Creek: grand yachts, tiny rowboats, voracious seagulls, and maybe dragon boat teams practicing for the next festival. And then catch a comedy, drama, or revue at one of the island’s three theatres.
OK, Ms. Morris, Vancouver is pleasant. But you should return, this time to discover its edge. More information: www.hellobc.com