Vancouver, BC – A Canadian West Coast City With Charm

I went to Vancouver for a couple of days in the summer of 2009. My first impression was made at the airport. I liked its design, and was surprised they offer free wi-fi throughout. No doubt, this will impress the herds of tourist coming in for the olympic games. The city remotely reminded me of other winter olympic cities I’ve visited like Innsbruck, Garmisch-Patenkirschen, and Lillihammer. I guess the common link is a beautiful area surrounded by mountains for skiing events. This beauty always captures my heart, especially when the peaks are dusted with snow. I truly love being near these majestic ranges.

I found one aspect of the city to be different from what I expected. Being from the east coast, the homeless can be occasionally spotted in tourist areas, but they are usually “tucked away” in less populous places like remote areas of train stations, and they make themselves sparse to “panhandle”. In Vancouver, they were out and about amongst the crowds, often in groups. Not necessarily looking for hand outs, just socializing, and there were a number of younger people. This is something I also witnessed in Seattle, WA and Portland, OR. A Seattle native told me this is a problem of the west coast. They tend not to bother you though.

Gastown is a historic district in the downtown area, and the known landmark is the steam-powered clock (below). Shown above is Water Street, which is lined with brick and stoned buildings housing shops and restaurants. There are also beautiful flower baskets hanging from the lamp posts during warmer months. There is a nostalgic charm about this street that made me yearn to watch a parade, as kids eat popcorn and cotton candy. I almost felt like I was on a suburban main street instead of being in a big city.  I don’t recommend walking up Carrall Street.

The Gastown District Steam Clock & Downtown

Vancouver’s skyline is highlighted by Vancouver Outlook atop the business/retail/university complex Harbour Centre, and enhanced by the white peaks of Canada Place, where cruise ships set sail to Alaska.

Above are First Nations people at Brockton Point in Stanley Park, known for its totem pole display, which represent various First Nations from British Columbia.

The Jubilee Fountain in the Lost Lagoon in Stanley Park.

Stanley Park perfectly balances the brick and mortar of the big city. Here is a natural getaway, where you can have a quiet moment. You can choose to stroll, bike, take a horse drawn carriage, or the shuttle bus to see the 1,000 acre park. There are beautiful gardens, The Lions Gate Bridge crossing the Burrard Inlet connecting Vancouver to North Vancouver, scenic views of the city, and so much more to see.

In my opinion Robson Street is the premiere shopping area. It’s concentrated with boutiques, chain stores, jewelers, restaurants, and nearby hotels. It has a lot to offer for residents and tourists alike.

Yaletown is an old warehouse district which has been re-gentrified into a trendy area filled with restaurants, clubs and shops. It has a slower pace during the day, but is vibrant at night. Weather permitting, many restaurants offer al fresco dining in the front , so you can see and be seen. Music is in the air muddled with conversations and laughter.

Float planes are often flying overhead. You can watch them take off and land in the Burrard  Inlet.

During my visit, parts of the Twilight saga were being filmed. I believe they were finishing up New Moon, and about to start filming Eclipse. The whole town was abuzz about the phenomenon. Tours were sold out for days. Vancouver is a popular location for Hollywood, so they are often filming a movie in or around the city.

The beautiful Whistler ski resort is just over 90 miles from Vancouver. Renown for it’s offering of winter sports, it also serves up some nice summer activities.

As I mentioned earlier, I was only in Vancouver for a couple of days. It’s not a large city on the scale of New York, London or Paris, which gives it a cozier feel. It’s lower keyed, diversified and charming. The fact that it’s the site for the 2010 Winter Olympics certainly adds to its appeal!

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6 Responses to “Vancouver, BC – A Canadian West Coast City With Charm”

  1. Very lovely pics. I’ve been wanting to visit Canada and Vancouver in particular for over 12 years. Waiting & hopeful that I can do it before I die.

  2. I’ve been to Vancouver twice now and enjoyed both trips. You’re right it’s not a very big city but I think that’s part of the charm.

  3. 101quickandeasysecrets Says:

    Great overview of Vancouver. Stanley Park is a great place to photograph birds.

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