August 20, 2017

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

by Steve and Rosemary

After leaving Tacoma, we headed north to Vancouver. We drove through Peace Arch Park, a place where travelers can straddle the border and enjoy a moment away from the long lines of cars going north and south.

Crossing an imaginary line drawn at an arbitrary point, nothing seems very different, yet there are subtle changes. Colors become colours, distances are measured in kilometers instead of miles, everything that should be in Spanish is in French, and eighty cents have the buying power of a dollar.

Here we sometimes came across fun connections between one place and the other. On the left is a print photographed in the Tacoma Art Museum: "Memory" by Susan Point and Kelly Cannell. On the right is one of the designs derived from their work, on a sewer cover photographed in Vancouver.

Vancouver is one of the great cities of North America, and it includes everything we expect from a major metropolis, both good and bad. It has heavy traffic, crowded sidewalks, noise, dirt, homelessness, and high prices. It also has plenty of history, a wealth of cultural resources, distinct neighborhoods, professional and educational opportunities, great restaurants, and a stunning skyline.

On our first day, we walked along the shore of Burrard Inlet, the waterway that separates Vancouver from North Vancouver. The views are beautiful from every angle, as seen in these photos.

This is where the cruise ships arrive and depart, so the area is always full of passengers and other tourists (like us). While we were there, a Disney cruise ship was getting touched up, with a little help from a couple of ducks.

Are Donald and his nephew really any help to these guys?
We were staying in a high rise condo that was virtually all glass. Here is a photo of sunrise from our window.

We were surrounded by tall glass towers, including a controversial Trump Tower next door.

Overcompensating for some other shortcomings?
On our first full day, we went to Stanley Park, a large park with bike paths, tremendous views and an exhibit of Native Canadian totem poles.

It also has a beautiful shoreline, with views to North Vancouver and the city skyline.

The area is home to many seabirds, who enjoy the feast at low tide.

Who wants lunch? Too bad, suckers, this crab is ALL MINE!

Stanley Park also has a great aquarium, where we spent several hours enjoying the various exhibits.


Small men in tuxedos.

We went back into town for lunch in the West End district, a densely-populated area with diverse demographics, including a large LGBTQ community, celebrating its pride with rainbow banners and crosswalks.

The next day we went to Granville Island, a small island separated from the mainland by a man-made canal. On the drive over, we noticed a lot of cement trucks causing traffic delays, only to find that production of cement is a major part of the island's industry. At the manufacturing yard, they have large storage tanks which have been painted as an art exhibit.

One of the highlights of the island is the Granville Public Market, an indoor marketplace for fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, fish and baked goods, along with a variety of arts and crafts. Always crowded, it is an experience not to be missed.

The views from Granville are also amazing. In the canal we saw boats, paddle boarders, and water bike pedal boats, which look exactly like they sound.

On our last day, we drove to historic Chinatown which, like so many other Chinatowns, has a unique set of restaurants and stores. On the other hand, it also has a Starbucks.

Note the dragons on the traffic signal.
It also has some signs which defy description.

We don't know what a virtuous pie is, but we think we want some.

It may be a good idea to have your English speaking friends vet your signs before posting.
We decided to splurge for dinner at Five Sails, an excellent restaurant right on the water. Great service, amazing food, and a good way to end our trip.

We had been to Vancouver once before for a short trip, but this time we stayed longer and got a better feeling for the city. It is like New York in its hustle and bustle, but the Canadian people are unfailingly polite, which sets them apart from many Americans. A visit well worth the time.

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