To get away from one’s working environment is, in a sense, to get away from one’s self; and this is often the chief advantage of travel and change.Charles Horton Cooley
Apr 4-7 2015
Vancouver is a city that I have always wanted to visit, it always looked like a beautiful place and I’ve always enjoyed my previous trips to Canada. Growing up in Detroit and Cleveland I was able to visit Ontario quite often, now living on the West Coast I always told myself I’d make it up to Vancouver eventually. I finally had an opportunity to visit during a long weekend. I went with a friend as we had to be in Seattle the following week for work, so we decided to head up to Washington early and take some time to go north of the border.
We flew into Seattle and rented a car to begin the drive to the Peace Arch border crossing. After a few questions from the border agent, mainly wanting to know if we had or owned any guns, we were crossing into Canada. It was less than an hour drives more until we arrived the apartment in the West End neighborhood where we would be staying.
Vancouver city itself is a large area, but we would be sticking to the peninsula in the north central part of the city, as most visitors do. The peninsula is bordered by False Creek to the south, English Bay to the west and Coal Harbor to the north. Across Coal Harbor are the North Shore Mountains that form a distinctive backdrop for the city.
We strolled around the city for most of the time we were there. The West End neighborhood where we were staying was primarily mid-rise apartment buildings and just short walk away from the beautiful Stanley Park at the tip of the peninsula. Walking along False Creek we could easily reach the Downtown area, dominated by modern and boxy highrises.
We hopped on a ferry and visted the Granville Public Market for lunch. Situtated on a small island within False Creek, the market is fascinating assortment of colorful stalls, showcasing unique homemade products and the very finest in gastronomic delights. Everything is fresh from the nearby ocean or fields. The island used to be an industrial manufacturing area, but now it’s known for art studios, small theatres and riverside homes and houseboats.
From Granville Island we headed through the Downtown, checking out the infamous skidrow area to the east, and then walked along the north shore towards the cruise ship terminal and convention center. In front of the convention center was the infamous caldron from the 2010 Winter Olympics. At the waters edge we hung out for awhile watching seaplanes take-off and land in Coal Harbor.
The following day we picked up some tickets for a Vancouver Canucks NHL Hockey game. We are both big hockey fans and knew it was something we had to do while we were there. Rogers Arena where they played was rocking, as Canadians are very passionate about their national sport. We drank many Molson beers and had a great time. Afterwards, we were a little bit buzzed and not quite sure how to get back to our apartment, we foolishly jumped on the colorful ‘Hockey Bus’that took us north of Vancouver before we realized our mistake and hopped off. It seemed like a good idea at the time though as it was a rowdy group of fans.
Eventually we made it back and got some rest before making the drive back to Seattle the next day. Vancouver lived up to the hype with it’s beautiful natural surronding, hospitable Canadian culture and modern and hip neighborhoods. It really is the Canadian version of the U.S. West Coast, similar to places like Seattle, Portland and the Bay Area. A nice contrast to places like Toronto and Montreal in the east. What may be missing historically is made up for by the forward thinking, modern and active lifestyle of its people- and of course the much warmer weather.