Published: July 5th 2012April 26th 2012
my fav image of the trip!
Vancouver is a top city. Quite literally sits on the top of the list of the most livable cities in the world. Very modern, clean, great bars, lots of beautiful people, lots to see, lots to do. Most importantly, surrounded by breathtaking mountains and of course the Pacific Ocean. It is the geographical location that made me go "AAHH" every single morning when I looked out of my friend's Commercial Drive apartment window. I was there for just under two weeks, and managed to see pretty much every single recommended entry in a typical guidebook. However, being lucky and having a friend who lives in Vancouver, I also got to experience other exciting things... explained from a local's perspective. Unfortunately (or fortunately, I'm still undecided...) I also (unintentionally) put myself through a sketchy situation, but I shall elaborate towards the end of this entry as I don't want you to get the wrong idea about Vancouver.
I shall begin with the usual landmarks that are those "must-sees".
Stanley Park - created just towards the end of the 19th century, so a nice park with a bit of history. As I found out, it is meant to be the third
largest park in North America. Personally, I still find Central Park in NY prettier (but only a little bit), nevertheless Stanley Park is a must-see/do when in Vancouver. There are many ways in which to explore the park - me being lazy I took a horse and carriage service for which I paid quite a lot, but then again... it was raining! So I had to sit somewhere sheltered. I noticed that tourists tend to cycle around the park, which I am sure would have been an awesome experience had it not rained... Anyway, Stanley Park has many beautiful landmarks to see, I recommend in particular: the English Bay, Siwash Rock (awesome lava rock deposit), Rose Garden (STUNNING), Brockton Point Visitor Centre... and there is also the Vancouver Aquarium, but HEY I have seen so many of those on my travels that I didn't go...
Canada Place - you really should take a trip to there. It's pretty simple and some locals claim it's the most over-rated landmark in the city, but I guess you see it on all postcards and wesbites - it's good to hava a picture taken outside of it. It was only built in the
80s, originally for Expo 1986 it now is a hotel and a general conventon centre, but its white pointy roofs give it a tent-like look... also something similar to the Opera in Sydney. If you walk around on the promenade you will find many points of view on the surrounding mountains.
UBC Museum of Anthropology - I was dying to see this museum obviously as an anthropologist, and I actually had a planned visit to the University of British Columbia (UBC), so it was two things to do at the same time. Needless to say... I wasn't impressed with the Museum, because it's very small and most importnatly it only focuses on cultural anthropology. I should have read a bit more about it before I went, because as an evolutionist I was looking forward to seeing exhibits about biological anthropology... However, their collections are indeed impressive if you're into cultural anthropology and generally into the American (as in the continents) history.
Things I haven't done, but are hugely recommended apparently are the Capilano Suspension Bridge, Vancouver Art Gallery and Granville Island. I simply didn't have enough time, but next time (if...) I will probably try and see these.
Those of you who are planning to undertake further trips Whistler is THE place to be!
In terms of shopping, I mainly shopped in Gastown, Downtown and Commercial Drive. If you're into hip, funky and fun stuff then you should definitely visit some shops on Commercial Drive. I was lucky as my friends apartment is located there, so I got to drink coffee and have yummy breakfast in local non-mainstream cafes and restaurants. The most amazing aspect of it though... are the mountains! You can walk down the street admiring beautiful mountains in the distance, so breathtaking!
When you're in Downtown, you must walk to the Library Square - they have a very interestingly looking public library, it takes up a whole city block, and resembles the Colosseum in Rome... which I thought was quite funny!
Now, something that was a truly marvelous experience... WRECK BEACH - a wonderful suggestion by my friend Kate. YOU WILL LOVE IT!
to be continued...
There are more photos below