Some cities are far more than a collection of buildings. I know this seems like a strange comment to make, but very few cities truly have a spirit that’s immediately evident.
I can only list a handful of cities that exude an energy that you can only miss if you happen to enter the city limits in a box.
For a city of it’s size, Vancouver has a pace of life that feels almost village like. People just don’t seem to be in a rush. Perhaps it’s a combination of the famous Canadian friendliness and the Pacific Coast that dictates a pace that you would sooner expect on a sleepy Island.
My first experience of this was on the Skytrain as we travelled from the Airport into the city. There was something very civilised about the experience, despite the busy time of the day.
When we took a bus later that day, I noticed that everybody thanked the bus driver, even if they exited from the back of the bus well out of earshot of the driver.
The local geography with its network of islands and inlets has resulted in many seaplane companies operating out of the area. We didn’t avail of one of these trips, but it certainly seems like an interesting way to see South Western BC.
Gastown is the original downtown core of what would later become known as Vancouver. Today the Steam Clock is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions.
Perhaps the most striking and appealing thing about Vancouver is that even though you’re in a large city, you’re always surrounded by easy access to nature. From downtown you can see the snow capped mountains from virtually anywhere.
Stanley Park is by far one of the most impressive urban parks that I have ever encountered. As you venture down the harbour by the marina and into Stanley Park, it feels like you have left the city completely.
A trip to Vancouver would be incomplete without making your way to the peak of Grouse Mountain. For the exercise addict, you can go on foot, or take the somewhat pricey cable car to the top.
Once at the top there’s a chance that you’ll be rewarded by spectacular views. I say chance, because Vancouver is known for clouds and rain. Unfortunately I didn’t get to take photos of the breathtaking view that you would experience on a clear day.
Grouse Mountain is home to two Grizzly Bears that were rescued after becoming orphaned. This gives an opportunity to capture photographs of an animal that you don’t want to encounter at this distance in the wild.
As Vancouver is often the start and endpoint of a visit to BC, it’s well worth taking a few days to really appreciate the city.