Places I Love: Vancouver

Vancouver Harbour

I fall in love with Vancouver as soon as I arrive.  The mountains, bridges, glimmering high rises,  streets, and energy infects my soul and I hear my mind negotiate with my body: you won’t get much rest or sleep while here, but you will have an amazing time.  The first thing I notice is how expansive the city feels, maybe because of the mountain peaks – some still snow capped – that provide dramatic backdrop to this Northwest metropolis.  Vancouver feels open and airy.

Vancouver Convention Center

I settle into the Nelson House Bed and Breakfast in the West End and then take a spin around town.  I bike to Stanley Park, which is a 10 minute ride from the B&B; I am amazed at how quickly the city fades into trees and trails.  With exception of the road, which bisects the green space, it feels like I am in a secluded section of the Northwest.  I make my way around the seawall to witness amazing views of Vancouver harbor, downtown and the North End.

There is a different vibe to Vancouver: It is not an American city.  I realize the absurdity of this statement as I make it, but it’s true.  If cities have soul, this one certainly feels tangibly different than even the other West Coast urban centers I visit.  Although I have a hard time putting my finger on the difference, I settle on this: People are nice here, less stressed out – I notice this as I bike through the neighborhoods.  Drivers rarely honk their horns and there is a certain politeness I don’t find in the US.  There is a huge Asian influence here, but that is true in other places (for example, San Francisco).  I eat Korean food for dinner one night and Vietnamese Pho the next.

Totem at UBC MOA

One of the reasons I came to Vancouver is to experience the UBC Museum of Anthropology (MOA).  I am drawn to the repository to find out more about Inuit and First Nations’ art and mythology, a subject in which I have growing interest.  MOA is impressive; it houses literally hundreds of thousands of art pieces from indigenous artists, both modern and archaeological.  Many are stored in research display cases, resembling large, glass-covered file cabinets, giving me the opportunity to ‘discover’ works on my own (not to mention spend hours getting lost in sliding bins).  My favorite display is a covered mask on an altar.  The description says it is cloaked to represent the First Nations view that everything is not for public view.

Before I leave Canada, I stock up on my 400mg tablets of Advil and Allegra-D, both of which are over the counter.  I take a walk and cycle around the city (one of which I describe in a separate entry) and try to spend all the Canadian money I have collected while in country: I am mostly successful, except for a Loonie or two and a few CAD quarters, dimes and nickels.  I think to myself before I hit the road again that I would like to spend a month or two or three in Vancouver getting to know her.  I wonder if first impressions are always correct.

For pictures of Vancouver –> Click Here

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