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.
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.
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