Because my husband was to attend a conference on insurance in Vancouver, we traveled there. Air Canada took us from Caracas to Toronto and then off to Vancouver.
Canada is distinguished precisely by its long and robust winters. Vancouver is one of its most temperate cities; yet, in what should be spring, we had temperatures below eight degrees Celsius. To top it off, it rains around nine months a year.
Of course, when it’s sunny, it seems like another world: The air becomes crispy and sharp, full of fat clouds like the ones we drew in kindergarten, so close to the ground that you feel like you could get them just by stretching out your hand.
I loved everything about this city. But so much nature in an urban environment is one of its best features. There is a beach, mountains, and parks, and you can practically access everything on foot. Its public transport is almost swiss; it is a well-planned city where the Victorian coexists harmoniously with the modern.
What to do.
There’s Stanley Park, where a toasted, buttered baguette topped with pickles and tasty Canadian bacon– sitting with your family on one of the benches at Prospect Point or Third Beach, surrounded by century-old cedars and thousands of birds singing the best of their repertoire– makes you feel that the world is in order.
If you are in Stanley, you can go swimming, or to the fascinating Aquarium. You can ride the so-called “Route of the Sea” by bicycle (about 30 km of perfectly flat, smooth route, no holes, no bumps) with the waves next to you, the clouds at your fingertips, and a smile from ear to ear while on the way you come across boat races, totem poles, dogs walking their owners, etc.
You HAVE to see the Capilano Suspension Bridge, a cable and wood structure on the river that bears the same name. It is 136 meters long and seventy, read correctly, seventy meters above the water. But even if you are afraid of heights like me, it is well worth the immersion in pine trees, rain forests, award-winning gardens, and paths that lead to more green, more pine trees, and a reconciliation with life.
There is free transportation a few meters from the Convention Center to get there. The first departs at 9:00 am, and admission is $55 for adults and $19 for children ages 6-12.
Canada Place is the site to grab your camera, gather your group, and ask them to say “cheese.” There, you find yourself face to face with the northern mountains that, in May, still retain their white blanket. Behind you is Downtown Vancouver which lights up its trees at night even when it’s not Christmas.
The site was built for Expo 86 and is a piece of architecture that catches you by its resemblance to a giant sailboat. The convention center, the cruise terminal, the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel, and the World Trade Center live together.
Vancouver has 2,400,000 beautiful people with good vibes, and laughter and many Asians: 850,000 residents are Chinese.
Try the sablefish, which is like cod, a little more oily and so soft that it passes through your throat like velvet. One of the best places to eat this delicacy is The Blue Water Café at 1095 Hamilton Street. I had mine with miso sake glaze, tender baby Bok Choy, edamame, quinoa, shitake mushrooms, Yuzu Dashi, Pommes Frites, white truffle oil, and parmesan. Mmmm… Quite an experience.
The meat at Hy’s in the heart of the financial district is aged 28 days and feels like butter, and the aroma wafting from the kitchen can awaken even the most basic primal instincts. Hy’s is at 637 Hornby Street.
Do not, I repeat, do not forget to bring home bottles and bottles of Maple syrup to stop the craving for fluffy, golden pancakes from killing you. They will never taste the same.
Canada has more than 70 wine farms. That is surprising if we take into account the rigor of its winters. More than 20,000 acres of vines are grown in Ontario, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, and Quebec. Canada is the world’s largest producer of ice wine, made by pressing late-frozen grapes. Try it with Molten Chocolate cake.
The Vancouverite is cheerful and kind to whomever he finds entangled with a map of his city. Restaurants and nightspots are noisy beyond the wee hours. If that doesn’t matter, The Lion’s Pub is an excellent option to relax after a day full of adventures. The atmosphere is typically English with equally typical drinks, but the music ranges from hip-hop to salsa. From the Beatles to the Black Eyed Peas.
Shop. Till you drop.
Ride a bus from Gastown to Yaletown. It’s five minutes away. Both areas are trendy, with curious shops, antiques, small victorian restaurants, and beautiful people.
Shop on Robson Street, where all brands are offered at reasonable prices. If crafts are your thing, the best place is Granville Island.
Vancouver speaks in English; this year, it was ranked 108th out of 144 most expensive cities and fifth in the world for quality of life. It has a low crime rate, and something is always going on.
Oh! If it weren’t for all that rain.