Vancouver: Stanley Park

Today I decided to spend walking around Stanley Park which covers 1,000 acres at the tip of downtown Vancouver. There is so much to see in the park from the seawall walk (8.8 km), several beaches, Beaver Lake and the Lost lagoon, ‘monument’ trees and many trails amongst cedar, hemlock, and fir trees which lead you away from the madding crowds into the cool quiet forest. Continue reading Vancouver: Stanley Park

Vancouver: Art, History and Nature

On my own today, so I walked along the seawall down to Canada Place along Coal Harbour where the Harbour Air Seaplanes are based with stunning views across Burrard Inlet. Vancouver is filled with hundreds of pieces of public art; everywhere you go you find odd sculptures or examples of Chinook phrases, and since 1998 they have the International Sculpture Biennale with temporary exhibits from all over the world.

At Harbour Green Park you will see the “Light Shed” which imitates the simple boat-sheds that stood along the harbour over a century ago. Poised on log stilts, this aluminium-coated shed is particularly lustrous after dark when a dim, moving light shines from within. The park itself is a lovely shady area which seems to float at the edge of the harbour and it has plenty of benches from where you look at the appealing views and watch the float planes arrive and take off. It contains a variety of European Beech, Northern Red Oak and London Plane trees. This was going to be a long, slow walk….

Further along I came to the Vancouver Convention Centre West. A fascinating building as it appears to lean out over the harbour and resembles the prow of a ship. It has huge glass windows that reflect the view (on this day lovely clouds over the North Vancouver Mountains). Also along the seawall are railings similar to those you find on a ship and there are lots of interesting information plaques telling you the stories of different people who came to BC and what they did. What a wonderful way to learn history. All the photos come from the BC Museum in Victoria. (Another must-see museum).

Finally you come to an impressive blue bulbous sculpture “The Drop” by Inges Idee. The west building has a 6 acre living roof with 400, 000 indigenous plants and 4 beehives and 40% of the building juts out over the water. An impressive building. You then arrive at the distinctive Canada Place with the five sails that dominate the Vancouver Downtown skyline and which is home to the Vancouver Convention Centre East and the cruise ships terminal, and if you look up West Hastings Street you will see an impressive example of art deco, the Marine Building, which was built during the great Depression and was the tallest building in the British Empire in 1930.

Continue reading Vancouver: Art, History and Nature

Vancouver: A foggy day

The opportunity to re-visit Vancouver arose when my husband had a conference there in September 2010. We had previously spent three days in Vancouver and twelve days on the island and enjoyed it so much that this was not a chance to pass on.

We stayed in the Westin Bayshore with an incredible view over the Devonian Harbour Park, the Lost Lagoon of Stanley Park and the mountains of North Vancouver. In fact I would have been quite happy just to stay in the room all week and gaze at that view as it changed constantly with the light and position of the sun. It was also perfectly positioned to watch people walking, jogging, cycling or roller-blading along the seawall walk, and the coming and goings of yachts and rowing boats from the picturesque rowing club opposite.

On the first day though we awoke to fog, and the view though still magnificent, was obliterated by the grey mist. Nevertheless hating to waste a day, and it being the only day we had here together, we decided to have a gentle walk to stretch our legs after the long flight and set off around the seawall and in to Stanley Park.

We walked up to the totem poles and then followed the seawall around Hallelujah Point, past the nine o’clock gun up to Brockton Point lighthouse and past the Empress of Japan figurehead and the Girl in a Wetsuit statue. We took it slowly, taking as usual, far too many photographs despite the grey light. In fact because it was so still the water in Coal Harbour was like glass and we spent a quite a while looking for interesting reflections to shoot. I only found out on this visit that cyclists and inline-skaters must travel around the seawall in Stanley Park in a counter clockwise direction only.

Being autumn the trees and leaves were also very photogenic. And at the children’s water park where we cut back through the park we passed close to the aquarium where we came across a family of racoons on the hunt for food. I know they may be considered a nuisance but they do look quite cute and make a change from the (black) squirrels.

We intended to eat at Ciao Bella on Denman Street but being a Monday it was full (they do 50% offers on all pasta dishes at lunch and on Monday and Tuesday dinner) so we ate at a Mexican restaurant further up the street called Ponchos where they create authentic Mexican recipes. We shared great paella, but the deserts were rather too sweet for our liking. One customer was celebrating a birthday and the owner grabbed her guitar from the corner of the room and began singing to her in Spanish. She then made special liqueur coffees with kahlua, brandy and something else that I didn’t catch, setting fire to the spirit in a way I have never seen before – pouring the spirit into a long handled ladle, then setting fire to it and pouring the flaming spirit back into the glasses from a distance. The lights in the restaurant had been turned down, so it was quite a spectacle, though I’m not sure what Health and Safety officials would think about it 🙂