Vancouver on Foot

July 22, 2016 - 2:20 am No Comments

After zipping by the Canadian border that all the suckers in cars had to stop at, my train finally ended its journey at Vancouver’s Pacific Central Station. There’s no Uber in Vancouver, and oddly, there were no taxis waiting at the train station, so I began the long, hilly walk through the city with suitcase in tow to my hostel.

I immediately set out to explore the city. First, Granville Island Public Market, a 45-second ferry ride from downtown Vancouver. My favorite merchant was the Broom Company shop, where the Schweiger sisters make fancy, creative-looking brooms. As she used a machine to wind a new broom, one of the sisters told me that broom corn is the name of the plant harvested for its bristles. I also learned that broom bristles were traditionally “round” and unfinished, but it was in the 1850’s that it became fashionable to neatly trim them to make a flat edge.

Making a Broom

My least favorite shop was a small photography gallery of British Columbia wildlife and landscapes. The photographer was there, not looking terribly thrilled about being there. Looking at her photos, I mentioned that I liked her work and that some of it was reminiscent of Peter Lik. This is a high compliment to anyone who is familiar with Lik’s work. His landscapes are massive and colorful and beautiful. To my comment, she barked back at me, “Well, I don’t copy his photographs!”. Why do professional photographers get so weird when you try to engage them in discussion about their work? I hate that.

Arty Silos on Granville Island

A-maze-ing Laughter Sculpture

I walked through the city to Stanley Park, a massive green space filled with geese, raccoons, and people who don’t know how to ride bikes properly. Clearly marked paths show where bicycle and pedestrian traffic should go, but there are those (probably tourists) who break the rules and ride in the wrong lane or go against traffic and make things annoying for everyone else.

Bench on the Lost Lagoon

I continued through the park and followed the bike path along the seawall, where I ran into more idiots feverishly playing Pokémon Go with their phones.

Vancouver from Stanley Park

The architecture of Vancouver is, I think, Japanese in style. The commercial buildings and high-rises of downtown are white and silver, skinny, lots of right angles and hard lines, symmetrical, and closely packed. Almost all uniform in appearance. This is what Japanese cities look like, right? I’ve never been to Japan, and I admit that my only exposure to Japanese urban architecture comes from Godzilla movies and photos I’ve seen online, but something about them screams Japan. I wonder if Japanese architects were employed for Vancouver’s downtown.

The Words Don't Fit the Picture

All in all, my first day in Vancouver was non-stop and exhausting. Probably never walked that much in a single day before. And yesterday was a visit to Gastown and Chinatown, neighborhoods in the crappier parts of town. The weather on both days was perfect days for walking, and TripAdvisor helped me find some amazing lunches.

The people of Vancouver have that same friendly, weird thing as Portland and Seattle, only here there is a dash of Canadian cuteness on top of it all. I’m a Canadian myself, but I keep forgetting how funny our little accents are.

My hostel here in Vancouver is bigger than the one in Seattle. It’s pretty clean, well-organized, and seems to be run by a disproportionate number of Australians. Like my hostel in Seattle, this one is another mixed dorm, which doesn’t seem so weird anymore. Backpackers are generally a progressive, alternative crowd. Sharing a room with someone of the opposite sex seems like one of the least weird things they would do. There’s no AC, though, and the room is HOT. Little fans clipped onto the bed railings do nothing.

Last night, I joined dozens of raucous, social backpackers at the bar for bingo, which is apparently the big Wednesday night thing to do around here. I didn’t do very well.

Very early tomorrow morning, I’ll take a train to a bus to a ferry and end up on Vancouver Island. I’ll explore Butchart Gardens and Victoria before heading up north to hang with family for a few days.

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