Vancouver and all it has to offer
As the plane descends into the Vancouver International Airport, I am fortunate to catch a glimpse of the mountains and the coastal waters. Vancouver and most of BC is dotted with mountains and picturesque landscapes that will take your breath away at every turn. British Columbia is where I feel at peace, I realize that more and more every time I leave. I have what seems to be an insatiable need to be around mountains and water, and British Columbia offers both of these.
Heritage and Culture in Vancouver
Stepping through to the terminal at the Vancouver International airport, I am always so taken aback by the artwork around. The incredible art throughout the airport reflects the area’s diverse landscape and its people.
The focal point of the collection here is the Spirit of Haida Gwaii: The Jade Canoe by Bill Reid, located on the 3rd level of the International Terminal. The stories and the legends that go along with it are very intriguing and so much a part of the history and culture of the Coast Salish.
Two Welcome figures, each standing three meters tall, greet you as you enter the Canada Customs Hall in the International Terminal. They are inspired by the traditional Coast Salish welcome to visitors, which is appropriate as the Airport stands on First Nations territory.
The Vancouver airport is one of the most beautiful airports I have been in, and it is always a pleasure to spend time exploring the art throughout.
Favourite Landmarks in Vancouver
Downtown Vancouver is linked to the rest of Greater Vancouver via several bridges. As you cross from one side to the other, you get great vistas of the coastline and the mountains. There is something about crossing bridges that excite me. It is the expansiveness of space and the sheer engineering it has taken to build the bridges in the first place that intrigues me.
The uniqueness of Vancouver and its close proximity to the mountains makes it the ideal city for anyone who loves nature and the outdoors.
Stanley Park, a world renowned urban park, lies in Vancouver’s West End. It is one of Vancouver’s most popular destinations and one of my family’s favourites, as it offers a vast array of activities and attractions to enjoy.
The Seawall at Stanley Park stretches 8.8 KM and is always a favourite place to walk. I have spotted sea otters popping up from the water, as well as a few graceful blue herons along here. The Seawall is also a very popular spot for joggers, rollerbladers, and cyclists, and with incredible views of the North Shore Mountains and the ocean, how could it not be a favourite?
The art of the Coast Salish people from British Columbia is absolutely beautiful, as is their use of symbolism in their carvings to tell a story. There are nine totem poles located at Brockton Point in Stanley Park, and the legends and the symbolism of the Coast Salish people are depicted in these carvings. I enjoy trying to decipher the images within the carvings to understand the stories they are telling.
Brockton Point is also a great spot to take a photo of the Vancouver cityscape that sits across the water.
Over the years, we have taken a few photographs in the well known “Hollow Tree”, a 700-800-year-old Red Cedar stump with a huge cavity. It is the perfect place to mark our different visits to the park.
The tree had been badly damaged during a devastating storm just after our first visit and was slated to be removed because of the instability caused by the storm. A society for the conservation and maintenance of the tree was formed and funded its stabilization so visitors can still visit and take photographs of the tree.
Bridges in Vancouver
Bridges have always intrigued me, and the Lion’s Gate Bridge is no different. This bridge connects Stanley Park to the North Shore and is best viewed from Prospect Point in the park. Along with a great view of the bridge, you also get spectacular views of the North Shore mountains and Burrard Inlet.
The Vancouver Aquarium, also located in Stanley Park, is a sanctuary and a leader in Marine Mammal rescue. It is also home to thousands of ocean species and aquatic life. This is a place where I have spent many afternoons sitting in front of the underwater Beluga display, getting to know and learning about the Belugas, they are incredibly intelligent animals.
The Seawall in Vancouver
The seawall in Vancouver actually runs a length of 22 km through Vancouver. You can follow it from the Convention Center to Stanley Park then towards False Creek via English Bay. It then goes around to Granville Island then finally towards Kitsilano Beach.
There is a bike path that extends beyond this towards the University of British Columbia, which is a perfect day outing for urban explorers.
Sometimes, it is more fun to hop onto the Aquabus at the different spots through False Creek to get around quicker, and it gives you a different perspective of False Creek from the water.
Granville Island, a former industrial area, is a favorite spot of mine. The public market has the freshest of fish and incredible pyramids of luscious looking produce. There are also some incredible artisan studios here, as well as boutiques with local art and products. This is a favorite place to find the perfect souvenirs as they are so unique.
The onsite food court at the Public Market has quite a few offerings too, it’s a great place to grab a bite and refuel. Relax and listen to one of the local buskers while watching kids chase the pigeons.
The Playground Beyond Vancouver
During ski season, you have the option of skiing at either Cypress or Grouse Mountain. Located within 40 minutes of Downtown Vancouver they are both excellent ski areas. In the other seasons, if you are up to it, the Grouse Grind is the thing to do. It is an amazing and at times grueling workout with great views of the city as your reward. If you want to get up a little quicker, take the Skyride to the top.
Vancouver is beautiful and unique, you can ski in the morning and later relax on the beach in the afternoon. What more can you ask for?
Stay tuned for the next installment as we explore more of Vancouver and beyond.