Our initial plan for Vancouver was just to see the city and area before the Winter Olympics arrived there next year, and though we checked out some books from the library and took some notes ahead of time, we kept our schedule there wide open for exploring. Temperatures were in the upper 50’s/lower 60’s and overcast in the mornings, so a jacket was in order.
The first morning we went across the street to the ATM to get some of the local currency. While we were in Canada, we found we were getting about C$93/US$100 exchange rate after fees, which seemed like a good deal, especially considering the convenience. The SkyTrain station in Metrotown was around two blocks from us, so we purchased all-day passes (C$9 each) which were good on SkyTrain, buses, and SeaBus.
We had heard plenty about Stanley Park (why do I hear “School Days” when I say that?) so that was our first destination. We were immediately struck by the buildings of Vancouver; throughout the city (and especially concentrated downtown) were hi-rise apartments, of mostly glass.
downtown Vancouver from Stanley Park
Stanley Park is a beautiful greenspace on the NW edge of the city, filled with bicycle and jogging/walking paths. And of course, the most visited site in all of British Columbia, the collection of First Nations artistry, the totem poles. And one item of interest to me was the Inukshuk, a type of monument resembling a human being constructed out of large rocks by the native indians of the region (think of the gorignak from Galaxy Quest) — you are sure to see them represented in the Winter Olympics images.
the Stanley Park totem poles
We went down to the waterfront district the first evening and although it seemed that the sidewalks had already rolled up for the night, we found a cozy little Italian restaurant and had a romantic supper while we visited with the folks who worked there.
We certainly noticed the very large Asian population in Vancouver, and were pleased to find a neat little mall under our hotel containing many various Japanese and Chinese shops. We had a wonderful meal from one of the many Asian cuisines featured in the food court there, and then explored the public market on the lowest level.
the Crystal Mall public market
On our final day in Vancouver, we did a little shopping for souveniers and (pre-) Olympic keepsakes, as well as taking the SeaBus to North Vancouver, and the SkyTrain on the newly opened route to Richmond, where the Olympic Village was situated.
SeaBus from North Vancouver, heading to the Vancouver waterfront
When the 2010 Winter Olympics begins, the blisters on our feet will have long healed, and Mo & I will have first-hand knowledge of where a lot of the activities in this beautiful area are taking place.
(Next: pt 4: Mount Rainier)