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Vancouver Trolley
Photo by Rhonda Spivak.

View of small beach from Stanley Park
Photo by Rhonda Spivak.

Cable car going up Grouse Mountain, Vancouver's closest ski destination.
Photo by Rhonda Spivak.

Beluga Whale, Vancouver Aquarium.
Photo by Rhonda Spivak.

Vancouver: The Pearl of the Pacific

By Rhonda Spivak, November 1, 2009

Vancouver, the pearl of the Pacific, is a cosmopolitan city by the sea, which is gearing up to host the 2010 Winter Olympics. While watching the world’s best athletes compete would  be a reason in itself to visit the city, Vancouver has an abundance of  other  attractions that beckon visitors.

Endowed with natural beauty, and a moderate climate, Vancouver, is enveloped  by the North Shore mountains and Pacific ocean.  For those who enjoy walking or cycling, the city has the longest uninterrupted urban seafront in the world.  The Seawall route ,  which stretches 26 kilometres ( approximately 8 and a half hours to walk)  wraps itself around the picturesque Stanley Park,  through False Creek, past Granville Island, Vanier Park and toward the sea cliffs below Kitsilano. Stanley Park offers beautiful vistas from which to view the city and visitors can also stop to see the park’s famous cluster of totem poles.

The Vancouver Aquarium, Canada’s largest marine science centre, offers visitors the opportunity to see blubbery white beluga whales up close, which is sure to delight travelers of all ages. There is also a walk through a large conservatory, and an opportunity to feed marine mammals, such as dolphins and seals, for an extra fee.  It is easy enough to spend the better part of a day at the aquarium, which is both indoors and outdoors.
From Vancouver it is a snap to venture into British Columbia’s vast wilderness by car. In the winter time, Grouse Mountain, which is only a 20 minute drive from downtown Vancouver, is a very convenient ski destination.  The top of the Mountain also has a  skating rink, and may even have sleigh rides over the winter break. Even for those who aren’t inclined to ski, Grouse’s Chalet, which sits 3,500 feet above sea level, and contains a comfortable restaurant is worth visiting in order to see the jaw-dropping panoramic view of the city and ocean.  A visit while the sun sets over a blanket of snow covered evergreen trees lining the mountainside, with the shimmering lights of the city in the background, is certainly worthwhile.

Downtown Robson street, with its lively atmosphere, is a fine place for a taste of window shopping, but no visit to the city would be complete without a trip to Grandville Island.   Up until the 1960’s Granville Island  was Vancouver’s worst eyesore, a  grimy grouping of  neglected warehouses.  But, now, it is  the trendy heart of urban living,  complete with scores of artists studios, with one- of- a- kind handmade crafts and jewelry,  the Emily Carr University of Art and Design, theatre, restaurants, an enticing food market, a brewery,  and museums.  All in all Grandville Island provides a treasure chest of sights and sounds to delight the senses.  The False Creek ferries offer a unique and fun form of transportation back and forth across False Creek to the island. 

Another example of renaissance in Vancouver is Yaletown, which was once a run down part of the city but is now a chic area. It is now overflowing with cafes, upper end  boutiques,  and choice new restaurants.  Visitors may want to check out the scene at
 O Bar, one of the hottest bars in Yaletown and a popular night spot.
One way to enjoy sightseeing in Vancouver, is to book a day pass with the Vancouver trolley.   These red cars on rubber wheels resemble Vancouver’s early streetcars, and let passengers hop on and off when they choose.  Visitors can take in any of a number of sites—the Vancouver Museum, Space Centre (a great activity for families with children),  or the Vancouver Art Gallery, with a fine collection of Emily Carr paintings. 

For those who crave the ocean, it is  possible to cruise Coal Harbour or English Bay and beyond by boarding Vancouver’s authentic paddlewheel, The MPV Constitution. 

Another landmark is the famous steam clock which is a glow at night on Gastown’s water  Street. Gastown was where Vancouver began when  in 1867 , a feisty “Gassy Jack” Deighton set up a bar and started serving up beer and conviviality.

Vancouver is a destination that will leave you with a  good feeling and a desire to come back and visit again.

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.