thursday travelogue: viva vancouver, the girl next door.

If Seattle is the cool, cynical kid of the Pacific Northwest, Vancouver is the girl next door: effortlessly beautiful, usually unassuming and nursing a slight self-esteem complex. Sure, the Canadian city landed the 2010 Olympics, but some locals felt let down when the slick With Glowing Hearts Olympics ad didn’t use one of its many great homegrown artists but instead British band Doves. Come to think of it, complex is a great way to describe Vancouver.

The Olympic Countdown Clock is a regular tourist stop, but Vancouverites seem ambivelant about the 2010 games.

The Olympic Countdown Clock is a regular tourist stop, but Vancouverites seem ambivelant about the 2010 games.

Though the middle leg of my vacation, Vancouver is by no means a middling city. Any time you can stand on a busy beach and look one way to see a thriving city and the other to see snow-capped mountains, you’re somewhere special. (See this Facebook photo album for more images.)

Great seats, eh?

Great seats, eh?

I was also in Vancouver to see my very favo[u]rite band The Tragically Hip play live at the Orpheum Theatre. My friend Laura scored outstanding tickets from someone who had to unload a pair at the last minute. Was amazed when we got there and saw they were second row, right on the aisle! I had the next-closest thing to a front-row seat for lead singer Gordon Downie’s zany antics and the band’s magnificent musicianship. Close enough even my iPhone in low light could grab some superb shots.

Cheers to Granville Island!

Cheers to Granville Island!

We also spent an afternoon at Granville Island, a funky artsy community that features, among other things, the excellent Granville Island Brewery. I recalled seeing the area and brewery featured on a Travel Channel show and, while the brewery tours were long booked up, we did sample some of the local flavo[u]r.

The land is glorious and free.

The land is glorious and free.

In a previous entry, I chronicled our visit to the Guu Japanese restaurant, which is as much of a show as it is a meal. But so many places in Vancouver are full-sense experiences. Laura lives right near the culture-rich vein Robson Street and the city’s constantly pounding pulse throbs through the pavement. But she also lives a few blocks from English Bay and Stanley Park. The photo above comes from my walk around the seawall that circumnavigates the peninsula, one of many great views offered in this seaside city.

Like the green tea ice cream at Guu, Vancouver is full of unexpected flavo[u]rs.

Like the green tea ice cream at Guu, Vancouver is full of unexpected flavo(u)rs.


While I find most of its inhabitants thoughtful, modest and self-effacing, Vancouver is most certainly not vanilla in any way. It’s more like the green tea ice cream I enjoyed at Guu. It comes full of unexpected surprises, harbo[u]rs a variety of tastes and proves endlessly fulfilling.

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