Lukewarm on Chilly Vancouver

Capilano Bridge Park is amazing tourist site
Ravine Walk at Capilano Bridge Park

I decided to visit Vancouver, Canada, during the hottest days in Dallas. While it was a steamy 90 plus degrees in Dallas, I wasn’t prepared for the chilly and drizzly weather at the hottest time in Vancouver. That is also a metaphor for how I felt about the city … lukewarm. It felt like New York City in miniature without the greatness of that city and a whole lot fewer people. There were no crowds. The buildings were generally moderate size glass structures built to withstand The Big One (Vancouver sits on a fault line) which nearly everyone believes will level Vancouver when it comes.

The suburb of Richmond, near the international airport, feels like you’re in China as many of the faces and signs on retail and commercial establishments are in Chinese. Although Vancouver itself has the world’s third largest Chinatown, most of its Asian community lives in Richmond. The “subway,” a light rail similar to Dallas’ DART, arrives in Vancouver in 25 minutes from Richmond. You’ll want to visit Richmond’s casino, the area’s largest, reputed to be a big site for money laundering. Next to the casino is a popular tourist attraction, the Richmond Night Market, an Asian inspired market, open during summer months at night.

In Vancouver proper, Stanley Park is the highlight tourist attraction. It’s a public park with many facets, including a marina, rose garden, totem pole exhibit and plenty of biking, surrounded on three sides by the water, which is ever-present in Vancouver.

Stanley Park is a major attraction of Vancouver
Totem poles in Stanley Park

Highlight two is Granville Island. Easily spend an entire day here. On the waterfront, you can see huge floating homes; there is a market selling everything and many places to dine. Interestingly, a cement factory that pre-dates the tourist development of the Island is still in operation in the center of it all.

A favorite and unique tourist site is the Capilano Suspension Bridge, a private rain-forest development. Judging from the cost of entry and the large number of people visiting, it is hugely profitable. Admission price depends on the time you visit and your age. Average cost is about $50, but, hey, you do get a “free” rain poncho.

Just outside Vancouver, a long time ago an indigenous man built a cabin on the far side of a ravine. To cross the ravine, he built a rudimentary suspension bridge, now beefed up to safely accommodate hordes of tourists who flock here to cross it. On the foot trail to the bridge are exhibits about the rain-forest and the indigenous people that once lived here, including several totem poles.

Capilano Bridge can take your breath away or scare you
Capilano Bridge fills with many tourists

In another exhibit a foot path with stairs is built jutting out from the mountain alongside a ravine. It offers breathtaking views as you feel you are walking on air. To-be-expected tourist-oriented souvenir and gift shops, fudge factories, ice cream places, coffee bars and restaurants abound. Discount coupons are widely available at hotels. Free buses from downtown go to this site throughout the day (allow 20 minutes for the trip).

Vancouver offers a good base for quick access to outdoor activities in the surrounding mountains and waterways. In this regard, it is unique. As an urban center, it feels more like a big town than a major city.

4 Comments

  1. Hi Michael,

    I read with great interest your recent travels to Vancouver, BC. I am a Texan that travels to Vancouver multiple times a year,;it seems you stopped short of Vancouver BC and more likely was describing Vancouver WA.

    By any credible travel rating source, Vancouver BC is in the top 5 most desired and best experienced travel destinations in the world.

    You have an obligation to your readers to get your information straight and clearly you failed here.

    Also, as you actually have a newspaper column, it might be a good idea to be able to string a sentence together by using proper grammar.

    Bill Bennett
    HP, TX

    1. Hi, Bill,
      I love getting input from readers. Please tell me what was not correct so it can be corrected. The newspaper column is edited by a team of experts. What grammar did they miss? I can change it in the blog, but, of course, the newspaper column is out of my control. Thanks!

  2. I have to say I was disappointed too in your reaction to Vancouver. My sister lives there so I have visited it multiple times and love it. Weather may have soured your experience. I have been blessed with beautiful sunny days and have also left the city for the northern coast and stays in the islands reached by ferries. I love the gardens, art venues, ethnic neighborhoods. But even my sister finds it dismal in winter with rain and overcast skies. I hope you give it another try sometime.

    1. I don’t dislike Vancouver, I just find it over-rated when compared to other destinations that are around the area (think Calgary, for example). I don’t include the islands nearby as part of Vancouver. They are great, but they take a separate trip to visit as most take most of the day to get to. So I regard them as separate and apart from Vancouver itself. If you look at Vancouver as a stopping point for visiting other places on a day trip, of course Vancouver offers overnight accommodations just like any other city. We were able to see a Paul McCartney concert in Vancouver at a fraction of the price it would be at home and in a more intimate venue, although still not small. That’s the point…Vancouver offers what other cities do on a much smaller scale, so if you like cities, the scale is really not there. Thanks for the comment!

      Also…I don’t want to love every place I visit as that wouldn’t be interesting to read and wouldn’t generate great feedback like yours! And while every place has good and bad things, I see so much and pretty much like every place I go, I still have to separate places by great and good.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *