Friday, 6 February 2009

the (unofficial) vancouver tourism board proudly presents

I whine about the lack of sunshine out here on the west coast, but then there are days (like today) when I have to catch my breath because I really do live in one of the most unbelievably gorgeous corners of the universe...

An Eye-Candy Tour of Vancouver
(and a few other parts of British Columbia)

*you can click on almost all of the photos for bigger versions*

My new banner photo was taken one afternoon last autumn.

<-- This photo was taken about 20 minutes later from the exact same spot (but obviously facing in a different direction). There's a joke, "Don't like the weather in Vancouver? Wait five minutes." I know other cities claim this as there own, but I have never been in a place where the weather changes so drastically, so quickly, so often.

My brother's girlfriend moved to Vancouver (from NEW ZEALAND) to be with him. In all fairness, he moved here from Rhode Island... she flew into Vancouver on June 30th so obviously we spent Canada Day (July 1st) wandering around Granville Island and Stanley Park and flaking out at Third Beach along the Seawall until our stomachs were growling. It was one of the most gorgeous days I have EVER spent ANYWHERE. It was hot, just dry enough to be comfortable in the shade, and then there were fireworks. Oh and all you can eat sushi for 21.95$ (yum, unlimited salmon sashimi, negitoro cones and beef tataki!) A perfect day.

Left: English Bay from the Seawall.

Right: the same barge. View from Third Beach along the Seawall in Stanley Park.

False Creek as seen from Granville Island. Canada Day 2008.

Lynn Canyon. In Lynn Valley (shockingly!), a neighbourhood in North Vancouver.

The park is actually within the North Van. city limits.

It's the perfect escape for a couple hours on a Saturday (or a Tuesday) afternoon.

It barely ever snows in Vancouver, so when it does, it's worth taking photos. These were all taken on Christmas Eve 2008, after Vancouver had had a week straight of snow (almost unheard of here). I was in heaven. Everyone with a car and no snow tires was in hell.

The Vancouver Art Gallery
(you would think this impressive facade was the entrance, but no, it's just architectural eye candy)

The Hotel Vancouver: Vancouver's requisite castle-hotel.
My graduation was in a similar hotel in Ottawa, the Chateau Laurier. These places are amazing.
They have gilded Grande Ball Rooms. They do High Tea. It's worth the 50$.

Richards St. - You can barely see the church I was trying to photograph.


Very touristy.

Still very pretty.

The rail-yard downtown close to Waterfront Station in the foreground,
the downtown port in the middle, and Mount Seymour in the background on the left.

Simon Fraser University's main quad, the AQ. (The Academic Quadrangle - QUADRANGLE - I'm not joking, that's what it's called.)

This is SFU on a good day.

A REALLY good day.

Most of the time it is very grey and very concrete and it feels like a prison, or a morgue or a dungeon (unlike my high which looked like a medieval dungeon, but that's another story).

This was the sunset from my kitchen in residence for the first two years of my degree. Shell House. I thought it was a cute reference to rowing shells, or sea shells: no, it's construction was paid for by the Shell Petroleum Company.

SFU is supposed to be a radical (left) university. I nearly cried. Mostly I was trying not to laugh at the absolutely hypocrisy of it. Still, a pretty sunset. Marred only by my inability to remember to turn off the flash. Shoot. I still love it.

The pond in the AQ.

It is also home to way too many koi.

And a few storks. And a grey heron.

The faces are blurred to protect these ladies' privacy. Plus, cute as they are, they are not the point. It's what is behind them that's the point. All that white stuff. Not water. Well, not in liquid form. That is Vancouver under cloud cover. This photo was taken on Burnaby Mountain (home to SFU's main campus). People don't get that IT'S A MOUNTAIN. My ears popped almost every day going up and down the 'hill' (yeah, it's a mountain but we call it a hill... cause it's only a little mountain). Some days, the weather sucks everywhere BUT on Burnaby mountain, because we are actually ABOVE the clouds like in this photo. And yeah, that's also the sunset. The bumpy stuff in the distance, those are the Gulf Islands. When the sky's clear, you can watch planes take off from YVR (Van Int'l Airport). Seriously. (YVR is 20 kilometres away in Richmond, which is, technically in a different city.)

These are, believe it or not, shots of the view from the exact same spot on a sunny day.

And, lest I neglect the rest of the province: from around British Columbia...

Not technically Vancouver... but Garibaldi Provincial Park is only about an hour north.

<-- Spot the Mario-penguin. It's like Where's Waldo...
Gah !!! -->




my heart nearly stopped beating watching the reflection of the sunset on that mountain...
Garibaldi Provincial Park, September 2008.

Highway 3A heading south-east from Penticton, just before you hit Keremeos.
The mountain in the background is real, despite looking like an old Hollywood backdrop.
Click to enlarge to see why I took the photo.

I went to Jasper in August. What should have been a 7-8 hour drive was 13 hours. Torrential downpours hit as we were leaving Van. Traffic was bumper to bumper heading east down highway 1.

Also, it was Labour Day weekend.

Right: run-off from aforementioned downpour. Left: the sunset over Kamloops two hours later, from the Coquihalla (Coke-ah-ha-la) - most people just call it the Coke. Again, crazy weather changes. And, to think, E. and R. didn't believe me when I said I was the good weather fairie...

The south end of Okanagan Lake (Penticton) in July after a day of tubing down the canal. I LOVE my life. Well. In the summer. In the sun. With M. and her mum. Drinking Alexander Keith's while floating down a canal in the Okanagan. How can you NOT love that?

As an entertaining side-note... Dany Heatley (Senators) and his brother Mark Heatley (Munich ECH), Jarome Iginla (Flames), Rob and Scott Neidermayer (Ducks), Carey Price (Habs), Wade Redden (Rangers), Chuck Kobasew (Bruins), Joffrey Lupul (Flyers), Nick Schultz (Wild), Dustin Penner (Oilers), and Shea Weber (Preds) among others have been known to spend the off-season on the lake in Kelowna. A whole bunch of them train with Evolution Hockey's Pro Prep Development Program. Just when you thought BC couldn't get any more appealing ;)

Iginla and Heatley have houses in Kelowna. I can't blame them; the Okanagan Valley is one of the most beautiful places on earth. (It gets the hot summers, the cold winters and TONS of sunshine - I may have to move there...)

And now, for something completely different...

Pemby 2008. This is your medical team. Scared yet?
(well, 3 of the 177 people on the medical team...)

The main stage at Pemberton Festival. (Pemberton, BC)

Coldplay. Accapela. From the VIP viewing platform. I love my life. (Pemberton, BC)

Coldplay. Redefining 'Grande Finale.' Viva la Vida indeed! (Pemberton, BC)

And people wonder why we got the 2010 Olympic bid...

Come visit. Because this is only what I have photos of. Most of the time, I don't even think to take pictures. I'm beginning to take it for granted (just a teensy bit) that the Coast Mountains are the backdrop of my view as I walk down my driveway...


Jessclub7 said...

When I went to the Vancouver Art Gallery, we were taking pictures of the way better bit which should be the entrance and there was a homeless guy sleeping under it. When he saw that we were taking pics he got up and was all, 'Oh, I'm sorry, I'll get out of your way'. Insane.

Randomly, last night I finished a book which I bought in Vancouver. So it has only taken me 18 months to read it!

mer said...

yeah, the west entrance is gorgeous. mostly it smells like pot.

i'd want the homeless guy in the photo though; shows you want this city is really like...

Jessclub7 said...

I have never seen so many homeless people in my life as in Canada. And I mean that.

I was completely shocked. And when I came back everyone I told that was shocked - 'but I thought Canada was civilized'.

Whatever. Nowhere's perfect.

mer said...

They're all concentrated in Canada, especially in Vancouver. Because it's the warmest in the winter. In Ottawa, people freeze to death on the street in the winter. (Literally, there are at least a few deaths every winter). And there are practically NO homeless people in any smaller communities. I'm not trying to defend my country, but if you only went to big cities, it makes total sense that you'd think that.

JK said...

I am officially jealous. I have always wanted to go to Vancouver/BC and almost did a semester exchange with SFU before deciding against it.

DC has an enormous homeless population. There are a lot of homeless veterans, which is ironic and sad considering the amount monuments and memorials dedicated in their honour.

@mer - I was too quick on the earlier post's comments. Alzer was recalled to the Caps this morning!

mer said...

booyeah Alzie!!!

mer said...

I did mention that I have deranged luck right? Now... Colby Armstrong must be traded back to the Pens. C'mon universe BEND TO MY WILL muwhahaha!

Lauren said...

Mer, this post is just not fair. I've got at least a foot of snow (and at least three feet of homework and work to do) sitting around my apartment building at the moment - but alas, today is also sunny and "warm" (it's about 35F - it's a heat wave in comparison the sub-zero temps. we've been experiencing lately).

I'm serious - Vancouver is drawing me in more and more every day.

ali said...

Vancouver is beautiful. That's about all I have to say -- WOW.

I can understand, without a doubt, why the IOC chose Vancouver to host -- I'm sure it's going to be quite the event...

Yep -- your pictures are incredible...

Jessclub7 said...

I actually thought Toronto was worse than Vancouver for sheer numbers of homeless people. In Vancouver, they were a lot more 'distressed' though. If that, somewhat offensively, makes sense!

I didn't see many homeless people in Halifax or Calgary - or even Montreal.

I remember reading the Globe & Mail while I was there tho and there was uproar in the paper about it - apparently a load of shelters had been closed by the government because of budget concerns or something.

It didn't taint my experience of Canada though - it was just surprising.

I think the big cities in England just do a better job of hiding the problem.

Clare said...

Vancouver is just beautiful. When is the best time of year to visit? I think if I ever had to convince anyone to go to Vancouver I would show them this.

mer said...

@ jess - montreal hides it well. Vancouver has more "distressed" people largely because they shut down a huge mental hospital here about 15 years ago and basically evicted everyone --> thus the Downtown East Side. Lovely.

Hali doesn't have a huge problem.

Calgary is one of the richest cities in the country right now so they acutally built a multi-million dollar glorified half-way house: rehab, work-centre, shelter. the works all in one. It's actually kind of incredible. then again having a half dozen people dying in -40 weather ain't so good for tourism...

And the Globe was right: Harper's a douchebag. He also cut funding to one of the most successful safe-injection sites in the World. (they have since found private funding and provincial funding - who knew an Olympic bid could have social side effects?) anyways, drug ODs are down so much mostly because of Insite but Harper got all upitty about it "encouraging" drug use. right. uh huh. *throttles the dense prime minister*

I know I lived in one of the most privileged countries in the world, but sometimes I wish my government would pony up and do what it claims it does. We have delusions of socialist grandeur.

Jessclub7 said...

I seriously think I walked (very quickly and whilst not making eye contact with anyone) through the downtown east side - is it near a big police station?

It was certainly an experience!

mer said...

With a big pretty building kiddie-corner to the huge police station swarming with drug dealers?

That's Main and Hastings.

Why on earth were you down there?

Jessclub7 said...

We were just wandering around - the place certainly needed a big cop shop!

Living on the edge ...!