Well, we've stayed here over five weeks, and feel we've got to know the city pretty well. It has warm winters and cool summers, with lots of rain showers. British Columbia's principal industries are mining, lumber and paper, fishing, fruit growing. In addition, Vancouver is a major shipping port -- the closest North American port to Asia, and finally, there's a good start on high tech industries here.
Vancouver not only has a large population with Asian backgrounds, but plenty of immigrant Europeans and a good smattering of First Nations people. This makes it a colorful and interesting place to walk, shop, and eat!
We've collected some of our observations that didn't seem to fit into our other travel reports, and offer them up for your enjoyment.
The Vancouver parking structure is called a Parkade and can be found as a standalone building or attached to supermarkets, the universities, shopping malls or office complexes.
Parking, especially during the current transit strike, can be tricky to find during weekdays. Museum parking lots, for example, frequently require the purchase of a ticket; about $2.00 Canadian for an hour of museum time. Street parking which looks available is sometimes restricted to local cars bearing permits (obtainable at the neighborhood centre).
The one-dollar coin is a Loonie, because it has a picture of a loon on the obverse, so naturally the two-dollar coin became a Toonie. Nobody says "one dollar" or "two dollars." In fact you can go to a Loonie-Toonie store to find inexpensive items.
Canadians are Canadians; people in the country to the south are Americans, none of this nonsense about the whole continent being North America.
Canadian restrooms are Washrooms.
It appears that Canadian women are less likely than American women to color their hair, at least to cover gray.
Elsewhere in Canada we found Chinese-Canadian food, which tended to be just as bad as Chinese-American food. Here in Vancouver, Chinese food was Chinese food, and a whole lot better!
The government of Canada is bilingual, so a bunch of official signs are in French and English. But lots of places in Vancouver the signs are in Chinese and English -- we even saw a Beware of Dog sign in English and Chinese!
The Canada geese in our nearby park are very much at home, crossing the street as they please.
In Vancouver area parks, walking trails have signs warning of wildlife, sometimes specifically coyotes, occasionally bears. In fact, when we walked through Minter Gardens a rather large and confused coyote was trying to find a way out.
We've seen a few community gardens here in Vancouver -- places where people use public land to grow flowers and vegetables. We had seen the same thing in Eastern Canada.
The Vancouver weather report is almost always Cloudy with Showers and Sunny Breaks, except when it's Partly Cloudy with Occasional Showers.
We had a dream of the famous Canadian Pacific Railway. Well it's still there, but it runs about as infrequently as AMTRAK. Trains leave Vancouver for Seattle or Toronto around 6:00 p.m., which means you don't get much sightseeing done before it gets dark. There are excursion trains, but you have to be in the right place at the right time. For example, we'll be staying in Nanaimo and going in to visit Victoria. Well the train from Nanaimo to Victoria leaves at 3:30 p.m. and returns at 8:15 the next morning. So, like most Canadians, we'll drive.
The trashcans in our building, and in the surrounding area, are picked over not once but several times a day. The pickers apparently specialize to avoid competition: plastic bags for one, bottles for another, rags and clothing for a third and so on. The city papers say something should be done about the urban underclass, but in fact the citizens and police are pretty tolerant. The worst concentration is near Hastings and Main, not far from police headquarters.
Our apartment is so high that we've become accustomed to seagulls flying UNDER our windows. At night the city lights sparkle like diamonds, even without the nightly fireworks which were put on during the World Figure Skating Championships.
The Vancouver graffiti includes markings which look like Asian ideographs; we wonder whether they are names or designs. Less frequent are slogans, but one of our favorites is: DOWN WITH POWDERED SOUP.
Most Americans would like Vancouver; the gardens are beautiful, the mountains and waterways provide a spectacular setting, the people are friendly, and, despite a metropolitan population of two million, it's easy to get around. We'd certainly be happy to return.