Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Vancouver, the city - like it or not?

On our last day in Vancouver we spent a few hours downtown, and went to four different areas: Chinatown, Gastown, along the harbor, and Granville Island. I took lots of photos, and will only show a selected few here, the rest can be seen on my Flickr account, in the Vancouver folder.

Some thoughts about Vancouver: All buildings are made of glass, especially modern apartment and office buildings. There is a lot of construction going on, but also areas right downtown that are in horrible shape, real dumps with homeless people or abandoned lots. Reminded me of parts of Baltimore or St. Louis, so a real American city-problem. The harbor is right in the center of the city, which is surrounded by mountains. You have giant cargo ships, railroad, and roads straight into the city center. The railroad that ends in Vancouver is Canadian Pacific and you can take the train all across North America nearly to Greenland from here.

The worst we saw was in Gastown, or near it, is an area that in the guidebook has been described as 'old town' feel with cute stores and cobble stone streets. There were some cobble stones, but most stores were tourist souvenir shops with things Made in China. We did see a sweater made in USA, a thing you can barely find in USA these days. Run down areas here too, and a steam powered clock that whistled four times an hour. That was cool, it is the only one in the world, but I bet they just put it there to lure tourists to the area. But some alleys you stayed away from, you just didn't feel like walking on a street where someone had just peed (we saw him do it).

Chinatown was wonderful, and had a different feel to it compared to New York's Chinatown. The buildings were smaller and it seemed more authentic and much less 'krims-krams' sold to tourists. Here were many markets with fruits, seafood, and medicinal plants and animals. Dried gecko, dried scallops and mussles, dried squid, anyone? We had lunch at a fantastic place called Hon's Wun-Tun (Noodle) House, highly recommended. We stuffed ourselves with dumplings, roast duck, noodles and chicken dishes. Nothing tasted like the usual Chinese-American fast food restaurant, and it was so different and so much better. The Chinese beer I had was the best I had during the whole trip, and Canada is known for its great beer so I must have missed out on the good ones.

Finally we ended up on Granville Island, which is paradise. It is a small island nestled under a big bridge going into downtown, and filled with old wharf and shipyard buildings that mostly have been converted to stores and restaurants. The best is a large public food market, just like a Swedish 'saluhall', but good and filled with local and organic things. I could live there forever! I bought spices of course, Asian ones that are hard to find, and sambal oelek, an Indonesian chili sauce that I love. You can get it in Sweden but not in New Jersey. SK and I ended up at the restaurant The Sandbar (with its own boiler signage) for a fast dinner before we had to go to the airport. SK had her first raw oysters, and she loved it, and the rest of the food was great too. But the best was the view over the sound and the rest of Vancouver. Absolutely magnificent. Each chair came with its own blanket to wrap around you if the evening got cold. What a place. At that moment Vancouver city redeemed itself in my eyes. I really could live there I think. I have more from Vancouver, pictures from the Botanical Garden and Anthropology museum are up next.


LS said...

Note: Some non-constructive comments were removed from this post.

PP said...

thank you.