Vancouver highlights

I really should have done a couple of separate posts on Vancouver, as the past few days have been crammed full of stuff I want to write about! Here is a digest of my time here (will try to make it as succinct as possible):

Grouse Grind. On Tuesday I hiked up Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver: about an hour and a half of relentlessly steep incline through the forest (phew!). Tougher than I expected, but a really beautiful climb and stunning views at the top, along with a pair of resident grizzly bears and a cheesy but quite hilarious lumberjack stunt show.

Whistler. The village of Whistler is a couple of hours’ drive from Vancouver to the north; the drive alone is totally spectacular. My photos in no way do justice to the beauty of the area, but I’ll post a few up in a bit to try to give you an idea! Whistler is a ski resort in winter and a big mountain biking centre in the summer, so there were lots of overly cool-looking types with flashy biking gear and perfect tans wandering around. Had a fantastic day there, mostly consisting of getting winched up and down the mountain by cable car. These are known as ‘gondolas’, which I found confusing to begin with – I had been wondering how they would manage to accommodate a fleet of long Venetian boats on the mountainside…

Sea Wall. On my first full day, Jill and I had a lovely walk around the Sea Wall by Stanley Park in central Vancouver which has beautiful views out over the water.

Capilano Suspension Bridge. All the guidebooks rave about this, and although it was undoubtedly impressive, it was also packed full of tourists. This made it a bit difficult to get across and around the trails, so I didn’t stay long.

Burnaby Mountain area, Deer Lake and Lynn Canyon. All beautiful spots to go for a walk/dip (the possibilities for getting out and enjoying nature are literally endless here!)

Vancouver Art Gallery. We went to see an exhibition of the work of Emily Carr, a famous NW artist whose style I really loved. There’s something a bit Van Gogh-like about her swirly nature scenes – have a look:

First Nations art. We stopped in on a few First Nations art galleries in town (the Bill Reid Gallery and a really exciting new social enterprise called Skwachay Lodge). In both of these, I was able to speak to some First Nations artists – absolutely fascinating. Canada’s culturally rich aboriginal past has been quite a revelation for me; their designs are full of storytelling and I’m keen to see more now.

A lesson in ‘real’ tea in Chinatown, Downtown east side. Apparently we Brits have been thoroughly bodging up this subtle and delicate art over our years of over-brewing and milk-adding. The owner of the little tea shop we visited made us a ‘proper brew’, which must only be left to stew for a few seconds before being transferred several times in and out of a tiny clay teapot and finally slurped loudly from a cup the size of thimble. Call me a philistine and tasty though the tea was, I’m afraid I remain a devotee of PG Tips.

Apart from the unbelievably aggressive treatment I received from Canadian border control on entry (interrogation is the only fitting word – they even read my diary!), my time here has been utterly brilliant. Jill has been the most wonderful and engaging host and Vancouver is a glimmering gem of a city. Tomorrow I’m heading down to Seattle – updates from the US coming soon! Will upload some Vancouver pics in the meantime.

Hope you’re all well – lots of love from way out West 🙂

– K


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