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News Article

Must see and do's in Vancouver

Courtesy of Vancouver Sun - Feb 10, 2010
By Pete McMartin

Welcome to Vancouver!

olympics cypress.jpg

We hope your stay here with us is proving to be a pleasant one so far. On this, the eve of the 2010 Winter Olympics, we would like to take this opportunity to say we are proud to have you here, and deeply indebted to you for choosing to celebrate this great event with us, and by indebted we mean by several billions of dollars.

To make your stay with us as pleasant as possible, and to help you maximize the Vancouver experience, we would like to tell you a few things about the city, suggest a few local sights you might see and dispel some of the rumours you might have heard about us from our media.

First of all, Vancouver has been voted the Most Livable City in the World in almost every index that measures such things, which means, we like to think, that wherever you hail from, your town, by comparison, blows. So don't hate us because we're beautiful. But feel free to be filled with envy.

The most obvious component of our Most Livable City in the World status is our fabulous geographical setting.

To the west, there is the mighty Pacific Ocean. While you are here, may we suggest that you stroll along our many seawalls? Keep an eye out for our orca whales and sea otters, soon to be appearing in an aquarium near you! And while you gaze out at Burrard Inlet, take reassurance in the fact that we here in Vancouver, the birthplace of the modern environmental movement, have been labouring for years to clean up our maritime habitat by removing much of the slimy and ugly things that used to be in our waters, such as fish.

To the north, we have the mountains. They are called the "Coast Mountains" and not "the Rockies," as any third-grader can tell you, but not, apparently, our geographically-challenged friends in the American media. These mountains, built at a cost of $4 billion at the gentle but firm insistence of the International Olympic Committee, provide a dramatic backdrop to the city and the Games. At the end of the Games -- in the spirit of what has come to be known around the world as the urban philosophy of Vancouverism -- they will be developed and sold as condominiums, complete with fabulous views, granite kitchen counter tops, top-of-the-line appliances and crippling mortgages. Downtown living at its best!

To the south and east, we have the Fraser Valley and the suburbs. Forget them.

Some local sites we recommend you see while you are here:

- Stanley Park: A must-do. The largest downtown park in the world, it is Vancouver's green jewel and, in fact, the last remaining stand of forest in the province, the rest of it having been logged or eaten by bugs. On the other hand, you may want to check out the park's famous Hollow Tree, which is dead, if you are into that sort of thing.

- Granville Market: What once was an industrial area where people actually did real work has been remade in an authentic old-world market complete with simulated cobblestone streets and kiosks filled with colourful, locally-stacked produce shipped in from California and Mexico.

Spend hours immersing yourself in authentic old-world market activities such as looking for parking, shuffling down aisles crammed with other people shuffling down aisles, and marvelling at the prices of the hand-blown glass and pottery ware that you might consider giving as a wedding present but would never in a million years use yourself.

- Our multiculturalism: Many of our visitors, especially those from American suburbs, will be amazed at the level of racial integration and harmony in Vancouver. Vancouver prides itself as Canada's Gateway to the Pacific, and just as we have endeavoured to become North America's entryway of cheaply manufactured Asian goods made by prisoners and child labourers, we have opened ourselves up to immigration from all over the world. That multiculturalism expresses itself in many ways in Vancouver: in our art scene, in our fabulous cuisine and in the relative merits of our drivers. We even have a United Nations Gang!

Probably, by now, you have noticed our weather.

There has been much speculation in the media that some of the venues may be jeopardized by the unseasonably warm temperatures and rain we have been experiencing. We would like to reassure you that we will continue to reassure you that the warm temperatures and rain are having absolutely no effect on us and that we are not letting it get us down. We're fine. Really. No flies on us.

Yes, it rains here. But Vancouverites love the rain! We like to call it "liquid sunshine!" We also like to say, "You don't have to shovel it!" We also like to say, usually around the middle of February, "Either we book two weeks at an all-inclusive on the Mexican Riviera or I swear I'm going to kill myself."

Just joking! Kind of! But tell you what: To give you an idea how much it really rains in Vancouver, place your hand palm-down on a table and slowly start to raise it. When we say "stop," that will give you an idea of the kind of precipitation levels we deal with here.

Okay, go. . . . . . .

A little higher. Higher.

No, more than that. No, more. Still more. More. More!

Keep going. Almost there ...

Just about got to the ... Still more.

Sure, you can stand on a chair if you have to.

Okay, keep going. Closing in on it.

Watch those ceiling lamps, you'll burn your ...

Bit more!

Really, really close ...

I'll tell you what: Let's just move on. As we like to say in Vancouver about the weather here, if you don't like the weather, just wait 10 months and it'll change.

No, seriously.

Now let's talk about the price of real estate in Vancouver.

To give you an idea how much the price of real estate is in Vancouver, place your hand palm-down on a table and slowly start to raise it. When we say "stop," that will give you an idea of the kind of prices we deal with here.

Okay, go.