Vancouver and its pulsating environs are spectacular from all angles. Vancouverites are friendly, fashionable, and completely multicultural with strong indigenous, Asian, and European influences. The seaport city on the mainland of British Columbia fuses the wild, outdoors side of Canada with the realism of a vibrant, cosmopolitan English-speaking city. The melting pot offers an alternative and much improved way of living, far from the nine-to-five office routine, the obligatory Saturday shopping trip, or the painful regularity of weekend hangovers.
The Vancouver vibes infuse the culture of its indigenous into its mainstream society. The ambience pulsates from the famous totem poles at Stanley Park to the posh Shaughnessy residential area, and onward to the swanky shops at the epicentre of downtown Vancouver shopping district, Robson Street. Ideally situated on a peninsula at the northwestern edge of downtown Vancouver, Stanley Park attracts approximately 8 million visitors each year. Stanley Park is an evolution of a forest and urban space over many years. Much of the park is densely forested, as it was in the late 1800s, featuring 500 thousand trees, some even looming to 75 metres in height and hundreds of years in age. Lovely beaches, miles of well-maintained paved and dirt trails, Canada’s largest aquarium and an array of kid-friendly spots make this 1,000-acre haven one of the greatest urban parks in the world. Incorporated in 1886, the park got its name from the then Governor General of Canada, Lord Stanley of Preston. On June 18, 2014, TripAdvisor named Stanley Park the “Top Park in the entire world”.
Most beautiful attractions at one of the world’s ideal cities to live in are free. Public arts dotted the urban landscape; the architecture offers a vista of modernism. The cityscape and architecture have developed in response to its temperate, scenic, and readily accessible natural settings of forests, mountains, and the ocean. The downtown core is built on a peninsula surrounded by waterfront beaches, parks, and walkways—all adding to its desirability of a place to live and visit. Vancouver’s most famous public art is the First Nations totem poles at Brockton Point in Stanley Park, carved in the 1880s. Another recognisable icon is the inukshuk in English Bay. The ancient Inuit symbol in the form of stone cairn resembling a person with outstretched arms came as British Columbia’s emblem at the 2010 Winter Olympics. The serendipitous artistic atmosphere refreshed every two years—thanks to the Vancouver Biennale public exhibition that turned the city into an open-air art museum.
Modern art pieces at public places worth noting are “A-maze-ing Laughter” and “The Birds”. Fourteen bronze sculptures, each three metres tall and weighing over 250 kilograms in a state of hysterical laughter, installed in Morton Park, along the English Bay in 2009, are the works of Yue Minjun. “The Birds” by Myfanwy MacLeod, installed after the 2010 Winter Olympics in Southeast False Creek Olympic Plaza, came in the form of outdoor sculptures depicting a pair of sparrows. Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 thriller by the same name shot on the same spot inspired the five-metre art installations.
Vancouver boasts modern architectures, turning the city during the late 20th century into a vibrant internationally recognised destination of choice and place to live. The West Coast Style, also known as West Coast Modernism, first emerged in the Greater Vancouver in the 1940s and continued to be a major influence in residential design. The Marine Building, a skyscraper in Downtown Vancouver and designed by McCarter Nairne and Partners, is famous for its art deco details and for a time being the tallest building in the British Empire. Ritzy mansions and residences in the most unique architecture lace the four richest streets of Vancouver, in the city’s west side neighbourhood of Shaughnessy. On a bright and sunny day, it is best to saunter to Granville Island. Once an industrial manufacturing area, it is now a hotspot for Vancouver’s tourism and entertainment. The area features classy amenities, such as an extensive marina, boutique hotels, the Emily Carr University of Art and Design, Arts Umbrella, False Creek Community Centre, various performing arts theatres—including Vancouver’s only professional improvisational theatre company Vancouver Theatresports League—the Arts Club Theatre Company and Carousel Theatre, fine arts galleries, and a variety of shopping areas
Also, spare your time for an adventure at a popular tourist attraction, Chinatown. Canada’s largest and historic Chinatown is charming, with a lot of Chinese characters and the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden as its centrepiece. This lovely garden is a surprise in the middle of this very urban landscape. As the first Chinese or “scholar” garden built outside of China, the mandate of the garden is to “maintain and enhance the bridge of understanding between Chinese and western cultures, promote Chinese culture generally, and be an integral part of the local community”.