We❤️ Van (or, A Weekend in Vancouver, or, I Want to Live in British Columbia)

Last month, Bob and I spent a long weekend in Vancouver. Several times I saw the “We ❤️ Van” motto. It took me a while to figure out that it’s a reminder to recycle. And I hate to admit it took me a while to realize Van refers to Vancouver. Please note that my mother’s second husband’s name was Van and he wasn’t my favorite person on the planet. Every time I saw it I thought of taking a picture and sending it to my siblings with a 🚫 drawn over it. That explains why I was a little slow on the uptake on that one.

We heart Van
It depends which Van you mean.

By the way, can anyone tell me why the Vancouver airport designation is YVA? Just curious.airport

One of the things I love about being in Canada is the positive vibe to everything. Even the street signs and pedestrian crossing lights have a “wow, here’s what you can do” message rather than a “you better not do this” implication.

green circle
Isn’t the green “yes” circle much friendlier than the red “no” circle?

The walkers in Canada clearly have a jauntier air to them than their American counterparts.

jaunty walker
Doesn’t he look like he’s having a good day?

The signage is also clear; it’s a very bicycle friendly city, and to prevent pedestrian/bicycle mishaps, the paths are clearly marked as to who should be on which side of the path. It was very helpful to this pedestrian, who has spent a lot of time at UC Berkeley and UC Davis dodging bicycles.

walk ride
Keeping the traffic polite.

Even the post boxes are more fun and colorful than the boring blue boxes in the US.

mailbox.jpg

I was worried about finding vegan food, but I needn’t have been. The first night, we found a wonderful place, The Acorn, that I wish I could go to every week. Creative and wonderful flavors, like being at Millennium or Sanctuary Bistro in Oakland/Berkeley, but a little quirkier in atmosphere. The beautiful, willowy hostess and wait staff in their flowy black dresses and faint Québécois accents made me feel like I was an American in Paris.

facade 2
S’il vous plaît venir.
cheers
First decision–drinks. I always look for fun non-alcholic drinks, and they had them. Mine is called the Little Bitter. I forget what oddball cocktail Bob picked.

menu 2

But what to eat? It was hard to choose.

specials
The special; two kinds of mushrooms so I’m in!

Pleasantly fed, we went back to our hotel and turned in for a good night’s sleep in preparation for our trip to Granville Island the next day.

vancouver-map-0

To get to Granville Island, we took an aquabus from Hornby Street Dock and headed to face the tourist crowd on a Saturday.

 

bridge 3

The island has a huge public market, art galleries, boutiques, a marina, and oddly, Ocean Concrete, but even that has been transformed by the Brazilian art duo (and twin brothers) Os Gemeos, into a public art project. Take a look at Ocean Concrete.

concrete 3
Ocean Concrete silos, Granville Island.

Scenes at the Public Market:

 

After a day of walking the sea wall and maneuvering through the tourist crowd, we headed back to downtown and set out on a trek for dinner to Yaletown, an old industrial area that is a successful example of urban regeneration.

view

I  had less luck with the vegan food in Yaletown, although I did find vegan chocolate ice cream, so I was happy.

After so much walking, we decided to stay closer to the hotel on Sunday, making the short walk to the Vancouver Art Gallery. Don’t let the name gallery fool you; it’s a world-class museum and currently is showing a Picasso exhibition that I was excited to see.

 

Bob with signs

The Picasso exhibition is sectioned by the 6 women who served as muses during Picasso’s life: Fernand Olivier, Olga Kohklova, Marie-Thérèse Walter, Dora Maar, Françoise Gilot, and Jacqueline Roque.

picasso_muses_2_3563924b

Fernand Olivier:

 

Olga Kohklova:

Picasso 2a
Head of a Woman (Olga), 1917
Picasso 3a
Portrait de Femme (Olga), 1917

 

Marie-Thérèse Walter:

Picasso 6a
Guitar Hung on a Wall with Profile, 1927
Picasso 7a
Marie-Thérèse’s Face

Dora Maar (you can tell from his portraits of her that they had a volatile relationship):

Pablo and Dora 1
Picasso with Dora, far right.
Picasso 9a
Woman in a Hat with Flowers, 1944
Picasso 11a
Weeping Woman, 1937

 

Françoise Gilot:

Pablo and family 1
Picasso and Françoise with their two children, Claude and Paloma.
Picasso 12a
Françoise, 1946
Picasso 13a
Claude et Paloma, 1950
Picasso 14a
Femme assise, 1947

 

Jacqueline Roque:

Pablo and Jacqueline 1
Pablo and Jacqueline, 1957

One of my favorite sections of the exhibition was the video loop playing of Picasso painting on glass with filmmaker Paul Haesaerts filming from the other side, made in 1949.

But wait, there’s more! There were also wonderful exhibitions to see of the streetscapes of photographer Harry Callahan, photographer Steve Waddell, text art by Barbara Kruger, an historic look back at Canadian artist Emily Carr, and a moving exhibition by Bharti Kher, a female artist in India whose work was a revelation to me.

Callahan:

Waddell:

Kruger:

Carr and Paalen:

Bharti Kher:

IMG_6755

 

Tired? Hungry? Let’s visit the cafe! It’s one of the better (and lovelier) museum cafes I’ve been to, and they had vegan options!

vegan soup and cookie
Vegan soup and cookie, thank you!
flower water
Flower petal water.
cafe patio 2
The cafe patio.

 

All refreshed, we then headed for a walk to Stanley Park, a gem of the city.

Lord Stanley 1
Lord Stanley himself.

I want to live in the park restaurant.

I had a much needed coffee. Bob happily tried the beer.

Bob

Back to hotel for a rest. Finally, the traditional feet picture!

feet 2

A last dinner at the restaurant Notch8 in the Hotel Georgia, a beautiful hotel that if you have to ask how much a room costs, you can’t afford it. We did not stay there but in the Metropolitan next door. I especially liked the Art Deco architecture of the vestible.

 

Sadly, we had to leave this beautiful city and head back to our real lives. But I can dream. Someday I’ll get back there. Look for me under the sign of the diva, or on board the little houseboat of my dreams.

Diva

yellow boat1

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