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.
By the way, can anyone tell me why the Vancouver airport designation is YVA? Just curious.
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.
The walkers in Canada clearly have a jauntier air to them than their American counterparts.
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.
Even the post boxes are more fun and colorful than the boring blue boxes in the US.
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.
But what to eat? It was hard to choose.
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.
To get to Granville Island, we took an aquabus from Hornby Street Dock and headed to face the tourist crowd on a Saturday.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dora Maar (you can tell from his portraits of her that they had a volatile relationship):
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.
Carr and Paalen:
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!
All refreshed, we then headed for a walk to Stanley Park, a gem of the city.
I want to live in the park restaurant.
I had a much needed coffee. Bob happily tried the beer.
Back to hotel for a rest. Finally, the traditional feet picture!
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.