Seeing the city through the eyes of The Brit
Vancouver signified a significant milestone for me. Firstly, it’s a city I’ve always wanted to visit (and one that I had half an eye on to move to in the future), and secondly, it meant I’d finally meet up with Brian and Brianna, completing A Brit and A Broad for the first time since we launched this travel video blog in May.
Both Brian and Brianna are Vancouverites, and they both know the city inside out. Personally, I always love being shown a city by locals because you always get a better feel for it, almost as if you’re a local too, almost as if you belong there.
As Brian was tying things up at work, Brianna acted as my tour guide while I was in Vancouver. Even though I’ve known Brian for five years, I’ve only ever spoken to Brianna on Skype, so it was nice to spend some time just the two of us, especially as we were presenting a new YouTube series together!
The first thing we did was catch a tiny boat over to Granville Island. As a Brit, I never realised there was so much water in and around Vancouver, and seeing the city floating around gave a different perspective I didn’t expect to see.
On Granville Island we went to the food market before doing one of the things to do in Vancouver – walk around the Sea Wall. If you’re looking for the best panoramic views of the city then the Sea Wall is the place to go for them.
That night Brianna and I went to the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel for sushi and sashimi. There are over 600 sushi restaurants in Vancouver, and it is widely considered that the city produces the best sushi outside of Japan.
I’ve never been the biggest fan of sushi, but I can honestly say the sushi and sashimi platter I had at the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel was the best I’ve had in my life. Also, the fact that the hotel is 100% OceanWise, meaning all the fish is ethically caught, was an added bonus and seemed to make everything taste that much fresher.
The three of us have been planning A Brit and A Broad for well over a year now, so it was with a huge sense of anticipation that we started filming our first video.
We wanted to shoot our first location to represent not just Vancouver but all of Canada. It didn’t take long before we settled on Stanley Park.
Stanley Park is a stunning 1,001-acre public park with a long walking and running path skirting the Pacific Ocean. Every weekend you will find a number of Vancouverites running around the park and it is one of the best places to people watch in the city.
From Stanley Park we went to the Vancouver Art Gallery. One of Brianna’s favourite authors is Douglas Coupland, and there was a huge exhibition of his on (I’ll let Brianna tell you all about it).
Finally, we went to the Capalano Suspension Bridge, one of the oldest suspension bridges in the world. It was built in 1889 and spans 70 metres over a river 140 metres below.
Obviously being with Brian and Brianna meant I got to see a lot more of the city than if I did it on my own, and it felt I got a really good feel for the place.
In fact, I could easily see myself living there one day.
Seeing the city through the eyes of The Broad
Macca’s arrival to Vancouver came in the form of a WhatsApp notification. It read: “I’m at the Starbucks in the Waterfront Center”. When I went to meet him, I realized I had the wrong Starbucks in the wrong Waterfront Center. This is what I love about having visitors come to town. They take you out of your day-to-day routine and show you your city through new eyes.
Vancouver is full of life and I have called it home for the past eight years. There is enough going on that I am stimulated and busy, but it carries the laid-back West Coast vibe and natural beauty. That having been said, there is still so much I haven’t seen of Vancouver and the surrounding area.
I have lists of places I want to camp or hike near Vancouver, and even right in the city there are places that are constantly on my ‘to visit’ radar. One of the things I love most about Vancouver, and why I think it has become a ‘world-class city’, is the abundance of wildlife just outside the downtown core. It’s become the calling card for Vancouver tourism – if you travel an hour (or less) in any direction, you reach gorgeous forested land for hiking, mountains for climbing or the Pacific Ocean for swimming, boating or island hopping.
Within the city, The Vancouver Art Gallery is a cultural hub and often the beacon for all sorts of political rallies. I have recently become more familiar with the Vancouver Art Gallery having had the chance to perform in FUSE, a night of art, music and live performance at the gallery. The space itself is beautiful and grand, and it was once the home of the Vancouver courthouse.
Over the summer, Canadian artist and novelist Douglas Coupland had an exhibit there entitled “everywhere is anywhere is anything is everything”. Coupland has managed to become the voice of “Generation X”, writing novels that capture this voice perfectly and bluntly. His visual art is just as poignant and witty. He is one of my favourite writers but I still hadn’t seen the exhibit, so when Macca came to town I thought it was the perfect opportunity to share a little Canadiana.
The exhibit was jam packed, with themes of repetition, media, pop culture and nostalgic Canadian bric-a-brac. Miniatures show his eye for detail and pieces like Slogans for the 21st Century encompass his knack for modern language and humour. Lucky for us, the usual no photography rule was replaced with signage throughout the exhibit encouraging visitors to tweet and post photos on Instagram.
Like I said, getting out of the city is easy too, and so we took a drive up to Whistler on our last day in Canada. The Sea to Sky Highway was recently overhauled for the Vancouver Olympics in 2010, so what used to be a treacherous single lane highway is now a breeze.
The drive is gorgeous, bordering the ocean for much of the winding way. Driving home around at 6pm, we caught the magic hour just as the sun was hitting the stunning Squamish Chief mountain. Creating a wall of shimmering silver rock to the left and glowing water to our right, I was reminded once again why I love the West Coast and will always call it home.