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      06.10.2011 17:47
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      A very enjoyable stay as part of a two-city ski/sight-see holiday

      As you may have read, our two weeks in Canada started with a week skiing in Whistler. Having travelled such a long way though, we had felt that a single week did not justify the effort of getting to the western seaboard of North America so we stayed on for an extra week in British Columbia, in Vancouver. We were travelling with Inghams and they had laid on a coach to take all those returning to the UK to Vancouver Airport. There were two couples, including ourselves, who were taking an extended stay and, although the tour booking did not require them to do so, the local Inghams rep had organised for the coach to take the route to airport through Vancouver city and drop us off outside our hotels, so we didn't have to make a separate journey back into the city from the airport! Top marks, Inghams! Whilst Vancouver is BC's largest city, those of you who were paying attention during Geography will know that it isn't the capital. That honour is reserved for Victoria, on Vancouver Island, a very much smaller town. Vancouver consists of a commercial heart called Downtown, a peninsular jutting out into Vancouver Bay; to the North, suburbs and beyond the small ski resort of Grouse Mountain; and to the south, more residential suburbs, where the airport is also located. We were staying at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel, across the road opposite the Canada Place conference centre, which sits on the edge of the bay and next to one of the ferries across to the North Shore. This is one of several hotels owned and operated by this hotel chain, in Vancouver and throughout Canada. It's definitely at the upper end of the quality bracket but we got to stay there at a reasonable price as part of our overall package. Canada Place, across the road from the hotel, is worth a visit. The pavement here, running alongside the building, has tiles listing all of the provinces and major towns and cities of Canada. Take a walk and see how many you recognise. Further along, towards Stanley Park, is the Olympic Flame from when the Winter Olympics was held here. The flames are now only lit on special occasions. Fortunately, one of those was during our stay: Vancouver's official 125th birthday. Great celebrations both by the Vancouver residents and visitors and also by the indigenous peoples of the area. Very colourful and great entertainment. Here is also the giant "Lego" Killer Whale! Downtown ~~~~~~~ Oddly named as it is on the north side of the city and consists largely of skyscrapers! Down it most definitely isn't. Neither is it all commercial. A 1,000 acres of the tip of the peninsular is given over to the delightful Stanley Park, named after Lord Stanley, one time Governor General and also of Stanley Cup ice hockey fame. From here Lions Gate Bridge provides one of the road crossing to the North Shore and on to the skiing areas such as Whistler. Vancouver is built on the traditional North American grid pattern so finding your way around the city is really not difficult. Allied to that, the city isn't all that large, certainly not compared with European cities such as London or Paris. Getting around on foot is quite easy but does require a certain fitness since the Downtown peninsular consists of a central ridge which runs its length, up to Stanley Park, with the city mostly sitting on either slope, leading down to English Bay - Coal Harbour on one side and False Creek on the other. We walked just about everywhere but then we normally do in most cities; I believe it's the only sure way of getting to see everything. Having said that though we did, on a couple of occasions, take the buses and the SkyTrain modern rail service. The buses are not expensive but be aware that you have to provide exact money for every journey or else invest in a travel card from the Tourist Office. There are also SeaBus ferries along False Creek, which you can pick up and drop off at various points and which make a very attractive way to see the city. We found Vancouver a very attractive city. We would often walk from our hotel, up and over and down to the southern shore of the peninsular and from there walk along the shoreline towards Stanley Park. Along the way there are many attractions, not the least being bars and restaurants at which to take a rest and refreshment. Three of four hours of a leisurely stroll would enable you to circumnavigate the peninsular with ease. Telus World of Science --------------------------- Situated at the head of False Creek, this attraction, with its unmistakeable "Golf Ball" roof, is actually very much more a place to take very young children. It is a hands-on introduction to science and the exhibits are designed specifically to hold the attention of the very young whilst trying to teach them something about the science that defines our environment. However, the "Golf Ball" on the top floor houses a huge wrap-round screen cinema where daily there are films on various science subjects. The presentations are of the sort found at many such attractions such as the one at Futurascope in Poitier, France. The one we saw was a space oriented film, which was particularly suited to this type of screen. As it's all indoors, could be a good visit on a rainy day. Vancouver Art Gallery -------------------------- Set right in the heart of the Downtown, this gallery is typical of the sort that you find in major cities. Again, an ideal visit on a rainy day and you ticket allows return visits at no extra cost, so you don't have to "do" it all in one go. The gallery is very much oriented towards modern art, though not exclusively so. We found it very interesting, especially as we had not long before visited the Tate Modern at Bankside in London. Restaurants --------------- SalaThai - This was actually the last meal we had in Vancouver before our return. We chose it only really because we hadn't eaten Thai at all during our stay in Canada and were feeling a little deprived. As it turned out, this was a good choice. A nice meal with good food and pleasant surroundings though a fair bit more expensive than most of the places we had eaten. A good place for a special occasion. English Bay Boathouse - A brilliant restaurant and a must to visit. On Beach Ave, on the southern shore and just before reaching Stanley Park, overlooking the bay. The view from a window seat on the first floor is spectacular although, at the time of our visit construction work was going on across the road beside the beach. I hope it doesn't get so high as to spoil the view! We had a superb, leisurely and filling lunch there for a not unreasonable price. Cardero's - Beside the marina and just before you enter Stanley Park, this restaurant of wood is built on stilts over the water. Inside the atmosphere is very "frontier". The food was enjoyable and the service good although this is a fairly pricey location. Still, worth a visit. Provence Marinaside - Great place for a lunch. Beside False Creek and close to one of the waterbus stops, the restaurant has an outside terrace facing south to capture the sun. We enjoyed a delightful light lunch in the sun before setting off to catch a waterbus to Granville Island. Laguna Blu - Advertised itself as a Tapas Bar but the eventuality was quite disappointing. We had chosen it purely because it was in the right place at the right time. The dishes on offer really didn't merit a tapas description and, had we realised we probably would have passed it by. Also, not the cheapest by any stretch. Stanley Park ~~~~~~~~ Much more forested than a typical European City Park, probably more reminiscent of something like the Lost Gardens of Heligan. A roadway winds its way all around the outside and many roads and pathways wind their way across it. Three or four features of interest can be found there. Totem Park - a collection of totems both new and old, representing the various peoples that have lived in the region for centuries. Beaver Lake - as the name implies, the location of a number of beaver families, now under threat by the [natural] silting up and drying out of the lake. Although the lake was at one time quite large it is following the lifespan that all such spring-fed lakes follow. All around the outside, evidence can be seen of beaver activity, repairing their lodges and damming streams. What they will do in 100 years time, when the lake is gone, anyone can guess. Rose Garden - It's name says it all. Sadly, we were there in very early Spring and so really didn't get the full effect of what must be a very impressive display, when in full bloom. The Aquarium - A delightful way to spend a morning or an afternoon. I did feel a little sad for some of the larger creatures though: the Belugas did show some evidence of repetitive activity that is normally linked to boredom although they did have a fairly large pool. Mostly, however, the creatures seemed unaffected by their captivity and the tanks appeared clean and well tended. I would recommend a visit. Gastown ~~~~~~ This oddly-named district is at the foot of Downtown and is a highly popular destination for entertainment, food and drink. We ate here frequently, finding many restaurants of different styles and price ranges. You could be lost for choice. The district is named after Gassy Jack Deighton, a gold prospector and tavern owner of the mid-19th century. His statue stands at a major crossroads near the boundary between Gastown and Chinatown. The main street of Gastown is Water Street, a wide, cobblestone road which lends the area a distinctly Victorian, unchanged feel. The street is lined end-to-end with restaurants and bars, interspersed with shops. A major local attraction is also the Steam Clock, which whistles a tune on the quarter-hours and in between leaks steam that makes it look almost alive. Restaurants -------------- By no means did we try them all: there simply wasn't time, even if we had eaten every meal there, each time in a different outlet. Of those we tried we can recommend: The Old Spaghetti Factory - OK, the name sounds a bit naff but in fact we found this one of our most enjoyable locations and by far the very best value for money. A very large space, created out of the ground floor of an old warehouse, it is divided up by wood and glass screens into distinct areas, both large and small. Some can be reserved in their entirety for meetings and other special occasions. The food is excellent and the service friendly and prompt. It does get very popular, especially in the evenings but we never had any problems getting in so long as we were prepared to wait a few minutes. Al Porto - An Italian style restaurant, as the name implies. Actually just off Water Street so watch out for the sign. A much more cosy atmosphere and certainly somewhere for a more "romantic" meal. Food is good and reasonably priced although the local wines are quite pricey but then we did find that most places we ate. Sitar - Actually just outside Gastown, opposite the Gassy Jack statue, on Powell Street. We had to try at least one Indian restaurant, just to see if they could be as good as those with which we in the UK are blessed. This one wasn't at all bad and the surroundings, in two combined old shops, provided a nice atmosphere. The food was good and certainly up to the average standard you would find at home, and the price quite reasonable. Chinatown ~~~~~~~ Next door to Gastown, we didn't explore it more than a single morning. It seems to have a good collection of restaurants but, for some unknown reason, the guides suggest not to visit at night. During our daytime visit it didn't look at all dangerous so maybe we missed out. Apart from the almost obligatory Chinese Gateway, the other attraction here is the Sun Yat Sen Garden. This little haven from the city is quite attractive although not entirely well maintained. Nevertheless, it is worth a visit. Granville Island ~~~~~~~~~~ South of Downtown, and across False Creek, you can reach this district by a couple of bridges and by the waterbuses that ply their trade along False Creek. The guidebooks recommend a visit here but don't think that this is all an area of interest. Most of the island is industrialised, especially at the eastern end and elsewhere uninteresting mixes of local shops and housing. The only thing of real interest on Granville Island is the market at the western end, best reached by waterbus. This you really must visit. It largely consists of indoor market stalls and the size of the covered area is very large. There is an enormous choice of different stalls though mostly they are food related. Being undercover, this is an ideal place to spend a few hours if the weather isn't good. The stalls include many ready-to-eat outlets so you can spend a while relaxing with a nice snack during your visit. Grouse Mountain ~~~~~~~~~~~ It is possible to stay in Vancouver and still get in some skiing. North Vancouver, opposite Canada Place, on the other side of English Bay, across from Coal Harbour, rises up spectacularly and the snowy mountain top can be clearly seen from the city. You can catch a bus from the city that will take you right up to the gondola to the peak. By the number of people boarding the bus with skis and snowboards, this is clearly a popular destination for Vancouver residents. We didn't take the opportunity to ski but we did visit the resort after first taking in another attraction. Clearly quite a small area, nevertheless it would be perfectly adequate for a day's skiing during a visit to Vancouver. We had a meal there during our visit, in The Observatory restaurant that overlooks English Bay and Vancouver far below. A perfectly decent lunch and a spectacular view. Capilano Suspension Bridge ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ This was the other visit on the day we went to Grouse Mountain. Halfway up the lower slopes of the mountain, the bus drops you off virtually outside. The main feature of this attraction is, as the name suggests, a footbridge stretched across a deep gorge with a raging river far below. Well, not exactly raging when we were there but then the snows were not yet in full melt. The views from the bridge are superb and at the other end you are led around forest pathways and "treetop" walkways. The whole experience is very enjoyable with its views of wildlife flora and fauna. Also on display is the remains of a giant tree which fell across the bridge during a recent storm. The tree didn't break the bridge: each supporting cable has a breaking strain of 60 tons. Nevertheless the tree had to be removed piece by piece in order to avoid the bridge rebounding when the full weight was removed. Conclusions ~~~~~~~~ We did greatly enjoy our visit to Vancouver and just wished we had had more time and that the weather had been generally better. Most of all we would have liked to have visited Vancouver Island and the capital city of Victoria. We understand it is a really worthwhile day out. You can reach there quickly by float-plane from the Coal Harbour seaplane terminal or take one of the many sea routes. Vancouver may not be a big city but there is more than enough to occupy a week-long visit. We found the Vancouver people very friendly and enormously helpful, so justifying the reputation Canadians seem to have justifiably earned. Most of all, visit the Tourist Information Office opposite Canada Place where you will get loads of leaflets, free advice and help to make your visit one to treasure.

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        18.02.2010 22:19
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        A Great Place To Be!

        Last month I fulfilled a life long dream. I went to Canada! I have wanted to go there since I was a kid, the scenery just looked so wonderful and I've only ever heard good things about it. So when two of my friends moved to Vancouver for a year, I booked my flight! I spent two weeks in Vancouver and a week in the Yukon up in the North. So how was Vancouver. I feel the need to mention that I am not a fan of cities. I hate Manchester, I don't like London and the thought of a big city full of people worries me. So when I found out I would be staying in a city the size of Vancouver I was a little unsure of how I would enjoy this part of my trip. But the fact that this is where my two friends lived and this was a free place to stay I happily went along with it. My friends live in North Vancouver, this is just a short trip from Downtown over the Lions Gate Bridge and then your there. North Van is really nice, its probably the richest part of the city, its the closest to the mountains and the houses back up onto the slopes of Grouse Mountain. So you can see lots of green from this area of the city. My first impression when coming out of the airport was the size of the city. We drove from the airport through downtown, it was late at night so it was pretty quiet, but all around there were skyscrapers and massive buildings! But somehow it didnt feel as cramped as other cities I've been in. This is strange as there are 3.5 million people living in Vancouver, and this is the second most densly populated city in N America, second only to New York! So you would come to expect a real hustle and bustle. After our first night we woke up to a sunny day. Not something you often see in British Columbia! Vancouver is one of the most rain soaked cities in the world! Within minutes of leaving our apartment I could see why Vancouver is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world! The scenry is simply stunning! The city is surronded by water, there are bridges everywhere, and you can see all the way out to Vancouver Island from many places. All around the city there are mountains, most noticably to the North, the imposing Cypress, Grouse and Seymour mountains quickly rise from the edge of the city. Beautiful mountains covered in trees with snow capped summits. At night you can see the three ski resorts lighting up the mountains with their bright glowing floodlights. The second day of our trip we went into Downtown. First of all I would like to mention the public transport. I'm not a fan of buses and trains but in Vancouver they are exceptional! Apparently everything has been brought upto speed for the Olympics and this really shows. We caught a bus very easily, this took us to the shore of the river. Then we caught the sea bus which takes you right into the centre. Then we hopped on the sky train which goes all over the city. It was so easy to find our way round, staff were friendly, everything was nice and clean. I was very impressed with the price, me bought a ticket on the bus for $2.50. This we were told would last for an hour and a half and we could use it on any bus, train, sea bus in the city! What a bargain! Although the price does go up a little during the week. When we arrived in Downtown I was amazed at the atmosphere. People in the city are so friendly. People heard our English accents and talked to us, people were helpful, even at night walking round I never felt threatened in anyway. The bulidings are all so nice, some are spectacular and some very modern. There were alot of extra things around for the olympics which added to the buzz in the city and I would assume will not be there indefinately. Again in the Downtown area there is so much to do and see. We spent a few days Downtown and only covered a small area. There are so many shops to see, every kind of food you can imagine, cinemas, galleries, clubs, bars, everything you could want in a big city and lots more! We spent an afternoon in Stanley Park. This park is huge, it's right next to Downtown but you soon forget your in a city. The park is surrounded by water on three sides and there is so much to see and do. There is a large aquaruim type place, lots of cafes and bars, the Tottem poles are worth a look and there is a massive variety of wildlife you can see, including Eagles which nest in a few of the trees! One place we visited which was amazing was the revolving resteraunt. Its the tall building with a round top if your looking for it. Looks a little like the Space Needle. Its not a cheap resteraunt to eat in but the views are amazing. The top turns round slowly taking about 45 minutes to go all the way round. Your way above most of the buildings and can see for miles and miles over the city all the way to the mountains in the South. We were lucky enough to be there when the sun was setting and the views were wonderful. We just sat drinking wine admiring the world below us. Another aspect of the city I loved was the bars. There is an endless choice but out of the ten or so we tried I loved them all. There is always a good atmosphere, the bar staff are all so friendly, they don't mind spending a few minutes chatting to you and are always up for a laugh. Maybe this is because they work on tips, but even so its nice to have so many people willing to say hi. The beer in the city is also worth a mention. There are a few local brewing companies and most of the local beer was very nice. One word of warning though, if your into your whisky, avoid the local stuff. Rye whisky is not a nice thing when your used to your single malts! If your into out door activities then this is the place for you! There is the obvious appeal of Whistler and the Ski and Snowboarding you can do there and then there are the three Ski resorts in Vancouver itself, Cypress Mountain, Grouse Mountain and Seymour which are all very nice places to Ski and offer great views of the city. We went upto Grouse at night for a meal in the Observatory which over looks the city and is a wonderful place to visit! Unless you go up in the cloud like we did, then its just a big hill covered in cloud! There are loads of other things to do in the area. At certain times of year you can go whale watching, in summer there are things you can do on the water, rafting, caneoing, and other similar things. There are plenty of places to walk in the area, either on your own or guided. There is the Capilano suspension bridge, the Eagles at Sqaumish, and plenty of other great things to do in the area. We were only there for the two weeks but we could have filled months with different activites and places to visit! One of my favorite experiences was the ice hockey. The Vancouver Canucks play in the NHL and this year are one of the best teams. The whole of Canada is hockey mad and we were lucky enough to go to a game. The atmosphere is very fun and family friendly. Its not rowdy like at a English football match, the crowd get involved and the game moves and a stunning pace! I was really impressed with the game and could really get into the sport. However if you want a ticket you are looking at paying around $150, we were given 4 tickets by some people we got friendly with, they had season tickets and couldn't make the game, so if your having to pay that much for two hours entertainment its a little steep. But as a one off its well worth the money! Possibly the only downside to the city is how expensive it is here. My friends had a tiny appartment, that although was nice, was certainly nothing special. They were paying £600 a month for it! For a house you are looking at mega money. This filters down into the cost of everything, food is expensive, drink is expensive, everything is more than here in the UK. The most expensive things was alchol from the liquor stores. Over here you pop down the offie and get a few cheap cans. Over there it is only slightly cheaper than in the bars. So six bottles of beer will set you back close to £10! Something that really stung the pockets while we were there! There is so much to see and do in Vancouver. I could spend all night writing this review, we enjoyed so much there. But overall I think the common thread that ran through all my time in Vancouver was the vibrant atmosphere. These are the most friendly people I have ever met, everyone smiles and says hi, people are happy to help and you can have a laugh with most of the locals. This city is really something special and if you ever have the chance to visit you simply must! This is the nicest city I have ever been to. The area it sits in in British Columbia is just so beautiful. The nature in the area is exciting, with bears, wolves and eagles all around the edges of the city. The only slight down side I could see is the weather. It rains alot in this city! But that does not stop people smiling!!

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          14.09.2009 11:18
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          A must go to place when visiting North America

          Last year i visited Vancouver and was completely awe-struck by its sheer size, magnitude and beauty. Here, i have tried to write a cut down travel guide to the city; i hope its of use to you all. History and Culture: The first European settlers made their way to Vancouver in the late 19th century as a result of the gold-rushes which had began along the Fraser River at the time. However, the city grew rapidly after the building of the Transcontinental railway in 1887; the wide variety of differing nationalities working on the site and eventually settling there were a main cause of this. This mass population rise has resulted in many different cultures becoming eminent and make it a brilliantly diverse place to visit. Over 52 percent of the 2.3m people who reside in the metripolitan area speak a language other than English, ranging from French to Vietnamese. Obviously, this ensures that whatever you want from the city, you are bound to find it. Things to do: The Vancouver Art Gallery is a must visit location for anyone even remotely interested in anything related to the modern art scene. Having a permanent collection of over 7900 items which value at over 100m US dollars, it is a truly awe inspiring location to visit. However, if art or music are not for you, and you prefer a more outdoorsy experience, then a visit to the nearby Stanley Park is bound to quench your thirst for an Vancouver based activitiy. At over 400 hectares of beatifully untouched parkland, the park is one of the largest of its kinds and houses many different species of both animal and birds; so be sure to take the binoculars! It is very easy to feel "out of the city", in the city, if that is something which you desire. Ontheotherhand, if your a big sports fan, theres also much for you in Vancouver, with sports teams playing anything from american football through ice hockey, even to british soccer. My recommendation would be to watch the Vancouver Canucks play in the NHL, as its an experience not to be forgotten. Climate: Vancouver has an oceanic climate, with summer temperatures peaking around the relatively warm 25 degrees centigrade mark. This is deeply contrasted with the harsh winter conditions of the City, where temperatures rarely rise above freezing; and a snowy christmas is generally expected. Where to stay?: Loden Vancouver (www.lodenvancouver.com), St. Regis Hotel (www.stregishotel.com) Where to eat?: Vij's Restaurant (Indian cuisine), Stanley Park Fish House (Seafood)

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            26.08.2008 12:12
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            Fabulous British Colombia!

            INTRODUCTION Myself and Ms Larsbaby have spent our vacation this summer in Canada, visiting both the east and west coasts on our travels. This is an account of our travels on the West coast, in the city of Vancouver, in the province of British Columbia. For those of you who like my restaurant reviews, I'll be taking a look at some of the places I mention in more detail in due course! ABOUT VANCOUVER Vancouver is located on the Pacific Northwest coast of Canada, and it's proximity to Asia lends a massive influence from the east. Its metropolitan population of over 2 million makes this a big city, with all the skyscrapers associated with this kind of North American city. Downtown is made up of several distinct areas such as Gastown and Chinatown, and venturing a little further will take you to places such as Richmond, which hosts a Chinatown night market much bigger than one that is held in downtown Chinatown. The city is often used as a stop off to the nature of the rest of the province of British Colombia, with national parks and ski resorts such as Banff and Whistler. The beautiful Vancouver Island is also close by (sadly I didn't get to go there). It isn't so far over the border to the state of Oregon in the USA, and Seattle is a short plane or longer bus, train or car journey away. DOWNTOWN VANCOUVER Out trip began in Vancouver, the first time either of us had been to the west coast of North America. The long flight (about 10 hours) meant that we ended up at our downtown hotel at about midday, leaving us unbelievably tired but determined to stay up and enjoy the day. We stayed in the Century Plaza Hotel on Burrard Street, which is nice and central. Thanks to the excellent Trailfinders, we had a free upgrade to what was a 1 bedroom apartment, complete with cooker, fridge and balcony! Our view of the city was amazing from the 15th floor, and we could see that the city was full of skyscrapers. What was also handy with the hotel was that it was one of the stop off points from the airport bus, which stops at many of the downtown hotels. There seemed to be a lot of building work going on, with even more skyscrapers being erected; it seems that this city is on the up. One building which particularly impressed me was the Marine Building, towards the water, which had an art deco façade. There are a lot of different areas on enjoy in downtown Vancouver, in fact I was surprised just how many things there were to see and how big it actually is. The other thing I was surprised by is the number of Starbucks outlets; they seemed to outnumber even the McDonalds, there seemed to be one on every corner. We walked pretty much everywhere, but there is an extensive bus network and Skytrain metro train system. Hiring a car might also be an option, whilst hiring a bike seems like a decent alternative in this bike friendly city. There are also taxis available if need be. GASTOWN We went to the historic district of Gastown, which is so named after "Gassy" Jack Deighton, a Yorkshire immigrant who proclaimed himself mayor and ran a pub. Arriving in 1867, he is seen as one of Vancouver's founders, and is called "gassy" due to his tall tails. There is a statue of Jack to the edge of Gastown. This was a run down area until relatively recently, but the tramps and drug addicts have been shunted eastwards as the area was declared historic, with the oldest buildings in the city here. The area now is a plethora of tourist shops, trendy cafes and bars. There is the worlds only steam powered clock, which is quite impressive - until you find out it's actually run on electricity! We found it a very pleasant area to spend some hours in and watch the world go by from one of its excellent cafes. We also enjoyed looking at the narrowest office building in the world, the Sam Kee Building, which houses an insurance company. In 1912, the owner of the company built it as a bet, as the surrounding area had been taken up by road, making the building area narrower that what was previously agreed with the council. CHINATOWN We both love Chinese food, and Vancouver is home to one of the largest Chinatowns anywhere, to serve the huge Chinese-Canadian community. I really enjoyed wanderering around this area, entering through the huge, ornate Chinese gate. The area seemed to be more shopping than restaurants, with lots of clothes and gift shops and relatively few bars and restaurants (enough, but not as many as I would normally expect). What was most prevalent was the fresh food shops, which had Chinese ingredients the likes of which I have never seen before. Out in front of the shops, huge boxes of 4 or 5 varieties of dried shrimp, dried fish, fruit and vegetables such as dried mushrooms were laid out. I was hugely impressed by this and would have loved to have cooked with some of these promising looking ingredients. We ate a couple of times here, once on a Sunday, enjoying Dim Sum at the Floata restaurant on a Sunday, which was delicious, and packed with Chinese diners; always a good sign. The variety of dim sum was excellent, the value for money great. We also ate al fresco on a Saturday night at the weekend night market at Keefer and Main Street. Alongside stalls for clothes, electronics, bric-a-brac and gifts, there were also hawker food stalls with various kinds of dishes. We managed to snag ourselves some barbequed squid on sticks, prawn dumplings and satay beef and chicken. Chinatown is also home to the Dr Sun Yat-Sen Garden, an ornate Chinese garden that is also a cultural centre. The garden is designed as a classic Chinese garden, with several elements, and a guided tour (and some Chinese tea) is included in the admission price. This explains the ying and yang contrasts of the garden such as running water under the still rocks, and how the buildings are designed to blend in with and complement the natural elements. Dr Sun Yat-Sen himself is considered as the "Father of modern China" and led the 1911 revolution to depose the Qing dynasty. He became the first president of the Republic Of China in 1912. His connection with Vancouver is that he visited it 3 times to gain funds for his revolution. The garden is a fascinating, tranquil place. There is also a public part of it next door with free entry, which isn't as ornate but still worth a visit. GRANVILLE ISLAND Granville Island is a very pretty small island, packed with trendy shops, restaurants and a fantastic food market. You can walk around it in no time, and the market is a huge building full of every kind of fresh foodstuff you can imagine. All kinds of meat, fruit and vegetable are on offer, and there are 2 sections of food stalls, where you can buy ready made meals to scoff in the food hall seating area. All sorts was available; from curry tiffin boxes like in India (metal containers to keep the food hot that you return when finished), to Mexican, to Italian, through to seafood. We plumped for a huge portion of mixed seafood and munched contentedly from the upstairs seating area as we watched shoppers go about their business. Another highlight is the guided tour of the Granville Island Brewery, where the brewing process is explained and you are given small sample of five of their beers in their bar at the end. They seemed particularly proud of their latest fruit beer but it wasn't much kop to be honest. The weissbeer was excellent though. They also had a small shop where you could buy t-shirts, glasses and samples of their various beers. STANLEY PARK To the north west of the city is Stanley Park, a huge 1000 acre area of woodland that you can spend the day in; there are several marked trails that you can follow, by bike if you want to hire one. It's the largest urban park in North America, and makes a nice contrast from the skyscrapers. We stuck to the parameter and had a nice walk all the way around the perimeter, taking in the beaches and sampling some salmon burgers on the way. We missed out the aquarium but I gather it's worth a visit. About a quarter of the way round going anti-clockwise there are some native Indian totem poles. I never knew this but this area (Pacific Northwest) is the only one where totem poles can be found. These are a very impressive sight. VICTORIA ISLAND This was a daytrip for us from Vancouver by seaplane there and bus and ferry back, and so I think I can include this here as it's in the general area which you might want to see if you spend at least a few days here. We booked this at the excellent tourist information office, but you can also book this in advance or through your hotel. Be warned though, the flights are pretty popular (not least amongst business people - we seemed to be the only tourists on our flight). I would recommend booking ahead if you're here for a very short time. Also, make sure you arrive for the bus back early as the queue is quite long and you might be unlucky and miss a seat! The flight to Victoria gave us an amazing view of Vancouver as we left. The island is seen as the most British of areas, and until recently it was apparently a very old fashioned British theme park kind of a place. Now there are lots of trendy shops, and I must admit I bought a lot of clothes that day! I was impressed by the big shopping mall in the centre. Most of the buildings are in keeping with the quaint, historical image. The Empress Hotel is a fancy building covered in vines. The parliament building is very fetching too. The highlight of the trip for me was the Royal British Victoria Museum, which had fascinating exhibits on the history of the native people, and Canadian social history in general. One thing that was good was a storytelling session, where actors were invited to bring their own stories of British Columbia histories. We were treated to the story of the Kitsilano Boys Band, a band put together by Arthur Delamont, which toured throughout the world. It turned out the storyteller was one of his descendants! A fascinating story. The Chinatown in Victoria in North Americas second oldest. Obviously not nearly as big as in Vancouver, this compact area nevertheless was a nice place to stroll through and eat in, though apparently we missed dim sum by an hour. Oh well! You can also go whale watching from here, and it's a convenient stopping off point for this. I gather that many people stay here for a few nights but I thought the daytrip, travelling there by seaplane (or floatplane, as they called they) and returning by bus and ferry the same day was quite enough. You get some nice views from the ferry so it's a nice round trip overall. FOOD As well as Chinese, we also managed to eat some of the excellent Japanese fare. We found the best area for this kind of food was to the west of Robson Street and the surrounding area. One restaurant we went to, Asahi-Ya, is a well known student eatery. Its brilliant food belied it's budget prices; the fried squid I had there is some of the best I've ever had. Sushi is also excellent in the city, with a huge Japanese contingent catered for, even down to the fake plastic mock ups of dishes that you can see in Japan. We also tried Thai which perpetuated the high standard of food the city offered. As noted above, Granville Island Market is a haven of fresh food, and some tasty morsels can be picked up at the Chinatown Night Market. Near to our hotel was a supermarket, Market Place, which was a haven of organic food. It was no surprise that we ate Asian food most of the time, with our proximity to China and Japan on the Pacific Northwest being a factor in its excellence. I think it's fair comment to say that you can't go far wrong with the fresh local seafood, no matter how it's cooked. SHOPPING In a curious gender role reversal, Ms Larsbaby isn't much of a shopper but I can easily spend hours looking for clothes. On Robson and Burrard Street, you will find a selection of the usual shops like Gap, plus local chains like Roots (more or less a Canadian Gap). There is a huge shopping mall called Metrotown which is accessable via the Skytrain metro system. This has 3 large floors of over 500 shops and a big food hall. Although I didn't find much to buy there, it has to be said. There is also more trendy shopping in other areas but I'm not trendy so I didn't delve into this at all. Strangely enough though, Victoria provided the best shopping of this leg of the trip. CONCLUSION If you hadn't already realised, I had a superb time in the Vancouver area. Great food, friendly people, a laid back atmosphere, cheap prices and a quite green city environment all went towards my enjoyment. One strange thing was the many vagrants we saw around, particularly around the edges of Gastown and Chinatown, but I guess this is big city life, although it seemed far worse than in London, the poor souls. But apart from that, this has made its way up my list to one of my favourite North American cities. Having been to Toronto before, and been disappointed at its boring skyscrapers, for some reason I had a completely different feeling here, which I can't quite explain, as this was also a skyscraper dominated city. Perhaps it is greener, and being by the sea makes it more interesting. In any case, Vancouver is definitely worth the journey. We hardly scratched the surface for things to do and places to see even downtown, with lots of nature in the summer and winter sports at other times of the year at the nearby Whistler. Neither of us drives so I'm sure many of you would have ventured further out of the city, but equally there is a lot to do if you choose to stay in it. I'm sure we'll be going back someday! TOURIST INFORMATION We used the excellent Lonely Planet City Guide to Vancouver as our reference, and found many of the restaurants and sights mentioned there. Lots of information can be found at the following websites: http://www.tourismvancouver.com/visitors/ http://visitvancouver.com/ http://www.bcpassport.com/ http://www.tourismvictoria.com/

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              19.04.2006 21:05
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              Well worth the visit , bring your camera

              After spending almost a year in Canada i've decided to give a few must visit places for anybody taking a trip to Vancouver. Stanley Park Easily accessable from downtown Vancouver and surrounded by snow capped mountains, on a clear day there are some great photo opportunities of the mountains alone. Near the entrance of the park are the first set off attractions , which are the native indian totems poles , many a tourist stop to have there photo's taken there. For the Children there is the Vancouver Aquarium with a great Buluga Whale and Dolphin show (but that depends on whether you think they should be kept in captivity), the entrance was a little on the expensive side but there seemed to be a good discount for families. For energetic among you there is a variety walks and paths around the park, the longest being the sea wall walk that takes you around the whole perimeter of the park and takes about two hours. It would easy to spend a whole day in the park on a nice day. Gastown An area in downtown Vancouver that boast alot of victorian style buildings , there's also a great deal of English themed pub's for those feeling homesick. The Convention Centre Its always good to see whats going on here , or just sit in one of cafe's with a great view of Stanley Park . Next door is the I max theatre which proves to be a very popular attraction. BC Place The sports stadium where the CFL footbal is played, if i remember rightly the season starts in June and there are always tickets availiable to go and watch. Getting Around The Bus cost approx $2 to ride and the tickect is transferable to any other local service for 2 hours , the skytrain is effective way of getting to all the interesting sights but is generally quite limited. Accomodation Like with most places you get what you pay for , a bed in a dorm at the YHA hostel will set you back around $18 a night as long as your a member of the YHA, may cost a little more for non members. You then go to the other extreme with some of the Hilton Hotels which can cost as much as $400 per night in high season. The cheapest single room i was able to find was $60 per night at the YMCA hostel directly opposite BC Place (The sports stadium). Getting There A direct flight with BA will take around 9-10 hours and usually cost £500-600, but there are always good deals to look out for with them. Cheapest you find is from a relatively small Canadian Airline called Air Transit .

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                29.06.2005 11:06
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                Surrounded by sandy beaches and snow-capped mountains, it’s very hard to beat Vancouver for sheer breathtaking beauty. Top that with numerous parks – including the huge forest-filled Stanley Park, superb shopping, varied nightlife, cultural and sporting offerings, as well as bright modern architecture and it's pretty hard to avoid the cliche ‘there’s no place quite like this’. GENERAL FACTS Canada is vast, stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific. It is further from Vancouver in the West to Toronto in the East than it is from Toronto to London, a 7 ½ hour flight away. Canada’s landscapes actually exceed all expectations – the Rocky mountains, rainforests, desert land, lakes, open grassland stretching as far as the eye can see, tundra, lush orchards, fjords and prairie wheat fields, Canada has them all and is completely unspoilt – over 90% of the country’s 30 million population lives within 100 miles of the US border. - Exchange rate: in February 2004 was 2.17 Canadian $s to the British £. - Vancouver’s official language is English, Chinese is second. - Traveller’s cheques – in Canadian $s are accepted in most major restaurants, shops and fast food outlets. GETTING THERE Air Canada and British Airways fly directly to Vancouver from London Heathrow. Having flown with both I would recommend British Airways, it’s a long flight – around 10 hours and I didn’t have a good experience with Air Canada either way but may be that can go in a separate review! A flight to Vancouver will set you back between £300 and £700 depending on the time of year – avoid ski seasons if you’re just going for a city break since Vancouver airport serves Whistler as well. Vancouver is only a 2 hour drive/ coach ride from Seattle so you could pick up a deal from there and travel on by land. On arrival you can either get a taxi into central Vancouver which doesn’t break the bank, or choose between regular public buses (involves changing – take bus no. 424 to the ‘Airport station’ and then transfer to no. 98 to Burrard station) or compromise with the Airporter bus – direct to major downtown hotels at a slightly hefty (if 2 or more of you, might as well get a taxi) $12 one way or £18 return. GETTING AROUND Vancouver has an excellent public transport system and I would advise using it rather than a car, since traffic jams in the city can be pretty dire – access to and from downtown Vancouver by car is by bridge from the suburbs so you can imagine it gets pretty busy, especially during rush hour. Sky Train: This is an automated transit system which offers fast efficient service (daily, every 2 – 5 minutes) between central ‘down town’ Vancouver and the suburbs of Burnaby, Surrey and Guildford. As with most public transport in the city, Sky Train carriages and stations are wheelchair accessible (except Granville station). Buses – cheap, efficient and frequent with an extensive service across downtown and suburban Vancouver. Make sure you have the right money though cos drivers don’t give change. SeaBus – a passenger commuter ferry system which connects Vancouver from Waterfront Station with Lonsdale Quay on the North Shore (home to Vancouver’s mountains and Lonsdale market). The scenic journey takes just 12 minutes. BC Ferries – there are two ferry terminals--Tsawwassen and Horseshoe Bay, providing access to Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and the Sunshine Coast. ACCOMODATION For the traveller on a budget, Vancouver will seem like heaven. There are 3 excellent hostels in Gastown, Downtown and Jericho Beach. I recommend the latter since there can’t be many city hostels offering beach views and acres of grassland for barbeques and frisbee playing in the summer. For the more discerning traveller and families there are options aplenty. Vancouver is a major business town and commonly frequented by celebrities due to its popularity as a filming location so you won’t have trouble finding luxury hotels such as ‘the’ Hotel Vancouver, Pacific Palisades, Hotel Ramada, then if you want something in the middle choose between scores of 2, 3 and 4 star hotels. Be warned though Vancouver is a popular destination so it’s best to book before you arrive. EATING AND DRINKING As with accommodation, I could list hundreds of places here but you’ve got thousands of websites and guide books if that’s what you’re after so I’ll just name a few of my faves. Eating in Canada is a pleasure – large portions, small prices, friendly service. Smoking I believe is now banned, when I was there it was limited to ‘added-on’ conservatories but now as part of West Coast healthy living culture smokers may struggle not to be treated as outcasts … Milestones – FAB restaurant of Robson street, does the best Bellini cocktails in the world – British bars don’t seem to realise they’re meant to be frozen not poured in a glass like Bucks Fizz. Also does great food, a real mixture from North American to South East Asian. If I had a few million to spare, I would get a franchise and open up loads of Milestones branches in Britain. Earls on Robson – on Robson street as you may have guessed, also fab for cocktail and a failsafe tasty meal. The Cactus Club – a Canadian chain like Milestones, but both have individual style. Cactus have more of a Hispanic flavour, second best place for bellinis! Brothers – fab food, cheap and served by men dressed as monks – in Gastown. IHOP – International House of Pancakes – outside the Metrotown shopping mall. Famous for pancakes as the name suggests but also does a mean t-bone steak. Red Robin – traditional North American grub with ‘bottomless’ fries and soft drinks. The Blarney Stone and Purple Heather – 2 lively Irish bars in Gastown – the former is more of a bar/ nightclub and the latter for more intimate Guinness drinking. Rose & Crown – if you must visit a British style bar, popular with expats and working visa people like I was. The Purple Onion – popular nightclub in Gastown, offers ‘oyster stands’ if you’re in need of an aphrodisiac! Sharks – sports café – sometimes shows premiership football. Luv-a-fair – slightly cheesy but fun for a dance with places to sit for the older and lazier people in your group. Roxy – cheesy meat market, for those on the pull. WHERE TO GO, WHAT TO SEE AND WHAT TO DO STANLEY PARK Stanley Park is Vancouver’s oldest and largest park, an ‘evergreen oasis’ with 1,000 acres of forest, open green spaces, superb mountain and city views, coastal cycle and walking paths, tennis courts, pitch & putt golf course, lost lagoon – wildlife reserve, open air theatre, outdoor heated, ocean-side swimming pool – all in all enough to merit several visits. This is a great place to de-energise young children – they will also love the children’s farm yard, miniature railway, water park. Visit the park’s own website for more details on activities and opening times. There is a great restaurant, just outside the grounds too – The Fish House, which is nice for that slightly special meal out. CAPILANO SUSPENSION BRIDGE Being more of a fan of tierra firma attractions, I didn’t enjoy this much, but had to admit that the scenery was spectacular. Situated in a kind of suburban wilderness, you will walk 70 metres – 200 feet – above the gushing Capilano river on this 450 long wobbly bridge. Just avoid going over the rope bridge at the same time as a hoard of school children who find it funny to jump up and down even in a torrential rainstorm! SCIENCE WORLD Kind of how the Millennium Dome could have turned out if they’d made it good … a legacy of the 1986 Expo which did so much to improve Vancouver (including the installation of the SkyTrain system and BC Place). Full of fun techie things to try out and interesting exhibits, great for kids and adults alike and something to put in the schedule for rainy days as Vancouver does have quite a few of them. THE HARBOUR CENTRE With the absence of cathedrals and castle towers like Europe, most North America cities offer visitors a random tall structure to go up and admire modern city views and Vancouver is no exception, although not many others can brag that they were opened by Neil Armstrong – the first man on the moon! The Harbour centre, at 581 feet is British Columbia’s tallest building and boasts a (reasonably priced) revolving restaurant which should not be missed. The spectator’s gallery at the top gives breathtaking views and being indoors is better for vertigo suffers than many similar attractions – although getting up in the first place via the glass bottom lift may not be so easy for them! Tickets cost from $4 to $10. VANCOUVER PUBLIC LIBRARY Ok you can’t join if you’re not a resident, but it’s worth taking a look at the building – a kind of replica of Rome’s coliseum but strangely not a tacky result! GRANVILLE ISLAND With its Public Market, theatres, quirky boutiques and galleries, Granville Island is Vancouver's cultural core and like Yaletown it is a rescued victor of an ugly industrial beginning. GROUSE MOUNTAIN Accessed by the 100 person capacity ‘sky lift and open 365 years a year, ‘The Peak of Vancouver’ is from November to March a winter wonderland alive with skiers, snowboarders, cross country enthusiasts, skaters and sleigh riders. In summer, Vancouver’s most famous mountain is replaced with walkers, relaxed day trippers and wildlife lovers who come to spot the thousands of birds and other wildlife species, many of them endangered. In summer you can watch one of Grouse’s ‘world famous lumberjack shows’ – the ‘world famous’ bit is of course debatable but it’s good fun all the same and includes challenges for spectators such as log-rolling, tree climbing and axe-throwing. You can also take walking tours on Grouse, these last an hour and are available daily from June until September, included in the price of you general Grouse mountain admission - $24.95 for adults, $22.95 for seniors and $8.95 for children. Admission also includes entry to ‘Theatre in the Sky’ – a documentary about the British Columbia’s mountains and the history of Grouse, in summer you can visit the ‘Refuge for Endangered wildlife and in winter your ticket also gets you free sleigh rides, snow shoeing and ‘The Magic of Christmas’ with Santa and his reindeer! Lastly of course, if you visit is in summer time you could if you’re feeling extra energetic do the ‘Grouse Grind’ a strenuous 2,9km (1.8 mile) hike right up the face of the mountain to a height 1 ½ times that of the CN Tower in Toronto! The world record for doing the Grouse Grind is under 27 minutes, so see if you can beat that! After which you’ll get a ‘I did the Grouse Grind’ t-shirt and no doubt need some food and drink in the very good (if a little expensive) Altitudes restaurant/ bistro. WINTER SPORTS Vancouver offers some great skiing/ snow boarding and if you want more you’ve always got Whistler, just over a 2 hour drive away. Vancouver though probably has enough to occupy you if you want to just fit in a bit of skiing round a longer winter city break. Cypress, Seymour and Grouse mountains give some fine skiing, just minutes from Vancouver on her North Shore. Grouse offers all the activities detailed above with a variety of runs for skiers and snowboarders of all levels– 25 in total, a modern efficient lift system and night skiing. Lessons are also available and there are terrain parks for the more ambitious. The Cypress Bowl is likely to compete with Grouse in coming years though for recognition, especially since it has been named the location for the 2010 Winter Olympics freestyle skiing and snowboarding events. As it contains 36 runs for all levels, again it has plenty to occupy you with for a good few days sightseeing break. All of these mountains offer good websites which are worth taking a look at as they give full details of prices – these vary between the different mountains and trail maps. OTHER PLACES TO TAKE A WALK - Take a walk across the stunning Lions Gate Bridge and pause halfway for a panoramic view of Burrard Inlet and the North Shore mountains. - Jericho Beach and Jericho Park – watch weekenders sailing and playing team sports, this is where Vancouverites unwind. - Lighthouse Park – out west off Marine Drive, 185 acres of virtually untouched forest, with quiet coastal paths – great for a romantic stroll. Regular tours take place in the summer. - Queen Elizabeth Park – one of the city’s highest points, this park is best seen in Spring/ Summer when you will be amazed by the sight and smell of thousands of species of flowers and plants. There’s a great restaurant here too (a bit pricey but worth it) – Seasons in the Park. - English Bay and Second Beach – popular with sunbathers and swimmers. SPECTATOR SPORTS AND MUSICAL CONCERTS Canadians are Sports Crazy and Vancouverites are the craziest of them all. Ice hockey, basketball and Canadian football (NFL) are the most attended spectator sports but soccer, rugby and lacrosse also have their place. Vancouver has some great sporting venues that double up as concert arenas attracting big names – the 2 main ones are BC Place, home to the BC Lions, Vancouver’s Canadian Football Team and General Motors Place – home of the Canucks of ice hockey fame. SHOPPING The shopaholic’s purse won’t get much of a rest in Vancouver – it has quality shopping to rival most major capital cities. For rainy days, there’s your traditional North American style mall – Metrotown in the suburban area of Burnaby (easily accessible by skytrain). Metrotown supplies you with all the standard Canadian and American chain stores, a large supermarket, cinemas, coffee shops and lots of bars and restaurants, plus the Holiday Inn hotel which does great cocktails if you need a break from all that retail exercise. Downtown Vancouver shopping is outside but more varied with quirky stores as well as designer outlets, chain stores, thrift stores (charity shops) and lots more. Robson Street is the place to expend most of your shopping calories and this crosses with Granville street for more bargain finds. Trendy bars, restaurants and cafés are strewn all around these areas. OTHER ACTIVITIES If you’re an exercise-hating teetotaller on a diet, Vancouver STILL won’t leave you alone! You will have endless options such as the theatre – the Queen Elizabeth theatre is top class, ballet, opera, classical and popular music concerts, spectator sports, art galleries, museums and plenty else. For the sporty, as well as winter sports and hiking/ walking there’s almost anything you can think of to choose from in Vancouver and its immediate surroundings – whale watching on Vancouver island, white water rafting, horse riding, sailing on the city’s shore, cycling round Stanley Park, roller blading – immensely popular due to the excellent facilities for it, swimming in the sea, lakes, open air ocean side pools or numerous indoor pools. I really can’t think of a sport or activity that you can’t do in the vicinity – I know there must be some but I honestly can’t think of any. NEIGHBOURHOODS As well as exploring the shops and eateries of Downtown Vancouver and the mountains and markets of North Van, be sure to leave time for some of the other areas of the city, each has its own quirky ‘feel’ and plenty to see and do. ------------ Gastown – the birthplace of the city, Vancouver’s first community, dating back to 1867 and named after John “Gassy Jack” Deighton. Gastown boasts some of the oldest building in the city but was nearly demolished in the 1970s, only saved at the last minutes by the protests of residents and heritage lovers. Gastown today has a dynamic mixture of restaurants, shops – including all the souvenir shops, well all tourist areas have their tacky side, nightlife and trendy fashion outlets. ------------- Chinatown – less tacky than many city Chinatowns, you’ll find a delicious array of dim sum in the restaurants and food stuff in the Chinese supermarkets. In summer there’s a great night market selling lots of fake designer goods and don’t miss the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden , hidden away behind high walls, the only full-sized classical Chinese garden outside China. ------------ Yaletown – The formal industrial district, like the docklands of London, Cardiff and Newcastle this area used to be rundown and poor, but after serious renovation and investment in the late 20th century it has experienced an urban renaissance, now boasting smart penthouse apartments and countless trendy bars and cafes. ------------- Kitsilano – known for its sandy beaches and quiet leafy streets, the name ‘Kitsilano’ is also synonymous with healthy living, I have never seen so many joggers but I guess if you have to jog, this is the place to do it! ------------- West End – gateway to Stanley park, this is a lively ‘young’ area popular with the gay community and students. ------------- Little India – the Sikhs and other Indians who settled in Canada before 1914 suffered from the same exclusion policies that were originally directed at the Chinese. This probably encouraged them all to settle in their own cultural areas and consequently today cities like Vancouver benefit from such authentic districts where you can eat traditional food, buy traditional goods at the Chinese market in Chinatown or the Punjabi market in Little India and see local people go about their daily business in traditional clothing, in the case of Little India, colourful saris. Little India is by far the best place to go in Vancouver if you’re craving a curry, I found the Indian restaurants Downtown a little disappointing. --------------- Little Italy – situated of Commercial Drive, this is where most Italian families settled and as a result is the best place to go for authentic Italian cuisine. CLOSING TIPS The Vancouver tourist office has a great website with web cams, electronic postcards and city camera tours, well worth taking a look at beforehand. In addition most of the cities main attractions from Stanley Park, to Grouse Mountain and Granville island all have their own informative websites. This is a very child friendly city and most places offer discounts for children, they certainly won’t get bored. It really is a city for all ages and interests and the people are understandably fiercely proud of their city so will mostly be eager to give you information or directions. As the slogan says, Vancouver really is ‘Spectacular by Nature’, I defy anyone to go to Vancouver and not love it! I wrote this review before but didn't save it and lost it all on submission, never mind I love nostalgising about the place. Hope you all get a chance to go and don’t forget to tell me all about your trip afterwards.

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                  28.08.2003 04:16
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                  I would like to write a little bit about the city of Vancouver as I spent a year studying there at Simon Fraser University. The city is undoubtedly naturally beautiful and this is evident as soon as you fly into it. Before you land at Vancouver aiport you will be treated to spectacular views of the famous mountians and waters. Indeed, I would say the real selling point to Vancouver is its natural beauty. It is arguably the best placed city geographically in the world. If you are an out door enthusiast book your flight today. You will take great pleasure in visiting the ski resorts of Whistler and Grouse and lap up the surrounding mountians. However, what I would say, is despite this beauty, I found the remainder of Vancouver to be somewhat bland. It is not easy to stroll around and have a few beers. If you want to have just a drink, you will usually find yourself disappointed as you will often have to have a meal to accompany it. There is just a general lack of energy, atmosphere and vibrance. The one area that would suit the young in the city is called Commerical Drive, or more generally just "The Drive". Go there for cheap meals, poetry readings and cool supermarkets though. Generally though, my view on Vancouver is this: You can't do much with a view.

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                    20.03.2003 17:10
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                    Last october, I went to Vancouver for just over a week. I would recommend it to anyone. It's a very clean city, with many shopping malls, and entertainment. I stayed in the International Youth Hostels (Downtown and Central). Both of which were very nice. I cannot emphasise enough how nice Canadians are. They are willing to help you with anything. The weather wasnt bad at all. I packed too many jumpers thinking it would be cold... not that it was hot though. Every morning, the city gets a bit of a clean, as mist from the mountiains travelk through the city. Firstly I thought a building might be on fire, but then I realised what it actually was. You see, the city has an amazing back-drop of mountains. I'm sure they are all accessable, but I didnt go up any. Their metro system is very good. It's cheap and you can get to most places using it. ONe plce that just HAS to be seen is Metrotown. It is a sight to be seen. It's seems like a big shopping mall form the outside, but its not until you go inside, that it;s bigger than you imagined. I didnt even go around half of it in 2 days. They have a good arcade in there - cant remember what its called though. Sorry. Canada place, on the sea front, is nice. It's where all the cruise-ships stop. The place contains a hotel, restaurants, and most importantly a 5(?) storey high cinema screen. It;s well worth a visit. Vancouver's lookout tower is a must too. It has a revolving restaurant!! Dont bother going to Science world unless you have children. Although it's advertised for all ages, it's actually just for the young 'uns. Also, Granville island isnt really worth going to see unless you like indoor markets. thats all thats there. Hiring bikes to go around Stnaley park for the day was a nice thing to do. It wasnt too expensive, and it's very safe as everywhere has bicycle lanes. Vancouver aquarium was ni ce, but nothing special. Vancouver's transport is very good. You can get coaches in and out of the city very easiyl and cheaply. The airport isnt too far away from the city centre. It'll only cost about 20 dollars taxi ride. If you like coffee, then definatly definatly go to Vancoouver. There is a Starbucks on every block, and you get a bit fed up of the smell of the place. But if thats what you like, then you are sorted. Vancouver Library, although not exactly a touristy place, has to be visited. It's modelled around the Colluseum in Rome, and it is eye-openeing. Free internet access inside aswell. (Bonus for the budget traveller.) Anyway, I would recommend it, as it's more of a town/city, rather than a city that is all hussle-and-bussle.

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                      04.09.2002 02:30
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                      This review is about two of the three Fairmont Hotels in Vancouver. The third, the Waterfront Centre I stayed at in 1997, and also enjoyed immensely, but the two I stayed at most recently are reviewed below. All three are very different, and are great in their own ways. The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver In recent years the choice of hotels in Vancouver has grown, but I still think your choice should really be between the two Fairmont Hotels (in downtown that is - if you want to be out of the centre, the Vancouver Airport Hotel is amazing). When I was last in Vancouver in 1997 I stayed at the Waterfront Centre, which is a tempting proposition due to the great views from most of the large guest rooms, and the level of service takes some beating. However, we were determined to try the Hotel Vancouver during our most recent visit last June. We took advantage of the swift valet parking service, and then entered the vast lobby, which consists of light coloured columns and shiny marble floors, with armchairs and sofas dotted around in floral and classic fabrics. The large chandeliers attract your attention along with the large floral displays. All in all it all looks new and sparkly, but with all the hallmarks of the older Canadian Pacific properties, which bring with them an atmosphere lacking in more modern 4 and 5 star properties. The check in was quick and we were upgraded from the standard Fairmont Room costing Can$159 to a Fairmont Deluxe Room. We always request a room near an elevator which sometimes means you get a noisier location, but usually means that you are likely to be near the centre of the hotel, avoiding the chance of getting a poky end of corridor room (that's my theory anyway!). The room was not very large, but classically furnished, with dusky green carpets and upholstery and co-ordinating crushed pink and green bedspreads and curtains. We had the obligatory Canadian Pacific dark wood armoire and des k with a good reading/make up light, and a bathroom which was functional if not particularly memorable. The view from the room was looking down Burrard Street towards the harbour with Cathedral Place just across the street. I don't suppose any of the views are that great being a downtown location, but I am sure we benefited from the upgrade in this respect. I would definitely recommend opting for the Fairmont Deluxe, as I am sure the standard rooms would be rather cramped. We were hoping to dine at 900 West on one evening of our stay, but unfortunately as it was Canada Day, it was closed, I would make a special point of dining there next time, from the reviews I have read. We did have a meal during our stay in the Lobby Bar, which was subtly lit with large sofas and chairs and a very civilised place to sip a good martini, while the pianist (who was at the Vancouver Airport Hotel too a few days later!) playing in the background. In addition the regular bar menu you could also order from the Griffins Restaurant menu too, which was really nice as we were happy to sit back in the comfy chairs and chat, whereas Griffins was rather family friendly and had quite a lot of over excited children there! The service was good, although we were rather pressured to order the food, when we were happy to relax a while. We also enquired about the size of the pizzas and were told they were enough for one if you're not that hungry, but when they arrived we could have shared one easily, and made room for a dessert - we'll know next time. When we checked out, a small error on our bill was refunded without question, and although we had a short wait for our car to be brought round, the valet parking attendants were helpful, offering us directions to Whistler, and leaving us with a very pleasant last impression of the Hotel Vancouver. The Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel This hotel is impressive from beginning to en d. Fr om th e out side, as you approach the terminal building, the hotel rises about 10 floors above the terminal, the hotel exterior combining the old and new - the main hotel building with a modern glass dominated frontage contrasted by the entrance in the light stone with small green chateau style roof, synonymous of Canadian Pacific (or now Fairmont) properties. The hotel does not have free car parking, but with most guests arriving off a flight, or departing in the morning, this should not be a problem. You are allowed to park your car outside while you check in, and then you can move it to a car park or back to the car hire company. You gain access to the hotel through the grand looking entrance, take a smart dedicated lift up to the hotel lobby floor. A short walk across a glass bridge, with the terminal below, and you are in the smart lobby. The check in desks are located in a central satellite and the effect is a pleasing change from the normal procedure with desks all in a row. From the check in desks it is a few steps to the lifts. On exiting the lifts, you are blown away by the panoramic views from the floor to ceiling windows. It is easy to get distracted and sit down on the thoughtfully placed seat next to the window, to just take in the view. In the distance beyond the airport, which makes for an interesting view in itself, are the mountains. Our room, which we paid $149 for, was large, decorated in light neutral shades on the walls and floors, the two poster bed stylishly covered with a cream checked bedspread. The furniture is in a honey coloured wood, in a modern style. The wardrobe has cream painted louvre doors adding to the clean and modern image. The large bathroom was the best I had ever had in a Fairmont property, none of which are ever cause for complaint. The bathroom can either be entered through a door just inside the room or through a sliding louvre door near the bed. This walk through style adds to the li ght and airy feel of the whole room. The bathroom floor is covered in light marble floor tiles, and the bathroom fitments include a large dark marble covered sink unit, bath and separate marble shower with glass doors. Everything about the room shouts 'quality' and a lot of thought seems to have gone into getting everything just right. The hotel also boasts some thoughtful in room touches - with a bedside control unit that switches any of the lights on or off, controls the TV, the air-conditioning and operates the 'do not disturb' or housekeeping lights outside your door (much better than hanging that silly card on your door handle every night!). Some upgraded rooms also enable you to close your drapes in the same way. But the striking thing about the room is the huge floor to ceiling windows, which look out over the airport and runways - great if you are at all interested in aviation. Very rarely do you get a hotel this close to the airport, with the added benefit of the larger view of Vancouver in the distance. On the evening of our stay we had an informal meal in the bar, although the hotel does also have a restaurant. The bar has large comfy armchairs and sofas in cream and light blue/green colours, with potted trees dotted about. It also has floor to ceiling windows all along one side and we took a table right next to the window. The activity just outside the window was hypnotising, and the cocktails, service and food were all first class. The convenience of the hotel cannot be beaten, being connected to the terminal, and the following morning we were able to leave our room only a few minutes before we needed to check in. This hotel would warrant a stay, even if you weren't flying out of Vancouver, it is so impressive. Fairmont appeared to have got the formula just right, combining the impeccable service and luxury that you expect from the chain, with a bright modern, cleverly thought out new property. If only a ll airport hotels were like the Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel!! Heathrow hotels certainly could learn a lot!!

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                        04.06.2002 21:43
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                        Last year I went on this absolutely fabulous holiday, the trip of a life time, you might say. I travelled to Canada and Alaska for three weeks. My holiday was essentially in three parts, (i) City Break in Vancouver, (ii) Cruise with Norwegian Cruise Lines through the Inside Passage to Alaska, (iii) Driving Holiday through the Banff National Park region. This opinion is about Vancouver, where we spent the first few days of our trip. A Bit of Background Information ---------------------------------------- Permanent Coastal villages were established over 5000 years ago in British Columbia. Europeans, began arriving in the 1700?s, and it was the Spanish and British who explored the North Pacific and mapped the coastline. James Cook (Him again!) visited the West Coast of Vancouver Island in 1778, and twelve years later, George Vancouver was sent out by the British to settle a land dispute. Soon after Fur traders arrived. Getting There ----------------- We flew direct with British Airways, from Heathrow. Because of all my international flying, I had accumulated about a gezillion or so air miles, and we were able to upgrade to business class. In fact we did not pay for our flights at all. This was a great way to start a luxury holiday. However, if you have to pay for your flights, then British Airways website is today offering flights from about £600, in economy class, and a wacking £3663 in Business Club Class. So I guess we got a bargain then, as we only had to pay the taxes! British Airways have introduced this new Premier Economy Class now, and tickets for that are about £1500. For my money, I would make sure you book a day flight in economy as opposed to a night time one, and that way the lack of legroom won?t be as bad if you are awake and not trying to sleep. The flight is about eleven hours, so with three good movies and some airline food the time will soon pass. You will arrive at Vancouver Intern ational Airport (Hopefully!), and we actually took a bus to downtown Vancouver. We were staying at the Pan Pacific Hotel, and the bus dropped us off right at the door. This was OK, but the cost of the bus for two of us was probably the same as a taxi anyway. If there are more than two of you, definitely take the taxi option. Where to Stay ----------------- We stayed at the Pan Pacific Hotel which is on the water at Canada Place. This is the site of the Trade and Convention centre, and the Hotel is often home to massive conferences. There is also a cruise ship terminal here, although our ship left from another terminal further down. The hotel is Five Star luxury throughout. The entrance hall is three storeys and it has a massive Totem pole as its centrepiece. Hotels in Canada tend to be half price between October and May times. We went at the end of April. We booked our hotel through British Airways Holidays, and we paid about £60 for the room per night. An absolute bargain! The Pan Pacific is another of the Leading Hotels of the World, (I seem to know how to find a good hotel at a Bargain, as I have stayed in several of these now!). The rooms were well kitted out and most have a harbour view. The hotel is famous for its billowing sails. There are several fine restaurants in the hotel, and it has all the normal guest services you would expect. It was my birthday and our Wedding Anniversary within 24 hours of us arriving and so Andy had arranged Canadian Champagne, a massive bouquet of flowers, and Strawberries dipped in Chocolate for our arrival. They were beautiful. Believe it or not, this hotel was actually our second choice. The one we had our heart on was the hotel Vancouver, which is a grand chateau style hotel closer to the centre of the town, and probably available at a similar budget. The Waterfront Hotel was is next to the Pan Pacific, and again many rooms have a water view, and the rest look out over a nice garden. You can also find a Hyatt in the city, or if you want budget there are a number of guesthouses, and Youth Hostelling hostels. Where to Eat --------------- Our luxury dining experience was actually at the hotel itself, in the Five Sails Restaurant. The presentation of the food is absolutely fantastic. At the end of the meal, you are brought an ice cream treat served with dry ice. Even the butter is shaped into a swan! The cuisine is Pacific Northwest and there is a large fish influence. I think this might have been one of the most expensive dinners I have ever had, however, so you are warned. Otherwise, if you head down Robson Street you will find several restaurants, and you should find one to your taste. The city has lots of restaurants of all types, including Thai, Chinese, Indian and Vegetarian options. We also tried CinCin, an Italian Restaurant on Robson Street. It was moderately priced and a great meal. What to do/Where to go ----------------------------- 1. Stanley Park. This is the largest urban park in Canada and is 1000 acres. Entrance to the park from the city is via the Lion?s Gate Bridge, which was built by the Guinness family and opened by George VI and Princess Elizabeth in 1939. It is a well planned park. Vehicles are allowed through, but there is a one way system. During the summer months, you can take a horse drawn tour, and they depart about every half hour. You can also rent cycles. Contained within the park is an Aquarium, children?s farmyard, Vancouver Rowing Club and Yachting Club, and Deadman?s Island, which is a traditional burial ground. 2. Aquarium Marine Science Centre is contained within Stanley Park. This is a rescue and rehabilitation centre and is home to seal lions and sea otters. My favourites though, were the Beluga whales from the Arctic. There is demonstration of their skills with their keeper in the large pond. You can also listen to the whales out in the ocean on ORCA FM radio station. 3. Gastown is the site of the original town, and was founded in 1867 by a Yorkshire Bar Owner called Gassy Jack. One of his first tasks was to open a bar. There was a huge fire in 1886 and almost all of the town was destroyed. One of the main attractions today is the Steam Clock, which is not, contrary to popular belief, actually steam operated! 4. If you want to get a birds eye view, then visit the Lookout Harbour Centre Tower on West Hastings Street. You can get a 360 degree view of the city and the surrounding mountains 5. It rained all the time we were in Vancouver, (It was late April), and one day we headed to the Science World Musuem. This is a hands on exhibition and is good entertainment for adults and kids. 6. Museum of Anthropology is another popular attraction. Here you can view Northwest Pacific native art, and the collection is huge. Further Afield ----------------- 1. About 1.5 hours East of Vancouver you will find the Resort of Harrison Hot Springs. We actually stayed here on our return to Vancouver after our eight day drive. The springs here were discovered in 1858. There is also a massive lake with watersports, and if you have time to eat, try the German Restaurant in the town, it was great! There are several indoor and outdoor pools to simply relax in, and the temperature from the springs is fantastic. 2. Capilano Suspension Bridge and Park. You can get the bus from Vancouver if you don?t have a car. This is the world?s longest and largest suspension bridge, crossing the river, which is a long way down. This isn?t for the feint hearted though! There is a gift shop, totem park and Carving Centre too. 3. Whistler is about two hours drive north of Vancouver. This is most famous for its ski resort, but it is also popular in the summer. We stayed in the area for one night at the start of our t our. The village below the mountains is completely pedestrianised. Even the drive up here is amazing, as you travel along the Sea to Sky Highway, with the Howe Sound to your left. You will also pass Shannon Falls and Squamish which is a town popular with rock climbers and windsurfers. 4. And finally, if you get this far, you really must take the time to do a drive through the areas of Banff and Lake Louise, the Banff National Park and the Icefields Parkway, to see some of the most spectacular scenery on earth! I wish I was going again, having written all of this. That the problem with Travel Reviews, they make you pine for the place again. Happy Reading and Bon Voyage Helen Bradshaw June 2002

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                          02.07.2001 04:56

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                          Canada is the most expensive and the best holiday i have ever been on. whilst on our travels we stayed with some friends of my dads who lived in vancouver. it is a really pleasant place. it was helped by the fact we were right next to the local hills (more like mountains). they were beautiful with many nature walks, it was idyllic apart from the threat of bears which is uncommon generally unless there has been a particularly hard winter in which case they can stray near to civilisation in hope of food. not only was the scenery wonderful but dare i say it so was the city itself. in structure and sight it appears no different really to some american cities but it was a more enjoyable and it was very pleasant. there seemed to be an air of friendliness and a calm atmosphere. every where seemed clean and unpolluted(well to a lesser extent than most places). there seemed to be every shop there. all music and sports shops, food stores, computer shops, shops that just sell trading cards and more including the mountain equipement co-op. i had a dose of the music shops and found that every 1 in them were very helpful. they allowed me to just sit and try out different basses and guitars without any question of whether i was buying and was even prepared to help me overseas when i came back to the uk. i was impressed to say the least and there appeared to be nothing bad. even the trffic jams seemed nice if that is possible. there was no honking and every one was patient. so if you are planing on going to canada go to vancouver and if you dont like it i will gladly pay fot he travel costs. but i am certain you will like it.

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                          29.05.2001 06:59
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                          • "Hastings and Main Sts are not for tourists"

                          I came to visit friends and relatives nine years ago and travel between my home of New York and Beautiful British Columbia. Vancouver is indeed a lovely, laid back city. It has the georgous mountains and English Bay. There is always good people watching on Robson St and coffee bars on just about every corner. This has been the dryest winter on record, in I believe 20 years, so I certainly bragged about it to my New York snowed in family! Other winters have you bogged down in raincoats, umbrellas and stylish goolashes! I have a horse here, so rainy winters also mean hay stuck to you, mud up to your knees, and cute little raincoats on your equine friend. Muddy buddies is the common article for kids!!! But when the old currant bun shines...it's the best! Theres the Granville Island Market to buy fresh fruit, vegies and salmon in. Theres the dinner cruise ships to get a lovely wine and dine view of the city and mountains. Three hours from here you can go to Whistler, a world class ski resort...great food and people there! The list goes on and on of the good things to do and see. A ferry ride to Vancouver Island is highly recommended because it weaves in and out of the many islands here and Victoria has a lovely flower garden and hotels. For Blues music the James Bay Inn is great in Victoria. In Vancouver the Yale's Blues Club is really a treat especially for Sat. afternoon jams. And the beer is 4 star!!! I could go on and on but it's best you book a trip and come and see for yourself!

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                          05.04.2001 00:29

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                          My 6 week trip to Vancouver was probably the best holiday of my life. For great weather (in the summer anyway) and genuinely friendly people this should be top of your list as one of the best places to visit. What struck me mainly was how clean the city was; the people here really seem to take a pride in it, and in true Canadian style recycling is big, and litter is rare. I visited in July so it was really hot, and the beaches and parks were fantastic. Vancouver is perfectly situated for whatever you are interested in; just next to the Pacific and on the doorstep of the Rockies. I have a strong interest in mountain biking, and the area is legendary in this sport for trails and facilities. I would recommend this destination to anybody, if you can afford the air fare. It really does have everything - and its not too in your face for the quiet holiday maker who just wants to relax.

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                          27.08.2000 01:38
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                          I visited Canada for the first time this year and we were based in B.C about 20 minutes outside downtown Vancouver. My memories are extremely positive.... in fact I looked into emigrating when we got back home to England because I had been so taken with B.C. Everywhere seemed so clean and there were no drunken louts on the streets!! Also most places are no smoking and even as a smoker myself this was a real pleasure!! The area we stayed in was surrounded by mountains and the scenery was idyllic in places. The climate is similar to England but they have rainforests and huge trees and all sorts of things to see and do. We went up to Whistler for the skiing and over to Vancouver Island to go Whale watching in Tofino...... another beautiful place!! Victoria over on Vancouver island is like a little England and extremely pretty....... we had cocktails in mini fish bowls with lunch one day and went back the next day for more!!*g* I would definately recommend for anyone to go for a holiday/visit to Vancouver and the surrounding areas .... I would love to go back again. In Vancouver itself are lots of attractions for the tourists and Vancouverites themselves....... I even got to see Tina Turner on her 24-7 tour in Vancouver. I also went down to gastown and the shops are fantastic!! If you haven't been already ....... put it on your to do list.... its a must!!

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                            23.07.2000 00:08

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                            this came at the end of our honeymoon and was beautiful in all senses....we took the ferry from vancouver over to the island which took about 3 hours and took the car with us....the ferry itself caters fro the whole family and the restaurants and toilets are very clean. we stayed in Vicotria in the Canadian Pacific...price about $150 per night and its was very clean with 3 restaurants...a moderate hotal for the family but no entertainer for the kids...the area is full of shops and eating places for all prices and the town is clean and the people are friendly..we took the car out and about to see the other bits of the island..it is the size of endlang but not that you could tell....full of pine trees and forestry industry..a real relaxing place with lots of interest

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                        • Product Details

                          "Vancouver is a city in south-western British Columbia, Canada. The city is named after Captain George Vancouver, an English explorer. The City of Vancouver has a population of 587,891[1], while its metropolitan region, the Greater Vancouver Regional District has a population of 2,180,737 (2006 estimate). Vancouver is the largest metropolitan area in western Canada and the third largest in the country. It has an ethnically diverse population: more than half of its residents have a first language other than English. The city is growing rapidly, and the metropolitan population is projected to reach 2.6 million by 2020. A resident of Vancouver is called a "Vancouverite"."