Instead of celebrating Valentine's Day on the 14th, my significant other and I made the following day - Sunday, February 15th - our special day. The weather cooperated. Sunday was glorious, sunny, and warm. It was 8 degrees Celsius (or 46 degrees for the Fahrenheit fans). There was no doubt about it - it truly felt like spring.
In the early afternoon we took a taxi 10 minutes down Pacific Blvd from Yaletown to the West End's English Bay. We had brunch reservations for 2pm at the Raincity Grill - a local favourite, famous for its local 100-mile radius cuisine. We arrived a little early so we took 15 minutes to go for a quick walk.
We first walked north along Denman Street - a relatively short street connecting English Bay to Coal Harbour - famous for its tiny hole-in-the-wall eateries and cafes. The sidewalks were packed with people as if awakening from the winter blahs for the first time this season.
Local neighbourhood haunts like Central (formerly the Brass Monkey), Legendary Noodle, and Nat's New York Pizzeria.
Local city buses (electric trolleys, really) make the rounds... a large percentage of people in the West End rely exclusively on walking/public transit.
There are cheap greasy diners and casual ethnic restaurants. You just stroll a few blocks and take your pick of cuisines: Greek, Malaysian, Ukrainian, Korean, Mexican, Japanese, Vietnamese, Chinese, North African, Italian, Middle Eastern, Indian, etc.
At its southern end, Denman intersects with Davie Street - the West End's major commercial strip also home to Davie Village - the core of Vancouver's gay community.
And because the area's the heart of a residential community, you have many out simply walking the dog.
We made our way back to the southern end of Denman Street, crossed Beach Avenue, and walked down to English Bay. English Bay is a favourite downtown waterfront of mine for a variety of reasons. Primarily, English Bay doesn't feel like downtown - it really doesn't feel like you're in a high density city at all despite being steps away from giant apartment towers. English Bay is where you have the city intersecting with the beach, the seawall, and the entrance to Stanley Park. With the restaurants, cafes, and general local community vibe happening just seconds away, it's hard not to like the area. And I haven't even talked about the sunsets or the view!
As always, when the sun shines, people are out at English Bay. They're found jogging, walking their dogs, rollerblading, longboarding, cycling around the seawall, and just enjoying the rare sunshine. Saying that, the sunshine hasn't really been so rare for us this February. I can only imagine what the world will think of next year when they arrive in Vancouver next February for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. I'm sure the great majority from elsewhere, possibly expecting the stereotypical cold arctic Canada winter, will instead stumble upon ... this?