Saturday, March 21, 2009

A walk along the seawall on St. Patrick's Day

On my quest to be more active after work, I went for an hour long walk along the seawall on Tuesday. Tuesday was St. Patrick's Day, although I had already accomplished my festive drinking at the Shebeen Whiskey House on Friday night after watching U2 3D at the CN Imax Theatre. I did not wear the colour green.

On Tuesday I strayed from the barflies. I needed a whiff of the ocean to clear my head, so I wandered down Richards to Beach Ave and paralleled the water amongst the condos until I reached the underside of the Burrard Street Bridge. That's where there's a little trail next to the Aquatic Centre and you're a stone's throw away from Sunset Beach. It's actually the fastest way to get to the beach from Yaletown I discovered - taking the seawall the entire way is actually slower as it meanders around every curve of the coastline. Beach Avenue? It's the hypotenuse - the most direct path.

So I'm down at Sunset Beach - a little strip of uninspiring sand where False Creek opens to English Bay. I couldn't remember the last time I took a big breath of the air and could smell the lushness of the sea. I stepped off the paved seawall and onto the sand and walked to the water's edge. The tide was out extremely low and the scent of the saltwater was intoxicating.

Apparently the crows thought so too.

There were hundreds of them cawing along the water's edge. Crows are crafty. These crows were likely after mussels or other sea creatures unfortunate enough to be caught in the intertidal zone at low tide. Have you ever seen a crow open a mussel? They'll pick it up in their beak, fly 30 feet into the air and drop it purposely on the pavement. They'll do this enough times until the mussel shell cracks open, ready to eat. It's amusing to watch, although it's not as amusing as watching a seagull attempting to swallow a starfish.

The seawall was busy with joggers, many of whom - I'm sure - are training for the Sun Run 10km next month.

West End apartments overlooking the water. English quaintness, 60s's ugliness.

The cloud cover over the water hung heavy in the sky, waiting to rain.

I continued along the seawall towards the inukshuk...

... and looked over to a very empty English Bay Beach. There was one person. One. They had their own beach chair and sat at the water's edge staring out to sea, their back to the city.

I looked out to the sea and then back to the city. The fresh snow on Grouse Mountain was visible behind the Sylvia Hotel.

It was actually quite beautiful and for a moment I seriously considered pushing further and taking the seawall around the entirety of Stanley Park. However, that would have taken another hour and I figured it was only a matter of time before the rain would fall. I didn't have an umbrella and I could see that it was already starting to rain a short distance away.

And it was at that precise moment when I felt the first drop. It was a slow and steady rain - enough to get the ground wet but not enough to persuade me from enjoying my walk. After all, there's something to be said about the atmosphere it brings.

Along the seawall there are many park benches, most of which have memorial plaques commemorating loved ones. There was one, however, that differed from the norm.

As I approached the Burrard Street Bridge, I watched the False Creek ferries shuttle passengers across to Granville Island on the other side.

And right at the base of the bridge is a tiny dog park - one of the few beaches on False Creek where people can legally let their dogs frolic in the sand off leash.

I suppose I could have followed the seawall all the way back into Yaletown, but I liked my little inland shortcut along Beach Avenue. Ever so often, I'd get these little peekaboo glimpses of False Creek between the condos.

By the time I reached the foot of Richards again, the rain had stopped and the clouds were shifting, exposing the sun. I stopped for a minute in George Wainborn park - a formerly polluted industrial site that was transformed into a 6 acre landscaped park and plaza for the luxury condos that surround it. Urban planners love these types of industrial-to-recreational stories. The False Creek area is full of them.

I walked inland a block to Pacific Blvd through the Hong Kong-inspired Pacific Concord condos, back into Yaletown.

I crossed Pacific and entered Yaletown via Homer Street. The sun was a welcoming contrast against the dark sky.

It's here on Homer Street where Yaletown's history is a little more evident. While it may be surrounded by modern glass towers, at its core you have these heritage buildings - heritage for Vancouver, anyway.

Most of these buildings are entirely residential now with restaurants, hair salons, dental offices, and boutiques on the ground floor. Oh yes, and video game studios.

And at the intersection of Homer and Davie, it's a bit of a hub - a crossroads where the residential Yaletown and commercial Yaletown meet. People dressed in green were out and about and on their way to the local Irish watering holes a few blocks over on Granville.


Anonymous said...

Oh hooray, hooray for you!
I really LOVED my walk with you. Thanks you so very much for making me homesick for the place I dearly wish to call home!

I keep convincing myself I'll be happy here, then I remember the beauty of Vancouver and my heart yearns again. In the mean time I get my fix from the internet.

Carmel | Happy Steps travel blog said...

Hi Robyn, thanks for sharing your walk along the seawall with us. Great photos! I feel like I'm almost there... smelling the saltwater scent or listening to the noisy crows. :)

Carey at

Santosh Nikam said...

Nice walk i loved also attach good photograph with descriptive information. Nice Post.

lunaticg said...

What a wonderful picture you share in here. Love that cloud.
See you around.

João Oliveira said...

It feels like we're walking along with you. You must really love your city.

Zeeshan said...

Well, you certainly know how to get the readers involved in your stories. Very interesting. Keep it up. I am getting to know Vancouver better and better.