Tuesday, December 2, 2008

To visit Vancouver or to not visit Vancouver

... that is the question.

I've written the following lists so that people don't get false expectations about Vancouver. Vancouver's a fantastic city, and yes it does get voted highly for its livability, but know its limitations.

If you're looking for Las Vegas style nightlife, then no, don't come to Vancouver. If you're seeking London style history, museums, and art galleries, then no, perhaps Vancouver's not the city for you.

But if understand what you're getting yourself into, where to spend your time, and where not to waste your time, only then can you truly appreciate what Vancouver has to offer.

Reasons for visiting Vancouver:

A "modern and cosmopolitan" urban environment
the scenery
the sandy beaches
the public waterfront walkways
the gardens and green space
the temperate rainforests
the Coast Mountains
the nearby islands
rich aboriginal history
the diverse topography
the mild climate
the social tolerance and multiculturalism
the outdoor activities (skiing, sailing, kayaking, snowboarding, mountain biking, rock climbing, scuba diving, fishing, whale watching, golfing, hiking, white water rafting, windsurfing, skateboarding, beach volleyball, etc. - all within a short distance of downtown!)
the ability to explore on foot
good public transit
small scale boutique shopping
the Asian cuisine scene
fresh local seafood
the burgeoning "foodie" scene

Reasons for not visiting Vancouver:

A "quaint and charming" urban environment
to admire architecture
for a long-established colonial history
large museums and large art galleries
autumn colours
the Rocky Mountains (they're 800km away!)
snowy winters
a white Christmas
a vibrant New Year's party
guaranteed sunshine
big city nightlife
legal marijuana
cheap booze
Mexican/Latin American restaurants
Texas BBQ or American "southern" style cooking
endless fast food chains
outlet shopping malls
cheap real estate
cheap rent
cheap hotel rooms
cheap parking
a city riddled with freeways


Matthew Watkins said...

Busy freeways, you need to visit Britain and I like the architecture in downtown Vancouver very modern and the quaint little church that just seems so out of place in the middle of it all. Yeah London has nice old buildings but they are fithy dirty. Vancouver is such a clean city.

Robyn said...

Well that's one way to look at it! :)

My pros/cons list is of course a mass generalization. Vancouver's architecture has a particular attractiveness, but it's also that very architecture that has people up in arms. "The scenery's pretty, but all those glass skyscrapers - GASP! - so repetitive!"

Regarding the freeways, back in the 1970's (I forget the exact date), Vancouver outlawed the existence of freeways within the city proper. That's why Hwy 99, when it crosses the Oak Street Bridge into Vancouver, it turns into Oak Street... and people are forced to drive through stop/go traffic until they get downtown. It turned out to be a brilliant move for a variety of reasons, but you still get people who think a good city should have a good freeway system (even though supposed good freeway systems as seen in LA or Seattle are often full of gridlock!)

Robyn said...

... oh, and I should have mentioned that you're right - there are quaint buildings here and there scattered throughout the modern skyscrapers, but you really have to work to find them. :) People coming from, well, anywhere else in the world, sometimes feel underwhelmed that Vancouver's oldest buildings tend to be from the 1890's!