Wednesday, February 18, 2009

English Bay and the West End in February

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.

Denman Street tends to portray the more human side to the downtown Vancouver peninsula.

You have green grocers selling fruit, flowers, and vegetables...

The cutest teddybear ever giving away free cupcakes!

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?


Anonymous said...

How happy I am to see and read of Vancouver's Westend....actually it almost makes me sad. Vancouver is where I learned one could fall in love with a city and I have been crazy about the place for the last 15 years.

Each of my many visits cemented my desire to call it home and eventually we found a way to Canada. Sadly we landed in Toronto. We are happy here and it's a great city, but it's not Vancouver and not the Westend. No Denman Street or English Bay here!

In time I still hope to make the 4400km trek westwards to live the long held dream.

Thanks for all the great pics which I so enjoyed.

Robyn said...

Rob, you're so very welcome! :) I'm glad you enjoyed the photos and tht you were able to revisit your memories of the West End. Hopefully you'll be able to visit - or who knows, maybe move - there soon enough!

I'm actually quite embarrassed - I have never been to Toronto, although I've been meaning to. I've spent time in Montreal and Ottawa, but Toronto's next on my list.

Erik Mondrian said...

Found this from a link you posted in the forum at City-Data; your blog is great and I'm definitely happy to have another "window" into Vancouver. Love the pictures and your writing. I do have to laugh, though, being from Los Angeles and having also lived for 4 1/2 years in Honolulu, at "warm" supposedly being 8 degrees C. ;)

I'm currently in San Diego but hoping to move to Vancouver come fall for a PhD program, if I get accepted. I was up there to visit and check out the city for a week late May of last year. Actually stayed at a hostel in the West End, and have a good memory of walking on Davie up to Denman, one of my first afternoons there, and then down to English Bay - where there was a large crowd gathered for an event of some kind, or maybe just an impromptu "street performance" - and strolling back down along the seawall while the sun set. :D It was beautiful; I even stopped and sat for a while on one of those great "beach logs" just to take it all in.

It was also pretty amazing to see the big ships out there in Burrard Inlet, just... waiting there, for whatever it is they wait for. They added to the scenery for me, and somehow made the whole place seem more alive and yet very tranquil at the same time.

Unknown said...

This blog is just so great as it brings alive my memories of Vancouver and the terrific times I have spent in the best city on the planet! I - like Rob Inukshuk - am crazy about Vancouver and this series of photos is a wonderful reminder of some very happy walks along the English Bay seawall from False Creek into Stanley Park.