Sunday, January 31, 2010

More free concerts during the Olympics

So here I am thinking that I'd be in Vancouver for the majority of the free Olympics concerts (which I wrote about last week here), but I just discovered that there's quite the impressive assortment of free concerts happening in Richmond for their Olympics cultural event, O Zone.

Since I work in Richmond, there's a good chance I'll just be sticking around after work to attend some of these shows. I'm particularly interested in seeing Jill Barber, the Bedouin Soundclash, The Stills, Kathleen Edwards, Five Alarm Funk, Tokyo Police Club, and Spirit of Uganda.

The following list was taken directly from the O-Zone website  (where you can read detailed descriptions of each band, here), however I've compiled the list into chronological order below.

Friday 12-Feb-10
3:45 pm Richmond 3,500 Children’s Choir
5:15 pm The Jardines
9:15 pm Abandon Paris Band
10:15 pm Venice Queen

Saturday 13-Feb-10
5:30 pm Voodoo Allstars
8:00 pm Hey Ocean
9:30 pm Bedouin Soundclash

Sunday 14-Feb-10
8:00 pm Lions Dance and Performance
9:30 pm F.I.R. (飛兒樂團)

Monday 15-Feb-10
3:30pm Richmond Honour Choir
4:15pm Payton Rector
5:00 pm Showstoppers
6:15 pm Youth Concert Band
8:30 pm Jenn Grant
9:45 pm Kathleen Edwards

Tuesday 16-Feb-10
4:00 pm Bring Your Own Drum Featuring Vigari
5:30 pm Nisga’a, Hugh Boyd & Tetsu Taiko Drummers with MacNeill Dancers
8:00 pm SFU Pipe Band
10:00 pm Spirit of Uganda

Wednesday 17-Feb-10
3:30 pm Jillian Lebeck
5:15 pm Dal Richards
8:00 pm Jill Barber
9:30 pm Hawksley Workman

Thursday 18-Feb-10
4:30 pm Ken McCoy
6:00 pm Whiskey Jane
8:30 pm Arkells
9:45 pm Our Lady Peace

Friday 19-Feb-10
5:15 pm Tiller's Folly
8:00 pm DRUM!

Saturday 20-Feb-10
3:15 pm Rallycar
8:00 pm Ultimate Power Duo
9:30 pm Mariana's Trench

Sunday 21-Feb-10
3:00 pm Mud Dog
4:00 pm Kelly Brock
7:15 pm Babe Gurr
8:15 pm Swank
9:30 pm Dustin Bentall

Monday 22-Feb-10
7:45pm Ugetsu
9:00 pm Alex Cuba
10:15 pm Orquesta Goma Dura

Tuesday 23-Feb-10
3:30 pm From Darkness to Light - Canada’s North
3:30 pm Shiamak Presents
7:45 pm New Native Music Review
9:00 pm George Leach
10:15 pm Donny Parenteau

Wednesday 24-Feb-10
8:00 pm Tigerstyle
9:00 pm Dal Hothi and the Headlines
10:15pm En Karma

Thursday 25-Feb-10
3:30 pm Brave Waves
8:00 pm Two Hours Traffic
9:30 pm Wintersleep

Friday 26-Feb-10
4:45 pm This Means Nothing in Mexico
8:30 pm Quinzy
9:45 pm Tokyo Police Club

Saturday 27-Feb-10
3:30 pm Wonderbolt Circus
5:15 pm Wonderbolt Circus
9:00 pm The Dudes
10:15 pm The Stills

Sunday 28-Feb-10
3:15 pm Cousin Harley
4:30 pm March Hare
9:30 pm Five Alarm Funk
10:30 pm DJ Alex Merrell

Countdown: 2 weeks before the Olympics

I bought some Olympics tickets from the official Olympics ticket site a while ago and opted to have them delivered. Well, if you're not at home when Purolator delivers them (which is often the case - they only deliver during work hours), you have to pick them up by a certain date at their Pender Street office. The Purolator office closes at 5pm, and considering that I get home from work at 4pm, I had a narrow window to get there, flash my ID, and pick up my tickets.

So this past Friday I took the Canada Line to the City Centre station, picked up the tickets, and then meandered my way back home taking pictures of downtown Vancouver as it was prepping for the Olympics in 2 weeks time. Here's a taste of a city 2 weeks before the chaos ensues.

Olympic countdown clock at the Vancouver Art Gallery:

I remember in 2007 when I worked around the corner, it was at 1000 days and the Olympics seemed forever away. On Friday it was down to 14 days!

I walked to the other side of the Vancouver Art Gallery to Robson Street...

Upon snapping photos at the corner of Robson and Howe, I was approached by a local woman who asked if I had been to Granville Street yet. We had a nice little discussion about the upcoming Olympics, the road closures, the changing face of Vancouver, local politics, and how, despite it all, we were secretly looking forward to the chaos of upcoming games. We wished each other a happy weekend and then I continued on to Granville Street which is closed to traffic between Georgia and Robson.

Having had my fill of the art displays on Granville, I wandered back to Robson and continued east toward Homer Street...

I walked south down Homer Street and thought about just going straight home. That would have been too easy though. It was still a bit light out and I liked the way the lights were reflecting off the pavement, so I decided to detour along Mainland Street and Hamilton Street - the core blocks of Yaletown's boutiques and restaurants. I snapped a few photos around Yaletown right before the Friday night crowds overtook it.

By the time I got home, Josh had called me letting me know of that night's plans. Apparently we had dinner reservations at a local Japanese restaurant for 7pm. I jumped in the shower, quickly got ready and ran back out into the Yaletown streets. First stop was Section 3, then dinner at Bistro Sakana with a group of our good friends. We finished the night off at George Lounge.

Needless to say, it was a fun night. Sure, wine and sake make for dangerous nights, but isn't that what Fridays are for? But I'm now very curious to see what our Friday night will look like in 2 weeks! 2 weeks?! Ack!!!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The transformation of David Lam Park

I live across the street from David Lam Park which sits next to an elementary school on False Creek. This is what it looks like from my apartment on a normal day:

Okay... so maybe snow days aren't normal. That photo was taken back in November of 2006. You can  actually see the kids building a snow fort during their lunch break.

Here's another photo of, well... not exactly a normal day, but a nice summery day during the Vancouver Jazz Festival in June 2007. They were demonstrating the fire pumps:

And here's what the park looks like from the ground during those free afternoon Jazz Fest shows:

So at least you can sort of imagine what a normal day at David Lam Park looks like, right?

Well check out what David Lam Park looks like now!

Yup, they've paved it in its entirety for those free "Live City Yaletown" concerts which will be happening, well... sheesh! In 13 days today! 

But the good news is that I'll have an unobstructed view of the show directly from my apartment!

The bad news is that the park's going to be out of commission until June!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Time lapse of Vancouver at night

Here's the latest Vancouver timelapse to go viral. The music's kind of cheesy, but the visuals are certainly cool. Thanks for the suggestion Ben!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Grocery stores in downtown Vancouver

Note: This blog post is slightly out of date, yet it's perhaps the most popular blog post I've ever written. Rather than let it sit stale, I've updated this blog post on my new blog:


I actually made a map of grocery stores in downtown Vancouver.

You'll have to click on it to see it in its proper size, but I whipped up this map in Photoshop after reading numerous posts on travel forums about where to find grocery stores in downtown Vancouver.

Think about it. So many of the people who are visiting and working during the Olympics are staying in downtown condos. When you're staying downtown, you aren't going to bother with a car - you're going to rely entirely upon walking or public transit. And rightly so, people will be interested in the nearest, most convenient grocery stores.

So I figured, what the heck, why not make a map to visualize it?

Go on. Click on it!

Map of grocery stores in downtown Vancouver

The map features 12 different large full-scale grocery stores downtown Vancouver.* For more information on each individual grocery store, including hours, exact street address and a sense of what they offer, click on the name of the store to get to their website. 

Otherwise, here's my quick and totally biased overview of these grocery stores:

1. Capers Community Market. It was recently purchased by Whole Foods but is still thought of as a Vancouver-based natural food store. Great for organic/health foods. They have a nice deli and fresh food items to go. I rarely shop here because it's on the other side of downtown, but I wouldn't hesitate to go here if you like quality items. I'd probably shop here more often if it was closer. It's much more convenient if you're in the West End or Coal Harbour, especially if you're based around the western blocks of Robson Street.

2. Choices Market. I shop here all the time because it's a block away from where I live. It's a local company and expensive for what it is, but it's another great option for organic/natural foods and for people who have dietary restrictions (ie: they have a rice bakery for gluten-free diets). It has a limited deli, meat/seafood selection (mostly pre-packaged items) but a fantastic organic and regular produce section. Also a good fair trade coffee selection and teas. It's kind of a yuppy grocery store, but it's convenient for those in Yaletown and it's short walk from the Yaletown-Roundhouse Canada Line station. 

3. Costco. You'll need a Costco membership and a car to really take advantage of Costco. Of course, they're closing down the roads to traffic around here during the Olympics, so maybe not so convenient. Costco is Costco. It's cheap, it's behemoth, and it's all about large quantities. It makes sense for longterm stays or if you're feeding many mouths. It's only convenient if you're around Yaletown or Gastown and it's nextdoor to the Stadium-Chinatown Skytrain station. 

4. Granville Island Public Market. Open until 7pm every day, it's a foodie's best friend. Lots of artisan shops here and well worth a visit. It's not a tourist trap so don't avoid it even if it's on every tourist site's must-see list. Great for fresh produce, local seafood, fresh meat, fresh pasta, gourmet cheese, charcuterie, fresh breads & desserts, exotic spices, locally-roasted coffee, locally-made chocolate, fresh donuts, etc. It's the most fun you'll have grocery shopping in Vancouver. Take a water taxi to get here (fast and fun) or take the Canada Line to the Olympic Village station and then hop on the free street car that will b-line you right there!

5. H-Mart. It's easily missed as it's upstairs and you have to take escalator from a Korean frozen yogurt/dessert shop, but it's a full Korean grocery store (an international chain, apparently) with a produce selection, some unique take-out options (Korean sushi anyone?), and Korean items you typically won't find in regular grocery stores. Don't let that scare you - it also has regular North American items and an entire food court offering Korean and Japanese items (very popular at lunch time). It offers a nice alternative to the IGA a block away. It's really only convenient for people along the eastern blocks of Robson Street.

6. IGA Marketplace. These stores tend to be smaller versions of the IGA's found in the suburbs but they still include all the departments: the deli with takeout options, the bakery, produce section, bulk foods, fresh meat, etc. Good prices, nothing out of the ordinary, but IGA Marketplace is a good standby to pick up everything you'd need and therefore it's very convenient. The location on Smithe and Robson is larger (and has 2 floors) than their tiny location wedged in beside the Westin Grand on Robson and Richards.

7. Nesters Market. I prefer Nesters for convenience foods (pre-made sandwiches, quiche, etc.) and for their meat section - it's much more affordable here than most places downtown and the quality is typically good. The produce section isn't fantastic, but a it's good place for picking up drinks, desserts, breakfast foods and the basics. They often have sales, and again, for this BC-based chain of stores, it's usually good value for downtown. One location's in a relatively central location on Seymour and Nelson, which is convenient for those in or near Yaletown looking for something slightly cheaper and less specialized/yuppy than other Yaletown grocery stores. The other location's in the new Woodward's building which is really the only grocery store option in Gastown.

8. No Frills. Never shopped here (although maybe I should!) but it's bargain grocery shopping in the West End, cleverly hidden away in Denman Mall under the Coast Plaza Hotel. It's owned by Loblaw's which means they likely have No Name products (ie: dirt cheap store brand). It's only convenient if you're staying somewhere in the West End near Denman Street.

9. Safeway. A good all around regular grocery store with typically larger spaces compared to most downtown grocery stores. It has all the typical departments you'd expect: deli, bakery, meat, seafood, frozen foods, etc. They even have their own Starbucks counter (not like that's necessary in the land of thousands of Starbucks). They have a brand new store on Denman and Robson which is convenient for those in Coal Harbour, and a slightly older (but renovated) store on Davie in the West End by English Bay. I recommend only shopping here if you have a Safeway Club Card, otherwise you end up paying a lot more. 

10. SuperValu. This place makes me nostalgic as it probably hasn't changed since the 1970's (or earlier) and it has an old fashioned feel to it. It's another bargain grocery store in the West End, but is stocked full of my favourite President's Choice brands. Yes, your money goes much further here than most other downtown grocery stores. It's a little bit scattered and a bit weird (or maybe that's the shoppers), but I quite like SuperValu. It is what it is - totally unhip but great value for downtown shopping. You expect "meh" quality, but it surprisingly has a lot of great items here. And if you're a senior, they even do free delivery! Only convenient if you're in the West End near Davie and Bute. Oh yeah, and they're open super late!

11. T&T Supermarket. This is the epitome of Chinese grocery stores, complete with live seafood in tanks, traditional Chinese produce, a full Chinese bakery, a "vivid" meat selection, and your standard authentic Chinese items - aisles of frozen dim sum, aisles full of rice, noodles, all kinds of sauces - you name it! It's fun to shop here because of the sights and smells. It's like they captured the essence of Chinatown and put it inside one gigantic grocery store! Chinese New Year happens during the Olympics, so it'll even be more festive than usual. It's located down the stairs from the Stadium-Chinatown Skytrain station and convenient for those staying near Beatty Street, Gastown, or Chinatown.

12. Urban Fare. The ultimate Vancouver yuppy grocery shopping experience. It's a local gourmet grocery store chain with all three locations downtown. They have a good bakery, a good fresh meat counter, a fresh seafood counter, a good deli, a huge assortment of local and imported gourmet cheeses, exotic fruits, wild mushrooms, fresh pasta, bulk foods, and aisle upon aisle of imported and local artisan products like sauces, oils, spices, coffee, chocolate, candies, drinks, pasta, canned goods, and things you've probably never seen before. It's fun for specialty items but it quickly adds up if you're grocery shopping for regular every day items. Their in-store restaurant cafe is actually really good though, as are their takeout options. Use your "Save on Foods" card to take advantage of sale prices, but it's still worth shopping here even if you don't have one. Again, it's pretty much a must for foodies even if it's just to nonchalantly browse. Their stores are typically larger than other grocery stores downtown. There are not one but two locations at Coal Harbour and one location in Yaletown across the street from the Yaletown-Roundhouse Canada Line station.

* I did not include pharmacies like London Drugs or Shoppers Drug Mart even though a lot of them carry all kinds of food items like bread, milk, and frozen entrees. I didn't include convenience stores like 7-11 or Mac's even though they're open 24 hours and offer all kinds of convenience foods. I didn't include the mom & pop corner stores, produce stores, independent bakeries, butcher shops, deli's, etc. or my list would have never ended. I kept things to the downtown peninsula although I did include Granville Island even though it's technically not downtown. I did not include the larger grocery stores immediately outside of downtown like Whole Foods or Save-on-Foods, even though they're relatively easy to get to and the stores get bigger and cheaper once you head out of downtown. Okay, maybe not Whole Foods. 

Monday, January 25, 2010

Museum of Anthropology

Yesterday my sister suggested we visit the Museum of Anthropology out at UBC campus. It was free to the public for their "A Celebration of Creativity" event which marked the launch of new exhibits and a grand reopening since their renovations. She actually spent hours there the day before but found the dances and performances so powerful, she couldn't wait to get back to experience more.

I hadn't been to the MOA in several years, but I used to go frequently when I was a UBC student, especially when I was taking Charlotte Townsend-Gault's First Nations art history class. It had always been considered the apex for learning about the diversity of First Nations cultures, but it's not exclusive to local indigenous cultures, it focuses on contemporary and traditional cultures of the world.

Yesterday was extremely busy, but exciting. There were entirely new exhibits, new interpretations of previous exhibits, a completely renovated and reorganized visible storage area, plus a variety of dancing, performances, and even Cantonese opera! The new cafe upstairs was crazy busy, so we didn't get to try it, but the gift shop now rivals that of the Vancouver Art Gallery downtown.

The Museum of Anthropology is still my favourite museum in Vancouver and certainly one of the most impressive museums in western Canada. If you have two days in Vancouver, it's definitely a must-see.

Here's a taste of yesterday:

Oh, and for what it's worth, the cherry blossoms out at UBC campus were in bloom.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Super Natural British Columbia

Tourism British Columbia is the latest to jump on the celebrity-endorsed tourism video bandwagon (à la California). The commercial features local, BC-based celebrities like Sarah McLachlan, Michael J. Fox, and Steve Nash endorsing BC's spectacular scenery and attractions. So fitting for Hollywood North, no?

They've also done a nice job with their "You Gotta Be Here in 2010" website, which seems to have arrived just in time for the 2010 Olympics. You can check it out at, or visit the official Tourism BC website at

Great job guys! :)

Scenes from the Stanley Park Seawall on Sunday

Everything's Gone Green

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Scenes from Steveston on Saturday

Steveston's my home town: a historic fishing village at the mouth of the Fraser River and home to Canada's largest fishing fleet. It's only a 40 minute drive from downtown Vancouver, but it feels like it's a world away.

Britannia Heritage Shipyard

Gulf of Georgia Cannery


Steveston Fishing Boats