My first day of this short trip to Vancouver had been wonderful. Even though I didn’t land at YVR until 11:00, I saw and photographed a lot, and confirmed that this getaway was a very good idea. What might I get into on a full day? 🙂
After walking 14 km on Sunday, I slept quite well that night. At 06:30 Monday, the sky was getting light but the Granville Street Bridge was still very quiet.
I decided to try the “full Canadian breakfast buffet” in a small restaurant on the second floor of the Executive Hotel Vintage Park. While it’s a lovely space, the $13.99 buffet was very unimaginative. That’s the only comment I have about the hotel that is even mediocre – it’s an excellent property and I won’t hesitate to stay there again.
Looking down on the lobby as I headed out at 07:35. It looked and felt like a great day coming.
I decided to start the day’s wanders off on Granville Street, a place I spent a lot of time 45-50 years ago (would you like an interactive map?).
Back in the 1960s and ’70s, Granville Street was developed as one of Vancouver’s main destinations, with tens of milions of dollars pumped into various ideas. For a while it was even a pedestrian mall. Now, its good days are long gone, and the part that used to be the highlight is pretty seedy.
At the south end of Granville, the classic Yale Hotel remains a Vancouver favourite, though it seems that its fame as a blues bar is history. Another famous hotel, the Cecil, used to be where that tower now lives.
There are a lot of homeless people in Vancouver, at least partly because of the mild climate. As highly visible as many are, they aren’t a nuisance. I saw some truly sad scenes, though – a young woman taking up half the sidewalk, raving and using a can of large felt markers to create signs about her life; an old man who had made a fort in the setback doorway of an abandoned store, huddled under his sleeping bag with a kitten on his chest…
The wonderful sign on the Two Parrots bar/restaurant at Granville and Davie Street stopped me every one of the several times I walked by it over the 3 days.
The “For Lease” sign in the window of the historic Bank of Nova Scotia building is one of many on the street. The Changing Vancouver blog says: “On the corner of Davie was a classic-with-a-touch-of-art-deco Bank of Nova Scotia, designed by Sharp & Thompson in 1930. It was finally considered an unwanted branch 70 years later, and in 2001 Architectura’s design for The Dance Centre (with input from Arthur Erickson) saw the Granville façade retained on the contemporary concrete and glass box on Davie.”
Although the Hotel Regal looks fine from the outside, recent stories indicate that inside, it’s in terrible condition and may soon be ordered by the City to close.
The Star Walk of the BC Entertainment Hall of Fame is on Granville Street, with 224 notables in the industry honoured.
The Commodore Ballroom, built in the Art Deco style by George Conrad Reifel and designed by architect H.H. Gillingham, is probably Vancouver’s best-known historic enterainment venue. I certainly heard about it as a child.
A brilliant splash of colours!
I think it’s important to keep things in perspective. That was part of the reason for this trip – it’s good to see how the world outside Whitehorse functions. Having seen what happened to Vancouver’s once dream-street, it was time to move on – back to the waterfront, but this time the Vancouver Harbour side.
The blue thing to the left in the next photo is the bottom of “The Drop”, the work of Inges Idee, a group of four artists from Germany and Sweden: Hans Hemmert, Thomas A. Schmidt, Georg Zey, and Axel Lieber. The $800,000 sculpture was purchased to satisfy one of the requirements for construction of the $900 million Convention Centre.
A reflection of the Marine Building, one of my perennial favourites in Vancouver.
Down at Coal Harbour, a Coast Guard crew was just heading out for some practise with their Search and Rescue (SAR) lifeboat CG 158.
I probably never visit Vancouver without stopping at the Coal Harbour floatplane base for at least a few minutes 🙂
I’ve visited the Komagata Maru memorial a few times since it was unveiled on July 23, 2012. The interpretive panel explains: On May 23, 1914, the steamship Komagata Maru arrived in Coal Harbour after a seven week crossing from Hong Kong via Japan. The ship was carrying 376 Indians from India and the Far East who claimed right of entry as citizens of the British Empire. Most of the passengers were not permitted to land based on the “Continuous Passage Order” and other prejudicial regulations that prevented Indian immigration. While supporters campaigned for the passengers’ right to disembark, the ship remained anchored approximately one kilometre offshore from where you are now standing. During this time, the Khalsa Diwan Society helped supply the passengers with food and water. On July 23rd, the Komagata Maru and its passengers were escorted out of the harbour by a Canadian navy vessel and sent back to India. The Komagata Maru incident was a catalyst for change to Canadian citizenship and immigration laws. This monument reflects Canada’s commitment to a nation where differences are respected and traditions are honoured.
By 11:00 I had walked up Howe Street and was back on the False Creek waterfront, looking for some areas I wasn’t familiar with. This complex water feature stopped me for a few minutes.
I decided to walk along the waterfront to David Lam Park and then take a water taxi across False Creek. Along the way, there were plenty of architecture and cherry blossom photo opportunities.
As was the case the previous day, there was plenty of action on False Creek, including this racing boat whose crew seemed to be in training for something.
I got off the water taxi at Stamp’s Landing. The pub on the right in the next photo looked like a good option for the next time I needed a meal.
I climbed the hill and eventually ended up in the Vancouver General Hospital area, where clinics of all sorts are now located. The building to the left is the beautiful Blusson Spinal Cord Centre.
I soon took another water taxi back to the downtown side of False Creek, and walked back to English Bay, which seemed like the perfect place to enjoy the warm sun. There were plenty of flowers and other colours along the way…
There was just enough wind to blow up a bit of surf, and I spent quite a while just sitting on a log listening to the waves.
Vancouver – at least the downtown part of the city – is extremely bicycle focussed, and it takes some thought to stay out of their way. I wonder how many people walking are injured by being hit by cyclists.
“A-maze-ing Laughter”, by Yue Minjun – “May this sculpture inspire laughter playfulness and joy in all who experience it.” The artist uses humour, cynicism, repetition, and an emphasis on the individual to engage viewers and create dialogue. The sculpture was originally conceived as a linear installation and exhibited at the Beijing Museum of Contemporary Art. The Vancouver Biennale provided the artist the opportunity to reinterpret the work for its new site in English Bay. In his reimagining, Yue Minjun reordered the figures to create a maze, and titled the work: A-maze-ing Laughter. The bronze characters depict the artist’s own face, grin gaping and eves closed in hysterical laughter, and can be interpreted in many ways. Is Yue welcoming or mock us with his smile?
By 5:00 when I shot the next photo, I was getting hungry, so started to make my way back to Stamp’s Landing to the pub I had seen, on foot and by water taxi.
Mahoney & Sons turned out to be an excellent choice – great vibe and view, and food and service to match. However, I hadn’t taken a jacket, and when the sun went down it got very cold very quickly. I caught a rather severe chill, and as I write this 9 days later, I’m still not over the cold that developed. DOH! 🙁
Despite the chill, it had been an awesome day, and I walked another 18.8 km – still being able to that at 68 feels very good 🙂
One final photo, of the view from my room (#705 at the Executive Hotel Vintage Park) right at 8:00 pm…