Vancouver: city of reflections past and present
The 12 hour flight to Vancouver, through 8 time zones, is like having an injection of lethargy that guarantees your body clock will be out of sync for a few days. By late afternoon your brain is telling you it’s the middle of the night, so you begin to nod off on the bus or skytrain as you head back to the hotel, wondering why your body refuses to respond to your commands.
Vancouver is a city of glass-plated skyscrapers, each reflecting the other as the sun moves round the sky. People abseil from the tops of 60 storey buildings, they have park sculptures that appear to be engaged in raucous joke-telling, and the locals have been criticised for wearing too much casual yoga gear (what is the world coming to?). The wonderfully named sports retailer Lululemon seems to be Vancouver’s biggest purveyor of such garments.
It’s here in the west of Canada, whose europeanization only really began during the murderous years of the gold rush, that they call their indigenous people (with 16,000 years of residency in the area) the First Nations. At least by their name they are given some recognition of priority.
It is in Vancouver that they call a tandem a ‘double bike‘ and they think nordic walking poles are walking sticks used by the elderly! When Jenny climbed on a bus with her poles, the driver was heard to shout the whole length of the vehicle “The lady with the pink backpack needs a seat!”. Jenny could either protest or accept the seat. What’s the point of protesting……?
You can get yourself a $7 travel ticket and enjoy spending the day riding the skytrain, the buses and the waterbus over to North Vancouver. Or you can walk along Coal Harbour admiring the view of Canada Place (which looks like a sailing ship) or the distant mountains, or even the comings and goings of the ubiquitous float-planes that share the same busy stretch of water as huge tankers and passenger ferries. Or be a bit more energetic and rent yourselves a ‘double-bike’ and take a spin around Stanley Park, and discover something of the history of totems (a kind of ‘coat of arms’ of the indigenous Indians), or the statue of the remarkable Harry Winston Jerome, who set a new world record in
1966 for the 100 yards (yes, do you remember those old imperial measurements………they are still alive and well on the American continent!). Or take a stroll around Gastown (the historic centre of Vancouver) and chance upon a clock that actually runs on steam (believe me)!
And before you leave the city you may discover (as we did) that Vancouver was the birthplace of Green Peace in 1971, and we caught them as they were celebrating their 40th birthday. Which left me wondering what special ingredients in this city of reflections triggered such an internationally important protest movement.