A day in Vancouver starts with a morning walk. The largest city in the Canadian province of British Columbia has as beautiful a setting as any in the world, nestled between the water and the mountains. The green expanse of Stanley Park runs to one side and Grouse Mountain rises to the north (at night, the lights of its ski-run look like a spaceship floating above the city).
On a clear and crisp morning the leaves still have their fall colours, brilliant reds and oranges.
As the day gets underway, seaplanes take off from Canada Bay bound for nearby Vancouver Island and the state capital of Victoria, with its English-styled tearooms and pubs.
The rainy season in the Pacific Northwest runs from July to June. Hardy locals don't seem to bother much with umbrellas, but the visitor is advised to keep one handy. The weather can change at a moment's notice and the sunlight suddenly replaced by showers!
Lunch time. Siegel's Bagels in Vancouver are renowned for their Montreal-style bagels. Boiled-then-baked, they are topped with smoked wild salmon, cream cheese and capers. The crimson colour of the fish is completely natural (unlike Australian farmed salmon, where the appealing colour comes from food dye in their feed).
Canadians are considerate to a fault, always removing their shoes when entering a house and calling out thank you to the driver whenever they depart a bus. This politeness extends to Vancouver traffic. If one steps out onto the middle of a busy street, the cars will – usually! - slow for you, nobody honking an irate horn at the jaywalking pedestrian. Hopefully Canadians don't try this too often when abroad - things wouldn't go so well... Granville Island is the shopping mecca for fresh produce and tourist trinkets, located under the Granville Bridge and accessed by foot or car on the south side or a ferry ride from the West End.
The market on the island showcases sides of BC salmon and Alberta beef, thick asparagus spears, Okanagan apples and local berries bursting with flavour and juice.
Vancouver has the feeling of a big town more than a city but is becoming more high-rise by the year. Amidst the urban sprawl are numerous community gardens where residents can grow their own fruit and vegetables.
Heading to Canada Place for dinner, across the water low hanging clouds roll out across North Vancouver.
Asian food is very popular here. In 1997 many of Hong Kong's top chefs emigrated to Vancouver, and foodies travel here now just to eat Chinese food. Japanese food is very popular too. Miku restaurant at Canada Place has a creative take on sushi and sashimi, using pristine ingredients.
The sun starts to set on English Bay, marking a full and enjoyable day of wandering about.
Time to relax with a beer at one of the many venues around town featuring live music. One can see why Vancouver has been voted one of the world's best cities to live in. Just don't forget that umbrella!
Photos by Rod Coogan