Friday, February 26, 2010


The floatplanes arrive and depart each morning from and to Victoria Island, the city bus of Vancouver. Into the and out of the fog and over the mountains to the wilderness, this is the magic of Vancouver. The city, the mountains, the gardens, the water, the people and the fusion cuisine all mesh to give the traveler a unique and unforgettable experience.

My eight-day visit to the City of Vancouver a few years ago was no different. While it was Winter and the vast gardens that weave through the city slept the city held more than enough charm to impress. My stay near at the Five Sails Conference Center for the eight-day International Curriculum Conference was impressive. However, it was not the honorary array of international conference speakers that won the day it was walking the streets, which held a new adventure around every corner. The first day I stopped in Scuzi (although I cannot find it on the list of breakfast stops now – but it may be newly named Trees Organic Coffee) for breakfast with a friend and we had one of the best breakfasts ever. The cozy cafĂ© was just right and a pleasant break from the chill of the morning.

Next, a walk into The Five Sails Conference Center, overlooking the bay where the seaplanes come and go and the fog from time-to-time parts to reveal the majestic mountains. After the conference day, I walked with several friends into Yaletown, which is a kind of Yuppie area of the city – there is a mini-Cooper dealership. We visited a bustling pizza house. Plenty of white wine (local white wine is special – I brought back two bottles – yummy), good thin-crust pizza and conversation and we headed out again to the hotel.

Back to conference the next day and then after a longer walk to Grandville Island. This is the largest island community outside of Mackinac Island in North America. The community is home to many shops stocked full of art and local craft and heritage items - fascinating and brilliant around every corner.

After the next day’s conference, I ventured out into the Chinatown, which is larger than the Chinatown in San Francisco. This was a wonderful place and on the way back I ran into friends also up for an adventure in Gastown. Gastown was a cool part of the city as well. Gastown is a national historic site and was Vancouver's first downtown core and is named after "Gassy" Jack Deighton, a seaman, steamboat captain and barkeep who arrived in 1867 to open the area's first saloon. Gastown is a refreshing mix of old and new, down home and upscale - a place for tourists. However, it did not feel touristy but did feel like a safe and delightful part of the city to roam. Just as an aside, I love to visit coffee houses. We (my wife and I) travel a bit and I know what I like in a good coffee house and really like espresso and Latte. I wandered into a coffee house in Gastown and found one of the best lattes to this day I ever tasted. Fond memories, good food, wine, hospitality, and great shopping left me wanting to return and bring my family to lovely Vancouver. Now the sight of the current Winter Olympics I cannot help to feel the jealousy for the people lucky enough to attend.

Goodbye for ville maintenant juste – Goodbye for now fair city.