© By Mike Keenan
Vancouver is a terrific city for walking as there are many cultural experiences to soak up. I devoted my "culture day" to trips to the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Dr. Sun-Yat Sen Classical Chinese Gardens and the Orpheum Theater, the latter featuring a Claude Debussy opera.
The Emily Carr exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery never fails to mesmerize me. I start on the fourth floor with Emily then work my way down. I enjoy Carr's brooding, dark green nature and I stared at her Large Raven perched on a wooden stump, head and body tilting upwards, wings folded in at the sides, like those small town park exhibits of CF 100 Canadian fighter jets. In the oil's background, Carr deftly placed a fir tree with an embracing canopy, a pilgrim in a hood and cloak, a neat touch.
The Classical Chinese Gardens was a treat. Its layout features the concept of balance, the old male female, yin-yang, hard-smooth, unified concept of the world with flowery windows for the ladies and geometric patterns for the men.
The water exudes a jade green, an important concept with lilies the only flower present so not
to draw too much attention such that every item is fully appreciated. The stones inlaid in the floor tiles and all the rocks arrived from China, with no nails or screws used in the construction. Cascading water adds a sense of serenity to wonderful views created from every angle. I took a lot of photos!
The Orpheum, one of those large, ornate theaters sits downtown reminding me of the ornate Shea's Buffalo, classic buildings for cities to showcase artistic talent. The French lyrics of the opera were translated on a screen high above the stage. We enjoyed terrific seats two rows back on the aisle in the balcony, unobstructed for the first act, but two "leaners" appeared in front of us. Suffering from ADD, they constantly bounced on the edge of their seats. Our view obscured, fortunately we were able to move to nearby empty seats.
Much to my surprise, there was no fat lady. All three women who sang received a bouquet of flowers at the end. An appreciative fan repeatedly shouted, "Bravo!" The music was geared to strings with the winds and brass not getting much of a workout. The voices were rich, especially
one bass who was a little, skinny guy compared to the tenor, large and bald, resembling Jesse Ventura, which gave me a start given that this was opera not wrestling.
The orchestra was large, two harps, 8
cello's, at least 36 violins and violas and the usual assembly of winds and brass. The theater was packed with wealthy-looking 30 and 40 something's, predominantly WASP, a surprise given Vancouver's Asian demographics.
When we exited, Granville Street was buzzing, full of exuberant young people lined up to enter bars. Sadly, it's illegal to be 60 years old in downtown Vancouver. Cops patrol the streets, collect seniors and whisk them off to Surrey or place them on ferries bound for Victoria. All I saw were attractive, young, tanned, healthy-looking people, looking like they all work at Mountain Equipment Coop selling kayaks, tents and hiking boots. I've never seen so many firm tummies, tight butts and parabolic tops. Vancouver nightlife is enough to coerce one into a gym to perform 100 sit-ups. So much for culture.
Mike Keenan writes for QMI Agency (Sun Media) Canada's largest newspaper publisher, printing 44 daily newspapers as well as a web portal, Canoe.ca. Besides regular columns for the St. Catharines Standard, Welland Tribune and Niagara Falls Review. Mike has been published in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Buffalo Spree, Stitches, West of the City and Hamilton-Burlington's View Magazine. His work is found in QMI published dailies such as the Toronto Sun, Ottawa Sun, Vancouver Sun, London Free Press, Calgary Sun, Winnipeg Sun and Edmonton Sun.
Where to Stay
West End Guest House Bed & Breakfast
1362 Haro Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V6E 1G2
Toll Free 1.888.546.3327 Telephone: (604) 681.2889
Fax: (604) 688.8812
If you go
Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Gardens: http://www.vancouverchinesegarden.com/
The Orpheum: http://www.city.vancouver.bc.ca/theatres/orpheum/orpheum.html
Tourism Vancouver: http://www.tourismvancouver.com/visitors/
Vancouver Art Gallery: http://www.vanartgallery.bc.ca/
Reasons to visit Vancouver
© By Mike Keenan
Everybody flaunts their top ten list, so I've compiled one for Vancouver. To be different, mine includes three sub-lists: the top 10 actual, official and unofficial reasons to visit. Let's start with the real reasons to visit.
Top 10 Actual Reasons For Visiting Vancouver
1. Free accommodations and, hopefully a fridge stocked with beer at our daughter's apartment.
2. For retired types who can pick time spots, incredibly cheap airfare on Tango, a no-frills air-line which uses a heavy-duty sling-shot for take-offs, serves no meals and climbs on hot air
currents, turning off the engines to conserve fuel.
3. To escape unruly animals in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Would you believe we have coyotes!
4. To escape the smell in Niagara-on-the-Lake, supposedly the prettiest town in Canada. We live near steeply-priced homes in The Village, where just across the road, farmers exhibit a bizarre sense of humour by spreading pig manure, forcing residents to gag all day long.
5. An opportunity for someone on a fixed income to impersonate Olympic Committee members and gain free access to everything. How do you spell Switzerland?
6. To "study" and monitor unconventional plant growth with constituent parts that intrigue scientists at Health Canada.
7. To view an Orca in the wild before they all end up confined in tiny Niagara Falls' Marineland tanks.
9. To get away from bird bangers employed at NOTL wineries. These make one think he is being shot at.
10. The best cinnamon buns ever!
Top 10 Official Reasons to Visit Vancouver
1. Jog (walk for retirees) the Stanley Park Seawall which measures 10.5 kilometres.
2. Brag about skiing, golfing or sailing all in the same day.
3. Stroll across the city's fashionable shops on Robson Street.
4. See Shakespeare performed at Bard on the Beach set against the magnificent back-drop of city, sea and mountains.
5. Wander through a coastal virgin rain forest in Lighthouse Park.
6. Bargain hunt in Chinatown, third largest in North America.
7. Walk the cobblestones of Gastown and observe its famous steam clock hiss and toot.
8. Trend-set in Yaletown, Vancouver's hip, renovated warehouse district and fastest growing neighbourhood.
9. Taste B.C. ice wine and contribute to the region's standing as the highest per capita consumer of wine in North America.
10. Feast on alder-grilled salmon, smoked oolicans and bannock in Vancouver's only First Nations Restaurant.
Top Ten Unofficial Reasons to Visit Vancouver
1. Go skinny dipping at Wreck Beach.
2. Walk the Burrard Bridge at sunset.
3. Order steamed, not fried at Hon's Wun Min House.
4. Hike the Grouse Grind at Grouse Mountain.
5. Purchase Chinese stamps for your postcards at the Chinese post office in Richmond.
6. Sip espresso, people-watch and learn to speak Italian on "The Drive."
7. Take the Aquabus across False Creek to Granville Island or the SeaBus across Burrard Inlet to Lonsdale Quay.
8. Walk within a foot of Ben Kingsley, on set filming a movie on the Art Gallery lawn.
9. Sit on a park bench at Kitsilano Beach watching cruise ships sail by.
10. Arrive home with a one-of-a-kind, 24-karat gold diamond-studded toe ring from Granville Island.
* Oolicans are shell fish.
Mike Keenan writes a weekly newspaper column for the St. Catharines Standard and has been published in the Globe & Mail,
Buffalo Spree, Stitches, West of the City and Pulse
Magazine. Mike is an award-winning poet and former President of the Canadian Authors Association, Niagara and
Vice-President of the national body. He belongs to the North American Travel Journalist Association and the Travel Media
Association of Canada.
He is editor of the zines, What Travel Writers Say:
www.whattravelwriterssay.com and Synapse Magazine: www.synapsemagazine.ca.
Transportation, visas, health, maps and temperature
Airlines (Wikipedia): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_airlines
Embassies/Consulates (Embassy World): http://www.embassyworld.com/
Health precautions (WHO): http://www.who.int/ith/en/
Google interactive map: http://maps.google.com/
Temperature (Temperature World): http://www.temperatureworld.com/
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