My City at a Glance: Vancouver, Canada
A few years ago, I told a colleague I was off on a holiday. “Where to?” he asked. “Malaysia”, I responded - and volunteered no extra information. His vocal response was something along the lines of “yeah, but where exactly in Malaysia?” He went on to mention a few different cities out there and explain how each of them have entirely different vibes. Not like I cared at that time; I was only excited to be heading to a new country.
But how true is that? Two cities in a country could be so different you wonder if they should even be grouped together - from time zones to weather to culture. In this new series, we will explore different cities not through the eyes of a tourist who pops in and out, but from that of a resident - one who lives and breathes the city on a daily, and possibly doesn’t like tourists very much!
Our first feature is with Shasha as she spills the insider tea on Vancouver, Canada - a city she’s lived in for three years now.
On moving to Vancouver…
I first moved here from Victoria for an internship while in university. I loved it so much I moved back when I graduated, because compared to Victoria, Vancouver has a better job market and is a more vibrant city.
Vancouver in one sentence
Great for outdoor activities, amazing food and weather (for a city in Canada; no minus 30 degrees here).
“Wow, this place is busy.” I previously lived on the island, which is mainly a hub for retirees and young people (actually termed a city for the newlyweds and the nearly dead) so it was different to see people from different walks and stages of life. I remember my first time here, everyone just seemed to be going somewhere.
Number one place to take guests/tourists in Vancouver
Downtown Vancouver. There is so much to do and I feel it is one of the best ways people can experience the city (especially in a short period). There are also a lot of great restaurants (I love an excuse to eat out) and it’s pretty central to most other places and other cities.
Next would be Granville Island and a walk down Stanley Park/Seawall (if they’re up for it). In my head, this is pretty much still part of downtown.
I haven’t really had many guests or tourists visit but so far, the guests have really enjoyed the tourist places I have taken them to like Granville Island, Flyover Canada, Vancouver Art Gallery and the downtown area in general. I wish they were up to exploring other places or the weather was good so they could see the mountains, beaches, and lakes.
What do you wish was better in your city?
I wish the cost of houses was lower. There’s a higher cost of living in Vancouver compared to other Canadian cities.
Most people get around by…
Transit (trains and buses), Car2Go, Evo, cabs, cars. We don’t have Uber, Lyft or any of those ride sharing services.
I get around by...
Transit and walking.
On the Vancouver food scene
In my opinion, eating out is a part of life here. Most of my activities revolve around food in some way and I know I am not alone here because most of my friends and people I meet fall into the same boat too. Can you blame us?
In my opinion, this city houses the best international cuisine. That said, whatever you feel like eating, there’s a spot that is most likely serving you the best you’ve ever tasted. (Don’t quote me, though —we don’t have any Michelin starred restaurants). We do have food festivals in the summer, and I’m sure there are open markets, but it’s either I’m not that interested in them or they’re out of town or something, because I haven’t been to many.
In January, we have a huge food festival (Dine out Vancouver) where you can get a 3-course meal for as little as $25CAD. If you’re ever here on a weekend in the fall, the Richmond night market is a place you don’t want to miss.
I don’t really buy lunch, since I mostly take my lunch to work, however, on days I don’t, I will most likely be getting the basil fried rice from Thai Express (usually in most food courts).
What sort of people would enjoy living in Vancouver?
In Vancouver itself and not Burnaby, Richmond or the nearby cities, young adults; people in their twenties. I think if you like going out a lot or are pretty outgoing and need to be entertained a lot, you will enjoy living in this city. Compared to New York and London, the city might not be half as interesting, but if you also like outdoor activities like camping, hiking, snow-related sports, swimming in the lakes, etc., this city might be the perfect blend for you.
How to spot a tourist in Vancouver?
They usually have luggage and look lost or overwhelmed!
Three absolutely recommended tourist activities?
- Flyover Canada, Canada Place and Harbour Centre (all around the same place)
- Visit any of the numerous beaches, specifically English Bay (in the summer, you should see the festival of lights)
- Visit Granville Island
- Never been, but Capilano Suspension bridge in North Vancouver ( Metro Vancouver) is also a good tourist spot.
Favourite thing about your city?
The people and the endless list of things to do in the summer, but especially the people. I’ve really come to build my own little community here and have met some amazing people so far. Second, would be the food.
Best place for a date?
Coffee date: Try out any of the bakeries on the drive (Commercial Drive). They’re pretty good and close to the skytrain.
More formal date: A nice restaurant downtown, and you could end it with a walk along False Creek and Gastown.
Best place for tea or coffee?
TWG Tea (try the Vanilla Bourbon and thank me later). I’m not a coffee drinker, but, 49th Parallel has good coffee apparently.
Best place to shop?
Metrotown Mall (Metro Vancouver). The mall is HUGE and has all of your favourite stores in one building. For high end stores, Downtown Vancouver, especially Alberni Street.
Best thing to Instagram?
The view from the revolving restaurant and the yellow and the pink and yellow wall on Seymour Street. I honestly don’t have a photo here because I can’t be bothered.
Recommended Vancouver hashtags?
#VancouverBC #DowntownVancouver #Vancity #VancityBuzz are some popular hashtags.
If you didn’t live in Vancouver where would you live?
New York. I really love it there.
What city would you like us to feature next?
Thank you Shasha for an exciting first feature. If you say Vancouver isn’t as cold as other parts of Canada, then it really should be my first stop in that country! I’m also pretty surprised they haven’t got Uber! Follow Shasha on Instagram @awahshasha.
Have you been to Vancouver - what was your experience?