My own city tour

Trip Start Sep 30, 2006
Trip End Jan 16, 2010

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Flag of Canada  , British Columbia,
Thursday, October 5, 2006

Today my friend Janet is at work and I am off to view the city on my own. I start by taking the bus downtown, and am advised to switch buses to the number 50 as where I am headed is to a bad neighborhood. Of course it is! Seems these are the places where I am attracted to like a magnet...however Vancouver's bad neighborhood is a series of beautiful, albeit unused parks and greenspaces except for folks with mental illness but otherwise harmless. Because it was a gorgeous day I wanted to walk in the park and quickly realized I was the only person there, which for any city is not a good feeling. It's too bad, as the parks were quite lovely and obviously underutilized by the rest of the residents. Jane Jacobs mantra was at work here. Empty parks make for bad public spaces. So I walked to where I set off to in the first place, the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Chinese Gardens. Turns out he was a hero to the Chinese people, he left China at a young age and then became an activist and fundraiser for the people's cause. These gardens were erected in his honor, and depict an ancient Chinese manor house, with a maze of walkways filled with feng shui symbolism and harmony in every outdoor "room". An incredibly peaceful place in the middle of the city. Next I strolled through the so-called bad area - these folks must freak when they visit DC - which did have a few vacant properties, more than I expected actually, but difficult to call a bad area - back to the main center of town. Next I spontaneously made a touristy decision and paid $11 to go to the top of "The Lookout," a Seattle like rotating flying saucer shaped tower that allowed me to view the entire city from the sky and get these fantastic photos. I lucked out and went up there just before sunset, and I could see Mt. Baker in Bellingham, Washington USA. I've been told there are only 30 or so days out of the year that the mountain is visible, and I saw it every day in Vancouver so I feel again, very fortunate. The waters of Ballard Straight, the beautiful mountains of the Coastal Range, as well as the glass city itself make for a spectacular sunset experience. I was constantly amazed at all the glass in Vancouver, it reminded me of Miami Beach's condo canyons all along Collins Avenue, except these were facing each other, row upon row upon tower upon tower of glass and concrete. Definitely a different visual for a girl whose spent most of her city time in historic areas without any skyscrapers. So, after my time in the sky I made a path for Gastown, the historic district of Vancouver where I felt much more at home. While only a few blocks near Water Street, it was bricked and historic with lots of shops where I kept my money in my pocket. I then strolled to Canada Place, the large pier and convention center with all the Spirit Bears. Like other cities, Vancouver sponsored a public art project where the artist painted the Spirit Bear, which are actually a species of black bear that for some reason are born white. Not albino, but amazingly beautiful bears that live in the Pacific Coastal rainforests north of the city. Native tribes thought them to be very spirtual beings, hence their name. I captured a few with the native art because it captures the spirit of Vancouver and the NW brilliantly. I hope you agree!
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