This Is It

Trip Start Aug 06, 2011
Trip End Oct 06, 2013

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Flag of Canada  , British Columbia,
Wednesday, July 25, 2012

While traveling through Korea, a couple of things became readily apparent. First traveling in this area during the summer holidays is both crowded (kiddie overload), and secondly it is very hot and humid with a fair bit of rain. Since our next stop was going to be Japan which is a bit of a challenge at any time of the year, we decided to slow it down for the month of August and take a bit of a break.

DH immediately started promoting the idea of dropping in to see her mother to help her celebrate her 80th birthday (as well as her own, since her mother and her were born on the same day). And as readers of this space already know, what the Princess wants, the Princess gets. It also turned out that when we ran the numbers to any and all possible break destinations, the return flights to Vancouver, Canada were very reasonable. In addition to birthday cake, this diversion would also allow us to test drive Vancouver as a possible retirement destination.

I had lived in Vancouver almost 20 years ago so I knew exactly where I wanted to locate and we found a suite with a full kitchen right on Robson St. With neither of us able to boil water successfully, we didn't exactly stress the kitchen but it was nice to load up on groceries and avoid restaurants for at least a short period of time (for some reason I was actually jonesing for a big bowl of Captain Crunch Cereal). We were trying to live the Vancouver lifestyle as a local would (although I'm not sure a local would race-walk over to Tim Horton's every morning to get a cup of coffee ecstasy), but we did take in all of the tourist hotspots- English Bay, North Van,  Gastown, Granville Island, etc. Outside of the Seabus to Lonsdale Queue, everything was walking distance from our hotel. We saw a fireworks show, took in a street fair and even had front row viewing of the Gay Pride Day Parade. Vancouver is a city that people live, work, and play in, unlike so many other cities where a huge portion of the population leaves the core at the end of the workday. Some time ago the city leadership obviously decided to take back the waterfront areas from the developers and make the city eminently more livable. Where else can you walk the beaches in the morning and head up for snow skiing in the mountains in the afternoon??

It's also a city of colour. Some of it is God given with, on a clear day, the most beautiful city setting, bar none, in the world- right on the Pacific Ocean, sliced by rivers and inlets, with the Coastal Mountains standing as guardians in the background. Some of it is man-made with varied and interesting architecture that gives the core an urban garden feel, along with the waterfront walkways. And some of it is the people themselves- an eclectic blend of characters, mavericks and weirdos that add interest and spice to any stroll around town. 

Granted we were blessed with an unbroken string of sunny, hot days that showcased the city at it's best. Unfortunately this isn't typical even in the summer season. Vancouver is infamous for offering up weeks and months of rain, gloom, and grey- we'll need to test drive the city in that environment before confirming it as our top retirement choice but for me, it is a clear front runner. This is it!

DH continues to struggle with walking away from the many years of friendships she has in Toronto, so getting her support on a move to the Left Coast is still very much in doubt. One place that she has always had an unexplained fascination with was White Rock so we went down there for a couple of days. It sits very near the U.S. Border but because of weather pattern anomalies it doesn't get the kind of rainfall that Vancouver sees. There are some beautiful homes and gardens in the White Rock area but it was a bit hard to see the attraction unless you were hunting for peace & quiet. Including the beachfront drive (which was hopping with summertime tourists), there were only a couple of streets offering up any sort of excitement. We both agreed that this wasn't going to make our top 10.

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