Beautiful British Columbia: Vancouver Edition

What do most Americans really know about Canada?

  1. It’s to our north.
  2. Its citizens have a charming accent and end all their sentences with “eh?”
  3. Hockey.

Does that about cover it? That’s fine. Frankly, I don’t know that much more about the place, even though I’ve visited three times in the past three years. So my goal here today is simple. I want you to add one more item to your Facts about Canada list:

4. It’s beautiful.

I’ve written about Canada on this blog before, here and here and here, telling tales of our trip to Banff National Park and Yoho National Park. I was surprised while planning the trip by blank stares when I mentioned these places, particularly Banff. Upon clarifying with, “You know, in the Canadian Rockies,” I’d get noncommittal nods of vague familiarity. Similarly few people seemed to know that Vancouver is a worthy vacation destination, a world-class city wedged between snow-capped mountains and the rugged shoreline of the Pacific Ocean. All this made me realize that we Americans are sorely missing out on a very nearby, very accessible, and very stunning source of beauty.

Vancouver is on the western edge of Canada, in the province of British Columbia, which is also home to Whistler, a well-known (?) ski destination, and much of the Canadian Rockies.

On our recent trip to the city and its surroundings, we ventured to Pacific Rim National Park, a long, narrow stretch of protected shoreline that rivals the beaches of Hawaii or the Pacific Coast Highway in California.

We biked the seawall around the perimeter of Stanley Park, an urban park within Vancouver city limits that is considerably larger that Central Park in New York City and juts out dramatically into the Pacific Ocean.

We kayaked among the rain-forested islands of Clayoquot Sound, where giant red cedars housed families of bald eagles.

Even their warning signs are beautiful, like poetry.

And amid our adventures we ate like kings and queens, because Vancouver is as much a foodie destination as it is an outdoors one.

To cap it all off, Vancouverites are nice to the point where it almost seems silly.

You could spend 10 lifetimes exploring beautiful British Columbia and not even scratch the surface of what it has to offer. And that’s in just one of Canada’s 10 provinces and 3 territories. (And yes, I had to Google that.)


Armchair Traveler: A View on Cities

Hanging out with some public art in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle.

The last great city we visited was Seattle in 2010, so I’m getting excited about our upcoming visit to Vancouver, BC. In searching for some photos to gain my bearings on the city’s sights, I stumbled upon the website A View on Cities.

I hope you’re prepared to add to your bucket list. Mine is already so overwhelming that the discovery of this site actually caused a slight amount of panic. I mean, I’d heard a million times that Prague is a “must-see” destination. But once I clicked through these photos at A View on Cities, I now know that it is. And so there it goes, onto the bucket list. One more place I now long to visit. The photo library takes viewers on a virtual tour, more or less, of the world’s great cities. I haven’t yet been able to bring myself to look at many of them. Just like watching the Cooking Channel makes me want to eat, eat, eat, this web site also makes me hungry, in a different way.

Want to see what the top attractions are in Rome? Or whether Munich is a city where you’d like to wander the streets? Need a map of attractions so you can plan your route and find the best location for lodging?

It’s all there, beckoning you to while away a few hours clicking through and dreaming up future vacations you may or may not take. Take a look, and happy virtual travels!