I recently had the opportunity to visit Vancouver, British Columbia for work and I was looking forward to it since I haven’t been there since I was about 14 years old. I must say, although I didn’t get to sight see a great deal, Vancouver exceeded my expectations.
Vancouver is a thriving multi-cultural community situated between a breathtaking mountain range and the beautiful waters of the Pacific Ocean.
The city appears to have invested a lot of money and effort into developing its harbour and shoreline trails. As a former roller derby player I was envious of the miles of smooth pathways and wished I had brought along my roller skates to get some exercise and take full advantage of these wonderful trails. Without my skates I had to settle for a leisurely 10 km jog around the scenic Stanley Park. I say leisurely because there were many photo stops along the way to photograph the natural beauty of the area as well as cherry and apply blossoms which were in bloom while I was there.
Not far from my hotel, the Hyatt, was the 2010 Olympic Cauldron which was considerably less magnificent than I had remembered from watching all the television footage of the event. In its defence however, I did not get to see it lit up and there was a barrier around it to the mar the visual effect.
One item that was as good as the hype from the Olympics was the Japadog food truck. A juicy hotdog with traditionally Japanese toppings like seaweed and wasabi sauce may sound odd together but came together in a surprisingly tasty meal. I completely understand why they were in such demand during the Olympics.
As with most conferences I attend I seem to eat my way through them and the conference in Vancouver was no exception. I can’t even remember how many mouth-watering salmon dishes I gorged myself on, especially sushi.
One of my favorite meals was at the Cactus Club across the street from the Hyatt. I had the butternut squash ravioli with truffle butter sauce and jumbo prawns for an appetizer and the raincoast greens salad as my main. Everything was so fresh and tasty and the Bellini and their Signature Sangria weren’t too bad either.
They Hyatt itself is a newer tastefully decorated hotel with the most attentive and helpful concierge staff I have had the pleasure to deal with in recent years. Not only did they provide maps, directions, suggestions and arrange multiple tours and transportation for our diverse group. They also (without us asking them to) called around to confirm attractions we wanted to see would be open and thankfully too, since the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden was not open on the day we wanted to visit.
My one minor complaint with the Hyatt was the new elevator system that could not keep up with the extremely large volume of guests that wanted to use the elevators all at the same time when the sessions let out. I took more than one elevator trip with a repair technician as he tested the system but I was comforted by the fact that they were actively trying to correct the problems.
One of the tours that the concierge suggested was a free tour and I love free. Tour guys operate in a number of larger centers and their guides work strictly on tips. Emma (I believe her name was) was our guide for the morning, leading us around the downtown core telling us about some of the more interesting buildings, like the Marine Building and Christ Church Cathedral. She also pointed out some of the many art pieces, like “The Pendulum” and “The Drop”.
I found it commendable that in the current climate of cutbacks for the arts Vancouver has implemented a policy whereby for every square foot of new private sector re-zoned space built in the downtown core the builder is required to contribute $1.81/per sq. ft. to a public arts process. These art projects have certainly lent themselves to the beautification of the area and created more interesting items for tourists (like me) to admire.
All in all I had a great conference in Vancouver. Oh, and I learned some stuff for work too. LOL
As I said at the start of this post Vancouver exceeded my expectations and I can’t wait to return.