Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year! I am just back from a stay in Vancouver. We had a great time, I took some decent street photos, brought my bike along, saw a wonderful performance of the Nutcracker, by the Moscow Classical Ballet but sadly in the incredibly ugly "Queen Elizabeth Theatre".

I often hear people praising Vancouver as better than Seattle, more European, more urban. Well, if you consider tearing down all the old buildings of the past century and replacing them with glass and concrete high rise apartments to be a good idea and more European then yes Vancouver is all that.

Don't get me wrong, I like Vancouver, I could live there, it's a lively city in a beautiful natural setting but I wouldn't consider it better, certainly not safer, just different than Seattle. It's sort of a mix of Hong Kong meets Oakland. There are lovely parts of Vancouver (The West end!) but also many parts you wouldn't want to walk in; even in the daytime. A drive east from downtown along Hastings street provides miles and miles of urban decay, and hundreds of transients (Vancouver is the warmest city in Canada so VanCan tends to attract Canada's drifters). There are also many dreary concrete high rise apartment "villages" connected by the Skytrain where people stay before returning to work (hello, Burnaby?). Anke thought Vancouver had a Czech-look about it. I'm not so sure the fine Czechs would appreciate that remark.

We stayed at the Georgian Court Hotel, which was quite nice, but they didn't think we should walk the 10 blocks to Chinatown, at the very least, they said, don't go past Hastings street or turn left anywhere along the way.

Speaking of Chinatown, I had what had to be the worse Chinese food in my life there. We left most of it on the table. Strange because half of the former Hong Kong population now lives in Vancouver. I guess the good cooks stayed put. We did have some wonderful meals, including Japanese and Lebanese.

Photo: Lions Gate Bridge, Vancouver
Camera: Nikon D300