A TOURIST IN MY OWN TOWN
A few months ago, my husband and I took our grandson, Keegan, to a few Victoria attractions and he loved being a tourist in his own town. Well, now it's my turn. And as a Vancouverite, the options seem endless.
I decide to stretch the sight must-see's into a three-day-long extravaganza, and instead of going solo, ask a few of my favourite people to join me. The first is my sister, a life-long artist, who is the perfect sidekick for teaching me about the city's culture.
"Let's check out the V.A.G. (Vancouver Art Gallery), " Katherine suggests. "Douglas Coupland is known as Canada's Renaissance Man, and his exhibit is running until September. Or maybe the M.O.A. (Museum Of Anthropology) at UBC."
Hearing the last acronym conjures up the memories. The university is the area where my sister and I were raised. With a yearning to see the "old hood," we start with this second option.
Sunshine filters into the Great Hall and highlights a number of Northwest Coast installations. We admire Salish carvings, Kwakwaka'wakw houses and Haida totems. Steps beyond is The Raven and the First Men, a popular sculpture by the legendary Bill Reid. And adjacent are two other galleries; Without Masks, a collection of intriguing Afro Cuban artworks, and the Multiversity Galleries, where more than ten thousand globally-derived objects are displayed. "It's mind-boggling," I say, while attempting to absorb it all. "Don't even try," my sister advises. "We just have time for a sampling." She's right. Before I know it we're off to our next cultural venue.
Granville Island is a mecca for the arts. Performers, theatre and exhibits eclectically fuse with tasty treats and creative works. We meander the boardwalk, peak into galleries, then board an Aquabus Ferry, for a False Creek tour. It's a grand finale to our sister sojourn and one that provides us with a different perspective of this city we call home.
Sue Fisher, a close colleague and long-time friend, is my second sight-touring bud. For two decades, we worked side-by-side as nurses in a program that supported chronically-ill children. Now, retired, it's time for fun and excitement, which we find on Vancouver's North Shore.
Posing before plodding across the Capilano Suspension Bridge:
"We can do it!" I say dubiously, as we wobble over the walkway. "Tourists have been crossing this for years." Since 1889, the Capilano Suspension Bridge has been raising heart rates with its sensational sights -and height. After traversing the span that hangs 70 meters (230 ft) above the raging river, we're privy to the Treetops Adventure, a compilation of seven forest-enshrouded boardwalks. Although these are both adrenaline secretors, it's the Cliffwalk, that really gets our pulses pounding. The cantilevered platforms, narrow walkways and rock-hugging stairs, also assure one hair-raising canyon view!
Stunning vistas are also provided on the nearby Grouse Mountain Skyride. While soaring above the evergreens, we drink in the city scene. And soon after disembarking at the peak, have more adventures to choose from. Heli-tours, paragliding, grizzlies, oh my! Fortunately, the latter have their living quarters in a spacious five-acre playpen. In the adjacent field other wildlife stars are taking flight. Owls, hawks and falcons are today's performers in the Birds in Motion, a show that provides a close-up perspective of these incredible creatures.
"We could get airborne too," Sue says, when reading about other activity options. "Mountain Ziplines is the next best thing to flying!" The five-line circuit reaches heights of 70m/200ft and speeds of 80km/hr. "I'll pass on this heart-thumper," I respond. "The skyride back down is enough adventure for me."
Riding the Sea To Sky Gondola
I actually enjoy this tram so much, two days later, I talk my husband and final sightseeing companion into joining me on Squamish's new Sea to Sky Gondola. It's too bad the clouds have rolled in by then. Our ten minute ride, that glides up 885 meters above sea level, would otherwise offer us sweeping views of Shannon Falls, Howe Sound and unfolding peaks.
Checking out one of the interpretive trails at the summit of the Sea To Sky Gondola
But there's still lots of action in store. While die-hard rock climbers and hikers head off to craggy cliffs and backcountry trails, we scout out the two nearby interpretive walks, waddle our way over the Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge, and enjoy a hot bevie in the Summit Lodge Tea House. "Even on a gray day this summit is pretty impressive," Brent says.
The nearby Vancouver Lookout is the perfect place to finalize this sightseeing extravaganza. With the clouds now dispersed, we have a 360 degree panorama from this observation deck. Historical Gastown, lively Coal Harbour, lush Stanley Park, the sapphire Pacific and beyond -all the way to the Olympic Peninsula that fringes the horizon. "It's a beautiful city to live in," Brent says, while we take in the view. "And it's a great place to be a tourist in your own town," I reply.
IF YOU GO:
PHOTOS :Images 1-4 by Jane Cassie. Images 4-7 by Brent Cassie: See below
1. The Great Hall houses many Northwest Coast installations : Photo: Jane Cassie
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