vancouver trip

I just got back from a trip to Vancouver.

Can I just say that the streets are so ridiculously green and that I am so very jealous? My home state is wrestling with drought (and we continue to bleed ourselves dry by being the bread and almond basket of the whole country)

Random observations:

  • Transit was free for one of the days I was there, apparently because there was a delay on SkyTrain. I would be absolutely floored if Muni ever did something like this… we wouldn’t pay at least half the time! Transit is also clean and does not smell funky. I think my first impressions of the quality of life in a new city are almost always about its mass transit system.

  • I’m not sure how I’m even alive after the copious amounts of deep fried and sugar-coated food I consumed (poutine, donuts, weird dish involving eggplant paste and sesame snow, fried squid, takoyaki, ketchup chips, ice wine). It was probably a good thing we decided against Nanaimo bars at the last minute.

  • Vancouver’s got a small-town sort of feeling, even though it’s obviously a decent-sized city. (People thank bus drivers! Strangers stopped us in the street to ask if we needed help, seemingly all the time…) And in general, drivers are so nice. I could see myself being a much happier cyclist here, with all the dedicated bike lanes and drivers that wait for you at intersections and so on. What a novel concept, waiting!

  • I saw an “affordable housing now” protest… I never laughed so hard. I almost forgot that Vancouver shares in SF’s troubles, just in a somewhat different manner. Apparently Vancouver is for old, rich retirees while SF caters to young, well-paid professionals. Vancouver seemed teeming with kids, teenagers and the elderly, but no one in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties. SF is almost the exact opposite, except we replace kids with dogs.

  • I counted a ridiculous number of “For Sale” signs and an even more surprising percentage of them with “Sold” appended. Housing is a Big Deal.

  • Downtown Eastside is quite something… Chinatown looks very dead. I guess the action has all migrated to “Richmond” in every metro area I visit.

  • Everything was so cheap! I had no idea the exchange rate was 0.8 CAD to 1 USD, which meant a nice pleasant surprise on my credit card bill post-trip.

  • Are American credit cards the only ones without chip and pin?? Super annoying…

  • Old ladies kept gawking at us judgmentally for eating so much cake. One exclaimed, “Oh how good it is to be young!” Another asked about what went into the cake - “Is it jello-like?” Whatever, the cake was awesome.