By: Daniel Otero
These cities located in Western Canada, right on islands near the Pacific Coast. There are easy to access and notice the beauty in nature (woods and icebergs), with a boat ride up north it’s as easy to access into the Yukon Province or Alaska State. What’s more important? The elements of diversity, ethnicities that constitute the six nations (i.e. Inuit); these cities are for immigrants and have arts that reflect on totems for the Natives history and their colonial-cultural past. These are cities of high tolerance and moreover, when talking about Vancouver, 52% of the population speaks another language or comes from Asia (Therefore, focusing on the Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese communities that are growing and growing when visiting the Millennium Gate).
Vancouver, I want you baby!
The colors of red, green and fire yellow have consumed into one perfect balance and have made this land a brisk joy for nature lovers. For people to come and lay down on the grass and glimpse up! Contemplate the clear blue skies that surround British Columbia. Here there are all of these freaks running away from industrialization into the natural state of things. Running away and again contemplating, as the car glides on automatic. Clearing a path from Seattle to Vancouver and there’s no other place in the world and nothing quite like it in the whole of Canada. Away from the heck East Coast or Central Canada, comes a land design for newcomers. The lives of immigrants are certainly different here, especially those that live in our first city, Vancouver. Starting at the Millennium Gate, it’s the point the find a vibrant neighborhood full of immigrants. Fifty-two percent of them cannot or do not speak English as a Second Language (ESL), showing how many immigrants from China, Korea and Vietnam have come to prosper in this area. The upper Western region of North America has people flocking here, and maybe if not for all that green, then it’s for it’s impressive nature and glaciers. Not likely to be enjoyed in the far eastern portion of Toronto, but close to those nature lovers’ hearts. This was called undistinguishable. British Columbia holds the joy and yes, there is a little rain or maybe most of the year and people do come here to escape the hustles and bustles of the fast paced life of the east. Vancouver distinctively is the case, for it is known as “Rain City”. This new west is possibly the last place left to enjoy youth, equality and high quality of life. I just wanted to party all the time…
The fog dawned, covering with every open spot the Lion’s Gate Bridge. It was early and bright, through rain and shadows not hard to miss. The day was coming to life. Still sleepy, whipping the eyes and dizzy, tired of drinking and discoing from the night before. It felt good to be alive. I was alive and drunk with fun and alcohol. All the feelings came at once! I would never forget this moment for the rest of my life! I was on the west-coast of Canada. We had rented and slept in a crowded hostel at the YMCA. Please, please, as you read these lines do not sing that song from the Village People. It was nothing like that, just with a bunch a friends coming over from Seattle and enjoying a couple of days across the border. The party would eventually continue into the next day and eventually end! The memories would not. I was out of breath once again with the intensity of life and needed to regain my strengths. Ah, how grand it was to sleep off the party for a couple of hours and do some more in a couple of hours! To show-off I brought my passport with me and in hope of having it stamped from this side of Canada. I knew the eastern side of Canada quite well, nothing really about the Pacific-North West. I would learn while living in Seattle for the next two years and I would often visit Canada; how idealistic it was for me. Lovely, indeed! As friends, we crowded and made fun of each other of our wild escapades. “Those were the days, my friend. We thought they’d never end…” (Raskin, 1968) As the song repeats it in a perfect Russian tune inside my head, I wish I could go back. For this short week we’ll be between Vancouver and Victoria.
For now, let’s carry ourselves further into the throes of Vancouver and what makes this City and Island my own! Starting with immigrants and entering through Lion’s Gate. Quite fun to say the least, as the Millennium Gate is for the flavors of China, Korea and Vietnam. The idea came and it was to later party down Granville Street. The youth gathered and discotheques flowed with techno music. Fun, fun, fun… I felt like a hedonist in carnival! The DJ played rather loudly at the time, “Come baby come, baby, baby, come, come… (Repeat) You got to give me loving. Then, you go to give me some!” (K7, 1993) The intense sound of the song played as we marched into the club. There was this motion, as hands moved up in the air and people shouted. Dancing smartly to the rhythm!
As an old friend of mine Jerome yells out, “Danny Oh, hey baby, this is your town! Look at the babes! They love you!” He was of course referring to the fairer sex. What can I say? I was young and crazy.
I laughed, sweaty, grungy and feeling sexy. This was my town. While I was in favor of Toronto, Vancouver captured me rather instantly with the smells of food and mixtures of people. Wholly and international, without a doubt, variety in people; after all, English in this City is the second language.
Let’s move along, sweet thing!
The party cannot go on forever. And there is this distinctive moment to do something completely cultural. It has to be, parties are once and culture is a must!
It’s moving into Stanley Park. This iconic park of the City is designed to honor the Inuit. These groups of people have been long pushed to the side lines. And they are finally getting their respect through the arts, culture and their contributions into Canadian affairs. Long awaited and well deserved! The first thing is to sit, admire and honor the gods through the totem poles. A really cool wonder in art and as for Vancouver, I was really impressed by the scenery of coastal forests and the woodcraft of first nations’ totem poles (Sun Yongbin, 2013). The wonder doesn’t end here, it’s just the beginning! Super, to say the least!
Biggest improvement to Vancouver came with the Skytrain. An awesome experience is to not depend on motor vehicles or buses to get around town; especially when people want to party! This is a city of over 600 thousand people, most of them are youth. Therefore, the Skytrain operates between 6:30 am to 1:15 am. Locals are complaining about the hours and hope to extend the service to 3:00 in the morning. Bars on Granville Street begin to close at this time. But the service is uniquely capable for a small city. This monorail system operates across town and it has 47 stops. Just look at the stops’ names and you’ll laugh at the wisdom and youthfulness of much of them: Farter Town, Navel Girl, Okay Oral (I promise to get lost on this one), Rabid and Germ Oil. I think it’s perfect and ideal for this kind of City and to preserve safety for its people and workers, systems should only operate until conventional hours. The more drunk people you have riding a train, sometimes more accidents do occur.
Daytime in Vancouver promises more miracles for shopping and sightseeing. The “Q Market” holds one of top and largest markets in the world. This was the area in which I was called a “Jerk” for running through a zebra-crossing. In Vancouver by law you are requested to stop at the Pedestrian crossing even with the green light! As in all other parts of the world, this is the rule of law; I decided as a New Yorker to go on through! Luckily I wasn’t given a speeding ticket; however, it did earn me a name for my rudeness.
The Vancouver Skyline is a city for great ports and restaurants. With these are the enjoyment of seafood, shopping, viewing and good books. And not only for this reason one stop around the commercial center is enough. The Vancouver Aquarium & Zoo holds the natural and water wildlife of these lands: from baby sea lions, penguins in recovery to beavers and much, much more! Come on over and you’ll see what is to be impressed.
Vancouver Park dominates in nature. The smell of pine needles and fresh air is something that today and sadly so with global warming, you have countries that don’t have this beauty and opportunity. Canada still has it all and much more! The paths for a family on a Saturday are just gorgeously delightful. Whimsical is the soft breeze hitting across the flowers and gardens! Good business to visit and really be engulfed in simple pleasures.
“Terminal City” as it is also known, likes to prosper. It goes forward thanks to sea and air. Better yet, it’s a City of abstract art and artist. Near Bute Street was placed the controversial artwork titled, “The Upside down Church”. Later it was removed in 2008 because of pressure from Christian groups that deemed the artistry as insulting to religious values. And still a land of values and freedom prospers on differences of people, points of view and opinions even on artistic taste.
Back to Stanley Park, where one visit was never intended or enough. The Park is cool, and not only to honor the totems and their gods. This premise has Inuksuk, a stone work enjoyed and viewed by many, and it goes back to Inuit traditions. The sculpture is more than an artistic work of art, it was intended in ancient times as is today for the use of location and navigation. Since Inuit hunted through the sea and later needed a guide or landmark home! The modern day Inuksuk are the Lighthouses decorating the Seawall of Stanley Park and further along try the Lighthouse Park on North and Northwest Vancouver. This Park is one that makes any visitor excited and please, excuses on the vulgar reference, moist with pleasure! A must is to go out fishing or enjoy the waters of First Narrows.
Few things are really known about Vancouver; moreover, people more know about an international T.V. series like Flashpoint, that’s a police drama about Toronto. Vancouver is wants to come out of shadows of Toronto and show their best to the world. And maybe competing against their ‘elder city’ in having a better life! And so, they do have it. Vancouver has nothing to prove, it’s just smaller in size and bigger in heart! They have their own police-drama called, Motive. This is an investigative series about crimes in the city of Vancouver. Continuing on that note, it will be a good experience to watch the show and get a taste of Canadian T.V. drama and hopefully it will be a successful series for the whole world to see!
Ferry me to Victoria
Ferries transports are very popular here. Come place to ferry back and forth between the States and Canada. Some ferry services will take you as far north as Alaska. In a zone of Inlets and Sounds, ferry boats are important local/international tourism and economy.
Today I’ll talk about two transports that will take you to Victoria Island. One is from Port Angeles and the other is from Vancouver itself. My experience has been through Port Angeles in past and present trips. Victoria is technically closer to the United States. Many people go from Seattle to Victoria. I’ve always preferred to go the furthest first, to Vancouver and work my way down!