Vancouver has been voted the world’s most liveable city by the UK based Mercer Institute for three years in a row . Here are some reasons why:
The Stanley Park Seawall. Vancouver’s natural setting is stupendous and on this 6.5 mile hike around the seawall you get it all: the Pacific Ocean enfolds the ancient rain forest that is Stanley Park. Across the water snow-capped mountains and distant islands dream in the mist like a Northern Hemisphere Bali Hai.The Seawall hike can be crowded. Turbaned Sikhs on mountain bikes and Chinese families on rollerblades, stately Russian matrons out for their evening constitutional. The hike takes about two hours. Bikes and roller blades can be rented from Harbour Air Seaplanes Adventure Centre next to Canada Place: 604 233 3500.
Neighbourhoods - Kitsilano. Named after an Indian chief and formerly Vancouver’s hippie haven, Kits has heritage houses, hills with gorgeous views, funky shops, lush gardens and one of the best beaches in town. Catch a number 4 or 7 bus on Granville Street and get off at Capers' excellent organic grocery store on 4th Avenue. Wander down Vine Street to the Pacific. Swim at Kits enormous outdoor pool . Head back up very steep Yew Street, taking in some jazz at Rossini’s and reward yourself with a latte with the locals at Kits Coffee Shop.
Fine Dining: Fresh wild salmon from BC’s mountain streams, fruits and wines from BC’s Okanagan are just some of the fabulous produce that contribute to setting Vancouver’s restaurants among the finest in Canada. Lumiere on Broadway is considered by many to be one of the nation’s top restaurants. If you want to get a taste of the place without blowing your budget, go to the tasting bar adjoining the main room and order one or more of the 16CAD dishes selected from the main menu. The papardelle with short rib meat or the roasted sablefish are two big favourites.No reservations allowed – the very popular bar is first come first served. Closed on Mondays.
Lumiere 2551 W. Broadway. Tel: 604 739 8185. Take a number 10 UBC bus or a ten minute cab ride from downtown.
From the sublime….At the opposite end of the dining spectrum is Casa Gelato – home of 198 ice cream flavours. Next to the railroad tracks on an east-side industrial estate, homesick Italian Vincenzo Misceo sits in a pink-painted, neon-lit ice cream parlour surrounded by his flavour creations: pear gorgonzola, wild-berry jalapeno,vegemite. Misceo admits to the occasional failure – chocolate fudge and salmon?! Take the 22 Knight bus on Burrard to Glen. 1033 Venables St. www.lacasagelato.com
The Absolute Spa at The Century. At Vancouver’s most popular day spa, they sprinkle rose petals in the bath tubs and wrap you in chocolate -alas, non-edible. (For real chocolate see below.)Then they massage you while dozens of warm horizontal jets of water sweep across your body. In the opulent relaxation room, snack on strawberries dipped in chocolate then take a swim in the ozonated pool or a eucalyptus steam bath. 1015 Burrard St. Tel: 604 684 2772 http://www.absolutespa.com/">www.absolutespa.com
Hollywood North and the Chocoholic Bar. Vancouver is known as Hollywood
The Best Cappuccino in Western Canada.Caffe Artigiano, 763 Hornby Street opposite the Vancouver Art Gallery. Tired of anemic cups of foam from Starbucks? There are Italians in Vancouver ready with the antidote. Inspired by the original Venetian coffee houses, Artigiano serves a robust, creamy brew to gallery goers, office workers and media folk from the nearby CBC studios.
Bard on the Beach.>English actor/director Christopher Gaze has taken Shakespeare and set him down within yards of the ocean under an enormous tent. Throughout the summer three Shakespeare plays are set against a backdrop of ocean and mountains. The Bard, being the Bard fits right in with the seagulls, floatplanes, cruise ships - even the occasional passing coyote.www.bardonthebeach.org Tel 604 739 0559
Vancouver has the cheapest CDs in North America. Downtown try A&B Sound at 556 Seymour for pop and rock. Sikora’s Classical Records at 432 W. Hastings for classical.