A September 2002 trip
to Vancouver by Harry Potter
Quote: My friend living in Seattle had never been to Canada, so an overnight to Vancouver was a must on my visit especially with the current favorable exchange of the Canadian dollar. We did it up; sightseeing during the day and barhopping at night while staying at an inexpensive, convenient hotel.
Asking for loonies
when requesting change - we could never keep a straight face
Jogging across the Capilano Suspension Bridge to the astonishment of other visitors gingerly making their way across with their hands grasped on the ropes
Experience the serene, classical Chinese Garden, a wonderful oasis in Chinatown not to be missed
Being the only diners in the late afternoon on the patio of the Sette Bello restaurant
Having fun drinking and dancing to the songs of Dr. Strangelove at the Roxy
Staying in a clean, comfortable hotel at an affordable price in the heart of downtown Vancouver
Also there were some aggressive panhandlers in certain areas that can seem rather intimidating, but just try to avoid aggravating them, if you decide to give money, don't take out your whole wallet, where it may be pinched there on the spot, but instead carry money YOU can easily get out of your front pocket
Shop around for the best exchange rates, we found a good, commission free rate at a shop advertising it on Robson Street
You can fill out a form to get back 7% of the tax paid for purchases but you must spend at least CN and each receipt must be at least CN before tax, and the government will impose a 18% service fee charge, so at the end it wasn't beneficial for us to file
Hotel | "Bosman's Hotel"
Supposedly there is an outdoor heated pool, a good selling point, but it is only open during the summer. The best aspect of Bosman's is definitely its convenient location and this is overly apparent in its brochure which uses most of its space noting the closeness of its location to sightseeing areas. It also has a good web site Bosman's Hotel which provides links to local restaurants, shops and nightlife as well as links for transportation and weather. We were pleased with this clean, quiet, comfortable, convenient, affordable motor hotel and would easily recommend it to those on a budget looking for a place to stay in the heart of downtown.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on November 11, 2002
1060 HOWE STREET
Vancouver, British Columbia V6Z1P5
Restaurant | "Sette Bello"
The menu included soups and salads ($6 - $7 CN), starters that were mostly seafood (mussels, clams, calamari, prawns, scallops) that ranged from $7 - $10 CN, pastas and risotto ($14 - $18 CN), pizzas ($11 - $15 CN) and several diverse entrees such as duck, pork, lamb, beef tenderloin, chicken, seabass and salmon. The lamb was the most expensive entree at $29 CN. We started with a crab dip which was just mediocre. It was served hot with ample soft rye bread and contained real crab but lacked something so it tasted a little bland. I enjoyed my average size smoked duck salad which included poached apples, frisse, cashews and was covered in an apple thyme dressing. The Caesar with chicken salad was also average size and contained huge pieces of Romaine lettuce.
The atmosphere would probably be quite lively with more people, judging by the signs at the patio bar. Both the inside and outside dining areas are slightly formal with white tablecloths and gold colored cloth napkins but the inside dining area had wood chairs while outside are patio chairs and smoking is only permitted on the patio. The decor is simple, but well lit with lots of plants. The music playing was a variety of oldies, rock n roll, retro 70's and 80's, and slow, easy listening songs. I would go back here again to have drinks on the patio.
1131 Robson St
Vancouver, British Columbia V6E 1B5
+1 604 681 7377
Attraction | "Chinese Garden"
A lovely surprise was discovering several turtles sunbathing on rocks in the ponds just beyond arms reach. At first they did not appear to be real, but patient watching paid off as a few slowly poked their heads in and out of their shells. A visit in the fall was great to also have the chance to see the leaves starting to change to a vibrant orange on some of the trees. There are several pavilions to explore and one of my favorite rooms contained an absolutely gorgeous set of Rosewood table and chairs engraved with bats for good luck and shown in a photo below.
I rejoined the tour at one point to listen to the explanation of the symmetrical patterns on the windows and door screens. Four different plant carvings represent the four seasons and visitors are asked to guess at matching each of them; orchid, plum, bamboo and chrysanthemum with their representations of the respective seasons. Also explained in this room is the construction of it without nails. The secret to its fastening are hidden wooden pegs that allow the joints to fit and be held together.
Varied, magnificent views are offered from different points while walking around the corridor of the pond; from the scene through the Moon Gate (photo below) to the Pagoda in the background (photo below). The terrace is covered in different types and colors of interesting stone. Artwork is displayed for sale and a wonderful, reasonably priced gift shop offers items such as Chinese print purses and blank journals of which I had to buy 2 of the same of each - one to keep and one to give. We exited this animated oasis with a feeling of quiet contentment at having experienced a grand display of natural elements.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 11, 2002
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden
578 Carrall St.
Vancouver, British Columbia V6B 5K2
(604) 662 3207
Attraction | "The Roxy"
We walked past the large, long bar into an area with lots of high, small, round tables with round bar stools. Almost every table was taken by 2-4 people, though the bartender claimed most nights it was usually a lot more crowded. We managed to find an empty table and joined the rest of the crowd in paying attention to the performers on stage, a band called Dr. Strangelove. They are the house band and usually perform Wed-Sat. We were impressed with the music and stage show of this 70s and 80s cover band. Sara and Kelly are the lead singers, and that night "Angel" and "Princess" were sequined on their small t-shirts. They inspired the patrons with their loud, fun songs and the dance floor became crowded, but there was still room to dance. Rather than wait for a cocktail waitress, we went up to the bar only a few feet away, and were given an impressive bottle-and-glass throwing and flipping show before the drinks we ordered were poured. Eventually, Dr. Strangelove took a break and in between sets, the DJ played new music from the Kinks and other under-played bands.
Wandering around looking for the ladies room, we discovered the nearly empty back room which had pool tables and also a bar, but was extremely quiet compared to the scene in the main bar. Meandering back to the main bar area, we recovered our table and spent the rest of the night enjoying and dancing to the sounds of Dr. Strangelove. The bar continued to serve liquor until 2am at which time we made our way to the door and were glad we had gone out close to our hotel.
932 Granville St
Vancouver, British Columbia V6Z 1L2
+1 604 331 7999
The Capilano Suspension Bridge is not hard to reach and was a natural next place to visit after Stanley Park. From Stanley Park, we drove over the famous Lions Gate Bridge and after about 10 minutes of driving north on Capilano Road, saw signs for parking. Cars park in a parking lot on the right, across the street from the entrance while buses and tour groups park in a parking lot on the left just before the entrance. Self-parking is self-pay via a machine in the parking lot which costs $3 CN and gives you a display ticket to put on your dashboard. We crossed the busy street and walked to the entrance where we were a bit surprised that tickets were $13.95 CN just to walk across the bridge. However our AAA card provided a small discount. Good thing it works in Canada too. Hours are 9am to 5pm in the winter and 8:30am to dusk in the summer.
After going through the turnstyle, we found ourselves in a strange, frontier-type setting where we wandered around looking at a constructed set of displays about the early adventures and stories of their heritage and artifacts. There was a place that invited you to take photos with the oversized murals of the early journeyers named the Tramps. More interesting was Totem Park, an area with over 25 colorful totem poles. However, since we had just come from Stanley Park, this was not as exciting as it would have been if these were the first totem poles we had seen that day.
As we continued walking, following our map, we came to the main tourist attraction, the Capilano Suspension Bridge. Our map doubled as a passport and challenged visitors to visit each of the main attractions and then have your passport/map stamped after completion of each visit. After stamping all six locations, the entrance to the bridge has an "I Made It" self-validation stamp. Capilano Suspension Bridge is one of several places to learn about some of the important facts of the bridge such as it was originally built in 1889, is 230 feet above the Capilano River, and 450 feet across. My favorite part of the visit was crossing the bridge at a heavy, fast-paced jog amidst the laughter of my friend waiting on the other side and to the amazement of fearful visitors who were clung to the ropes, gingerly making their way across.
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on November 11, 2002
Capilano Suspension Bridge
3735 Capilano Road
Vancouver, British Columbia V7R 4J1
New York, New York