Written by MCJ graduate on 23 Sep, 2005
Chinatown is another section of town in Vancouver. This region was another site we saw on our tour with the Landsea Tour Company. It is considered the second largest Chinatown in West Coast North America (after Chinatown, San Francisco). It is in a good location…Read More
Chinatown is another section of town in Vancouver. This region was another site we saw on our tour with the Landsea Tour Company. It is considered the second largest Chinatown in West Coast North America (after Chinatown, San Francisco). It is in a good location since North of it is the famous Downtown Eastside and to the west of it is the Downtown Vancouver Central Business District. This is one of the many tourist attractions in Vancouver.
Chinatown's center is located around the Chinese Cultural Center (CCC) in Pender Street. The Dr. Sun Yat-sen Classical Chinese Park and Garden is behind the Chinese Cultural Center. In 1986, this $5.3 million garden opened for the Vancouver world expo. It is considered the first full-scale classical garden ever built outside of China. This Classical Chinese Park and Garden took 52 experts from the city of Suzhou to build it. They used ancient techniques of the originals. This garden is named after the founder of the first Chinese Republic. The Dr. Sun Yat-sen Classical Chinese Park and Garden took a year to build. This place possesses many multiple buildings that are done in an Oriental style. But yet it has a balance of vegetation, pools, and rocks.
Our guide told us that there are 300,000 Asians in Vancouver and 15% made up of Vancouver’s population. He proceeded to tell us that Vancouver became populated with the Chinese community because it built the railroad/railway. For every 1.6 kilometers of railway that was built, one Chinese person lost his life.
Chinatown like other Chinatowns is populated by many old-timers. And similar to other Chinatowns it has several restaurants, banks, markets and other shops catering to the locals.
As we drove passed the Sam Kee Building, our guide also told us about Sam Kee. Kee built the narrowest building in the world. It is only six feet wide. The floor space is about 52 inches wide. The story is Sam Kee wanted enough room to build a "new" building. But when the city decided not to make the street wider, it gave Kee a very small piece of land. The city thought he would use it for parking but instead out of anger he built his new building on this six foot wide strip of land. Now, I believe an insurance company has taken up residency here. This building is in The Guinness Book of Records.
Albion, the tour guide, also informed us about a Chinese lady we saw (she had a yellow smock on) who sat in front of a market. This lady was the only person who can sell fish on ice. No one else is allowed to do this. But since this is a Chinese tradition, she is allowed to.
I was impressed with this historical site. It not only has Dr. Sun Yat-sen Classical Chinese Park and Garden but it has vendors who sell seafood, vegetables, fruits, trinkets, clothes, etc., here. It is a shopper’s paradise for whatever you want to purchase. In addition, our guide told us about the markets being open at night too. This is advantageous if you are sightseeing other areas of Vancouver during the day. As a result of these things, I highly recommend you to come here. Besides the grand shopping experience, you will learn a little about the Chinese culture too.
The easiest way to get to Chinatown from downtown is to go east on Pender Street to Carrall Street and find parking on the street. You can also park in the International Village Parkside at the corner of Pender and Abbott and walk east on Pender and into Chinatown.
Landsea Tours include this attraction in their city highlights tour of Vancouver. This tour is 3½ hours long. The tour current charges are the following in American money: $48 for adults, $45 for seniors, and $30 for children. Their phone number is 800/558-4955. Their website is email@example.com.
This is another city highlight our tour guide Albion took us to. Gastown is an area of Vancouver British Columbia, located between Downtown and the Downtown Eastside. This section of Vancouver received its name from a British settler Jack Deighton AKA "Gassy Jack". "Gassy Jack"…Read More
This is another city highlight our tour guide Albion took us to. Gastown is an area of Vancouver British Columbia, located between Downtown and the Downtown Eastside. This section of Vancouver received its name from a British settler Jack Deighton AKA "Gassy Jack". "Gassy Jack" arrived here in 1867. He was dubbed this nickname because people felt he was full of hot air. According to Albion, he only had six dollars to his name and he promised some men if they would build him a community center (a bar) he would share his whisky with them. As a result of the offer, the area’s first saloon was built. Now, there is a statue of "Gassy Jack" in Gastown.
After the salon was built, a sawmill, a seaport and general trade and commerce became present. Then in 1886, the town was incorporated as the City of Vancouver. However, the "Great Vancouver Fire" happened the same year it was incorporated leaving it with only two buildings. But Vancouver was rebuilt again and prospered until the Great Depression in the 1920’s. This then caused Gastown to become a neighborhood of the larger city which became in decline and rundown until the 1960s. As a result, residents concerned with keeping Gastown’s unique and historic architecture influenced the provincial government to declare the area a historical site in 1971. Hence, this action has protected its heritage buildings today.
As we viewed Gastown, I noticed the different sections of it. For instance, it has a tourist-oriented business area with restaurants and nightclubs but there is also general poverty here. This is mostly restricted to Water Street. Along with this, a notable site is present. This site is called The Warehouse Studio. It is located in the refurbished brick building that once was the home of Vancouver’s City Hall on Powell Street. Among other musicians in Vancouver (Avril Lavigne. R.E.M., Sarah MCLachlan, David Foster, etc.) Bryan Adams has recorded here. There is also one part of Gastown which has a lot of the 1970’s look. Coffee houses, thrift stores, head shops and cafes like the Cannabis Café are present here. In addition, there are youthful, trendy restaurants and expensive boutiques here.
Our tour also viewed the most famous attraction here that sits on the corner of Cambie and Water Street. This landmark is the steam-powered clock. After being powdered by electricity for a long time because of is previous breakdown, the steam mechanism has been restored because of the financial donations from local businesses. It is interesting how it works: Low pressure district heating steam is the type of steam used. It powers the miniature steam engine in its base, which in turn causes a chain lift. As a result, the chain lift moves steel balls upward where they are released and roll to a descending chain. Consequently, the weight of the balls on the chain going down causes a conventional pendulum clock to release, which is geared to the hands on the four faces. In addition, the steam also powers the clock’s sound production. Instead of bells, whistles are utilized instead. This is so it will produce the Westminster "chime" and to signal the time.
It is also intriguing to note, that Gastown has popular annual events. These include the Vancouver International Jazz Festival and the Tour de Gastown international bicycle race.
I highly recommend this section of Vancouver to tour. It not only has the statue of "Gassy Jack", the steam-powered clock, the vintage buildings, restaurants and boutiques but it has a lot of culture to learn about and history to inhale.
Gastown is located between Downtown and the Downtown Eastside. It can be seen if you take a tour company such as Landsea, drive to it yourself, or if you take public transportation.
Public Transportation: Skytrain, Vancouver’s rapid transit system, Seabus (ferry service from the North Shore), West Coast Express and city buses, from all areas of Vancouver and the Lower mainland can bring you to Gastown.
Walking: The Cruise Ship Terminal and Trade and Convention Centre are located just two blocks west of Gastown. It is just a five-minute walk from here.
Land sea Tours include this attraction in their city highlights tour of Vancouver. This tour is 3½ hours long. The tour current charges are the following in American money: $48 for adults, $45 for seniors, and $30 for children. Their phone number is 800/558-4955. Their website is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Lookout is one of the sites Landsea Tour Company took us to. It is located atop the Harbour Centre. The Harbour Centre Tower is Vancouver and British Columbia’s tallest building at a height of 581 feet. The ascent to The Lookout is reached via…Read More
The Lookout is one of the sites Landsea Tour Company took us to. It is located atop the Harbour Centre. The Harbour Centre Tower is Vancouver and British Columbia’s tallest building at a height of 581 feet. The ascent to The Lookout is reached via glass doored elevator in less than 50 seconds.
Neil Armstrong (first man on the moon) commemorated the observation deck on August 13.1977 by putting his footprint in concrete. It was officially opened then.
The lookout gives you a 360-degree view across the Lower Mainland, from the mountains in the north to the valleys in the south. In addition, it has a huge screen video theatre. And there are light snacks and beverages served at the cappuccino bar. There are also multilingual guides to show you the highlights and also tell you little known facts and trivia about Greater Vancouver.
While we there, we saw a variety of sites. These include the enormous cruise ships, mountains, bodies of water, Canada Place, Gastown, Botanical Gardens, Woodworth Building, Vancouver Islands, Point Grey Peninsula (where University of British Columbia is located on the western tip of it), Lions Gate Bridge, Stanley Park, Holly Rosary Cathedral, etc.
Our tour guide Albion, told us various trivia stories, such as Gastown is also called Water Street (it is lined with trees), Vancouver Island gets 35 inches of rain per year, Seattle and Vancouver each get 50 inches of rain per year and Vancouver is number three in North America where the most movies are made (e.g. Fantastic Four and X-Men were made here).
Harbour Centre Tower houses many businesses and services: Top of Vancouver Revolving Restaurant, the downtown campus of Simon Frasier, a 28-floor office tower, and two levels of shops and services, which include a pharmacy, a liquor store, and food fair.
I highly recommend going to this attraction for four reasons. One, the sites from 581 feet are gorgeous with a 360-degree view. Two, there are guides here who give a free narration of the highlights. Three, there are photo plagues that let you know what you are viewing. Four, there are a variety of things to do here. These include site seeing, sipping on a cappuccino, eating at the Top of Vancouver Revolving Restaurant, shopping at the stores, etc.
The Lookout is located at 555 West Hastings Street, Vancouver, B.C. V6B 4N4. It is open 365 days a year. The seasonal hours are as follows: Winter 9am-9pm, Summer 8:30am-10:30pm. Information and Reservations phone number is 604-689-0421. The ticket cost is adult $10, senior (60-plus) $9, student with ID $7, youth (11-17) $7, child (5-10) $4, and children (4 and under) are free. There are also group rates available.
The directions to The Lookout are as follows: Located downtown at the Seabus and SkyTrain station. It is not far from the Cruise Ship terminal and historic Gastown.
Totem Park is located at Vancouver’s urban 1,000 acre park called Stanley Park. This is my favorite attraction at Stanley Park. It was one of the many places we saw on our Landsea Tour of Vancouver City highlights. The totem poles are located just…Read More
Totem Park is located at Vancouver’s urban 1,000 acre park called Stanley Park. This is my favorite attraction at Stanley Park. It was one of the many places we saw on our Landsea Tour of Vancouver City highlights. The totem poles are located just off the sea wall beside the Brockton oval cricket pitch. There are eight totem poles here.
The totems have an interesting history. They were the British Columbia Indians "Coat of Arms". The totem poles were carved from western red cedar. What is interesting to note each of these poles have a story behind it whether it is real or a mythical event. As you view the totem poles here, you will notice eagles, whales, wolves and frogs on these poles. Each of these has a meaning. For instance, the eagle represents the kingdom of air, the whale the lordship of the sea, the wolf, the genius of the land, and the frog, the transitional link between land and sea.
A more in-depth look at explaining what a totem pole can represent can be seen with the following totem pole called Ga’Akstalas:
The Ga’ Akstalas was carved by Wayne Alfred and Beau Dick in 1991. It was based on a design by Russell Smith. This pole represents several essential figures in Kwakwaka’ wakw culture. For example, the red cedar-bark man is an ancestor who didn’t perish in the great flood and gave the people the first canoe. The hero Siwidi on the pole is riding a killer-whale and was taken under the sea to the home of the sea-world’s chief and brought back the right to utilize all of the sea-kingdom masks. Lastly, at the base of the pole is Grantess Dzunkwa. She symbolizes her central role in bringing music and wealth to her people.
In the words of the totem pole carvers, Dick and Alfred, they carved this pole "to be a beacon of strength for our young people and show respect for our elders. It is to all our people who have made contributions to our culture."
Besides the totem poles in this area, an interpretive centre was built in 2001. This was done by building a separate structure that has working areas, many signages, a gift shop that possesses related items and a refreshment place. As a result of this, the totem poles received an upgrade with the landscape around them. You now can view plagues that inform you about what story each pole has to reveal.
I highly recommend this area to go to while you are visiting Stanley Park. It is a great place to learn about the British Columbia Indian culture and a spectacular site to take pictures.
Stanley Park is located at 2099 Beach Avenue, Vancouver, B.C., Canada, V6G 3E2; the phone number is 604/257-8400. The following are ways to get to Stanley Park:
By taxi: A taxi ride from downtown Vancouver to the entrance of Stanley Park (at the Rowing Club) is only a five-minute ride (about $6 CAD). The yellow cab phone number is 604/681-1111.
By Vancouver Trolley: Use your Vancouver Trolley pass to get into Stanley Park. Ask your hotel concierge for the closest trolley stop. The trolley driver will give you a guided commentary along the way. You need to get off the trolley at either 14, 15, or 16 stop in Stanley Park, depending on what you want to do there. You can hop back on the trolley to head back to your hotel at any of these stops too.
Written by MCJ graduate on 19 Sep, 2005
This pub/eatery is another one that was recommended by a local man in Davie Village in Vancouver. He was a clerk at a gay man’s store and we happened to go in there. We asked him where would be a good pub that served food…Read More
This pub/eatery is another one that was recommended by a local man in Davie Village in Vancouver. He was a clerk at a gay man’s store and we happened to go in there. We asked him where would be a good pub that served food and lesbians hung out at. He said the piano bar called, "The Oasis". Therefore, we strolled down the street and went here.
This establishment oozes a classy ambience. It has marble-like table tops, comfortable upholstered booths and over stuffed chairs, a gorgeous heated rooftop patio, southwest décor (stucco looking walls with metal geckos and a huge metal sun burst on them) live entertainment, the piano, a food menu that is between pub and tapas style and a 200-martini list. In fact, this pub’s extensive martini list is one of the largest in the West End of Vancouver. In addition, it has over 80 garnished martinis, from the simple lemon twist to the "simply fabulous" gecko gummies. As a result, this place has become one of Vancouver’s top martini houses.
Oasis is not just for lesbians either. We saw a variety of people come in here. Some were gay-friendly couples and gay men. In addition, it appeared business people (executive suits) came in too after work. Hence, it was more of a neighborhood bar located in a gay district (Davie Village).
As mentioned earlier, this pub offers live music every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. Therefore, you can inhale the ambience here while you sip on a Martini and listen to the sounds of the grand piano.
Concerning the bar area, it had a few stools in front of the bar. There were also tables and chairs in that area too, along with the piano. A TV is in this area as well. And this place kept a wine cabinet of wines located in the back dining room area.
Concerning the food, it is fabulous! As aforementioned, Oasis Pub offers both pub food and tapas style food. When we arrived here, we started out just ordering beer but has time laagered on we eventually ordered food. The waitress came over with the menu in a vinyl book size holder (I couldn’t believe how large their menu was and the cocktail selection). After taking several minutes reviewing it, my partner and I ordered two chicken pizzas (they were pretty small). Originally, the chicken was supposed to be BBQ, but we ordered it without that. The pizza was baked perfectly, and the chicken, spices, sauce, and vegetables were a tasty combination, especially if you like hot, spicy food.
The cost for each pizza was $14 in Canadian money. Our friend, Gabi, ordered the Avocado Mango Salad. She said the salad was delicious and the dressing on it had a fruity taste. The price of this was $9 (Canadian money). Concerning our drinks, my partner and I ordered Heineken and our friend ordered a local beer.
Although there wasn’t live entertainment playing while we were there, (it was a Tuesday night); we still enjoy the music that was being played. It was a variety of music from the '80s to now. It was probably pre-recorded and was played on a CD. In addition, the waitstaff, bartenders, and other patrons were all in a joyous mood. Laughs, chuckles, and happy spirits were evident in this pub.
Whether you are a tourist, a business person or just a local yokel, you should visit this place. This pub has it all: live entertainment, an extensive list of martinis, a beautiful rooftop patio, friendly staff and an elegant dining area. The Oasis Pub is located at 1240 Thurlow Street. Vancouver, B.C. and the phone number is 604-685-1724. It is open seven nights a week from 3:30 until midnight Sunday-Thursday and stays open until 1am on Friday and Saturday. This pub is above Denny’s Restaurant, and the entrance is outside.
Our travel guide from the The Landsea Tour Company recommended this place. He said that this place was a great place to eat for moderate prices. In addition, he mentioned it had live entertainment Therefore, after his tour was over we had him drop us…Read More
Our travel guide from the The Landsea Tour Company recommended this place. He said that this place was a great place to eat for moderate prices. In addition, he mentioned it had live entertainment Therefore, after his tour was over we had him drop us off at this eatery and bar.
When you arrive here you notice the enormous picture windows, the neutral colored awning and the outside, attractive patio area for dining. It appeared to be well-kept. There were vinyl tablecloths on the tables and nice new-looking patio umbrellas. In addition, this outside dining area was a great place to people watch. This is because this restaurant is on Commercial Drive and this is where a lot of diverse people are: the different ethic groups, the local artists, street performers, and vagabonds.
This restaurant and bar is named after writer, poet and well-known booze-lover Charles Bukowski. You can witness how this poet, writer influenced the atmosphere here. This place oozes both the literary and art world. One, our table top like others near ours had table-top literary quotes and black and white photos of famous writers. Two, I noticed on the walls there were several charcoal abstract drawings drawn by local artists and photography pictures which could be purchased. Three, on the third floor of this restaurant there were bookshelf-lined walls. Lastly, this place offers poetry readings and various live entertainments.
This bistro has three levels if you count the entrance area and a few tables that are there. We were seated on the second floor area. Our booth had clothed seats in multi-color, encased in wood. The wood was painted yellow. There were also tables with chairs for seating too. The lighting fixtures on this level were shaped like cylinders and were green on the outside. It provided for a dimly lit room. As I looked around further on this seating level, I noticed the ceiling here. It was quite intriguing with a blue background and white clouds.
The third floor level was interesting to look at too. It had a ceiling that looked like it was nighttime because it was painted navy blue with yellow stars and there was two ceiling fans there. This level has a fully-stocked bar and the extensive wine and drink list is posted on a chalkboard. And the martinis, such as the Faulkner, are selected often here.
Bukowski’s is a casual bistro. The food that is served is considered fusion, eclectic. There are a variety of entrees for $10-$20. For instance, my partner Sharon ordered an open-faced prime rib sandwich on French bread. It came with lettuce, tomato, onion and a half of a pickle and fries. Sharon said the prime rib was cooked to her perfection-med rare and therefore was "tasty". This meal cost $11.95 in Canadian money. Our friend ordered BBQ Yellow Tuna. It came with rice and vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, beans, zucchini and peppers). She said it wasn’t fishy-tasting but instead tasted zesty due to the barbeque sauce. This entrée cost $16.95 in Canadian money. Lastly, I ordered sirloin topped with a sherry, green peppercorn sauce and sautéed mushrooms. This was served with garlic mashed potatoes too. I really liked this entrée. It was a little exotic tasting because of the sauce, but it was good. And the portion size was enormous, like Sharon’s and Gabi’s were. The cost of this meal was $15.95 (Canadian money).
We all ordered beer here too. Sharon and I ordered Sol, which were $5 a piece and our friend ordered Nut Brown (a dark ale beer), which was $4.49 a piece. We all thought the beers were refreshing before and after eating such a nice meal.
As aforementioned, besides serving superb food here this place has poetry readings and live entertainment daily. It offers a variety of music. This includes Latin quartets, swing bands, New Orleans jazz, Afro-Cuban jazz, etc. Unfortunately, we arrived too early to hear the band play that night.
I highly recommend this bistro and bar because of the scrumptious food, attentive wait staff and the live entertainment that is available. This wonderful bar and bistro is located at 1447 Commercial Drive, Vancouver, BC, V5L 2Y2. The phone number is 604/253-4770. Operation hours vary according to entertainment. Reservations are advisable here.
Written by MaggieG on 02 Mar, 2004
Our timeshare in Vancouver, BC was in the high-rise WorldMark at The Canadian right across the street from the Sheraton at City Centre. We received guest cards to the pool and exercise rooms at the Sheraton, which was a nice facility, but it was…Read More
Our timeshare in Vancouver, BC was in the high-rise WorldMark at The Canadian right across the street from the Sheraton at City Centre. We received guest cards to the pool and exercise rooms at the Sheraton, which was a nice facility, but it was rather a pain to have to go out of our building and across the street to get to the pool, hot tubs, and sauna.
The condo at The Canadian was quite small as timeshare condos go, but it was efficient, lovely, well maintained, and in a great location with wonderful views. It had a gas fireplace and the TV was above the fireplace. It also used mirrors to great effect to make the living room feel larger. And the soundproofing was excellent – I never heard any noise at all from above or next to us! The condo also had a washer/dryer in one of the closets and even supplied plenty of detergent. In addition, it had a huge walk-in closet by the entrance that could handle sports equipment (skis, bikes, etc.), which we didn’t need.
We arrived about noon, and didn't expect our rooms to be ready since check-in time is 4pm, but the helpful young woman at the desk gave us tags to identify our luggage and space to leave them plus a few hints of what was nearby.
Ron and I chose to walk two blocks to Robson Street to wander and browse. Robson Street is sort of a Canadian Rodeo Drive with all sorts of up-scale boutiques, shops, restaurants, and bars – and at least one Starbucks in every block. (I think the Vancouver populace is even crazier for Starbucks than Seattle!)
When we returned to The Canadian in the late afternoon, we finished checking in and found that our luggage had already been taken up to our condo. We were on the 21st floor and each room had floor to ceiling windows looking out at beautiful vistas. (Our rooms looked north and northwest so we saw lovely tree-lined streets, the mountains with snow on their peaks, and a little bit of English Bay.)
The next day, we took a four-hour Greyline bus tour of the city to get a sampling of the different areas of Vancouver and see some of the parks – Stanley Park was impressive – could probably spend a whole week just exploring that park, but I think I liked Queen Elizabeth Park better – it was like a smaller version of Butchart Gardens.
I am so impressed with Vancouver – it’s a lovely and fun city and so diverse! There are so many different ethnic areas and restaurants – so wonderful although it made choosing very hard.
Vancouver is also very walkable – especially from our condo, which seemed to be in the center and just about 6-8 blocks from everything. Vancouver also has a marvelous bus system – whenever we were ready to return to our condo but were too tired to hike it, we hopped on a bus. (Almost any bus line brought us to within a block of The Canadian!) The city is so pretty with its many little garden areas – almost every block has flowers planted in a corner or a mid-block patch.
On Tuesday, we went out our lobby, turned left, and walked six blocks to take the Aquabus ferry across to Grenville Island (about a two-minute ride). Grenville Island is a fantastic farmer’s market -- think Seattle’s Pike’s Place Market. Besides produce, the island has more cheese, salami, fish, bread, pastry, meat, and flower booths than I could count. And some of the booths had sausages and salamis beyond imagination!
Ron’s only complaint was that Grenville Island is a perfect place to purchase the fixings for a neat picnic to enjoy outside watching the harbor – but Vancouver has some strict liquor laws so we couldn’t enjoy a glass of wine with the picnic. (No drinking in public places.)
While the booths are in two or three large buildings, the island also has open-air patios with benches (and street performers) as well as other buildings with art galleries, a glass blowing gallery/shop, a separate building with shops for children (child sized doors to go in with a few larger ones for big people), yacht sales/slips, restaurants, bars, and a culinary academy. We spent all of one day on Grenville and went back another day for a delightful lunch at the academy and more browsing of the shops.
Wednesday, the weather turned and we enjoyed a Pacific thunderstorm – magnificent – and a downpour. We decided to stay in, enjoy the fireplace, read, and watch the lightning from our condo.
Thursday was nice again and we walked down to Gastown – named after a guy who loved to talk a lot – so nicknamed Joe Gasser – he had the first saloon built in the 1800s (offered the sawmill workers free drinks if they’d help build a saloon – it was built in 24 hours!) Gastown has the pubs you’d expect as well as shops and restaurants and – my favorite – a huge corner steam clock! It’s run by steam and steam plays the Winchester chimes every quarter hour – sort of sounds like a tuned train whistle (or an old steam calliope). It’s not that old – built during the 1970s, I think – but I fell in love with it and managed to be close by for many of the "chiming" times.
Another day, we explored SoHo – a young professional district with the avant-garde shops, bistros, and dancing and drinking palaces. Since we were there in the daytime, we didn’t see much action, but it was a fun place to wander for a bit. We also found – just because we wandered in a new direction from The Canadian – a Greek area and enjoyed a wonderful Greek dinner.
All in all, we enjoyed every day in Vancouver, but in all of our wanderings, we never made it to Chinatown – which is almost as large as ours in San Francisco -- or to the Sun Yat Sen Gardens. And I’m sure we missed many other lovely areas, so we’ll just have to return!
Written by Club Fred on 24 Oct, 2002
If I had only one week to spend in Vancouver, I could spend every day here! Ocean Day Spa is new to the scene in Vancouver but has very quickly become my spa of choice. One visit there and you will know what I mean.…Read More
If I had only one week to spend in Vancouver, I could spend every day here! Ocean Day Spa is new to the scene in Vancouver but has very quickly become my spa of choice. One visit there and you will know what I mean. The spa has an ocean theme and zen inspired decor. To me, details make the difference and that's what you'll notice here. I've been several times, for different treatments, but I'll give you a step by step of a typical treatment.
Stepping into this spa is like stepping into an oasis - seriously. The soft colours & music, sounds of trickling water, warm smiling faces, and fragrant candles transport me, instantly, from my crazy hectic world to a place where I feel utterly peaceful.The hostess who greets you at the front counter is polished and professional but friendly too. You'll be asked to fill out a short evaluation form and then soon you are on you're way to paradise!
If it's you're first time, they'll happily give you a tour of the spa. After you've slipped into your robe and those great pressure point sandals I love so much, you head to the "relaxation room" where a nice warm foot bath awaits (one of those little details). I love to just take a minute to soak and sip a bit of water. When it's time for your treatment, the esthetician will come and dry your feet and give you a wonderful little foot massage with a cooling gel...here's where I start drooling.
I haven't had all the treatments (I'm giving my husband gentle hints all the time) but I can tell you about a few things. First of all, the hydro-therapy tub is really awesome. Before the tub you can either get a full body exfoliation or a massage - I pick the exfoliation because I love the way my skin feels afterward. While in the tub (lights dimmed, candles, etc) you're therapist will give you an amazing scalp massage while a billion or so little jets of water massage your muscles. If you've never had one of these tubs before then you must simply must try it. Afterward you get moisturizer applied to you're whole body and then your skin will feel like "buttah."
Another cool thing that they have there (which I've never seen anywhere else) is this funky mud that they put on your back during a facial. Sounds strange but hear me out. The "mud" is actually some kind of seaweed extract with 12,000 or so minerals that go into your system - very good for you apparently. Anyway, this mud heats up and crackles & pops and actually MASSSAGES your back while you're lying there having your facial. I couldn't help giggling at first but it's really very relaxing.
I haven't had any pedicures/manicures but my girlfriend has and she was blown away. They have these heated, massage chairs that you sit in and they put heated aromatherapy wraps around your neck. She says she almost drifted off to sleep!
Ocean offers all the usual spa services plus what they call their "signature" services which are some special little extras that are worth the couple extra pesos. They also have various packages. On my wish list is the "Ocean lovers" package which is a couples treatment...perfect for before a romantic evening together!
I've been to some of the other so-called popular spas in town and have left really disappointed. I think a spa should be clean -I don't want to see wax on the walls or messy staff. I want to feel special even if I'm only getting a leg wax and not a 5 hour treatment. Most of all, I want to be relaxed every second I'm there.
Ocean Day Spa is not located downtown but it's worth the short drive and hey, Osamu Sushi is right down the road!
For information & prices check out the website:
Ocean Day Spa
Location: Suite#108 - 3242 Westwood St., Port Coquitlam
Written by travelprone on 28 Aug, 2005
I LOVE to eat. Vancouver offers splendid opportunities for food lovers who are also travelers with a distinct preference for exploring multi-ethnic cuisine. Other guides have described the culinary highlight of the Imperial Chinese Seafood House dinner hosted by Tony Cheung, IGOUGO CEO, on…Read More
I LOVE to eat. Vancouver offers splendid opportunities for food lovers who are also travelers with a distinct preference for exploring multi-ethnic cuisine. Other guides have described the culinary highlight of the Imperial Chinese Seafood House dinner hosted by Tony Cheung, IGOUGO CEO, on Friday night of our get-together.
This lovely, chandeliered restaurant is quietly elegant. The dinner involved a series of plates (dim sum) carefully served without alcohol diminishing the taste of that food. I don’t particularly like duck, but the duck here was superb, not done to a crisp at the edges the way I have encountered (and disliked). After 10 or so plates of cuisine conjured with loving care and beautifully served, I was so glad I’d attended. The Marine Building in which the restaurant is located has been artfully restored and is a sight in itself not to be missed by lovers of Art Deco.
After the feast Idler, artsnletters, and I sensibly decided on a walk down to Canada Place, which I had never seen up close. During the ‘86 Expo, the queues for it had been too dauntingly long each day for us commuters who could never arrive earlier than 10am. Now it is a waterfront focus that draws locals and visitors to nocturnal vistas of lights over wide water.
Harry Potter likes Greek food, so when we visited Gastown, we enjoyed souvlaki alfresco at a restaurant smack-dab across from the commemorative statue of "Gassy Jack" Deighton himself. Sadly, the restaurant incongruously named Honey’s Character Taverna and Lounge is no longer in business at 1 Alexander Street.
Touristy and crowded as this area is, Vancouver visitors flock to it as the oldest part of town with ever-gorgeous harbor views. In 1867, Gassy convinced some lumber mill workers on the site to build him a saloon, and the thirsty ones obliged speedily. He acquired the nickname that stuck with him and history for his penchant for tall tales and just plain talking incessantly.
In 2 days, even an avid food lover can’t sample very much. After the reception first night, a group of us gal guides gravitated to a tapas place 2 blocks away from the Landmark Hotel and shared several plates of those Spanish tidbits. I was still hungry after I finished 5 of these bocadillos (mouth bites) and found they tasted bland, not much like the food I had in Barcelona, admittedly, the city in Spain that had astounded us with its culinary delights. Similarly, the Awards dinner at the Pacific Palisades was also bland, though I am biased, as I don’t particularly like most Japanese food beyond sushi and shrimp tempura.
About 14 guides got together, at the instigation of Linda Kaye, for a fun Saturday-morning breakfast at the White Tower (Greek) Restaurant next door to the Tropicana Hotel Suites. Mid-pancakes, French toast, eggs, and the usual accompaniment of strong coffee, guides really mingled and exchanged ideas about what to see and do for the day. Clearly, IGOUGOers are an independent, eclectic bunch of people who share a love of food and travel.
Dress was informal at all events; experienced travelers pack light, and neat and casual reigned. I enjoyed the food, the sights, and the faint reminiscences of Expo’86 Vancouver, but I treasured the face-to-face meetings with all those who attended the IGOUGO Guide Meet 2004. Undoubtedly, those who gather in that great big city London for the 2005 meet will accumulate their own indelible memories.
Written by Idler on 12 Oct, 2004
I’m out strolling the streets of Vancouver, not even 15 minutes after checking into my hotel. After 11 hours of travelling on 2 hours’ sleep, I figure I can either collapse or just keep on going. Ever been in one of those "in for…Read More
I’m out strolling the streets of Vancouver, not even 15 minutes after checking into my hotel. After 11 hours of travelling on 2 hours’ sleep, I figure I can either collapse or just keep on going. Ever been in one of those "in for a penny, in for a pound" situations? Well, that basically describes my trek around Stanley Park’s sea wall – a fine circuit of some 5 to 6 miles under normal circumstances, but a bit quixotic undertaken by a jet-lagged tourist who’s barely gotten her bearings.
Still, once I’ve walked down Robson Street and then over on Denham Street to the waterfront, the undulating seawall path seems downright inviting. Stanley Park, which is at least as large as downtown Vancouver if not larger, combines aspects of a civic playground and a wilderness retreat. And it is full of entertaining diversions, both in the interior of the park as well as all along the seawall path running along the outer perimeter of the park.
First, there are splendid vistas of downtown Vancouver from across Coal Harbor, and then the Totem Pole collection punctuates the skyline. The Nine O’Clock Gun (a cannon fired each evening at, you guessed it, 9 o’clock) comes next, followed Brockton Point with its squat, red-and-white lighthouse, and then a life-like statue of a "Girl in a Wetsuit" perched on a rock offshore. As I approach Prospect Point, a cruise ship leaving its mooring at Canada Place emits a long, deep bass TOOOOOOOOT and heads towards Prospect Point, slowly approaching and then going under the impressive span of Lion’s Gate Bridge, which links Vancouver to the northern shore.
Pedestrian traffic thins considerably after Prospect Point, which is more or less the halfway point along the circuit, though I note more fishermen, mostly Asian men, carrying nets. They banter companionably as they head home with their catch, pulling their homemade carts loaded with buckets, rods, tackle boxes, and other paraphernalia behind them. Cyclists and roller bladers glide by on a separate path running adjacent to the path used by pedestrians and joggers. This separation of foot and wheeled traffic is one of the many well-thought-out aspects of the park.
There are numerous benches, too, throughout the park, as well as all over Vancouver. By the time I’ve rounded Prospect Point and am approaching distinctive Siwash Rock jutting high out of the water offshore, I’m in need of one of these benches, which I sink onto gratefully. At this point, I’m running on nothing more than fumes. Blankly watching sailboats and container ships crisscross the coastal waters, I deliberate how much further there is to go. I consider cutting across the wooded heart of the park but haven’t got a detailed map and darkness is approaching. On I plod, past Third Beach and Second Beach, finally coming all the way around to the other end of Denham Street, the circuit of Stanley Park complete.
Do I sleep well that night? You betcha.
The following day dawns overcast, soon giving way to showers that increase in intensity throughout the day. Luckily, I’ve planned a day indoors at the Anthropology Museum at the University of British Columbia, but getting there involves more walking than anticipated as the bus drops me off a good distance from the museum. The campus is filled with students hunched under umbrellas, sometimes in sociable pairs or trios, as they scurry to class.
Everyone, in fact, seems to have an umbrella but me. I have a more-or-less waterproof jacket and a baseball cap that keeps the rain off my glasses. After a certain point, I no longer care how wet my feet are. It isn’t cold or windy, so I take my time squish-squish-squishing across campus, wishing (as I often do) that I’d had the opportunity to properly enjoy college, my long-distant undergraduate days nothing more than a blurred recollection of long hours in minimum-wage jobs combined with as many classes as I could squeeze in on the side.
But here I am in the rain, much too old for anyone to mistake for an undergraduate, entertaining a fantasy. Yes, I’m on my way to my pottery class. Perhaps afterward I’ll to join some friends hanging out at the Student Union... As I splash along the sodden pavement, I think of what I’d do if I were young and could do it all over again.
I’d buy an umbrella, that’s what.
After visiting the Anthropology Museum, I deliberate heading back to the campus bus platform, but it seems a shame to come all the way out here and spend only a few hours. I notice a sign for Nitobe Memorial Garden and remember having read that this Japanese-style garden is well worth a visit. Following the sign, I pass through a wooded area alongside the Asian Studies building and find myself before a little kiosk in front of the entrance to the garden. Not unsurprisingly, I seem to be the only visitor, and my soggy apparition in front of the kiosk startles the woman absorbed in paperwork behind the glass. After collecting a modest fee, she hands me a laminated guide to the garden and I enter.
Here I find enchantment. In seconds, I become convinced that all Japanese gardens should be viewed in the rain. There is a more subtle palette on a rainy day, more variations on the infinite shades of green. The moss carpeting the forest floor glistens with beads of water, the delicate maple leaves tremble with rain, and shallow pools form in the crevices of stones. Thousands of raindrops fall onto the lake, echoed by the cascade of droplets falling from the tree branches, the soft patter of rain on the wooden bridge, and the trickle of rivulets running along the garden paths.
Wet feet or no wet feet, I wouldn’t miss this for the world.
On yet another day, I don my remaining dry pair of shoes and take a stroll downtown. All along Coal Harbor I admire the gleaming structures along the waterfront, modern hotels interspersed with apartment towers. There’s a sophisticated vibe in this urban setting, which feels more laid back than a U.S. city, more in tune with the needs of its residents. Everywhere there is water – in the harbor, in cascading fountains; and where there is not water, there are shiny glass surfaces. The tree-lined parks and streets are spotlessly clean, adding to the city’s livability. It’s a magical place that has risen here on the shores, dense with glass-and-steel buildings, yet still feeling wonderfully spacious.
Walking along the perimeter of Canada Place, with its soaring white "sails," I feel as though I’m on the deck of a ship, an illusion furthered by the great cruise ships docked alongside the complex. Throughout the downtown area, older buildings are intermingled with and reflected in the surface of new ones. The delightful Marine Building, with its art deco frieze of sea creatures, is just across from a glass complex with rounded edges that houses the tourist information office.
There’s a lively street scene, too, adding a human dimension to all the glass and steel. On a Friday night, fashionable Robson Street is thronged with animated twenty-somethings spilling out from cafés and restaurants onto the street. The old courthouse building that houses the Vancouver Art Gallery is a gathering point, with street artists performing on the steps of the building, street vendors peddling their wares, and chess players plotting their moves on benches nearby. And then there are the fringe elements found in any large city, the street people huddled in doorways or a group of crazed evangelicals hoisting signs proclaiming, "REPENT SINNERS! CHRIST DIED FOR YOUR SINS."
No, Vancouver isn’t utopia, but it comes just about as close to one as this inveterate stroller has ever seen.