Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Sunshine on the Wet Coast

The Burrard Bridge gleaming in the sun

As I said the other day, the Vancouver area is often plagued by terrible weather - hence the 'Wet Coast' tag that pun-loving locals give it. We'd only had a few hours of dryness on the first day, I got soaked going on a run (and it almost was a run) to the Liquor Store, as they of course refer to Off-Licences. Or Bottle Shops if you're Australian. Anyway, the city is built on a series of low hills, so water tends to pool at the bottom of streets waiting to catch out the unwary alcohol-foraging foreigner who steps off a dark pavement into what turns out to be an ankle-deep puddle. This morning it was even heavier, and as Andy left at 6am to go up to Whistler snowboarding, I was already awake in the other room, listening to the rain battering the outside of the house.

But, remarkably, it cleared up just before lunchtime. So I set off on a coastal walk to Stanley Park, hoping the rain would hold off. Not only did it hold, but the sky quickly blew free of any clouds, and the sun warmed everything up. The path runs along the harbourside ringing False Creek, the inlet that separates the downtown business district from the rest of the city. In parts, it reminded me of the Sydney harbour seawall, short sections of clearly marked path for walkers, joggers, and cyclists. It's obviously well used, and with the break in the weather all kinds of people were out getting some sun. Towards the far end, it became more industrial - False Creek used to be surrounded by sawmills - and a lengthy detour caused by a waterside apartment constuction took me past old rusting cannery plants and abandoned buildings.

I had something to eat at the giant domed BC Stadium, home of the BC Lions Canadian Football team. I'm always interested in looking at stadiums - for one thing they usually have t-shirt shops attached (although this one didn't), so I walked over and was surprised to find the door open. Inside a football (soccer) tournament was going on, so I watched the games for a bit while I was eating a sandwich. After that I carried on under both bridges that lead from the western suburbs to the CBD, and on past English Bay beach and the scene of yesterday's Polar Bear swim - looking very different with no people and blazing sunshine. The oil tankers still sat there in the bay, waiting to go upriver, and large logs were everywhere, washed up on the shoreline.

I really like Vancouver, it has a great feel to it. At the end of our road you can see snow-capped mountains covered in trees - and I don't mean in the far distance, they loom over the city from almost every angle. With the surrounding water and atmospheric cloudbanks, it has something of a frontier feel to it - and having flown over vast tracts of nothingness to get here, I can understand why. Most places are within walking distance, which is made easier by the fact that pedestrians have right of way over cars, and more interesting by the rather large number of crazy dishevelled people walking around. I've still got another three days here, so I'll let all of you in the blogosphere know what happens tomorrow...