Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Vancouver & Victoria - Staff visit by Gill Rice

In hot June sunshine, our first day in Vancouver, saw us exploring Granville Island – a group of shops, galleries, cafes, theatres with a market full of stalls bursting with mouth-watering produce. Partly straddled by Granville Bridge, the island developed from a disused industrial park into an artisan’s enclave. Although a couple of factories remain, trees and flowers and brightly coloured paintings lighten the gritty surroundings. I have an abiding memory of relaxing with a coffee and a bun at a café overlooking Vancouver harbour - busy with boats and bobbing Aquabuses - and taking in the view through Burrard Bridge along the coast to English Bay. We returned in the evening for dinner in a buzzing restaurant under the bridge, after a visit to the Museum of Anthropology to view looming, stately totem poles, housed in a dramatic museum building in the grounds of the University of BC. Excelling in shopping and eating venues, Vancouver is an attractive modern city with a great atmosphere, quite different from Victoria which we visited next. This city has a more open, sedate feel, particularly round the harbour, which is looked down on by the doughty Empress Hotel and the Government buildings. From Victoria, we went to Butchart Gardens – a spectacular acreage of beautiful show gardens pocketed in the vast scars of a worked-out quarry, and celebrating 100 years as a family-run business. To top off our brief (5-day!) trip to Canada we went whale-watching among the Gulf Islands, which was a thrilling experience.

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