Vancouver is not only a green city but also very diverse and international. Each neighborhood has its own character and is characterized by different things.
In the Westend (the gay district ) you will find pink garbage bins and bus stops or a rainbow crosswalk; East Vancouver is more the alternative area (formerly the Italian district); in Richmond you will find a large number of Asians and even signs are written in Chines!
But there is something that all neighborhoods have in common:
Diversity, friendliness, community
Especially one aspect impressed me the most: Community Gardens. Those gardens are on a green strip between the sidewalk and the street, they can be found in random grassy spots or wherever. The city has, in my opinion, a very special flair because of that 🙂 So you even when you live in an apartment, you have the opportunity to grow your own vegetables and flowers! I thought it was always admirable that no one in the community gardens destroys everything, that’s just common sense that you do not do something like that!
You want to sell old clothes or furniture? But you don’t want to put it on craigslist? Then just sell them on the weekend on the grass in front of your apartment building! Almost everyone does that 🙂
I always appreciated especially two habits of Canadians that create an overall positive interaction with each other: In the supermarket you will always be asked at the checkout ‘how are you’ and when getting off the bus you say ‘thank you’. For Germans this is very unfamiliar and strange and yes, it can also be annoying in the beginning and some even may find it exaggerated friendliness. But I have to say that this is exactly what the German culture needs. An overall friendly tone!
In each district there is a Community Centre where you will find everything you need. In addition to sports activities (yoga, Zumba, martial arts, sometimes even an ice rink …) there are training courses, language courses, libraries, childcare and so on! In Germany, the community centers are usually run by the church, but in Vancouver they are operated by the city and combine several institutions such as Volkshochschule, swimming pool, gym. The centres are incidentally usually cheaper than any fitness or yoga studio! Check it out!
If you look very closely you will discover small neighborhood book exchange. No, I do not mean the libraries in the Community Centres. I mean small boxes, which are placed next to the sidewalk and are filled with books. Take a book, leave a book – that is the principle. Especially for travelers who do not sleep in hostels (where they usually have a book exchange bookshelf) are these small community libraries a great thing! In the Westend you’ll find a small red box just opposite the Café Bottega (corner Nelson and Cardero).
Takis Taverna: Everyone knows the long line up in front of Stepho’s on Davie Street. You think ‘Oh, so many people are waiting, then it must be a really good restaurant’? I personally don’t like it when the waitress brings the bill while you are eating and indicate with that that it is now time to go. Therefore, I can only recommend Takis Taverna! Also on Davie Street, just a few meters from Stepho’s. The service is great, you will not feel rushed and the food is even better!
Red Pagoda on Commercial Drive was always my address for Vietnamese food! The delicious Pho soups are great on rainy days)
Sushi is available at every corner! But it is not so easy to find out which sushi restaurant is also good. The affordable, and my favorite, Sushi restaurant: Sushiholic, Denman Street and East Broadway. The slightly more expensive option: Koshimoto Sushi, Commercial Drive! High quality sushiand the decoration of the roles is wonderful!
When I lived in Vancouver I unfortunately didn’t know that there is also a First Nation Restaurant. When I travel or live in other countries, I am always interested in typical dishes of the country. In Canada we think immediately of Burger and Poutine. But who lives in Canada since ‘forever’? Right, the First Nations. So for my next Vancouver-trip I will definitely write the Salmon n’ Bannock restaurant on my bucket list! Genuine First Nations cuisine belongs on every culinary plan of a Canada vacation!
What else can you get at every corner in any variation? Burger. My personal recommendation is the Templeton on Granville Street! The interior is in retro style and built like a classic canadian diner. Beside burgers you will also get the usual north american meals like sandwiches or super delicious milkshakes. Check it out!
Last summer I went to the Richmond Night Market for the first time (it’s very easy to get there: Just take the skytrain, Canada Line!) And explored different kinds of food 🙂 Because that’s exactly what you should do here! You should try prawn dumplings and spicy fish balls! I made the mistake to try fried squid … in my imagination, the tentacles are still attached on the inside of my throat … Another little tip: The earlier you are there, the better! The market can be very crowded and it’s quite unpleasant to get a bite of your food when someone bumps into your elbow the whole time 😉
In Vancouver I was always looking for alternatives to the usual suspects (Starbucks and Co.), because I prefer the relaxed, cozy atmosphere of small, individual cafés. And often the coffee tastes better!
My 3 favorite cafés
My absolute favorite café is located in the residential area of the West End, Nelson and Cardero: Café Bottega. Relax and sit on the small patio and enjoy its excellent coffee far away from traffic noise!
# 2: Melriches Coffee House on Davie Street. Enjoy the delicious breakfast (bagels, croissants, eggs, etc.) in a relaxed atmosphere! Think about leaving your children unattended…because if you do, your children can look forward to a free espresso and a little puppy 😀
# 3: The Arbutus Café in Kitsilano is located in a residential building at the corner of Arbutus and W 6th Ave and offers – similar to the Café Bottega – the opportunity to sit outside on a less busy street. You have to try their soups and paninis!
And finally an extra tip: (Almost) every town has a Lookout Tower for that you have to pay for. So what is an alternative? The Landmark Hotel on Robson Street! Have a drink at their Cloud 9 restaurant (you don’t even have to order food!) Enjoy the 360° view – the restaurant revolves 🙂
Why is it better than the Lookout Tower? You don’t have to pay admission, you only pay for drinks (which is not more expensive than other bars) and you have a much better view than from the Lookout Tower, because the Landmark Hotel on Robson Street is not surrounded by skyscrapers. AND: You have an amazing view of the sunset!
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