Think of the world’s great and important cities, and you can always think of a landmark. Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower, the Brandenburg Gate, the Coliseum, the Empire State Building, the White House, the CN Tower, the Golden Gate Bridge, Christ the Redeemer statue, Sydney Opera House, etc. Everywhere seems to have a landmark or building that can be used as a civic symbol.
The problem with Vancouver is that I struggled for a while to work out what its equivalent is! It doesn’t have that instantly recognisable skyscraper, tower, statue or bridge. Downtown is full of ordinary looking skyscrapers that could be anywhere and whilst there are some nice old buildings, particularly around the Gastown area, none of them stand out.
But then it struck us. The landmark here is the setting – downtown and its skyscrapers sitting on a headland that juts out into the ocean, beaches lining the coast, and forested mountains framing the scene to the north.
Stanley Park is one part of this jigsaw, and is basically an extension of the headland that downtown Vancouver sits on, but which was never cleared of its trees and developed like the rest of downtown. Despite the fact that one of Vancouver’s main roads – which connects Vancouver with North Vancouver across the Burrard Inlet – cuts across the park, at nearly four square kilometres it is a phenomenally popular place for tourists and locals to visit and enjoy some leisure time.
We’d already visited part of the park’s interior when we had been to the excellent Vancouver Aquarium. This time we embarked on a walk around the popular seawall, which takes around 2 hours to cover the 7km length. Walking round in an anti-clockwise direction, the walk first gave us views of downtown Vancouver, followed by a collection of brightly coloured totem poles.
As we moved round the seawall, we got views of the mountains above North Vancouver, watched large ships glide past us and walked under the Lions Gate Bridge. As we rounded the seawall to face west out across English Bay, we were able to watch the sun go down, and in the process create cool silhouettes and pretty colours in the sky.
So, this was a definite highlight of our time in Vancouver, and is an excellent way to spend an afternoon in Vancouver, particularly if it isn’t raining!