Tag Archives: nature

The Wonders of Vancouver’s West Side

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While most that visit Vancouver hang out on the downtown peninsula, there is so more more to the city that they are missing out on.  Case in point: Vancouver’s West Side (not to be confused with the west end, which refers to the westerly portion of downtown that’s one of the most densely populated parts of Canada, or West Vancouver, which is the uber rich enclave on the North Shore near the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal).

This place is home to the ultra hip neighborhood of Kitsilano, two beaches where young Vancouverites go to see and be seen during the summer time, and the campus of UBC, where smart kids from across British Columbia, Canada, and the world come to further their studies.

Above all else though, the views and the surroundings of this part of town are truly out of this world…

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Walking along the shore of Burrard Inlet, a portion of land between the end of backyards of houses residing on Point Grey Road (of one Vancouver’s most elite addresses) and the ocean makes for a very scenic trail.

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While Kits and Jericho Beach are far more popular among the scenesters on the West side of Vancouver, no beach has the size and serenity that the Spanish Banks do. Located just before the UBC Endowment lands, there is no shortage of places to lay out a towel, play a game of beersbie with your friends, or just drink in the timeless view of the North Shore Mountains and ruminate how friggin lucky you are to live here (and if you don’t, you’re starting to work out in your head how you could make it so).

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Honestly, how can you go wrong with a view like this at any time of year?

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While summer and early Fall is an excellent time to be in Vancouver, I’ll heartily put in my vote for dropping by during mid Spring.  From Late April into May, cherry blossoms blow up all over the city, and with the streets of Kitsilano being lined with these beauties, your head will be swimming in a dream world of floral awesomeness.

The only proper way to head a day here into continue up the street from the waterfront to West 4th Ave and have a drink on one of many, many patios that exists there and nearby (Vancouver has such a competitive food and beverage industry that ridiculous deals exist everywhere here, so don’t be stingy … enjoy your time in this heartstoppingly beautiful place!

Ever been to Vancouver in the spring?  Love the west side of Van City and have an awesome recommendation for a place to eat and/or drink? Tell us all about it below!

Canada’s California: Palm Trees And More In Vancouver, BC

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Sitting on Canada’s west coast, the city of Vancouver, which sits at end of a low lying sliver of land in British Columbia’s southwest known as the Lower Mainland, experience considerably warmer weather than the rest of the nation as a whole.

Together with Vancouver Island and the North Coast, they are bubbles of mildness that endure through the vast majority of a harsh Canadian winter, with daytime highs averaging between 5 to 8 degrees Celsius (42 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit) at a time when the rest of Canada is in the deep freeze and buried under mounds of snow.

This temperate climate, combined with some of the best soil in the nation also allows a mind-boggling variety of plants to grow, and yes, as shown above, some of the hardiest palm trees in the world can indeed grow in Van City, lending the place more credence to its legendary status among weather-obsessed Canadians.

Here’s some more examples of horticultural brilliance that can be found in one of Canada’s best cities…

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With robust bushes of pink flowers and palm trees and a condo tower in the background, doesn’t this feel like Hawaii at first blush?  The water and the air might be a bit chillier, but use your imagination, people!

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Cherry trees are planted here in abundance and luckily for me, I was in town during blossom season.  Being in the mid to high teens Celsius (60’s in Fahrenheit) while Alberta continued to freeze also allowed the flower beds throughout public spaces like this one at the end of Davie and Denman to flourish in a truly spectacular fashion!

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Just a brilliant day to head to the beach, soak up the spring sun, and enjoy the beautiful bounty that such a horticultural and climatically rich part of the world has to offer to you.  Yes, Vancouver’s an expensive place to live or visit, but with surroundings like this, the pain is worth the struggle to experience what can only be described as Canada’s California! 🙂

Ever been to Vancouver, or any other freakishly warm place when the rest of your country was suffering in the cold?  Tell us all about it below!

Isolation In The Midst Of A Big City: Nose Hill Park, Calgary, Canada

Optimized-DSCN2269An entrance to Nose Hill Park in Calgary, Canada, accessible off John Laurie Blvd.

After travelling Southeast Asia a second time in the winter of 2012, I decided to settle down in the Canadian city of Calgary, Alberta for a while. My motivations were twofold. One, to spend some quality time with my sister’s family, who I felt I hadn’t been seeing enough during my time in the mountains and travelling overseas. And two, to give myself time to save up some badly needed cash while considering my next move.

Being a lover of the outdoors, it took me little time to seek out the many expansive parks that this city has to offer. Nose Hill Park in Northwest Calgary is chief among them. It is one of the largest parks in North America, and features undulating buttes, pocket valleys with tight, thick brush, and killer views of downtown Calgary, and the Rocky Mountains.

Optimized-DSCN2271The wide open grassy plains that comprise most of Nose Hill – yes, you are the middle of a city of 1 million people … but you’d never know it here.

Optimized-DSCN2306The long, lonely path leads you through a land of sweetgrass, puffy clouds, and nobody else to keep you company but your own soul (except in popular areas, where you will encounter dog-walkers and joggers 😛 )

Optimized-DSCN2281Looking Northwest, we see the low density of suburban Calgary, and the beginning of the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Calgary is within visual range of the Rockies, but sometimes, it can be hard to see, depending on atmospheric conditions. Strain your eyes, and you might see the silhouette of them in the distance 😛

But it is by walking around to the south side of the park, that views of Calgary’s formidable skyline of gleaming glass skyscrapers can be had in abundance…

Optimized-DSCN2309Seemingly sprouting out of a field of daisies, Calgary’s urban core stands in stark contrast to the nature that will surround you on your meaderings through Nose Hill Park. It makes for a killer photo opp though, so bring along your telephoto lenses and snap a much better pic than I did (NOTE TO SELF: Get a DLSR ASAP!)

How do you get here? If you have a rental car, drive north on 14th Street until you’re in the N.W. The park should be unmissable, rolling up on your left after driving approximately five minutes north of the downtown core.

For those without a car, you could take the train to Brentwood station and either walk along Charleswood Drive until you reach the park, or then catch the #72 bus, and then get off as soon as you cross 14th Street N.W. From there, it is a short walk to the park near the Calgary Winter Club.

Have an urban park that you are dying to share with the world? Tell us about it below!

In Motion: Vancouver’s True Nature (In 15 Seconds)

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In the weeks leading up to my departure to Korea this past Spring, I was as busy as a beaver, gathering together a collection of documents a mile long to qualify for my visa. All the while, my projected start date loomed on the horizon, adding urgency to the proceedings.

As such, I didn’t want to risk anything going wrong by sending my passport through the mail; placing my trust in Canada Post didn’t seem like the best idea with time running short.

Instead, I made the journey to Vancouver, passport in hand, to have my work visa processed in person. In the week it took to get a slip of paper in my passport saying that I could work legally in another country, I did a fair bit of exploring and hiking that allowed to uncover Vancouver’s true nature.

Below, for your enjoyment, is a Vine-esque summary of the beautiful nature that awaits you in the Greater Vancouver area…