Vancouver, Canada – October 1999
Last month I predicted that September would begin to suck, weatherize. Fortunately, I was totally wrong. It was a bit nippy, but the sun shone most of the time so I’m not complaining.
October to November puts Vancouver in limbo for a while. The rains begin, but it’s still too early to head up to Whistler to ski. We’ll manage, after all there’s a long weekend (Canadian Thanksgiving, October 11th) and Halloween on the 31st!
Events in October
To be totally honest, October is gonna be a really slow month, but here’s what I’ve managed to come up with. The Vancouver Film Festival will be fun, It’s on ’til October 10th.
If you’re into books, there’s a writer’s (reader’s) festival from October 20th to 24th on Granville Island. There’s the Chemical Brother’s October 6th and Lenny Kravitz is in town on October 16th.
Beginning now, cool nights will probably mean snow at higher elevations. Don’t let that stop you from heading into the mountains, but do prepare for it.
Good Book Stores
Sometimes you need a good book for the flight home, or because it’s October and the weather sucks. Here’s some specialty book stores in the lower mainland. Search the online yellow pages for specifics.
Wanderlust is one that specializes in books and maps for travelers. Not only can you pick up books on far away places, you can talk to people there about where you want to go, there’s a good chance they just got back (1929 West Fourth Ave. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Granville Book Co. This is located right on Granville Mall, my personal favorite for selection.
Chapter’s is a large chain, with locations all over the place. They’re all HUGE, and have a Starbucks inside, and let you sit around reading the magazines and drink coffee on big, overstuffed chairs.
Along West 10th Ave in Vancouver, there is a cluster of three specialty book shops. White Dwarf Books at 4368, for sci fi, Dead Write at 4374 for mystery, and Michael Thomson Bookseller at 4376 is an antique book dealer.
A Skytrain ride away, in New Westminster there’s Booktown. (668 Columbia Street, New Westminster). It’s the largest used book store in the lower mainland.
People Watching Opportunities
Still the best place for this, and other things, is Granville Mall, most of the downtown bit of Granville Street. A friend once described Granville mall after midnight as ‘ground zero for weirdness’, you don’t have to wait ’til midnight some days. You will get pan-handled a lot here, but it’s quite safe.
The intersection of Robson and Thurlow has two Starbucks and a Blenz coffee shop. That alone makes it worth a look, but you can have a seat outside or near a window and watch all the tourists trying to figure out which way Stanley Park is.
Between Georgia Street and Robson Street at Hornby or Howe is the Vancouver Art Gallery. Grab lunch and have a seat on the steps on either side of the building. (Assuming there isn’t a movie shoot blocking access to one or the other.)
The live music scene in Vancouver oscillates between awesome and really crappie, but there’s usually something going on. The place to look is The Georgia Straight. This comes out every Thursday and lists all the theater, concerts, movies and whatever else is happening in Vancouver in the coming week.
If you want more information about this area you can email the author or check out our North America Insiders page.
Vancouver has one of the most beautiful natural settings of any city in the world. Because of this, it has become a destination for many immigrants and travelers.
I myself have only lived in Vancouver since ’94 and most of the locals you’ll meet here weren’t born here.
Info Available Online
Through a number of web sites, you can get up-to-date information
on everything I’ll tell you here.
Vancouver.hm is another great resource.
Depending on what you’re planning on doing after you arrive, you may want to find a location Downtown, as well as in North Vancouver.
There are a few hostels in the downtown area and at least one in North Van. There is also a hostel in Kitsilano, at Jerico Beach – fairly convenient and generally a nicer area to live.
Once again, you can get this information online. BC Transit operates a Ferry Service, Skytrain, city buses as well as the ‘Sea Bus’; basically a foot-traffic-only ferry between downtown and North Vancouver. You are allowed to take your bicycle on the Sea Bus.
Getting From the Airport
It is possible to take a city bus from the airport to where ever you
want to go for under $4, but that would require you to learn the bus system (my least favorite thing after a long flight). If you’re going downtown you can hop on a shuttle called ‘The Airporter’ and get off at a downtown hotel near where you want to go for about $10 one
way. There are also shuttles to Whistler and the Island; get your
tickets from the same place (Arrivals Level).
Canadian dollar is the local currency. Figure about CAN$1.50 for US$1. There are loads of places to change money all over downtown, and at the Airport. Visa/MC are accepted widely and Plus and Cirrus system debit cards are also useful everywhere.