Vancouver is the only city I have visited in Canada, till now. It is located in the south-western part of Canada near the US border in the province of British Columbia. This trip is very special to me as it was to present my first ever paper in any conference. It was 2008. Also, it was my first ever short-term international trip ( as in, for a week). And, hence, I had to know what to pack in my luggage (which I obviously, did not !). My first lesson was to carry an international / universal socket adapter because the plug and socket types differ from country to country. Second, to carry a little cash with you (for the initial part of the trip) and to know where to exchange cash for a better exchange rate (airports are the worst places) but, if possible, to use proper debit / ATM cards for the best exchange rates. Credit cards are useful for larger purchases, but make sure to notify your card company before hand 🙂 Here’s a nice and short guide for new travelers. And, my list of hard-learned lessons through this trip goes on and on …
My trip from when I first landed in Vancouver airport to my hotel was full of surprises. At the first immigration check point, I saw an Indian guy at the booth. After I cleared the immigration, I went out and took a cab whose driver was an Indian, and he started talking to me in ‘Hindi’ and told me that he had been living in Vancouver for the last 16 years. He also mentioned that Vancouver was ranked as the most livable city in the world. In fact, now that I look at it, it is ranked consistently in the top five for the most livable city in the world with highest standards of quality of life. Once I reached my Hotel, the hotel boy came who was also an Indian and then I went to the reception, where an Indian guy greeted me and gave me my room key. I realized that there are a LOT of Indians in Vancouver 😉
Once I checked in my room, I realized that drinking water was not free and I had to get bottled water from the vending machines and it was not cheap. Coming from India and South-Korea, it was another surprise, but later I realized that it was not uncommon in Europe as well. It was time for me to visit my conference venue which was at the Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Center. Just outside the convention center, I saw the awesome ‘I AM EH’ car. I guess it had various items which Canada is known for / can be identified with / part of its culture and was displayed in support of the upcoming winter Olympics in Vancouver in 2010.
Did you know that the world’s shallowest / thinnest commercial building is in Vancouver ? It is called the Sam-Kee building and it is located at 8 West Pender Street (2 storeys tall and just 1.5 meters deep) in Chinatown.
Also, the world’s first steam-powered clock is in Gastown, Vancouver, which sounds the Westminster Chimes every 15 minutes, and a large whistle every hour 🙂
The Vancouver Art Gallery is a nice collection of artworks and apparently is the largest in Western Canada. Dr. Sun Yat-sen Classical Chinese Garden is another tranquil place in Chinatown. Another nice place to visit is the Granville Island which is a shopping district in Vancouver, and also a premier filming location 🙂 Vancouver is the city, where I first saw an aquarium ! It was a wonderful and unforgettable experience. Though over time, after visiting aquariums in many cities, the prospect of visiting an aquarium has lost its original appeal to me now. But, I always enjoy the shows with dolphins and other water animals 🙂 And no discussion about Vancouver is complete without the amazingly beautiful Stanley Park. This is a must see and so is the Vancouver skyline from Vancouver Lookout Tower. Here are some pictures ..
All in all, I had a great time in Vancouver, one of the main locations of Hollywood North. Though my trip to Canada has only been limited to Vancouver till now, there are many other places in Canada (Banff, Toronto, Whistler etc.) I would love to visit in the future. Most importantly, now that I live in the US, I can’t wait to visit the majestic Niagara Falls from the Canadian side. Soon, I hope, soon ..