The setting is spectacular, but Vancouver isn’t

The setting is spectacular, but Vancouver isn’t

Vancouver has without a doubt the most spectacular setting of any city in Canada. The mountains rising behind the waterfront city create a beautiful impression, almost of enchantment.

It is unfortunate that very little else in Vancouver lives up to its setting. The downtown is generally drab, most of the architecture is boring, and cultural life is somewhat lacking in vitality. Vancouver is the third largest city in the country, but in some respects it runs behind smaller cities, such as Edmonton and Ottawa.

Nevertheless, the setting and one of the most equable winter climates in Canada make Vancouver a pleasant city to visit, particularly for sports lovers. Skiing, sailing and beaches are available either in the city or within an hour’s drive from downtown.

Vancouver cityVancouver‘s selection of hotels is little different from that of most North American cities. There is not a wide selection of budget accommodations, but there are some.

In winter, even the elegant Bayshore Inn is within the high budget range. Supersaver rates start at $40 single and $50 double (plus 5 per cent tax) for rooms in this luxury hotel that is noted for its views. The chateau-like Hotel Vancouver right downtown has similar rates.

For slightly lower-priced accommodations try the Hotel Georgia, a comfortable, older downtown establishment with rates of $45 double or single for stays of two nights or longer. The Hotel Grosvenor offers comfortable rooms from $28 single, $36 double. The Sylvia Hotel at English Bay, a short distance from downtown, has rooms with a period flavor from $19 single and $22 double.

Rock bottom prices in safe surroundings are available at the Niagara Hotel, from $17 single and $19 double. In summer some student residence rooms at the beautifully situated University of British Columbia are rented to visitors, with rates ranging from $16 single to $36 double. Those under 19 pay only $11.

Although it does not approach Montreal or Toronto in number and quality of its restaurants, Vancouver does have a wide selection for a city its size. Many of them specialize in local products, such as seafood, and the existence of a large Chinese community means a profusion of budget-priced Chinese restaurants.

Among the higher-priced choices is The Cannery, which, as its name implies, is an old, renovated cannery. However, the ambiance is elegant and the food, which leans to seafood, is good. You can expect to pay $20 and up per person with wine. Another good bet for seafood is The Salmon House in West Vancouver.

A lower-priced and very popular place for seafood is the English Bay Cafe. It has a spectacular view of the harbor, and dinner with wine runs about $15.

For the Chinese brunch called dim sum, the Peninsula Restaurant is a good choice. The bill will be only about $5 a person for a wide selection of dishes. The Marco Polo offers a Chinese smorgasbord at reasonable prices. For unusual cuisine try the Muckamuck, which specializes in native Indian food and serves dinner only at prices ranging from about $7 up.

For budget-priced Italian food, a local favorite is the Old Spaghetti Factory. The decor of this restaurant will be familiar to Torontonians, since it resembles that of Toronto’s Old Spaghetti Factory – in other words, an incredible collection of junk, including an old street car.

In the new, controversial development by architect Arthur Erickson at Robson Square, a wide variety of ethnic counter food is available at low prices. Along Robson Street you can find a number of ethnic restaurants with fairly reasonable prices – Indian and African, Russian, Moroccan and German.

Vancouver’s big attraction, the scenery, is free. Other attractions are to be found in Stanley Park with its tennis courts, cricket pitches, jogging paths and an excellent aquarium. Admission to the park is free, but the aquarium costs $3.50. Gastown is Vancouver’s trendy, renovated area, and it is worth a brief visit – brief because it is quite small.

For those who are not afraid of heights, the Superskyride to the top of Grouse Mountain near Vancouver is a must for the tremendous views it affords. The ferries serving Vancouver Island and a number of smaller islands provide reasonably-priced excursions from Vancouver.

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