Filip Rafaneli is a seasoned world traveler, having spent the better part of the last 12 years working abroad. From England to Croatia, Egypt to Las Vegas he seen it, eaten it and taken pictures of it. All this month, Filip will be sharing his favourite destinations with smooth fm – today he takes us to Vancouver, Canada.
Vancouver has all the fun of being in the city while still being small enough for you to walk around it in a day.
I started each day at ‘Tim Hortons’, a wonderful chain of coffee shops, where coffee never disappoints. I would listen in as people ordered a ‘double-double’ or a ‘triple-triple’, or even ‘single-triple’. Finally I had to find out what this was referring to. I asked two road workers who were in there every day for their caffeine fix. Quite simple really; a double-double is two sugars and two shots of milk, which by the way, you need to say ‘cream.’ It is no use ordering coffee with milk or a ‘white coffee.’ Tim Hortons is not so good for your waistline if you are lacking discipline as every doughnut, whether iced or not, is only 90c, before tax. The tax is always added on afterwards which takes you by surprise when you are used to the all-in GST-adjusted prices of Australia.
Vancouver has a real North American west coast attitude and the atmosphere is very much like California.
There are some great old bookstores, art galleries and knick-knacks where you can find old comics, LP records and other fond memories of the past. I spent many afternoons at the coffee shops and cafes of the Gas Lamp District. Nearby is the marina and you can relax out in the sun and watch the sea planes taking off and landing. The police museum on East Cordova Street is worth a look if you are interested British Columbia’s history of law and order. With the late afternoon sun, I would head back out of the centre over Granville Bridge to the Sand Bar on Granville Island and have a drink overlooking False Creek.
Vancouver has a lot to offer in the evenings as well ..
and Granville Street has some intriguing personalities as well as some fun night spots. The music is loud at the Roxy and there is a cover charge but we found it to be a good way to kick off the night. From there we would usually head over to ‘The Blarney Stone’ in Carrall Street or ‘The Lennox’, on Granville, two fun Irish pubs which really came to life during the Euro 2012 Soccer finals.
A trip to Vancouver is not complete without experiencing an ice hockey game
It helps if you love ice hockey or are at least are interested enough to learn about it. I was lucky enough to arrive just as the local hope, the Canucks, had arrived at the play-offs. Having finished first in the league, there were high hopes that they would finally win the Stanley Cup. Sadly, it was not to be and the only game they won against the Los Angeles Kings was while I was away on a road trip to the United States. Nevertheless, being in Vancouver when the local team is playing is a super-charged atmosphere you want to be part of, as is the attitude of the locals who; win, lose or draw, stay out to party and then quietly head home.
In terms of feeling safe, Vancouver is one of the safest and best policed cities I have ever visited.
There seems to be a strong police presence however it always appears very understated and not heavy-handed at all. You never notice the police until they are needed and then they are suddenly there. I initially went with a ten day plan and was persuaded to stay an extra week which then became an extra six weeks and finally two more. A week and a half became twelve and I have been told I am not the first person to get sucked in by the Vancouver vibe.