Vancouver, B.C.

My first impression of Vancouver was that the general vibe is less hectic than in most U.S. cities. People are friendly, and when they ask “What do you do?” it seems they’re more interested in your passions and interests in life than in your means of livelihood.

Quality of life is key here. So there’s some apprehension in the air regarding the effect the Olympics will have – only 50% of the locals polled feel the Olympics will have a positive effect on their city.

Vancouver is the third-largest city in Canada. It has the second-largest port in North America behind New York. The city, nevertheless, has a small-town feel to it. In keeping with the eco-friendly Pacific Northwest, it’s one of the most green cities in North America and was voted for several years the world’s most livable city. Vancouver’s also one of the few major cities in North America with no freeways downtown. The locals fight all attempts to add one.

Stanley Park is an urban oasis with miles of hiking trails. This is one of the finest urban parks I’ve encountered. Hiking several of these trails, I had the sense of being in the wilderness. On one of these hikes I paused to appreciate a bald eagle soaring overhead. Stanley Park covers 1000 acres and one can easily spend a full day here. Parking’s just $5.00 for the day. The Native American totem poles are a major attraction within the park.

The city offers a stimulating mix of cultures and landscapes. Surprisingly, a higher percentage of Vancouver’s population is foreign-born, 35%, than any other city in the world – including New York. The bulk of these are Chinese. Vancouver’s Chinatown is perhaps the second-largest to San Francisco. Stroll around Chinatown and enjoy the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Garden, a lovely oasis.

For a Canadian city, Vancouver’s climate is mild, allowing locals to enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, including skiing, hiking, kayaking, cycling and sailing. The Capilano Suspension Bridge, 230 feet above the Capilano River, provides a stunning view of the rainforest. Bring your rain gear as rain can come at any time, but don’t let a few drops stop you from exploring the area.

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