Point and shoot: Vancouver, BC

Vancouver is, so far, one of my favorite cities. It was nice to visit again in August, and this time for a few days rather than just a weekend (as I did in 2011 during my first WWOOF experience in Washington).

To get to Vancouver from Downtown Victoria, I took a bus to get to Swartz Bay, which is located in the northern region of the Saanich Peninsula on Vancouver Island. Then I took a ferry to Tsawwassen, and from there took a bus and a train to a new hostel.

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Upon getting out of the subway station, I looked around to orient myself and figure out in which direction to head. A homeless man must have noticed I was a tourist (my bags were probably a give away), because he approached me and asked where I was going. I provided him with a cross street in the direction of the hostel, but not the exact address, and he pointed out where I needed to go. He also made some small talk, asking where I was from. Then he proceeded to share that he attended UC Berkeley. (I was really skeptical about that claim, though.) Afterward, he asked for $4 because he was on his way to the airport (without having showered or shaved, and in sweat pants, ragged tennis shoes, and a baggy sweatshirt). While I didn’t believe him, I handed him $2 for pointing me in the right direction.

Here are my favorite captures of the city:

University of British Columbia (UBC)

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UBC students and faculty are so lucky to have such an incredible view on campus at the Nitobe Memorial Garden.
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Nitobe Memorial Garden
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This is listed on the map as a park within the UBC campus, but it seemed a lot more like a mini forest to me!
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Walked past a row of smart cars on campus so I decided to take a snapshot.

Downtown Vancouver

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Established in 1867, Gastown is the oldest neighborhood in Vancouver and is a National Historic Site. There are a bunch of nice shops and restaurants here.

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Peeked into an alleyway in Gastown and saw this art on the walls. Thought it was really nice.

Stanley Park

I visited Stanley Park in 2011 when I had the opportunity to come up for a weekend during my first WWOOFing experience in Washington state. This time, I had a few more hours spare and was able to shoot around for a little bit.

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English Bay (my favorite spot in Vancouver)

I spent an afternoon here watching the sunset and listening to a laid back busker perform songs on her guitar. It was a relaxing environment, and the sunset was beautiful.

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I like how the pathway was so clearly divided for pedestrians and cyclists. I don’t see this type of division in LA as often as it is found in Vancouver.

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Spectacular orange sunset.

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Flag silhouettes at the bay after the sun made its way below the horizon.

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Coquitlam tour

On my last day in Vancouver, I did one of least touristy activities of my trip: I signed up for a tour of the Coquitlam Lake, one of Vancouver’s main sources of water. I accidentally found it while doing some research on transportation in Vancouver, but it was free and I figured it could be a good way to learn about Canada’s water sources.

I was the youngest person in the group and the only non-Canadian.

Vancouver’s reservoirs are closed off to prevent human activity from contaminating these water sources, but Metro has started hosting tours to promote awareness about where the city’s water originates. According to the tour guide that day, only 3,000 people have been able to enter the reservoirs in the past year, including students on school field trips. So it was pretty neat to be one of those 3,000 people 🙂

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The Coquitlam Dam was originally built for hydroelectricity. Although it now serves as a main water source for the city Vancouver, it is still managed by BC Hydro. The lake is older than 100 years.
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This structure is where the water treatment occurs.
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Coquitlam Lake
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Our tour guide, Oliver, explained the importance of the forest in water matters. For one thing, forests absorb water, which helps prevent flooding. In times of drought, the water absorbed by the forest slowly seeps out to mitigate the drought. This particular forest is dominated by Hemingway, cedar and fir trees.
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On our final stop of the tour, this was our view of the lake and surrounding area. We also learned some of the main problems facing water, including:
– The decomposition of organic matter in water
– Pine trees, because pines make water acidic. This causes rust on copper pipes and results in pipe corrosion.
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Took a photo of this visual because I liked how it conveys water supply and demand throughout the year.


Vanier Park

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View of the Burrard Bridge

Bike lanes

I’m a huge fan of how cyclist-friendly Vancouver is.

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Lots of construction was going on down Richard Street, and I appreciate how the cyclist lane is shielded from moving traffic by parked vehicles. I think this makes much more sense and is much safer than having the cyclist lane between moving traffic and parked vehicles (which is what is common in LA).

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