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What the Locals Do in Vancouver
Heading out to Vancouver or Victoria? Here are a few helpful tips for appreciating this unique part of western Canada just like the locals do.
Supporting local producers is part of the West Coast lifestyle, so back in 2005 when two Vancouver writers originated the 100-mile diet, they didn't expect it would catch on across North America, let alone the world. Look for neighborhood farmers' markets, many of them open year-round. The renowned Granville Island Market, for example, sells such products as handcrafted island cheeses, organic meats, freshly caught fish, salmon jerky "candy," homemade jams and honey, and seasonal fresh produce.
Dressing for success means layering to suit the sea breezes and rain—especially rain. Local mythology says that real natives don't carry umbrellas, they just wear a lot of Gore-Tex, but reliable insider info says the locals do use their "brollies," though as elsewhere in the world, they never seem to be handy when you need them. (That probably accounts for why you can find so many inexpensive umbrellas for sale whenever it rains.) Sure, there are folks who opt for laser eye surgery to eliminate rain-splattered glasses, and certainly those multipurpose Gore-Tex overlays mean you don't have to give in to the umbrella until it really starts to pour. And chances are the locals own at least one pair of rain boots.
Love Your Lattes
West Coasters have a love–hate relationship with the ubiquitous S chain, which has an outlet—sometimes even two, as at the Robson–Thurlow intersection—on almost every street corner. Real locals, however, prefer the authenticity of Trees Organic coffee shop, the Italian coffee shops along Commercial Drive, or the award-winning creations of the champion baristas at the Caffè Artigiano outlets. Locals also like to linger over their lattes at sidewalk tables at any time of year, rain or shine.
Doing your bit for the planet is integral to living like a local in Vancouver and Victoria, so rinse and recycle your cans and bottles, take a reusable bag if you're going shopping, and search out socially responsible products and companies. Lots of locals support homegrown environmental heroes such as David Suzuki, philanthropists Linda and Joel Solomon, as well as organizations such as the Western Canada Wilderness Committee.
Read the Georgia Straight
This once underground, now mainstream, Vancouver weekly tabloid echoes Vancouver's inner cool. Everything's here, from opinion pieces to offbeat travel articles, insightful restaurant reviews, theater schedules, and personal ads of all genres. Vancouver Is Awesome (www.vancouverisawesome.com) is its online brethren.
Exercise a Passion
Keeping the body healthy is a local preoccupation, as is having the wardrobe to suit the way of life, preferably purchased along Kitsilano's 4th Avenue—the mecca for sporting goods and clothing. Hike the Grouse Grind, scuba-dive Howe Sound, kayak Indian Arm (some locals even kayak to work along the Fraser River), sweat in Bikram yoga, or practice Pilates. Even visitors can partake.
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