Sleepless in Vancouver

Oct 10th, 2009, 09:14 AM
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Sleepless in Vancouver

This is mostly a hotel review so far until I have a chance to see more of the city. I came to Vancouver for a concert at the Orpheum Theater and for practical purposes I chose the Moda because it is right across the street. Walking in, I was impressed by the friendliness and efficiency of the front desk. The lobby is nothing much to look at and getting on the tiny elevator I noticed the carpet was dirty and the metal on the walls had not been wiped down. Based upon my initial impression, the room was a pleasant surprise. I love the decor, minimalistic, red wall, black and white art, nice big picture window, flat screen TV, wireless internet. However, there was so much noise from the street and the late night carousing outside I couldn't fall asleep at all. I should have gotten a clue from the sleep mask and earplugs on the bed when I first walked in. In addition, the walls seem to be thin as paper because I could hear the man in the next room clearing his throat all night long. I can't wear earplugs, so I just had to suffer through. Hope I can sleep tonight!

In addition to the noise problem I was put off by the construction on my floor. Yesterday I couldn't even find the elevator door because it was blocked by shelving units. I literally had to squeeze around them to reach the button. And I don't know what kind of room the previous poster had, but I had no cookies or bottled water in my room.

The area around the hotel is not very upscale. In general things seem a little run down. The theater, although it was restored in 1977, looks shabby from the outside (the inside is nice however). There are alleyways I would not want to venture into. I was surprise at the amount of litter on the street and the number of homeless camped out on the steps of public buildings and on every street corner.

The concert, "Music of the Night", starring Eric Kunze and directed by Bramwell Tovey was fabulous and was the highlight of the trip so far. Looking forward to another performance tonight! Since that is the reason for my visit I would not write the trip off as a failure. I plan to explore further afield today and hopefully will discover the Vancouver people have raved to me about before my trip.
Maggi is offline  
Oct 11th, 2009, 10:31 PM
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Day Two: Thanks to the weather, my mood and impression of Vancouver was quite different today. A perfect day to take a ferry to Granville Island. First, I just started walking wherever my nose led me. I found my way quite by accident to Gastown. I took lots of pics of the quaint and restored architecture. Had breakfast/lunch at Jules, a French bistro, which took me right back to our trip to France in may. The mussels were to die for. They were from Steveston, a local town, and fresh today. Very plump, moist and garlicky. The manager chatted with me and he told me they had been filming the sequel to Twilight across the street the day before.

We also discussed the homeless situation. He told me that homeless across Canada were given a free bus ticket to Vancouver because the weather was more temperate. I must say that has been one of the most disconcerting things to me on this trip. There are people sleeping on the sidewalks on almost every street corner and every nook and cranny. There seems to be a cottage industry of collecting bottles in shopping carts. From my room at night I could hear the clink clink clink of bottles being transferred from one cart to another. There was a man standing outside my hotel window shouting "F___! F___!" literally all night long. I wish I knew the answer to this problem, but there must be a better way.

After lunch, I found the Granville Island ferry, a tiny little boat that runs every 15 minutes from different stops. I took the one that stops near the Science Center. It was $6 one way or $10 two ways. Found out later than I was to exit at the Aquarium stop and that would have been cheaper. I gave my extra tickets to a student on board.

Granville Island was very charming and definitely worth the trip. I didn't even explore the whole island due to time restrictions, but my first stop was the Granville Island Market. Took a ton of photos. Food is so colorful and beautiful! The rest of the island is filled with shops and restaurants. There is a beautiful playground for kids and a pond. The autumn colors were at their peak. Ran across an Indian wedding and got a great shot of the bride and her bridesmaids.

Theater again that night. Bramwell Tovey, the conductor of the Vancouver Symphony is really funny and made a lot of side jokes and background information about the music. He actually played the organ with a mask on (a la Phantom) then walked up behind the head violinist and startled her with it. The soloists were sublime and everyone walking out raved about how much they enjoyed the concert.

Day three: Another beautiful crisp fall day. I walked from my hotel down Robson street to the water, rented a bike from Spokes Bike Rental ($18 for two hours) and rode around Stanley Park. There were many people there, walking, jogging, roller blading, bike riding. There was a group of people stopped in a clearing, so I stopped and we watched eight racoons cavorting around. I made clicking sounds like I do with my cats and they came right over to me (a little too close for comfort, actually) standing on their hinds legs and begging. They were extremely tame so they must be accustomed to people feeding them - not a good idea.

Had lunch at Tsunami Sushi on Robson. I was amused at the concept. You can sit at a circular bar and the sushi floats by you on boats in a river. You remove what you want as it floats by. There was a family next to me whose little kids were enthusiastic about being there. I complimented them on their sophistication. I have a hard time getting my five year old grandson to eat macaroni!

Decided to eat dinner in and walked a few doors down from the Moda hotel to Nesters Market where they have a good selection of freshly prepared foods. I'm making it an early night as I have a flight in the morning.

Photos are located here:
Maggi is offline  
Oct 12th, 2009, 08:46 AM
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Thanks for the report on the Moda it's more or less what I expected knowing that 'hood.

"The mussels were to die for. They were from Steveston, a local town, and fresh today."

Whoever told you that was misinformed, Steveston Village is a suburb of Richmond and being on the banks of the Muddy Fraser has no shellfish harvesting, the Mussels were likely from the nearby Gulf Islands.

"We also discussed the homeless situation. He told me that homeless across Canada were given a free bus ticket to Vancouver because the weather was more temperate."

That is in no way the truth and for someone in a position of responsibility to say something so patently false is beyond disappointing.

It's all politics those doorway dwellers don't qualify for welfare benefits-the bar is deliberately set too high by the Provincial Govt-and so they are cast out to fend for themselves/depend on the dozens of small charities in that part of town.
Sam_Salmon is offline  
Oct 12th, 2009, 10:08 AM
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Hi Sam! Well that is interesting...guess you can't believe everything you hear. (What a surprise, huh?) I'd like to look into that issue further (homeless).
Maggi is offline  
Oct 12th, 2009, 10:55 AM
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PS: For future reference, what "hood" would you recommend staying in next time?
Maggi is offline  
Oct 13th, 2009, 07:09 AM
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Maggi, Re the Homeless, it is not that I don't believe you, I do. Another friend reported seeing people sleeping in doorways, all over English Bay in the early morning, etc. What surprises me is that I spent 5 weeks in Vancouver during Summer 2008 and I never experienced any of the above. We stayed in Dunbar, woke up late which probably accounts for us missing it all, and were not out late at night. Obviously, we lived in a Fool's Paradise that summer. We recently returned from an extended trip to Victoria, and were dismayed by the huge numbers of street people there. I talked about the issue a bit on another thread, but I continue to be surprised that Canada's social services which I imagine are quite comprehensive do not include these people.
annetti is offline  
Oct 13th, 2009, 12:28 PM
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Five weeks! I'm surprised you didn't have the same experience. I googled it and there are quite a few articles about this topic. Here's just one of many:
Some homeless are saying they are being offered free (one-way) tickets to visit relatives in other parts of Canada to get them out of the city in time for the Olympics. This is unofficial, of course.
Maggi is offline  
Oct 14th, 2009, 07:08 AM
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"It's all politics those doorway dwellers don't qualify for welfare benefits-the bar is deliberately set too high by the Provincial Govt-and so they are cast out to fend for themselves/depend on the dozens of small charities in that part of town."

Homeless are eligible for welfare benefits here in Toronto even if they don't have a permanent it really correct that homeless in BC can't receive them? And surely there are shelters? Here those who stay on the streets often do so because they don't want to follow any shelter rules - such as no smoking, drinking, drugs...and they say the shelters are dangerous.
Morningglory47 is offline  
Oct 14th, 2009, 03:27 PM
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Fodor's really isn't the place to discuss this- email me @ [email protected] if you want further comment-I've lived all my adult life in Vancouver.
Sam_Salmon is offline  
Oct 14th, 2009, 08:46 PM
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I admit this topic is better suited to the Lounge, however I did originally intend this as a sort of trip report. I hope there is some information here that might be helpful to someone.
Maggi is offline  
Oct 14th, 2009, 09:29 PM
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I enjoyed your report, Maggi. Glad you enjoyed the concerts so much! Mr. Tovey is a treasure.

A short comment on the homeless situation here:
Because this is the most temperate climate in Canada, it's a magnet for people from other parts of the country. The bit about the free bus tickets to come here is absolutely false though. A number of years ago the government closed some mental health facilities and people were turned out to basically fend for themselves. Many ended up on the streets. We also have a serious drug problem here and lots of addicts end up on the streets too. There are shelters, but many street people won't go to them (they don't like the rules, or they don't feel safe, or a million other reasons).

People are NOT being given tickets to get out of town just so it "looks good" for the Olympics. The Games are being blamed for lots of things because there is a very vocal opposition to them (that's a whole other debate) and people are willing to believe any negative rumour they hear.

One thing about Vancouver is that there is no shortage of people who like to complain about authority and government.
taggie is offline  
Oct 14th, 2009, 09:54 PM
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Thanks taggie! In addition to the excellent music and soloists, I'm convinced Maestro Tovey's sense of humor is a big reason why the concert was such an audience pleaser.
Maggi is offline  

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