Tuesday, March 5, 2013

HOMETOWN TOURIST: Day One



On a cold, grey March day I drove for forty minutes until I arrived in Vancouver. I've lived in or close to this Pacific coast city for 42 years and never fail to be smitten. I'm the guest of Times Square Suites, a hotel that caters to families and business travelers. It's at the corner of Robson and Denman, a couple of blocks from Vancouver's jewel, Stanley Park.

My suite is light and airy, large and clean, and overlooks Denman from the fourth and top floor. I expected traffic noise from this busy street but, no, it's quiet. Decor is soft earth tones. I have a full kitchen, albeit small, and a fireplace. The bed looks very comfy and the bathroom is average size.

I went up to the roof garden, which is lovely with a barbecue for guests to use. I can imagine how refreshing it would be on a hot summer night to have steak and some wine up here away from the crowds that flock to this 'hood in July and August.

After settling in, I went for a walk south on Denman all the way to English Bay and its beach, and then walked back seeking out a place for lunch. The showers had stopped by the time I ventured out. Denman has a huge choice of eateries from the award-winning Raincity Grill at the south end to myriad hole-in-the-wall cafes on every block. It seems that every country's cuisine is represented. In the end I chose a run-down looking Ukrainian resto and enjoyed delicious homemade perogies. Earlier I had found The House of Empanadas where I couldn't resist buying a couple of empanadas for a picnic lunch tomorrow.

There are very few tourists about in Vancouver's West End in early March. Instead Denman was full of locals walking their pint-sized Yorkies and poodles, and many elderly residents greeting their friends outside the busy community centre and gossiping in coffee shops. People-watching is at its finest here in summer.

English: Third Beach in Stanley Park in Vancou...
 Third Beach in Stanley Park
Photo: Wikipedia



The location of Times Square Suites is ideal. Visitors can walk to Stanley Park
and its beaches, to English Bay, and to the heart of Vancouver along the famed Robson Street with its stores like Herm├ęs and Tiffany's. A short taxi ride will deposit you at the False Creek ferry dock where you can catch a cute boat to Granville Island and the famous market, which can take a day to explore. This hotel is also well served by transit, which can whisk you to the North Shore across Lions Gate Bridge to its mountains.

Dinner at Nook, a small Italian resto next door to hotel. Small menu too, but the lamb ragout pasta dish was superb. Good Italian wine list. Filled up fast with a line-up out the door. Noisy, but fun. Would definitely eat there again.

IMAGES: © Photos by Pharos 2013, except where indicated.
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