Is this city part of the fast pacing world of North America? The downtown streets are quiet in the morning. People walk slowly going to their business, some go to restaurants for breakfast or maybe a brunch. The atmosphere of a hectic Vancouver downtown looks more like a weekend morning in the New York’s West Village that a midtown affair.
We took the car and drove its streets just to find NO traffic. Everywhere we went, and we crossed several parts of town, from downtown, to Queen Elisabeth Gardens, to Spanish Banks to Kitsilano Beach and Granville and back to downtown we did not encounter any trace of the hectic traffic we are used in all our American cities. Besides, to add insult to injury we could easily find free parking on the streets around all these places we visited. And it’s Thursday…. Something must be amiss would think any New Yorker who cannot sleep thinking about his parking spot.
However we found the entire city packed exclusively by Chinese tourists. It feels that you are surrounded only by Chinese, groups after groups are strolling with umbrella signs going to and fro. Anywhere you go, maybe except the beaches, you’ll encounter this rush. You meet so many Chinese tourists, that you, as a tourist, start asking yourself if you are not Chinese also… After Hong Kong was handed over to the Chinese twenty years ago, lots of HK residents moved to Vancouver afraid of the Chinese Commies. That changed Vancouver social fabric coining also its nickname of Hongcouver. Lots of money were poured in its real estate market, many apartments were bought and left unoccupied by the Chinese investors that determined the Vancouver mayor to consider a special tax for unoccupied properties.
But still Vancouver makes for an extremely livable place, with its extended waterfront aligned with restaurants where we had an excellent dinner by the water in the sunset at TAP and a stroll again in the night through the stores of the old Gastown.