Wednesday, July 28

Stanley Park

Stanley Park dominates the western fringe of downtown Vancouver. It’s one of 223 parks located throughout the city and covers 400 hectares of forested peninsula. The park was created in 1886 and takes its name from the nation’s Governor-General at the time; Lord Frederick Stanley. Its most famous feature is a seawall that follows the shoreline for 8.8 kilometres. It takes three hours to walk and an hour to cycle.

Garry and decided to explore a short length of the seawall today. We ventured over to English Bay for a leisurely brunch, then ventured down to the seawall for a walk that took us past Second beach, along the northern shore of Lost Lagoon and on Brockton Point. We walked for almost five kilometres soaking up the sunshine, while witnessing random displays of mother nature right on Vancouver’s doorstep. Highlights included watching a cheeky racoon swimming along the shore of Lost Lagoon and a hungry blue heron catching fish on harbour shore front.

Four points of interest stood out during our walk. The first, opposite Second Beach, was the Air India memorial. This simple monument commemorates Flight 182 which was destroyed by a tourist bomb mid-flight in 1985. In all, 329 people perished, among them 280 Canadian nationals, mostly of Indian birth or descent. The bomb was checked-in by a Canadian who boarded a domestic flight in Vancouver, hence the memorial’s presence in Stanley Park.

The second point of interest was a totem pole display near Brockton Point. It’s an impressive sight of almost a dozen decorated poles, each telling a different story. I suspect we’ll be seeing a few more of these before the vacation ends. The third memorable stop on our walk was nearby; our first view of Lions Gate bridge. This x metres long suspension bridge spans a narrow strait dividing Stanley Park from the northern suburbs of Vancouver. The view reminded me of those from Christy Park in San Francisco.

The final sight of note was a small statue sitting on the crest of a large boulder sitting just above the low-tide mark. It’s aptly called Girl in a Wetsuit – which is exactly what it is. The sculpture bares a striking resemblance to Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid statue as both figures strike a similar reclining pose on an isolated rock.

The similarity is no accident. The city attempted and failed to secure permission to replicate Copenhagen's statue. In response it commissioned a modern version with diving mask, wetsuit, and swimfins. It was created by Elek Imredy and placed in its current location on 9 June 1972. I found it somewhat ironic that we never did see Denmark’s icon, but after travelling halfway across the globe we were able to see a subtlety satirical knock-off.

Our day continued with an open-bus tour of the city. We eventually disembarked at Granville Island, an old warehouse district south of Downtown. The once derelict area has been converted into a bustling marketplace, filled with fresh produce, artesian outlets and marine industry facilities. We couldn’t help ourselves in the markets; purchasing salamis, cheeses and olives to accompany evening drinks on our forthcoming Alaskan cruise.

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