Singer/songwriter Stephen Fearing was born in Vancouver BC in the 1960’s. Soon after, his family moved to Dublin, Ireland where he would pal around with a couple of schoolmates who would go on to form U2. Fearing returned to North America to follow his own path as a musician, first in Minnesota, then returning to Vancouver to launch his professional career. Touring non-stop and performing in every small venue and concert hall he could book throughout Canada and around the world, Fearing established an international audience and gained a reputation as one of Canada’s most outstanding songwriters. In 1996, he teamed up with Colin Linden and Tom Wilson to form the popular alternative roots-rock band Blackie and the Rodeo Kings. Stephen Fearing has won numerous Juno awards and nominations throughout his career as a solo artist, band member, and duet with Northern Irish musician Andy White. Listen Up this week to Fearing’s title cut from his new (and ninth) solo album Every Soul’s a Sailor which is slated for release on January 10, 2017. For more information about Stephen Fearing and to purchase this new album visit www.stephenfearing.com. All proceeds from sales of Every Soul’s a Sailor’s first single release, “Blowhard Nation,” an anthem expressing outrage over the election of Donald Trump, will be donated to the charity, War Child, to help care for children in war-torn nations.
When the rain let up it was still grey. Day broke gently and all day, every day, the sky read like a bleak winter afternoon regardless of the hour, until it too soon faded back to black.
When autumn turns toward winter in Vancouver the days are short and the streets and trails and beaches are wet. Umbrellas are scarce. Instead, parkas, hoods, bucket hats and pine boughs provide canopies for drips to drizzle to the side; however, eyeglasses would be less annoying if they came equipped with tiny windshield wipers and defoggers. Cheeks become soft and dewy — it’s not really cold enough for rosy which comes later with the snow or on treks to higher elevations.
No one but the tourist cares about the weather. Being that it is what it is at this time of year, it’s unremarkable – it doesn’t enter into conversation. Everyone is out and about, walking and biking through Stanley Park, shopping in Gastown, or meeting friends for coffee to plan their next hike together up the Grouse Grind (Mother Nature’s Stairmaster). Nature is always calling in the Pacific Northwest.
We arrived in Vancouver as the holiday spirit was turned on with lighting displays and Black Friday sales. A crackling fire welcomed us to the Thistle Down House B&B, we sat down to cups of spicy hot chai in the warm glow of Vij’s restaurant, and we cheerfully walked a few miles in the pouring rain before being drawn indoors by the promise of Aphrodite’s warm pecan pie. We no longer cared about the dark clouds, downpours and short days because it was just so easy to find comfort in Canada.
Rain or shine, there’s a lot of ground to cover in Vancouver BC. We made our home base at Thistle Down House, a beautifully restored Arts & Crafts bed and breakfast in North Vancouver. A light three-course gourmet breakfast is included and you won’t want to miss the opportunity to start each morning in the candlelit dining room enjoying an incredible meal and conversing with your fellow house guests, Thistle Down’s owner Bryan, and the House’s gracious and talented cook, Liz. The house is within easy walking distance to the famous Capilano Suspension Bridge, which during the winter holidays features a lighting display, Canyon Lights, throughout the park. If the night is clear, crossing the bridge at night amidst the twinkling pine groves is magical.
From the Thistle Down House, In just a few minutes you can drive over the Lions Gate Bridge, into Stanley Park, Vancouver’s pride and joy and the city’s largest urban park. You could spend your entire Vancouver trip exploring the more than 988 acres of the Park, including the Aquarium. On bicycle or on foot, and in any weather, Stanley Park is outstanding. Our favorite moments in the city were walking for miles along the seawall with misty views of the harbor, the snowcapped mountains, and the beaches.
The Museum of Anthropology on the University of British Columbia campus is fantastic and features a large collection of 19th and early 20th century totem poles created by First Nation artists of the Pacific Northwest, as well as contemporary carvings and paintings. A smaller collection of Pacific Islander art, particularly from Papua New Guinea, is featured in an adjoining gallery. A global catalog of manmade objects is housed in cases and file drawers in several rooms which, surprisingly, are open to all visitors, not just researchers. The temporary exhibit (now through April 2017), “Layers of Influence: Unfolding Cloth Across Cultures,” shares 134 handmade textiles from around the world. It’s a small but choice sampling of the 6,000 textiles in the Museum’s collection, with each fabric sharing the story of a people through texture, color, and design.
After MOA, head into the Kitsilano neighborhood, with its proximity to beautiful beaches on English Bay and shopping and restaurants on West Broadway and 4th Street. A sampling of Greek and Mediterranean food is definitely the way to go in Kitsilano. We stopped for a tasty lunch at Nuba Lebanese Restaurant, then headed to the toasty, friendly Aphrodite’s Organic Café and Pie Shop for dessert. The piñatas hanging from the ceiling, vintage lamps on the tables and other quirky touches throughout the café are oddly inviting and the warm pecan pie sealed the deal.
We didn’t have much time to spend on Granville Island, but right under the Granville Street Bridge you’ll find a wide selection of foods at the Public Market, along with artists’ workshops in the Railspur District and exhibitions by students from the Emily Carr University of Art and Design. After your Granville Island tour, travel to South Granville for an early dinner at Vij’s Restaurant. Dining at Vij’s requires that you stand in line (best tip: arrive by 5 for a 5:30 opening), but don’t let that dissuade you from a truly memorable meal at this Vancouver Indian icon. Everything else about this restaurant will put a smile on your face. And even if you wouldn’t normally order lamb, you must taste the lamb popsicles. Put this at the top of your “to eat” list when in Vancouver. Just go. It’s better than great. (Thanks to our friends Lisa and Dave Post for recommending it.)
In Gastown, Vancouver’s oldest neighborhood. you’ll find a mix of terrific stores, coffee houses and some very missable tourist shops. Be sure to visit the Kit & Ace flagship store where the clothing is designed and made by Vancouver designers and duck into the Birds & Beets Café for a cup of tea and a scone to warm you up while you’re out and about. The philodendron and spider plants decorating the café will take you back to the ‘70’s, but, hey, it’s the first time around for most of the young clientele who love the look of an air fern suspended by a macramé plant hanger.
After studying at McGill University in Montreal, visual artist and writer Douglas Coupland returned to his home city of Vancouver to study sculpture at the Emily Carr University of Art & Design on Granville Island. With a concentrated, steel-willed work ethic and a rabid curiosity about popular culture, he has risen to the top in both of his fields (his sculptures can be found in public spaces throughout Vancouver). His breakout first novel, Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture made best seller lists around the world in 1991 and brought the term Generation X into the vernacular. With thirteen novels to his credit, he released his most recent in 2013 entitled Worst. Person. Ever. The book is a satire of the excesses of popular culture seen through the eyes of narrator Raymond Gunt, a camera man working on a “Survivor-type” show shot on a remote Pacific island. Described as a hilarious, absurdist tour de force, Coupland shows us that in a world gone mad, sometimes all you can do is laugh.
The photo of Douglas Coupland shown above was shared from thesundaytimes.co.uk.
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