I visited Vancouver as a child a number of times to visit relatives, but I hadn’t been back since. Vancouver would be not just a beautiful city to me, but also a place that would trigger old memories from my childhood and a place with family members who would enjoy feeding me piles of homemade Vietnamese food. YES!
A ride along the Sky Train past the eye-catching “golf ball” of Science World brought us to my aunt’s condo for lunch, and there I learned of my mother’s dual citizenship with the U.S. and Canada. “Hm, maybe I’ll look into getting my Canadian citizenship through her,” I jokingly said. But that joke blossomed into reality later that night at my cousin’s house when her husband told me the story about his brother.
His brother, like my mom’s family, fled to Canada as a refugee after the Vietnam War. But unlike my family, he returned to Vietnam after earning his Canadian citizenship due to difficulty in finding a job. After returning to Vietnam he had two sons who later became Canadian citizens due to their father’s naturalization despite not having been born nor raised in Canada. I was also neither born nor raised in Canada, but now obtaining a second passport was not impossible! Without showing any hesitation or sign of amusement, my cousin insisted I apply for a certificate of citizenship.
Chris and I spent the next hour or two excitedly researching Canadian law around citizenship. What we deemed too good to be true was in fact true—that first generation children with at least one Canadian parent (whether born or naturalized) are automatically Canadian citizens. Wow. I was Canadian this whole time! As hilarious as this sounds, how I viewed the country and its people changed from that moment onward. These are my people, this is my country! I thought as we walked around the city.
In addition to hanging out with cousins, an aunt, and an uncle, we enjoyed free areas of interest in and around Vancouver. We found Portland and Seattle to be a bit drab, hence my lack of blog posts for those cities, but we loved Vancouver so it gets a write up.
Within the heart of downtown, we walked around Canada Place to the touristy Gas Town district.
Everyone raves about the public market on Granville Island and it definitely lives up to its hype…fresh produce and meats, rustic artisan bread and baked goods, homemade pastas and raviolis…oh my! We enjoyed chowing down on overpriced but tasty clam chowder while gazing at the skyline of high-rise condos across the bay. Living down the street from this market would be dangerous for my budget and my belly! Tip: Park for free on Lamey’s Mill Road.
If I lived in Vancouver my favorite place for a quick run would probably be Stanley Park. Though slightly smaller than San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, this urban park is practically an island with a nine kilometer scenic seawall hugging its entire perimeter. What distinguishes this park from other urban parks are the beaches, swimming pools, water park for kids, and totem poles! I was too busy running so I couldn’t stop for pictures. Here is a picture from summerfast.ca.
Just outside of Vancouver, a quick stroll through Lynn Canyon Park along the suspension bridge is considered a decent alternative to the Capilano Suspension Bridge. How people pay $37 CAD just to cross the longest and highest pedestrian suspension bridge in the world I do not know. The bridge at Lynn Canyon Park is FREE!
And finally, the Grouse Grind at Grouse Mountain. In the winter people come to ski, but during the off-season people can pay the whopping $43.95 CAD to ride a gondola to and from the top of the mountain…or hike up for free on a super steep trail called the Grouse Grind. The Grouse Grind comes with a bit of local competition, with the goal to summit 1.8 miles with a 2,800-ft. elevation gain under an hour. With 2,830 steps it’s no easy feat. Tack on the uneven steps, twisted tree roots, and plenty of rocks and boulders, and you’ve got yourself a pretty technical ascent. I’m not in shape like I used to be AND I forgot to wear my watch, so I summited in 1 hour and 1 minute. BOO! It was a cloudy day so the view from the top wasn’t great.
There were plenty of other areas of interest, such as the renowned Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Park, Chinatown, and beaches, but I was content with the sites we visited. There was no regret leaving Vancouver after several days. After all, I knew it would be easy to return since I am Canadian after all! =D