Vancouver: Stanley Park Seawall, Sophie’s, Granville Island, False Creek

A municipal bylaw in Vancouver clearly states that all tourists must walk along the Stanley Park seawall, which goes around the outer edge of most of the large park, at least once during their visit. Either there aren’t a lot of tourists here now or they don’t know about the bylaw. There weren’t many people on the seawall walk this morning.

Then again, maybe I’m wrong about the bylaw. A word of advice: don’t believe everything you read on the worldwide interwebs thingy. A lot of total nut jobs reside there. Consequently, some of the material on the worldwide interwebs thingy is inaccurate.

I know. Shocking, right?

The long and the short of it is, you can’t always trust interwebs denizens farther than you can throw them. And some of them are really heavy. You probably can’t throw them very far at all.

Stanley Park Seawall

Some of the Vancouver skyline from one end of the Stanley Park seawall walk.

Bylaw or not, I walked the full length of the seawall. Or, at least, I walked the vast majority of it. Maintenance closed a short section of it. There, I took to somewhat higher ground as a brief detour around that section. The higher ground might have saved me had a minor tsunami occurred. Fortunately, I didn’t get a chance to test that theory .

I should point out for the sake of accuracy that I didn’t walk the full loop of what the City of Vancouver calls the Stanley Park Seawall destination walk. The official walk is a loop that includes a non-seawall section across the peninsula that forms the park. Instead of completing the loop, I went to lunch in another direction when I reached the end of the seawall.

I’m not a lawyer, but I don’t think the bylaw requires that you walk the full loop, only the seawall. Although, just in case, if the police knock on my hotel room door I plan to pretend to not be in.

A cluster of totem poles a slight diversion off the Stanley Park seawall trail.

If you don’t have time to do anything else while in Vancouver, a Stanley Park seawall walk provides many of the iconic types of views in the city, including skyline, river, bridge, mountain, ocean, bay, and beach views.

The park contains a collection of totem poles. I took a brief diversion to see a cluster of them that stand just a few steps off the seawall path.

A close-up of one of the totem poles.

I decided to do the walk today because the next couple of days are predicted to be hellishly hot. Yeah, yeah. I know. There is no hell, but never mind that. Don’t you believe in fictional metaphors? The point is, I probably won’t want to do a lot of walking—some of it fully exposed to the sun—those days.

Today, the afternoon became a tad on the hot side, but not as bad as the forecast says the next two days will be. Plus, I did the walk in the morning, before today’s heat set in. A section of the walk is at the bottom of some cliffs. In the morning, the cliffs shade the walk. Between that and the breeze off the ocean. it was a touch, but only a touch, on the cool side.

More pictures from along the Stanley Park seawall walk:

Lunch at Sophie’s to recover from the Stanley Park Seawall walk

Federal law stipulates that any eating establishment with “Cosmic” in its name has to be at least somewhat funky. Or it might even be an international law instituted by the anglophone and partly anglophone countries of the United Nations. I’m not sure.

Sophie’s Cosmic Cafe adheres to that law.

Before I left for Vancouver, a friend (you know who you are) asked me if I planned to eat at Sophie’s on this trip. I didn’t have an answer at the time, but I went there for lunch today.

As at least a couple of regular readers of this journal know (again, you know who you are; there aren’t many of you), Sophie’s Cosmic Cafe (commonly known as just “Sophie’s”) has been around for a number of years. I ate there during a previous visit or two to Vancouver. And my last visit before this one was probably at least 25 years ago. So, it’s been there for at least that long. As best I can recall, Sophie’s hasn’t changed much since then.

The restaurant’s interior, as required by the above-mentioned law, is ultra funky. The banquettes in the booths sport brightly coloured upholstery. I have no idea of the fabric, but my best guess is Naugahyde. Kitsch covers the walls.

Because of COVID, I chose not to enjoy that funky experience. Instead, I ate on the small patio. Health ordinances allow the COVID virus to roam free range on the patio, rather than tightly bouncing from person-to-person indoors.

On the patio, I ate mediocre diner food—Florentine Eggs Benedict. I thought it was a tad overpriced, but I believe the above-stated law allows restaurants to charge a small premium for funky ambience.

I didn’t take any pictures at Sophie’s, but the restaurant posts some on its website if you’re interested. It posts some on its website even if you’re not interested. Or, at least, I saw them there at the time of writing. Who the heck knows if the pictures will be there at the time of your reading? That’s just the way the cosmos works.

Granville Island

One of the entrances to Granville Island, under a bridge.

Granville Island is kind of an island. I say “kind of” because a piece of land attaches it to the mainland. The connection isn’t wide, but it exists. I have no idea if the joining bit always existed, but it’s not really an island now. Then again, who am I to argue with the naming powers that be. “Granville Island” it is.

The alleged island includes a number of old, low-rise, industrial-looking buildings. The reason they look industrial is most were industrial at one time. A few still are, but most now house stores, restaurants, performance spaces, a public market, art galleries, and an art college.

As one might expect in a touristy area (although the locals frequent it too), a few of the stores sell mainly kitschy items.

Kitsch in a store window on Granville Island.

The public market offers the bustling charm that most down-to-earth public markets provide. There are stalls selling fruits, vegetables, meats, seafood, cheeses, baked goods, and prepared foods. Most people wore masks inside the market except in the areas where eat-in prepared foods were sold. So, that’s a good thing.

To the best of my recollection, people didn’t wear masks in the market in the Before Times (i.e., before COVID). Back then, wearing a mouth-and-nose covering would make you look like a weirdo. Now, you just look like a very sensible person.

False Creek Tour

“Taormina,” Ettore De Maria Bergler, 1907

I took a boat tour of False Creek from a dock on Granville Island. The marketing bumph on the worldwide interwebs thingy described it as “fully guided, 25 minute mini cruise.”

It was fully guided in the sense that the proprietors didn’t load us onto a boat, push us away from the dock, and allow us to drift randomly with the winds and currents. Someone had his hands on the wheel and the throttle of the boat for probably at least 80 percent of the time. For the 20 or so percent of the time when he took his hands off the wheel and throttle, we journeyed straight ahead. I assume he planned that. So I guess that counts as fully guided.

But the tour was not guided in the sense of providing a running commentary of what we saw. Nobody said a word.

I feel that today deserved more words than appear here. But this is all you get. Deal with it.


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