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Vancouver Attractions - Welcome To Brollywood

by Evan Moss
As I took a cab towards downtown Vancouver I struck up a conversation with the cabby: 'YOU'VE BROUGHT THE WEATHER with you, I see,' he joked as we sped through the rain. I'd heard that Vancouver was a city famous for its rainy weather and so far the place wholeheartedly deserved the nickname Brollywood.

Vancouver looked obsessively clean. Unlike London, the streets weren't pebble-dashed with gum. And the air was so fresh that the first deep breaths made my head swim. None of this is surprising considering Vancouver is cradled between the sparkling Pacific Ocean and the gentle tranquillity of the Rocky Mountains.

'Your hotel, sir. Not as impressive as the mountains, but still a welcome break, the Fairmont Vancouver provided much needed shelter from the rain. My palatial corner room on the 14th floor was so large that I could hear my voice echo. From the window I looked out over Burrard Inlet, where seaplanes skim along before soaring up in to the wrinkled grey sky.

It appeared a very exciting way to find my bearings so the following day I found myself strappiing in to a 1958 six seater Beaver. The cockpit looked alarmingly basic, but before I could protest, we were up and away on our 25- minute flight.

As we bounced through the air, I concentrated on the views of downtown, West Vancouver's million-dollar mansions, and the ferocious snow-capped wilderness beyond. Who needs peanuts and an in-flight movie? After the Beaver had landed, I took the rather more sedate Seabus to the north shore in search of the Capilano Suspension Bridge, the longest and highest suspended footbridge in the world, stretching a precarious 450ft across a 230ft deep gorge. One of the most well known outdoor attractions in Vancouver, it has had a number of celebrity visitors including amongst them the Rolling Stones, Marilyn Monroe and Baronness Thatcher who was so impressed that she did it twice. The Iron lady might not have been one for turning, but as I gazed into the nebulous mist that swirled in the canyon and the raging waters 230ft below me, my stomach was.

Having satisfied the Indiana Jones in me, I collected my 'I made it across!' certificate of bragging rights, and caught the No 8 bus to the Grouse Mountain gondola, where 3,700ft up on the top of Grouse, I found an impressive complex that included shops, a gourmet restaurant, a skating rink, ski runs, and breathtaking panoramic views. Close by was a bear sanctuary which housed and looked after four orphaned bears. After being told that the bears would be hibernating, it was a great shock when Grinder the grizlly leapt up and perched a few metres away. It was thrilling to see a grizzly so close up, but it was also heartstoppingly scary. Appearing to be made from a combination of chicken wire and garden canes, the fence was also however, electric. I doubted it would have held Flopsie the bunny, let alone Grinder the grizzly. Back at the Fairmont, I struck up a better relationship with Mavis, the hotel's lovable lobby dog, and together we set about exploring Vancouver on foot. It was delightful strolling through downtown with its superb architecture, open spaces and inviting coffee shops. Many of the towering blocks are residential, so Vancouver feels more lived in than most other Canadian cities. In contrast, Gastown, the oldest area of the city, is a bustling place. Another must see attraction is the replica steam clock on Water Street which sounds every fifteen minutes. There are a huge amount of foodstuffs, souvenirs and other products for sale at Granville Market.

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