People frequently ask me how I feel about Vancouver, only it’s usually phrased like this:

“OMG, don’t you LOVE Vancouver? Isn’t it the BEST place on the ENTIRE planet!? When I was there, I saw a UNICORN leaping out of a DOUBLE RAINBOW!”

And yes, I do like Vancouver. But I also dislike it sometimes. I’ve decided to compose a list of my loves and hates about every day life in Vancouver.


1. Bakeries and Bookstores: As far as I’ve discovered, Vancouver does two things better than any Canadian city I’ve ever been in - bakeries and bookstores. On almost every corner, there is a locally owned bakery selling fresh baked bread and pastries. I have a very hard time resisting these shops. They usually sell some sort of lunch-type roll (such as the COP which I discovered this weekend and stands for Cheese, Onion, and Peppers - omg delicious) and various other perfect snack-type baked goods. I’ve yet to be let down by the bread in these shops. There are also an abundance of stores dedicated solely to the sale of cupcakes. Seriously. Bookstores are also great because they are many and local. If I take the bus for 10 minutes, I pass at least 6 locally owned bookstores that have some sort of specialty: children’s books, mystery novels, sci-fi, cook books, antique and rare books. These stores are usually small and musty smelling, ergo a bibliophile’s heaven. Definitely one of my favourite things about Vancouver.

2. The Service Industry: I know some people will disagree with me here, but overall I have had a really great experience in Vancouver in dealing with anyone whose job is to help me. Retail workers are usually overly friendly, waiters and waitresses smile a lot and never let your water glass deplete. People at Chapters usually engage me in lengthy conversations about current reads. Even bus drivers, for the most part, are jovial and willing to help you out - one man last week chatted my ear off and told oncoming passengers that I was his daughter. I rarely have a negative experience with customer service.

3. The Scenery: Obviously. Vancouver is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. I remember seeing a picture that my friend Chelsea had of the mountains and being completely blown away. Now I know that nothing compares to their majesty in real life. It's insane. Couple the beasts with the ocean and sandy beaches, and you've got a perfect scene. Even the downtown is nice because it all seems so clean and beachy. Stanley Park is wonderful, too. But I think my favourite place in all of Vancouver is, wait for it... the UBC campus. It's just perfect. The campus is surrounded by forrest, so it's completely separate from the city. There's so much green space, so many wide pedestrian paths, and fairly aesthetically pleasing buildings that it's pretty close to the perfect campus. You can even access the beach from my residence. Win!

4. Public Transport: I love that I don’t have to drive around this city. I don’t like driving, and if I had to navigate around mass numbers of pedestrians and try to find and pay for parking, I’d die. I like that I can use transport in any zone with my handy U-Pass. I like that, living on campus, I have ready access to multiple routes and I can get just about anywhere in the lower mainland with relative ease. Also, the bus stops on the doorstep of 2 Salvation Army churches. I don’t even usually mind the long commute; I take a book and just ride the 99 to the end of the line, and get school work done. It’s a pretty great system.


1. Public Transport: For all the conveniences of public transport, sometimes I really, really hate it and I become this vicious monster of anger on the bus. Buses are often crowded with way too many people, all coughing their sicky germs on me. Parents bring strollers the size of SmartCars onto already over-crowded buses, then glare at you because your grocery bag just grazes their leg slightly. People talk loudly, carry smelly food on the bus, and sandwich you in a corner so you almost miss your stop, leading you to scream at the driver to stop and consequently feel guilty the rest of the day. Passengers sometimes yell at you to move because you’re taking up too much room. Sometimes the commutes are just too frickin long and it makes me want to scream. Not to mention the awkwardness of trying to figure out where to look when you’re pressed into a strangers armpit and their eyes keep finding yours and you both know how awful this moment is. Today I had to get back from the ferry terminal, and everything bad about the public transport system occurred at the same time: someone had a stroller AND a bike on the bus, plus suitcases so immediately 8 seats were taken up by stuff. Then I was crammed standing up in the back with 9 or so Spanish tourists who were clearly all very drunk. They nattered on annoyingly for the entire 45 minute bus ride, laughing and lacking any regard for others by taking up way more space than necessary. I rested my head against the door and dreamed of ways to step on their toes on the way out, contemplating the next three buses I still had to take to get home

2. The weather: It’s not the rain. I don’t mind rain. It’s the humidity and the way that 10 degrees here is not the same as a Newfoundland 10 degrees. 10 degrees at home means it’s sweater and fall jacket time! Maybe even a scarf if you’re feeling fancy. 10 degrees in Vancouver means I can wear a t-shirt and a towel around my waist and head down to the beach, because I will be sweaty and overheated all day. I don’t know if it’s because I walk more here than I did at home, but I am always too warm. My feet, my back, my hair are always damp from sweat. My hair is a disaster all the time and I am constantly uncomfortable. Maybe I’m just not built for temperate climates. I should move to Poland.

3. Shopping for necessities: What is UP with everything costing WAY more than at home? I spent several days visiting different establishments trying to get the best price for paper towels, and I still bought them with extreme hesitation. I don’t buy Fibre One bars unless I have an extra $20 that I don’t need for anything else, and I almost needed to take out another loan to buy 200 grams of pistachios. And cake? Forget it. Gone are the days of $12 Sobeys treats; now I pause at the cake display and pine for a slice of chocolate delight and push my cart mournfully towards the discounted meat.

In other news, I had a great weekend with my friend Thea who lives in Victoria. We had a movie night on Friday (movies on a REAL TV screen and not a laptop!). She got a puppy on Saturday, and she’s the cutest dog alive. Today I met up with my cousin Andrew at his church, then went to lunch with him and Thea. It was such a nice, real life weekend, and it made me forget temporarily that I live in residence.

Now it’s bedtime. I can’t wait. A weekend with a new puppy and a disastrous commute home can exhaust the best of us.



Anonymous said…
Great blog, Jill! I totally understand the commuting thing, it can really ruin the day sometimes... but how can you ignore the unicorns' double rainbow antics!? Honestly, no city's perfect. I get the same thing from people who have visited St. John's during the summer. Only, instead of horny horses, it's ZOMG George Street!


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