If Canadian cities were high school personalities, Vancouver would be the aloof-but-slightly-insecure beauty queen that all the guys want to date and all the other girls want to hate.
She’s so damn gorgeous she can see who she wants and wear whatever she wants without apology, but she secretly suspects that nobody takes her seriously when it comes to matters of substance.
Here’s what you need to know about Vancouver’s tics and traits:
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- She made gumboots a fashion statement. There’s an old joke that asks, How do you know what the weather’s doing in Vancouver? The answer: If you can’t see the mountains, it means it’s raining. And if you can see them, it means it’s going to rain. The point is, it doesn’t matter when you come, you’re going to have to be prepared for a little of the wet stuff. Pack an umbrella and get over it.
- Real estate is her favourite topic of conversation. Vancouver now rivals Manhattan for expensive real estate. A small condo in one of those glass towers on Coal Harbour can easily fetch a million. If you’re ever stuck for a conversation starter, just ask about the price of housing in Vancouver.
- She is a Canucks fan. Win or lose, Vancouver loves her hockey team. She feels no shame about wearing an oversized jersey on game days, or driving around with a team flag flapping from her Porsche during the play-offs. “How ’bout them Canucks” is always a safe opening line in Vancouver. (Good to know: her main rival is the Calgary Flames.)
- She is married. Sometimes to another woman. Vancouver is a tolerant city and it is not uncommon to see same-sex couples holding hands in the streets. Vancouver’s Gay Pride parade rivals the Santa Claus parade for community participation.
- She owns a rice cooker and knows how to use chopsticks. Vancouver has a huge Asian population and boasts some of the best Chinese food in the world. She also serves up great Indian, Thai, Vietnamese and Malaysian meals.
- She likes the colour green. Canada’s most sustainable city, Vancouver takes things like recycling, drinking tap water and using public transit seriously. How seriously? Well, Metro Vancouver created a “tap app” to help people find the nearest public drinking fountain and discourage the consumption of bottled water.
- She is addicted to endorphins and caffeine. Vancouver is a fitness junkie. An accomplished athlete, she doesn’t sit still for long, always hiking, biking, skiing, walking, climbing, sailing–the list goes on. And her almost pathological need for caffeine has resulted in coffee shops springing up on every block in the city.
- She thinks yoga pants and fleece jackets are acceptable streetwear. The notion of Casual Friday is a bit of a joke in Vancouver, where updating your wardrobe tends to mean purchasing a new Lululemon hoodie or Mountain Equipment Co-op Gore-Tex raincoat. Vancouver is a bit of a fashion slob, to be honest, but she’s forgiven because Mother Nature gave her such good bones.
- She likes to talk about how world-class she is. Like any pretty girl, Vancouver worries she might only be loved for her looks, so she spends an unfortunate amount of time talking about how well she compares to more established cities. Everything from her art gallery to her convention centre has at one time or another been described by a local marketer as “world class.” Forgive her for this conceit; she’s still young.
- She pities the Rest of Canada. What with her mild climate, beautiful scenery and brand-new bike lanes, she just can’t fathom why anyone would want to live anywhere else. She delights in calling her friends in eastern Canada in February to discuss the daffodils blooming in her garden. Eastern Canada, usually under a mountain of snow, hates her for it.
- She has a gritty side. Nobody is perfect and Vancouver faces an ongoing challenge with homelessness, a situation most visible in the city’s Downtown East Side between Gastown and Chinatown. Begging is not uncommon, but it is not aggressive–there are actually laws in place to prevent harassment. Although it’s always hard to confront poverty, it helps to know that local leaders have declared social housing a civic priority, and that Vancouver is generally a very safe city.
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