The Gypsy's Olympic Gold List: The Best of Vancouver

Our Gypsy Mary Wells’s choices for the best of the best in Vancouver – with or without the Olympics.

Photo by Madhavan Sridhar

To start with, look at the people. Olympics towns are always filled with gorgeous, young athletes and as they know they are being photographed from every possible ledge they are all on, living up to the buzz. Vancouver is a town that makes a lot of movies in ordinary times so it is geared for these Olympic stars. They will be everywhere. Enjoy living a few days with guys and girls in such incredible shape from all over the world. It will be a true WOW.

Then keep your eyes open for Brian Adams and Michael Bublé, who live there. Vancouver must have something interesting in its water because it produces a lot of stars. Especially writers – like Margaret Atwood for instance. Lots and lots of topnotch writers and POETS. It is a poet and poetic town.

It is poetic because it is surrounded by clear, blue-green water, blue-green islands, blue-green mountains and is filled with blue-green crystal towers. Pretty little boats float about, half the town is rowing in perfect rhythm in pastel kayaks, tiny water planes zip and dip like marionettes.

Of course now it is all about snow and ice and oh, dear God, the Luge. The fastest, most dangerous speed sport, they go by you so fast you don’t see them! Olympics have become more and more dangerous and more and more thrilling to watch. The freestyle aerialists, short-track speedskating, crazy curling, downhill racers, dozens of death-defying competitions have become more and more on the edge, but also more and more beautiful. Even Olympic hockey is smarter looking than old hockey. Science has helped. And the athletes know what is expected so they don’t come ugly or without sex appeal. But they do come faster.

It’s addictive terror because they do come back. This year one of the stars returning is Yevgeny Plushenko, a blonde figure skater with bangs. The skaters have pushed the grace and beauty of skating to the limits of risk, the triple-lutz/triple-toe-loop jump. Woo.

But when you can tear yourself away, if you can, from the high-decibel thrills, try to see a little more of Vancouver. There is a great walk around most of the town right on the water with theatrical views.

Coal Harbour Marina near the new Canada Place is where the big boats are and where you can catch a harbor cruise or charter a seaplane for a tour. Some of the regular offerings have been canceled for the Olympics but you can walk almost anywhere. The other good place to see Vancouver boating life is at False Creek, where more and more people are moving from other locations.

Stanley Park is next door to Coal Harbour and has serious walks and even a pool in summer and an aquarium with a mama playing with her baby whale. You can hire a bike all over Vancouver; it is the transportation of choice.

The Museum of Vancouver, Vancouver Art Gallery and the Museum of Anthropology are worth the time. But my favorite art show is the one Vancouver puts on for itself by inviting its artists and artists of the world to create paintings and sculpture and then planting them all over town to impress you – and to make you smile.

Vancouver has gone to such lengths to insure that these Olympics will be too extraordinary to allow you much time for anything else. But my guess is once you have experienced Vancouver, you will be back.

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