Gourmet Corner N° 33
British Columbia – Canada
The Most Honest Taxis in the World …
By Freddy Santamaria
An Introduction to the city of Vancouver
My first contact to Vancouver was in 1967, after a visit to the World International Expo in Montreal. General de Gaulle, by then President of France, said in one of his speeches there, "Vive le Quebec Libre!"
Following my visit to Montreal that year, I crossed Canada by bus on the Trans-Canadian Highway.On the last of my journey by bus, from Banff to Vancouver, I met a family who very kindly invited me for a BBQ at their home at the edge of the bay. On top of that, they gave me the keys of their car to visit the city and the surroundings.
Well for me, that was the best hospitality I ever had in my trips, by then, around North America, a gesture I never forget.
Unfortunately after 42 years, I have lost their address and forgotten their name. As we say in France: "C’est la vie" – That’s Life.
It was with this"Positive Remembering" that I visited Vancouver for the first time since 1967 this past summer. Unfortunately, my expectations become a little less enthusiastic about the people with the "very cold attitude" I found there. With one major exception: the kind and honest behavior of the "Vancouver Taxis", so far the best service I have ever had by a taxi in any of my trips around the world.
On my five-day visit to the city (complete with rain, fog, and cold), I needed to take a taxi three evenings to go to the restaurant for dinner from my hotel.
The city center of Vancouver was in turmoil due to work on the streets, and the taxis need to make "big detours" to arrive at the restaurants located in the city center.
Well! Again to my surprise, the "price asked" for the trip "was lower" than the "price on the taximeter", by around 3 to 4 dollars.
When I asked, why the difference? the taxi drivers (the 3 of them) answered that under normal conditions (without the street work) that was the fare from my hotel to the restaurant: First time in my life!
Some History of Vancouver
Archaeological evidence shows that coastal Indians had settled the Vancouver area by 500 BCE
- 1775– Admiral Quadra sails from Mexico to Alaska and claims the Pacific Coast for Spain.
- 1778– Captain Cook sails up the West Coast and becomes the first European to set foot on what is now the western shore of Canada.
- 1791– July 5, Spanish explorer Narvaez anchors off Isla de Langara now called Point Grey. The first European to explore the coastline of present-day Point Grey and part of Burrard Inlet was José María Narváez of Spain.
- 1792– June 12, Captain George Vancouver arrives, charts and names Point Grey, the Strait of Georgia, Point Atkinson, English Bay and Burrard Channel. George Vancouver explored the inner harbour of Burrard Inlet and gave various places British names.
- 1792– June 14, Spanish Explorers Galiano and Valdes arrive at Point Grey and meet Captain Vancouver upon his return from charting Howe Sound and Jervis Inlet. This occasion was marked by the naming of Spanish Banks.
- 1870’s– Vancouver was founded as a sawmill settlement called Granville in the 1870s.
- 1886– The city was incorporated in and renamed after Captain Vancouver.
- 1954– First cocktail bar in Vancouver opened at the Sylvia Hotel.
- 2004– Condé Nast Traveler magazine voted Vancouver the "Best City in the Americas" at its annual Readers' Choice Awards ceremony held in New York.
- 2005 –Annual Quality of Life survey released by Mercer Human Resource Consulting, placed Vancouver third out of 215 cities, Vancouver 3rd in the world in quality of life survey. The only two places that beat the West Coast city were Zurich and Geneva in Switzerland
The first Vancouver City Council meeting after the 1886 fire.
Vancouver, of course has an extensive list of more than one hundred hotels and B & Bs to choose from. Be aware that the majority (99.9%) of the hotels in Vancouver aretotal "NON SMOKING" facilities, and it can cost the traveler an extra additional price on top of the cost of the room, so you pay "double" cost for your room – your room tariff, plus the same amount as the smoking tariff . (If they found out!)
Of course some hotels have a smoking floor, but not many!
Among the list of top hotels in Vancouver:
*Century Plaza Hotel & Spa
*The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver
*Four Seasons Hotel
*Pacific Palisades Hotel
*Sutton Place Hotel The
*The Listel Hotel
*Sylvia Hotel Built in 1912, the Sylvia Hotel is a city landmark, with first cocktail bar!
View of the Pan Pacific Hotel
My favorite Hotel in Vancouver:
The Pan Pacific
The best location, and the best view (nobody in front of you) – just the sea & the mountains.
Pan Pacific Vancouver Hotel, a downtown waterfront Vancouver hotel, offers 504 luxurious rooms and suites with panoramic vistas of the harbour, mountains, Stanley Park and the city.
The Pan Pacific Vancouver Hotelis luxuriously appointed with a wide selection of modern hotel amenities, with its waterfront restaurants and lounge providing an award-winning selection of West Coast Cuisine over Vancouver's magnificent Harbour.
The Pan Pacific Vancouver Hotelalso offers a comprehensive range of elegant meeting and event facilities for business and social gatherings of every description.
A "smoking floor" with superb views is available.
300-999 Canada Place
Vancouver, BC V6C 3B5,
+1 (604) 662-8111
The Concierge Team recommends.....
1950 Street Flavor
Vancouver has a large array of restaurants to please everybody, with a variety of prices. Of course, the best restaurants are expensive.
Following advice from"Vancouver Best" Magazine – May 2008 and my taste: The award to the "Best Restaurant" in town goes to:
*CIOPPINO’S / ENOTECA
*BLUE WATER CAFÉ
New "Fine Dining"
*GUSTO DI QUATTRO
"Other European Food"
*THE IRISH HEATHER
*BACCHUS RESTAURANT at the Wedgewood Hotel
"Bistro / Brasserie"
* LA REGALADE
*GO FISH OCEAN EMPORIUM
*DUNDARAVE FISH MARKET
For many people Vancouver City has a "Chinese Flavor" since the Chinese community is very important. Well! In one way that is true, in another way, that is wrong. To start with, the Chinese flavor –Vancouver China Town is the last on my list of "China Towns" around the world to visit. No soul, no atmosphere, no nice restaurants, no good Chinese shops, nothing at all, about this Chinese flavor that the travel guides promote!
To follow the Chinese restaurants in town (China Town included), I say theyare zero. If I compare them to San Francisco, New York, Sydney, Auckland, Paris or London – not a good experience. Nonetheless, here I enclose two of them if you need to eat Chinese:
*SUN SUI WAH
"Asian"* PHNOM PENH
*THE FLYING TIGER
*MORTON’S Steak House
After this introduction to all your possibilities in Vancouver for the "Lodging" & "Food Scene", let me give you some advice for your City tour:
Vancouver’s Downtown:All the action is around Robson & Burrard Streets with shops, shops & shops & "fast food’s" outlets, nothing special, San Francisco is ten times better.
Heritage meets hip in the oldest part of the city, reaching east from Richards Street to Maple Tree Square. Historic Water Street boasts "Native-art galleries" & restaurants, many housed in distinctive late-Victorian buildings. The Gastown Steam Clock sounds the Westminster chimes at the corner of Water & Cambie Streets.
It’s a lively collection of renovated warehouses transformed into theatres, artists’ studios, craft & marine-supply shops and a thriving "Public Market"(Open 7 days a week: 9 AM – 7 PM) known for fresh seafood & produce. The island is, in fact, a peninsula connected to downtown by the Granville Street Bridge & the "mini-ferries" Aquabus Ferries (www.theaquabus.com) across False Creek, from Hornby Street’s South foot to the Public Market.
Vancouver’s 400 ha (1,000-acre) park was named for Lord Stanley in 1888 when he was Governor General of Canada. Great for walking & biking on the "seawall" (8-Km / 5-mi) and taking in the spectacular scenery – the impressive beauty of the North Shore mountains across Burrard Inlet and the distant haze of Vancouver Island, seen from English Bay. To see the Vancouver Aquarium & the Lost Lagoon, a free shuttle bus (not a guided tour) circles the park (mid-Jun. to mid-Sept.).
Gastown Steam Clock
With the"Lonsdale Quay" market & Shops (www.lonsdalequay.com). Accessible from the Waterfront Station next to Canada Place via the "SeaBus" to Lonsdale Quay Bus Station, the gate to visit Vancouver’s oldest attraction: "The Capilano Suspension Bridge" (since 1889), the swaying planks above the Capilano River (www.capbridge.com) and the panoramic "Grouse Mountain" (1,130 m/ 3,700 ft) above the city, via the Skyride aerial tram. Visit ONLY if it is a clear fine day. www.grousemountain.com
Vancouver Island & Victoria City
Two ways to travel to Victoria for one journey:
With"Harbour Air Seaplanes" (www.harbourair.com) (From downtown Vancouver to the downtown of Victoria) for a flight of around 35 minutes, at the cost of $260.00 Round Trip.
With"Bus & Ferry" (www.pacificcoach.com) (www.bcferries.com) a ride of 3 hours & 50 min. from the Vancouver Bus Terminal to Victoria Bus Terminal, including a 95-minute ferry ride though the scenic gulf islands. If you don’t want to start the journey very early (Departures at 5:45 AM or 7:30 AM) the better schedule would be departure at 9:45 AM and arrival 1:30 PM, leaving time to have a nice lunch in Victoria and visit the city. With a return to Vancouver at the sunset [5:45 PM – 9:30 PM]. The "Round Trip Fare" – Adult C$78.00 (Bus & Ferry), plus an extra C$9.52 Supplement on "Seawest First Class Seat"
In Victoria the best place to have a light lunch is the licensed "cappuccino, bar, grill & fish a chips":
*THE BLACKFISH CAFE … on the water
>If do you like a more up-scale restaurants:
View of Government Street facing Victoria Inner Harbour
And that’s all!
For more Information:
Freddy Santamaria "The Smooth Operator"
Paris, France – March 20, 2009
For EDA Confidential:www.aycinena.com
Copyright © 2009 Freddy Santamaria
All rights reserved.