A super bike ride around Granville Island and Stanley Park, Vancouver
VANCOUVER - I was faced with a long to-do list with just a couple hours to spare in Vancouver last weekend. I couldn't possibly cover Granville Island, the False Creek Aquabus, English Bay and Stanley Park in two hours. But then I remembered the hotel I was at, the newly renovated and wonderful Burrard (see coming story in the Star) had bikes for use for free for up to four hours. Bingo.
I hopped one a pretty solid city bike and scrambled over to Granville Island, where I scoped out the perfect, ripe raspberries and luscious blackberries and salmon and coffee shops and vivid flower stalls at
the wonderful Granville Market; one of Canada's best. Outside, a group of women was doing morning Yoga, bouncing up and down in place and looking a tad embarrassed by it all.
I'd cycled around Stanley Park before but this was the first time I took a bike over to Granville Island so I pedalled about on the south side of False Creek, cycling past enormous rhododendrons (more on those in a minute) and slick condos with million-dollar views of marinas, mountains and downtown highrises.
At the urging of a friend, I spent a half-hour zipping around False Creek on the Aquabus, which takes you all over the area, bouncing from marina to marina for $8. I was told you can get a day pass for $15, which allows you to get on and off and explore all over the area, stopping for Granville Island or lunch or a stroll through Yaletown; whatever you like. It's a fun way to see the city, and the little, colourful boats are adorable.
I took their shuttle from Granville over to the foot of Hornby St., then cycled past the giant container ships that sit off English Bay and on into Stanley Park. I didn’t feel like burning the track around the perimeter, so I instead poked around a bit inside the south end of the park.
I had no idea there was such a cute pitch and putt golf course. Nor had I heard of the rhododendron garden. This being spring and the blooms being a tad late around here from what I’m told, the rhodos were in absolute peak colour; a riot of deep and light pinks, fuschia and pale orange. Some azaleas were out but most had faded, I’m sad to say. Still, it was stunningly serene and beautiful. Stanley Park sadly lost a lot of tall trees in some big storms a year or two ago, and the stumps don't look pretty. But it's still Canada's best urban park by a country mile.
As I rode past the lake with the fountain in it I surprised a raccoon, who I hadn’t expected to be out and about at 10 a.m. He was on the shore, puttering around in the shallow water near some rocks. A large raven was none too pleased and repeatedly swooped down towards the raccoon, cawing his displeasure.
It was the only sour note I heard all morning.