The Grouse Mountain Experience

Of course with all this mountain activity, hunger set in and I went to the self-serve cafe which has a beautiful patio overlooking the city. I splurged on of my favourite sinful indulgences: poutine, i.e. French fries with gravy and cheese curds. I tampered down my nutritional guilt with a Mediterranean salad and figured that the nutrients and low caloric content of the salad might counterbalance the potato and fat-based calory bomb. Well, not great nutritional decision-making, but I savoured it anyways.

I ended up talking to a local couple on the terrace who said I should check out a little neighbourhood called Ambleside, which is part of West Vancouver. So off I went, down the mountain with the tram and back on the bus. At the bottom I had to connect onto another bus, and during the wait I ended up chatting with a local young man who explained all the different residential areas of Vancouver to me and also shed some light on the real estate boom that has caused Vancouver’s housing prices to sky-rocket over the last few years. The escalation of prices is not surprising, since thousands of new people every year seek out the relaxed West Coast lifestyle. With the Olympic Games coming to Vancouver / Whistler in 2010, the situation can only become tougher.

Vancouver’s Lions Gate Bridge at dusk

While waiting for bus number 3 I chatted to another local, asking him for directions to Ambleside. He said that close by there was a local arts and craft festival and if I wanted he could show me where it is. So with his guidance I arrived at the Harmony Arts Festival, held annually, which apparently now attracts over 60,000 visitors and showcases more than 250 visual and performing artists. A band was performing Motown songs in a bandshell and hundreds of people were camped out on their folding chairs and beach towels in front of the stage. I decided to walk westwards along West Vancouver’s Seawall, a much quieter version than that of Stanley Park. I sat down to soak in the sunset, watching the sun roll down behind the mountain chain northwest of Vancouver.

At about 9:15 I decided to head back to UBC and took a bus back downtown across the famous Lions Gate Bridge. The sky was pink and dark purple and a sliver of a moon was hanging low in the western sky. And a bright star was located right next to the moon on the left hand side. Somebody on the bus pointed it out and another person said that this was an extremely rare astronomic constellation, as a matter of fact this particular constellation had never happened before. It was almost as if magic had blessed this evening.

Blowing soap bubbles at dusk

Downtown I changed buses again and slowly made my way to the UBC Campus. I noticed how different groups of people were getting off the bus, shouting out “Thank You” loudly to the bus driver. Now that is something that I have never seen before: people thanking the driver on a public bus. I checked with the bus driver as I got off and asked him if this happens regularly. He said it doesn’t happen all the time, but he appreciates it when people express their gratitude. A magical evening indeed…….

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