Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

August 18, 2017

© Cycle City Tours

Cycle City Tours leads three-hour rides along the seawall and into Stanley Park

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Vancouver

Green dreams and good food

Already the greenest city in Canada, and second greenest in North America (behind San Francisco), Vancouver hopes to become the greenest city in the world by 2020. The city has an action plan to raise its ranking, and carbon emissions are being cut, trees are being sold cheap, and pedestrian paths and bike lanes help keep people out of their cars.

A good way to experience Vancouver greenery is to ride a bike ride through Stanley Park, the verdant heart of the city. Cycle City Tours (tel: 604-618-8626; cyclevancouver.com) will take you on a three-hour tour that follows the park seawall and then cuts up into the 40 kilometres of trails that criss-cross the park’s temperate rainforest. Along the way, the guide explains the history and ecology of the park, from the Totem, or more correctly, Story Poles that were built by the Coastal First Natives to the old-growth Douglas Firs and cedars, with stops to study the Lions Gate Bridge, English Bay and the Strait of Georgia.

The tour runs daily, rain or shine — and be prepared for rain, since Vancouver has about 160 rainy days a year, twice as many as London — and starts at Spokes Bike Rentals (1798 West Georgia Street; $59, including bike and helmet). There is also a five-hour tour ($85) that will take you through Stanley Park and parts of the city, including Chinatown, Gastown and Coal Harbour, with an aquabus ride to Granville Island included.

The word on the street

A relatively new city, Vancouver still has the optimism of youth. While locals moan about the price of real estate, they are proud of their town, from the flowers that bloom in early spring to the glass skyscrapers that seem to sprout from the sidewalks.

With everything so lush and fresh, there is no shortage of restaurants that specialize in local ingredients and interesting fusions, from the “mussels congolaise” at the chic but unpretentious Belgian restaurant Chambar (562 Beatty Street; chambar.com) to the rustic Italian fare at Le Campagnolo (1020 Main Street; campagnolorestaurant.ca), where seasonal ingredients come from the nearby farmer’s market and the ethically-raised pigs are butchered in-house.

But for a fast and filling sampling of Vancouver food, it is hard to beat the street carts, 99 of which have set up shop since a pilot project in 2010. The World’s Best Street Eats Tour by Vancouver Foodie Tours (reservations: 877-804-9220; foodietours.ca; $49) will take you on two-hour sampling of six or more of the best: Japadog, which serves hotdogs made of “most highly prised pork” topped with teriyaki sauce and seaweed; the Kaboom Box, with local wild seafood and a hot smoked-salmon sandwich; Soho Road has a tandoori oven in the cart for fresh naan bread. Not to mention the famed fish tacos at Tacofino, run by surfers from Tofino, on Vancouver Island; hot pupusas from the Guanaco cart, which offers “a taste of El Salvador”; and Mogu, a Japanese cart that Vancouverites in the know swear has the best chicken karaage in town.

They also do a three-hour fine-dining Guilty Pleasures Gourmet Tour ($69)(.

Mountain getaway

After chowing down, you’ll want to work off some pounds. You can explore much of the city on foot, and — Gastown, Chinatown, Yaletown and downtown are all in close proximity — or head for the mountains, which loom large in the background.

Whistler-Blackcomb is an hour-and-a-half drive, and has fabulous skiing from November to May, but even in June and July you can ski and snowboard at nearby Horstman Glacier (whistlerblackcomb.com; $57). A lift ticket to hike or mountain bike on Whistler-Blackcomb in summer is $49.95.

Grouse Mountain (grousemountain.com) is 15 minutes from the city, and has an aerial tram that will take you to the top. Or you could do the Grouse Grind, a Vancouver tradition. It’s a challenging 2.9-kilometre trek/run up the face of the mountain, and you can try to beat the record of 25:01 minutes or, more likely, plan on a couple of hours. The Grind is free. In summer, Grouse Mountain Alpine Experience tickets ($39.95) include a round trip on the Skyride, lumberjack shows, a bear habitat and more.

For more information on travel to Vancouver, visit tourismvancouver.com

This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.

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