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Canada's so cool

PUBLISHED: 13:39 10 December 2008 | UPDATED: 13:26 24 August 2010

Stunning view: Stanley Park overlooking West Vancouver

Stunning view: Stanley Park overlooking West Vancouver

by Nadia Sam-Daliri Having some rather legendary family members living in Vancouver, I have to admit, there was more reason for this trip than simply to get my fix of Canadian laid-back cool and totem poles. During the obligatory last-min

Heart of the city: Boats near Burrard Bridge

by Nadia Sam-Daliri

Having some rather legendary family members living in Vancouver, I have to admit, there was more reason for this trip than simply to get my fix of Canadian laid-back cool and totem poles.

During the obligatory last-minute flick through a Vancouver tourism leaflet on the plane, a rather bold statement jumped out at me.

Vancouver, it proclaimed, is the second most desirable city in the world to live in.

A fortnight later and it's a done deal.

I'm sold.

The most striking thing is the city's ability to flitter from laid-back outdoorsy-life to the high life.

But I would say al fresco Vancouver is the best way to experience the charms of this British Columbian gem.

Vancouverites are famously fond of the outdoors and it's not hard to see why.

Even the city's sky scrapper downtown zone is surrounded by miles of glorious sea wall and covered from the ocean by Stanley Park's huge expanse of rugged forest.

It's quite possible to spend a day flicking through the high end stores in the Robson/Burrard Street shopping mecca and later get wonderfully lost spying on the many herons and racoons that populate the park.

Bike lanes everywhere put us to shame and make cycling or roller blading a great way to enjoy the natural surroundings.

There are so many sea wall walks and chic restaurant districts to see in and around downtown but a few surrounding spots are an absolute must.

Kitsilano Beach, a cool dude student hang-out with a family friendly outdoor swimming pool right on the beach front, has a great vibe.

The area also hosts some excellent, good-value sushi restaurants; a cuisine that Vancouverites have embraced whole heartedly.

Granville Island is another jewel.

Hidden behind a rather plush looking marina lies the bustling multi-coloured farmer's market with an appetising range of salmon, fruit and veg and craft products.

True in most senses, but especially where food goes, Canada is not America.

Vancouverites are big on their fresh produce and food markets are peppered throughout most districts, offering never ending varieties of cheeses, meats, mezze and bakery delights.

If you are spending a few days in the city there is plenty to keep you occupied, but even short visits deserve a trek beyond trendy West Vancouver and into the mountains.

The scenery is breath-taking.

Ocean views, sky-scrapping cedars and firs and a plethora of wild river networks make Vancouver's outback both rugged and stunning.

The cable car lift at Grouse, the most famous mountain, offers panoramic views of the metropolis, but the same can be found at Capilano and Lynn Valley which are slightly more local-friendly.

A fortnight in the city was jam packed, fresh and varied.

No wonder everyone wants to move there.

nadia.sam-daliri@archant.co.uk

How to get there

Air Canada offers daily direct flights from London Heathrow to Vancouver International.

The airline offers more services to Canada than any other carrier.

Book by visiting: www.aircanada.com or call 0871 220 1111 or go through your local travel agent.

Based on flights in November, prices start from £508 inclusive of fare and taxes.

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