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The natural beauty.

The natural beauty of this western Canadian metropolis is unmatched – except perhaps by the richness of its own cultural heritage. Viewed from inside a kayak, Vancouver resembles a vast open-air fitness studio. Waves lap softly against the boat, gulls wheel through the sky, and there’s activity everywhere. Sailboats ply the waters, athletic-looking upright paddlers glide underneath the Granville Bridge, while joggers, rollerbladers and cyclists flit past each other on the Sea Wall shoreline promenade. “Most people in Vancouver are pretty darned fit,” says Tessa Mul.

The sandy blonde, 28-year-old Dutch kayaking instructor herself belongs to that select group of people who exist without a trace of excess body fat. Six years ago, Mul came to Canada’s west coast for an internship and chose to stay on in this dynamic, multicultural city. “People here prefer spending their time outdoors,” she says, with culture tending to take a back seat. 

So maybe Vancouver doesn’t really suffer from a dearth of culture after all.
The city’s location.

The city’s location.

“That’s what takes its place – right over there,” says Mul, pointing a dripping paddle at Stanley Park, a sprawling urban forest filled with stately trees, mosses and ferns. The peninsula has been a natural reserve since the 19th century, off-limits to all development.

When Vancouver’s residents gush about the virtues of their hometown, the first thing they usually mention is the magnificent setting of this two-million-strong metropolis: the fjord-like bays, beaches and mountains blanketed by dense forests. The city’s location makes it ideal for such diverse outdoor pursuits as hiking, mountain biking, skiing and snowboarding. There are people here whose fitness regimen consists of running up nearby Grouse Mountain several times a week – all 853 meters (2,800 ft) of it. The outdoor look is omnipresent, even amid the downtown skyscrapers. 

Green trendsetters.

There are exceptions to the rule, of course. “As someone who doesn’t even know how to swim, I’m sort of a fish out of water in this town,” says Ron Terada with a grin. The 47-year-old stands inside a tiny gallery that’s hidden among inconspicuous offices. Anyone interested in viewing his small exhibition has to ask for the key in the bookstore on the first floor.

“It’s not very glamorous,” admits the artist, “but I like this space.” Behind him hang fictional movie posters for spaghetti westerns. Terada has set their titles in a font that’s very difficult to read. “Vancouver is a strange city,” reflects the horn-rimmed glasses-clad artist as he sips his coffee. “We have world-famous artists like Jeff Wall, Stan Douglas and Rodney Graham. But nobody here even knows they exist.” He shrugs his shoulders: “It’s the wild west.” Even so, says Terada, “Made in Vancouver” is considered a quality guarantee of sorts in the international art scene. The artist ironically comments on this state of his affairs in his works by regularly integrating a street sign into them that reads “Entering City of Vancouver”.

Terada’s most radical work to date was an exhibition in the Vancouver Gallery of Contemporary Art which completely eschewed any objets d’art in favour of a high-quality catalog. All that was visible on the walls were the names and corporate logos of the sponsors who had been willing to finance the daringly pointed exhibit.

Terada’s Japanese roots, says the artist, are hardly worth mentioning. “Am I supposed to paint on rice paper just because my ancestors came from Asia?” In Vancouver, where sushi and dim sum are much more widely consumed than burgers, having Asian ancestry is nothing unusual. There are roughly 400,000 people of Chinese descent living in the metropolitan region. A much smaller portion of the population consists of so-called “First Nations”, or native inhabitants. Some native groups continue to struggle with the Canadian authorities about the extent of their rights. “It’s an extremely complicated process,” says Pam Brown, curator of the Museum of Anthropology, “made even more difficult by the existence of 196 different First Nation groups in British Columbia.”

Sushi and totem poles.

Sushi and totem poles.

The 62-year-old herself belongs to the Heiltsuk, a numerically small people that inhabits an island north of Vancouver. Brown strolls through the museum’s central hall, past canoes, larger-than-life wooden statues and totem poles. “Over the last few years, we’ve installed more and more explanatory panels that deal with the origins of our exhibits and the individual family histories behind them.” The museum houses one of the world’s most important collections of native artwork.

The innate power of the statues, masks, canoes, baskets, blankets and chests on display in the Arthur Erickson Building never ceases to captivate visitors. “We are involved in ongoing negotiations with representatives of the various nations and clans,” explains Brown. “What one group considers just an art object might be holy to another.” Discussions about appropriate ways to exhibit a particular item can drag on for years: “This type of intense discussion is vitally important for the identities of a lot of people.”

So maybe Vancouver doesn’t really suffer from a dearth of culture after all. The key is not to sprint past it all while out for your morning jog. Who knows – you might end up discovering something just as thrilling as a downhill surge on a mountain bike.

Sushi without airs.

Everyone has eaten at Hidekazu Tojo’s place: actors, singers, industrialists, politicians, even the Emperor of Japan. The little fellow with the impressive moustache has long since been a star himself, and an end-of-evening souvenir photo with the head chef is part and parcel of the light-hearted sushi master’s routine. His magic word “Oishiiiiii” (“dee-licious”) never fails to elicit smiles from his guests. In 1971, when Tojo arrived here aged 21, Japanese cuisine was a complete unknown in Vancouver. Nowadays it’s easier to get sushi, sashimi and ramen in the strongly Asian-influenced city than it is to find a decent hamburger. Tojo, whose unorthodox approach met with stiff resistance in his native Japan, went on to create an innovative form of sushi cuisine in Canada. Today, the inventor of the California Roll – an inside-out maki roll containing cucumber, crabmeat and avocado – heads up a top-class restaurant. In the open kitchen, proceedings are relaxed. Tojo has assembled a troop of dedicated assistants, all of whom absolve their jobs with great concentration – and enjoyment, as is evident when the entire team regularly breaks into peals of laughter. To experience Tojo at his best, order the multi-course Omakase dinner and let the master surprise you.

Tojos

Sushi without airs.
Ham hock with lobster.

Ham hock with lobster.

When Michelin- starred chef Stefan Hartmann decided to close both of his Berlin restaurants in 2014, the obvious question was: “What next?” “The opportunity to develop a new restaurant in Canada couldn’t have come at a better time,” says the 38-year-old. His latest project is called Bauhaus. “Not to be confused with ‘Brauhaus’,” says Hartmann with a chuckle. He aims to fashion the locale into one of Vancouver’s best. Housed in a historic brick building in the middle of Gastown, Vancouver’s liveliest nightlife destination, the restaurant serves up modern German cuisine with a Canadian twist: black grouper with mussels and root vegetables, for instance, or ham hock with lobster. Hartmann’s cooking is straightforward and elegant with an emphasis on high-quality culinary craft – typically German, one might say, which is exactly Hartmann’s intention. “Chinese patrons are particularly fond of us,” explains the chef. “They know how to appreciate good food.” The exceptional quality of the local produce took Hartmann by surprise. “People always think that Canada is way up north somewhere – but actually, Vancouver is on the same latitude as Stuttgart.”

Bauhaus Restaurant

Something for everyone - even Lady Gaga.

At the outset of redesigning all 96 rooms at the Opus Vancouver two years ago, the design team created five characters, intended to represent the hotel’s prototypical guests: Pierre, the Parisian restaurant critic, Dede, the actress from Los Angeles, Mike, the gay doctor from New York, and Billy, the rock musician from London. And last but certainly not least, Susan, the child-friendly yoga enthusiast from Toronto. To satisfy the whims of these five fictitious muses, five varied design concepts were developed based on different color scales, art objects and even music playlists.

Irrespective of type, all the rooms have iPads, espresso machines and free rental bicycles. The Opus is colourful, cool and just a bit retro. No wonder that it’s also a favourite with celebrities: Lady Gaga has stayed here, despite being a square peg with respect to the schemes.

Vancouver Opus Hotel

Something for everyone - even Lady Gaga.

Image gallery.

Fitness path with a view.

Fitness path with a view.

English Bay Beach is the perfect place to strap on your jogging shoes, join the endless stream of runners and experience one of the world’s most spectacular running trails. The path leads ten kilometers (six miles) along the edge of Stanley Park, around the green peninsula’s circumference – water on one side, the stately trees of the forest preserve on the other. On it continues past beaches, cliffs and a bronze statue called “Girl in a Wetsuit”, then finally past the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club and the Rowing Club. Watch out: joggers are permitted to run in both directions, but cyclists and rollerbladers must go counterclockwise.

Good to know.

App and away

Renting a car is no longer mandatory for travellers to Vancouver and its environs. Instead, just register with Car2go and download the car sharing app onto your smartphone. Whenever you need a ride, the app shows you the location of the closest vehicle. When you’re done, just park it, get out, lock up electronically – and wait for the bill to arrive in the mail. Vancouver’s Car2go fleet encompasses over 300 vehicles. car2go.co.

Up and away

Though it rarely snows in the city itself, Vancouver remains one of the world’s top winter sports destinations. It’s no accident that Vancouver hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics. Skiers and snowboarders can enjoy three slopes within a stone’s throw of downtown: Grouse Mountain (24 ski runs), Cypress Mountain (34 runs plus cross-country options) and Mount Seymour (20 runs). And winter sports paradise Whistler is just two hours away.

See-throughs

Shimmering green apartment towers have been a fixture of the Vancouver skyline since 1990. Natives dub the architectonically somewhat monotonous glass buildings “see-throughs”, while author Douglas Coupland coined the phrase “glass totems”. A large percentage of the apartments belong to rich Hong Kong residents and sit empty for most of the year.

Deadwood

Vancouver is blessed with pristine sandy beaches. Most of them, however, are littered with old tree trunks – nature’s rough-hewn answer to the ubiquitous plastic lounge chair. The huge quantities of driftwood are an ever-present reminder that forestry remains British Columbia’s most important economic sector (annual sales: 12 billion Canadian dollars). For picnics and sunbathing, the beaches at English Bay are a good bet. You’ll need a thick hide if you’re planning on taking a dip, though – the water temperature rarely exceeds 17 degrees Celsius (62°F).

Kraftstoffverbrauch kombiniert CO₂-Emissionen kombiniert Stromverbrauch im kombinierten Testzyklus

Product may vary after press date on 03.11.2015.

1 Die angegebenen Werte wurden nach dem vorgeschriebenen Messverfahren ermittelt. Es handelt sich um die „NEFZ-CO₂-Werte“ i. S. v. Art. 2 Nr. 1 Durchführungsverordnung (EU) 2017/1153. Die Kraftstoffverbrauchswerte wurden auf Basis dieser Werte errechnet. Der Stromverbrauch wurde auf der Grundlage der VO 692/2008/EG ermittelt. Weitere Informationen zum offiziellen Kraftstoffverbrauch und den offiziellen spezifischen CO₂-Emissionen neuer Personenkraftwagen können dem „Leitfaden über den Kraftstoffverbrauch, die CO₂-Emissionen und den Stromverbrauch aller neuen Personenkraftwagenmodelle“ entnommen werden, der an allen Verkaufsstellen und bei der Deutschen Automobil Treuhand GmbH unter www.dat.de unentgeltlich erhältlich ist.

2 Die angegebenen Werte sind die „gemessenen NEFZ-CO₂-Werte“ i. S. v. Art. 2 Nr. 2 Durchführungsverordnung (EU) 2017/1153, die im Einklang mit Anhang XII der Verordnung (EG) Nr. 692/2008 ermittelt wurden. Die Kraftstoffverbrauchswerte wurden auf Basis dieser Werte errechnet. Der Stromverbrauch wurde auf der Grundlage der VO 692/2008/EG ermittelt. Aufgrund gesetzlicher Änderungen der maßgeblichen Prüfverfahren können in der für die Fahrzeugzulassung und ggf. Kfz-Steuer maßgeblichen Übereinstimmungsbescheinigung des Fahrzeugs höhere Werte eingetragen sein. Weitere Informationen zum offiziellen Kraftstoffverbrauch und den offiziellen spezifischen CO₂-Emissionen neuer Personenkraftwagen können dem „Leitfaden über den Kraftstoffverbrauch und die CO₂-Emissionen neuer Personenkraftwagen“ entnommen werden, der an allen Verkaufsstellen und bei der Deutschen Automobil Treuhand GmbH unter www.dat.de unentgeltlich erhältlich ist.

4 Angaben zu Kraftstoffverbrauch, Stromverbrauch und CO₂-Emissionen sind vorläufig und wurden vom Technischen Dienst für das Zertifizierungsverfahren nach Maßgabe des WLTP-Prüfverfahrens ermittelt und in NEFZ-Werte korreliert. Eine EG-Typgenehmigung und Konformitätsbescheinigung mit amtlichen Werten liegen noch nicht vor. Abweichungen zwischen den Angaben und den amtlichen Werten sind möglich.

6 Stromverbrauch und Reichweite wurden auf der Grundlage der VO 692/2008/EG ermittelt. Stromverbrauch und Reichweite sind abhängig von der Fahrzeugkonfiguration. Weitere Informationen zum offiziellen Kraftstoffverbrauch und den offiziellen spezifischen CO₂-Emissionen neuer Personenkraftwagen können dem „Leitfaden über den Kraftstoffverbrauch, die CO₂-Emissionen und den Stromverbrauch aller neuen Personenkraftwagenmodelle“ entnommen werden, der an allen Verkaufsstellen und bei der Deutschen Automobil Treuhand GmbH unter www.dat.de unentgeltlich erhältlich ist.

7 Angaben zu Stromverbrauch und Reichweite sind vorläufig und wurden vom Technischen Dienst für das Zertifizierungsverfahren nach Maßgabe der UN/ECE-Regelung Nr. 101 ermittelt. Die EG-Typgenehmigung und eine Konformitätsbescheinigung mit amtlichen Werten liegen noch nicht vor. Abweichungen zwischen den Angaben und den amtlichen Werten sind möglich.