We took a 1990’s guide to Vancouver sightseeing so we could get a sense of how much the city has changed. Learn more about this series HERE.
This Lonely Planet. My guide to Vancouver in the 90s. My friend and squire. Our adventure has ended, and over the time we spent together, my guide became me and I became it, each of us united in our attempts to be useful, helpful, and most of all, entertaining to our readers. I’m not sure if we were successful in our efforts to serve the audience of Vancouver Is Awesome, or in determining exactly how the city has changed since the new millennium was spawned, but one thing is certain, everyone has their own version of the past.
To me, the same issues at play here almost 20 years ago are the same things that are on the minds of many of us today: a desire for unique and authentic experiences, a love of the past, and an insatiable appetite to destroy it; progress, and its effect on marginalized people; the simple pleasures of good food and drink; and the fleeting nature of a moment in time. These core topics will never leave us, but how they’re represented in the city we call home is under constant and rapid change. It’s near impossible to keep up with.
During my walk home from Chinatown, where I left my Lonely Planet amongst a stack of other outdated reading materials in the protective cocoon of sameness that is Gain Wah, the day’s events replay in my mind like a movie. The sun coming up in Stanley Park, sharing ghost stories with tourists in the West End, our attempts at book shopping along Robson Street, watching porn on Granville, slamming Sangria Blasters in Yaletown, the pursuit of a dance floor in Gastown, and lingering over fried rice and white wine in Chinatown. We could have kept going with a visit to Kitsilano or Commercial Drive; we could have further investigated the entire sections the guide devoted to brunch, internet cafes, brew pubs, Richmond, Victoria, and Granville Island, but spending time in the past is not only disorienting, it’s difficult. So it’s time to say goodbye.
Winter is here, the night is cold, but as I continue home without guidance from any thing or time, I find myself unwittingly retracing the path my Lonely Planet took me on earlier in the day: back across the DTES into Gastown, onto Granville Street, across Robson, and up to Davie Street. At every turn, I’m overwhelmed by the energy and vibrancy of the people that are on these streets, living in the moment of a Saturday night. I feel inspired to do the same, and instead of going home to bed, I continue onward to Sunset Beach so I can end this journey the same way it began; in the stillness of nature. The rain and clouds are gone, teh night is crisp and clear, and I’m just about freezing as I step onto the thick, frosty sand. The guide’s pages were supposed to burn here and keep me warm, but over the space of the day we became friends and I couldn’t do it. Looking out at the moon, I know that I still love Vancouver as much as I did when I came here in the 90s. I’m sure if my guide was still with me, it would say something about Sunset Beach being a favourite spot for Vancouverites to gather in the evenings to end their day in the natural beauty of the city, and I would take pleasure in noting that it’s still the same. But now I know better. Everything changes, even nature. We’re just not here long enough to notice it.
That was awesome! We wish David and his guide well, their camaraderie was a true inspiration. Now that this adventure has ended, why not start it all over again? Guided by the 90s: Stanley Park.