So, you’re new to Vancouver? Then you’ve no doubt scoured Vancouver’s online footprint and are fully aware that this is a flourishing metropolitan city that is lovely by nature, much like other international hot spots. Of course, the heart of any metropolis is in its idiosyncrasies – it’s what makes the city pulse. At times, this leads to Vancouver’s downfall in the eyes of the newbs. The better acquainted you are with what makes Vancouver tick, will save you much head-scratching and, thus will begin your metamorphosis into a Vancouverite.
Our liquor laws are whack.
Government liquor stores are closed Sundays and public holidays and so we have to plan ahead and stock up on weekends, especially long weekends.
If you find yourself in that dismal moment of unawares, all is not lost. There is an abundance of private beer and wine stores open outside of government hours. Liquor is harder to come by.
Your best source on where these saviours dwell is Google or a Vancouverite, as most have built a mental encyclopedic database of every place to buy alcohol in their hood and their hours. Click here for info on B.C.’s archaic liquor laws.
Do not invest in a fancy, designer umbrella.
Tourism websites call Vancouver’s weather ‘oceanic.’ Actually, Vancouver is waterlogged and its only respite from showers is a month or two of summer. Unless you’ve found an umbrella made of gore-tex, it’s silly to spend a lot of change on an umbrella in this city. Your umbrella will get lost, burgled or weather-beaten. You will inevitably get caught in the rain without one and resort to an impromptu dollar store umbrella purchase – this penny-pinching parasol is your best bet. Hardcore Vancouverites insist that a waterproof coat with a hood will suffice.
Umbrella etiquette tip: While walking under it, be aware of your umbrella. Don’t unwittingly bamboozle others with it.
Most importantly, embrace the rain!
Take the time to peruse the Translink website.
This, and Vancity Buzz, are the only Vancouver websites of any real use to you. Plan your trip at the start of your day and you will save yourself hours of cursing under your breath while you’re getting lost, and soggy, in our city. Commuting via transit is trying in Vancouver and transit etiquette is useful in making the journey less so.
Taxi cabs are non-existent during weekends.
Not only must you plan your booze ration for the weekend, plan how you will get home also. Skytrain closes around 1 a.m. (sigh), clubs and pubs close at 2 a.m. (scowl) and Vancouver has 9.4 taxis per 10,000 residents. Montreal has 27 and Toronto has 18. Vancouver’s downtown core is the second most dense in North America behind Manhattan. If you find yourself downtown in the wee morning hours of a Saturday or Sunday, don’t bother calling a cab. Drag your inebriated self to a busy corner, give yourself a mental pep rally and start chasing taxis.
Once you’ve flagged one, get inside and declare your route of choice if you have not negotiated a price. If you do pre-pay, your ride home will be quick as though suddenly your cabbie is auditioning for Nascar.
Every commercial holiday on the calendar is an excuse to drink.
Actually, this is more en point with how to be a North American. Almost every holiday, we dress up our store windows, businesses, houses, bodies and pets and get merry. Why wouldn’t you?
Apparently we are a polite, but standoffish bunch.
Vancouverites are hard to make friends with? Having had the experience of growing up here, moving and starting over in a new city, making friends with its citizens was not simple. It’s easier to make friends with other travellers because you share common ground. An average Joe working to live does not tread the same terrain.
Building a friendship in the city is akin to making a friend in the schoolyard; it requires dismantling any egos, reassembling your outer shell and baring your vulnerability. Be it buying a round of shots for a table full of new co-workers, being embarrassingly chatty and smiley borderline imposing, organizing wine nights – been there, done that and it worked like a charm.
The Canucks are the best hockey team in Canada – with the worst fans.
They’re our beloved team that we love to hate. With a players’ lockout in place, there’s a serious lack of the usual hockey talk this city is abuzz with. The Canucks are like a soap opera we tune into every other night and then the next day social and news media, blogs, staff rooms and water coolers generate hockey talk from Vancouverites of the gossipiest kind.
You may not be a Canucks fan, but come post-season (God willing), playoff fever is so contagious you will find yourself plagued and on the brink of Stanley Cup madness along with the rest of us.
There you go. Hopefully the comments section below offers even more.
Image by Zach Hale