Past Travels: Vancouver, BC

One of the perks of being a singer is the travel. I don’t do a lot of out-of-town gigs, partly because I like being at home with T and partly because I can’t afford to travel to auditions all the time. However, one common thing among young singers (really, all singers) is to participate in summer programs, which are offered at varying levels, content, and cost all over the world.

Last summer I chose a program in Vancouver, BC, called Vancouver Summer Opera Studio. It was a three-week program, during the course of which I lived in Vancouver and participated in master classes, voice lessons, coachings, and movement classes, in addition to performing the role of Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro. In this particular program, there were only 20 singers, so we each got tons of individual attention from the staff. Without this becoming a review, let me just say that I absolutely loved the program and would highly recommend it to other singers (and if you are a singer, feel free to contact me for details!).

Vancouver is, for lack of a better term, an extremely cool city. Located in about the south-westernmost part of Canada, it’s a port city, so it sits right on the English Bay and the Vancouver Harbor. This instantly made me feel like I was back at home in San Francisco, in the best way possible. Unfortunately for me, it also means that sushi is a huge thing. Like, huge. I hate sushi, and I think I begrudgingly set foot in more sushi restaurants in those three weeks than ever before in my life combined. Hey, I didn’t want to spend all those evenings eating dinner alone.

Watching the sun set over Kitsilano Beach.

Watching the sun set over Kitsilano Beach.

Aside from the sushi, though, there are a lot of awesome things about Vancouver’s location on the water. For one thing, it’s a major port of call for cruises, so I spent many a lunch hour sitting on a bench on the beach with some of the other singers, watching the ships travel in and out of the harbor on their way to or from Alaska. If you locate yourself in the right place, you can also watch all kinds of sailboat races, paddle boarders, and various other water events, which of course I love.

One of the many small harbors surrounding the city.

One of the many small harbors surrounding the city.

And then there’s Granville Island. Guys, if I lived in Vancouver, I would do all of my grocery (and other) shopping here… and let’s be honest, probably just hang out here all the time. Not only is there a huge indoor-outdoor market (think Pike’s Place in Seattle), you can also hit up tons of shops selling arts and crafts, food, wine, coffee and tea, musical instruments, and all kinds of other things. My favorite was a shop that sold these awesome handmade brooms. I seriously considered buying one (or more than one). There was even one that had a handle made out of a hockey stick. Oh, Canada!

I felt like I was shopping for a broomstick in Diagon Alley.

I felt like I was shopping for a broomstick in Diagon Alley.

To be perfectly honest, because of the schedule of the opera program, we didn’t have a ton of time to get out and explore the city. However, two of the other girls and I managed to catch a performance of Hamlet at Bard on the Beach, Vancouver’s answer to the Ashland Shakespeare Festival in Oregon. It was my first time ever seeing a Shakespeare play live (I know, right?), and it was amazing. My friends and I agreed that we learned a ton about acting by watching a straight (non-musical) show. All three of us also bought the same shirt at intermission, unbeknownst to each other. Unfortunately, we never managed to take a triplet picture.

A photo I snapped during the pre-show curtain speech, before I wasn't allowed to take photos.

A photo I snapped during the pre-show curtain speech, before I wasn’t allowed to take photos.

The program ended on a Sunday, but I wasn’t leaving until Monday afternoon, and I happened to be on the same flight home as my dad, who had come up to see the performance. We had some time to kill before heading to the airport, so we trekked through downtown Vancouver to Canada Place, the main harbor where the cruise ships dock. There are some fun things to do there, like get your picture taken with your face in a hockey player’s body.

No, this is not me and my dad, these are some friends of ours from home who were also nice enough to come see my show.

No, this is not me and my dad, these are some friends of ours from home who were also nice enough to come see my show.

If you walk all the way down to the far end of the harbor, you can go on a simulation called Fly Over Canada. If you’ve ever been on Soarin’ Over California at Disney’s California Adventure, you probably won’t be super impressed with the Canadian version, but it was fun all the same.

The entrance to Canada Place from the downtown side.

The entrance to Canada Place from the downtown side.

I loved everything about Vancouver: the vibe, the culture, the cleanliness, the ease of using public transit, of course the proximity to the ocean, even the slightly cooler summer weather. If I could live anywhere in the world, this city would be at the top of my list.

Have you ever been to Vancouver? What are your favorite things about the city?

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