Vancouver, 13-March 2015

On our last full day in Vancouver, we went to the University of British Columbia to walk around. We had been to the campus before, but mostly to look at the Rose Garden and visit the Museum of Anthropology. This time, armed with a walking tour, we took in much more.

After breakfast, we went to catch the bus. It wasn't very full, but as we worked our way through Downtown Vancouver, there was a lot of turnover; lots of people leaving, lots of people boarding. Once we were past Granville Island, we started to see more students boarding. By the time we got to UBC, it was starting to get full.


Our path around UBC; bus trips go off to the right

Once the bus pulled into the UBC campus, we knew we would have to work a bit to follow our walking tour. There was construction all around, and it looked like there were several detours around the buildings near where we were. We were having a hard time pinpointing the intended starting point; in afterthought, perhaps the bus stops were in a different place when the walking tour was written. At any rate we found a map but were having some trouble reconciling it with the map that we had. It didn't take too long to realize that the posted map was aligned not so that north was to the top, but to make the map lay out better (Stanford used to do that too, but the most recent maps I've seen have north pointing up). We found the building we wanted, and started out on the walking tour.

The UBC campus is laid out mostly around three walkways/roads which extend the entire north/south direction of campus, East Mall, Main Mall, and West Mall. Our first stop was the Student Union Building (SUB), just off East Mall. We took the opportunity to pick up a map and scope out some lunch possibilities. Once that was done, it was on to other parts of campus.

The walking tour took us by several highlights around campus, including the Rose Garden and the Museum of Anthropology. We did see the clock tower in the middle of the campus, but strangely the tour didn't mention it. One of the most interesting pieces of art was Symbols for Education by Lionel Thomas, which depicted the departments as mosaic tiles, all positioned on the wall as a map. Another, Tuning Fork by Gerhard Class, consisted of two pieces which wrapped around each other like a stylized tuning fork. One of the fountains on our tour, Transcendence by Jack Harman, wasn't running, but it still looked interesting as a sculpture.

Rose Garden

Symbols for Education, Lionel Thomas

Tuning Fork, Gerhard Class

Transcendence, Jack Harman

After nearly finishing up the walking tour, we headed back to the SUB for lunch. We were thinking it would be crowded because of the time, but ends up it wasn't too bad; only one person in front of us at the pizza-by-the-slice counter. We squeezed into one of the closely-placed table to eat, then headed back to finish our day at UBC.

Botanical Gardens

We spent the rest of our campus time at the UBC Botanical Garden and Centre for Plant Research. Actually, the gardens were about 1½ miles walking each way, but we still spent about 2½ hours there. Because the Japanese Nitobe Memorial Gardens were a couple miles away, we stashed that for our next visit.

There weren't a lot of people waiting in line, and we only ran across a few people wandering around the paths, so it was a great opportunity to take a good look at things and wander around. The grounds are split into two main sections, the Asian Garden and the North Garden. We started out on the main path in the Asian Garden, then went through the large Moon Gate, through the tunnel under South West Marine Drive, and came out in the North Garden. Knowing that we wanted to get back to the east part of the Asian Garden for a tour, we did a quick walk through the Alpine Garden and Food Garden, then went back under the tunnel.

Moon Gate and tunnel

Espalier in the Food Garden

Canopy Walkway

While we had the option of going at our own pace, we opted to wait for the tour guide on the Greenheart Canopy Walkway, a set of suspended walkways that wends its way through the trees about 50' above the ground, going between various platforms hooked to the trees. The guide was quick to point out that nothing goes into the trees themselves; the platforms and walkways are hung from a netting around the trees, and the platforms are stabilized with bumpers. As you would expect, the walkways sway a bit, but what's more surprising is the platforms also sway a bit, since they're not firmly attached to the trees.

Walkway coming off the tower

Platform/tree connection

While I get a similar view when I walk home over the foot bridge which goes above Ravenna Park, the canopy walkway allows you to be right among the trees. Along the way you reach a tower, where you can go further up (to about 70') to get a great view.

Finishing up

After we left the canopy walkway, we wandered around the Asian Garden a bit more on our way back to the Northern Garden where we strolled through the BC Native Garden, looking out for plants and trees we see in our area, too. We also took a look at the Carolinian Forest Garden, but since it's meant to represent a North American eastern hardwood forest, we mostly saw bare trees. On the way back, we walked past a swampy area with cattails and a couple red wing blackbirds which were very cooperative, posing for several photos.


Red wing blackbird

On the way to leaving the gardens, we saw several colors of magnolias which were in full bloom. Knowing we had a bit of walking ahead of us, we started back to the transit center, where we hopped on the bus which took us back to our room.

Early night

We looked up some dinner options, and settled on a hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant which seemed to get really good reviews. It's run by a couple who have a young son who was also there, watching videos and chatting with his parents. Armed with the information that the place had huge portions, we split an entrée and also got a side of potstickers. Yes, it was really good, and yes, it was a lot of food. The woman also pointed out that if we kept our receipt, we would get a free dessert next door. We dutifully went there, and got our free mini-cupcake. A couple blocks away, we picked up some groceries for the next day's breakfast and train snacks. Since it was a 6:30am train, we figured we should leave the room at about 5am, so we called it an early night.