Language course in Vancouver: ESL's Vancouver tips

Asian food

ESL - ESL's Vancouver tips
It’s a simple equation really: fresh seafood from the Pacific Ocean + immigration from Asia = superb cuisine.

Vancouver’s sushi is particularly succulent (and cheap), but there are a huge variety of cuisines to choose from including Cantonese, Japanese, Korean and fusion. Huge lobsters, fresh oysters, tasty crabs, crispy seaweed and diverse Dim sum are just the start of it.

After dinner, explore the bright lights of Chinatown and stroll through the Night Market, which runs at weekends from mid-May until early-September. The roads are closed to cars for the evening and throng with activity, lined with stalls selling everything from exotic fruit to cuddly toys. During the daytime, the Dr. Sun Yet San Chinese Gardens offer a peaceful respite in the busy district, perfect for unwinding during your English course in Vancouver.

You can find excellent food of all types at Vancouver’s street carts. Be sure to try the Japa Dog, a true local specialty. The Japanese-style hotdog comes with toppings like nori seaweed, okonomiyaki, yakisoba, teriyaki and pickled daikon radish to create a unique take on a classic!
 

Hit the beach

ESL - ESL's Vancouver tips
There aren’t many places in the world where you can lie on a sunny city beach and enjoy a view of snow-peaked mountains, but you can in Vancouver.

Kitsilano (or “Kits”) Beach is one of Vancouver's most popular beaches. Surrounded by parkland on one side and the Burrard Inlet on the other, this is the number one place for hip Vancouverites to enjoy a sunny day. Join in a game of volleyball, take a dip in the huge saltwater pool and enjoy the view of the mountains. A cluster of bars and cafes near the sand are perfect if you need to cool down afterwards. Forbes Traveler magazine called Kits one of the “Ten Sexiest Beaches in North America”.

Jericho Beach and Spanish Banks are much more peaceful alternatives to Kits, while English Bay and Sunset Beach at the southern end of the West End are just a 30 minute walk from downtown. If you find wearing clothing restrictive, there is Wreck Beach: Canada’s only “clothing optional” beach.

Punjabi Market

Don’t believe the name; this is not a market at all, but a neighbourhood that was home to the first Indo-Canadian immigrants at the end of the nineteenth century. Nowadays it consists of six blocks on Main Street, in downtown Vancouver. The Vancouver International Bhangra Celebration each May is a joyous assault of colours and rhythms.

Enjoy great-value Indian restaurants, shop for shiny jewellery and elaborately coloured pashminas and enjoy the gentle spices that waft out from the shops. The Sikh temple on Ross Street is a particular highlight.
 

Brewpubs

ESL - ESL's Vancouver tips
Brewpubs – pubs that brew their own beer – are a local tradition. The Yaletown Brewery in Yaletown and The Dockside Brewing Company on Johnson Street are popular choices, but there is something for all tastes (as long as you like beer!).

Cheap Tickets

ESL - ESL's Vancouver tips
If you want to save your loonies - that’s what Canadians call their dollar - you can get cheap tickets to shows and sporting events through local website ticketstonight.ca. Many tickets are offered at half normal price, especially those for events on the same day. If you do find bargain tickets, you will have to pick them up at the Tourism Vancouver Visitor Centre before 4pm.

The Vancouver Canucks ice hockey team also offer discounted single tickets for their home games, via the “Last Seat in the House” program (canucks.nhl.com/club/page.htm?id=39635). Be sure to ask at our partner Vancouver language schools for more info about tickets to local events.
 

To watch, read, listen

Watch

Everything's Gone Green (2006) Director: Paul Fox
The Grey Fox (1982) Director: Phillip Borsos
The Sweet Hereafter (1997) Director: Atom Egoyan

Vancouver cinemas

Empire Granville 7 (855 Granville Street) is a classic cinema with a renowned THX soundsystem. It is known for playing a wider range of films than the more modern multiplex cinemas. Fifth Avenue Cinemas on Burrard Street (www.festivalcinemas.ca) shows similar left-field Hollywood and indie movies, while the Pacific Cinémathèque (www.cinematheque.bc.ca) is the favoured haunt of Vancouver’s film buffs. For Hollywood movies, the Scotiabank Theatre (900 Burrard Street) and Cineplex Odeon International Village Cinema (88 West Pender) are two popular options.
 

Read

The Man Game by Lee Henderson
The Innocent Traveller by Ethel Wilson
City of Glass: Doug Coupland's Vancouver

Listen

Your Mom's Favorite DJ by Kid Koala
Make Up the Breakdown by Hot Hot Heat
Cuts Like a Knife by Bryan Adams

Vancouver music venues
ESL - ESL's Vancouver tips
The 900-capacity Commodore Ballroom in the heart of downtown is possibly Vancouver’s top music venue, having staged everyone from the Clash to Nirvana over the years. Orpheum (600 Smithe Street) is a beautiful venue for a rock band and is also the permanent home of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. The other popular venue for famous artists is the Plaza of Nations, which was built as the entrance to the 1986 Expo and has since become an occasional outdoor music venue.

Five Sixty (fivesixty.ca, 560 Seymour Street) and Republic (958 Granville Street) are big, loud, glitzy and always popular nightclubs, while at the other end of the intimacy scale, the Narrow Lounge (narrowlounge.com) hidden away behind a parking lot on Main Street is lovely. They have “Bring Your Own Vinyl” nights so you can pop in after a day of thrift shopping and spin your latest discoveries.

To find out what’s going on in the city’s reggae scene, check out bcdancehall.com.
Image credit: Jon Rawlinson (CC BY 2.0)

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