Granville Island – not an island paradise, but full of artsy surprises. So manage your expectations, and you’ll have yourself a beautiful Saturday afternoon.
First, don’t take it literally. Granville Island is not actually an island. It’s a peninsula. But you can get there by boat if you want – the aquabus. Again, if you’re thinking big city bus, you’ll either laugh or squeal with delight when you get to see them. Here’s what a Vancouver aquabus looks like:
This is perhaps the first time I’d say the word cute is actually appropriate when referring to a bus. It certainly makes the ride across False Creek both very scenic and entertaining.
Second: the Public Market, or Granville Island Market. If you’re European and reading this, don’t think of old, round cobblestone, small booths selling art in a quaint setting, or a pedestrian-only zone. The Public Market is basically a big market hall where you can buy fresh produce, vegetables and fruit, meat and fish. You’ll also find specialty bakeries, chocolatiers and a section of the hall dedicated to small restaurants and food stalls.
It’s great for doing your grocery shopping as it’s often cheaper than in a supermarket. And a much nicer experience, of course!
Third: the location. Granville Island is under Granville Street Bridge, an eight-lane bridge connecting downtown Vancouver with the West Side. When I first arrived near the entrance of Granville Island I wondered what would await underneath such massive traffic. In fact, Granville Island used to be an industrial area. Today, you won’t see much living proof of that era, apart from the concrete plant that remains, right between Emily Carr University and the Public Market.
There is lots of creativity on display on Granville Island: the works of art and design students of Emily Carr University, the small boutiques and even the concrete truck posing as a strawberry. You’ll also find an eclectic mix of shops, selling arts and crafts, souvenirs and rather alternative experiences.
The open spaces in front of Granville Island’s Public Market also attract performing artists. I had the pleasure to listen to this French-speaking musician during my Saturday afternoon visit:
Even if the Public Market isn’t your thing, be sure to take a walk around Granville Island and take in the spectacular views of downtown Vancouver:
And before you leave, head over to Granville Island Brewery – Canada’s first microbrewery. Since 1984 they have been providing Vancouver with craft beers such as the Kitsilano Maple Cream Ale, Robson Street Hefeweizen or the Gastown Amber Ale, all named after famous Vancouver locations. Enjoy a beer tasting, or take a brewery tour if you’re interested in the intricacies of Canadian beer making.
The brewery claims to be inspired but not restricted by the Bavarian Purity Law of 1516 and somewhat see themselves as the Captain Kirk of the beer brewing universe, boldly going where no brewery has gone before by adding raspberry to their summer ale… well, the Belgians might have crossed that frontier before, perhaps.
But still, Granville Island Brewery is well worth a visit and the variety of tasty beers certainly won’t disappoint.
Have you been to Granville Island? What was your impression?