Mehnaz’s Vancouver (Canada)

This week’s I Heart My City contributor is Mehnaz Thawer, a communications professional in Vancouver, British Columbia. Mehnaz has lived in Vancouver for 20 years — ever since her family moved there from East Africa. Here are her recommendations for what to see and do in the city she knows and loves so well. Catch up with Mehnaz on her personal blog or on Twitter @mehnazt.

Vancouver is My City

The first place I take a visitor from out of town is downtown Vancouver to experience the gorgeous waterfront, amazing cobblestone streets in Gastown, brilliant architecture (including the Marine Building and the steam clock), and a blossoming street-food scene.

When I crave coffee I always go Caffe Calabria on Commercial Drive. It has an Old-World charm that reflects the neighborhood’s Italian roots — and great pastries and coffee, too!

To escape from the rain I head to Vancouver Public Library. Beside the books, there are always interesting things going on.

If I want to enjoy excellent classical music I go see the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.

For complete quiet, I can hide away at Jericho Beach.

If you come to my city, get your picture taken with the steam clock in Gastown. It was built in 1977 and is one of the few functioning steam clocks around the world. Visitors love it.

If you have to order one thing off the menu from Vij’sit has to be tamarind-marinated steak.

MacLeod’s Books is my one-stop shop for great used books, one-of-a-kinds, and first editions.

Photo ops in my city include Grouse Mountain and Lonsdale Quay — and the best vantage points are Queen Elizabeth Park, Harbour Centre‘s Vancouver Lookout.

The most random thing about my city is that our airport is kind of gorgeous. There’s lots of local art and the lighting is lovely.

In my city, an active day outdoors involves biking, hiking, jogging, and rollerblading around the Stanley Park Seawall. If it’s wintertime, it involves skiing or snowboarding on one of the many local mountains.

My city’s best museum is the Museum of Vancouver (obviously) and the Vancouver Art Gallery (which isn’t a museum, but is pretty cool anyway).

For live music, check out listings for the Commodore Ballroom.

To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read The Georgia Straight and Vancouver Magazine.

You can tell if someone is from my city if they wear rain boots.

In the spring you should go out and photograph the Cherry Blossom Festival.

In the summer you should relax on the beaches at English Bay and Spanish Banks, go the Chinatown Night Market, and check out one of the many outdoor movies around the city.

In the fall you should brave Fright Nights at the Pacific National Exhibition, and go the Vancouver International Film Festival.

In the winter you should enjoy free skating at Robson Square and check out the Festival of Lights at VanDusen Botanical Garden.

For a great breakfast joint, try Twisted Fork Bistro on Granville Street.

If I want to splurge, I have high tea at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver.

Don’t miss the Vancouver International Jazz Festival in the summer (the festivities take place all around the city). Also, Bard on the Beach – the Shakespeare Festival at Vanier Park.

Just outside my city, you can visit Whistler Blackcomb and Deer Lake Park in Burnaby.

The best way to see my city is on public transit or by foot.

If my city were a pet it would be a really energetic dog.

If I didn’t live in a city, I’d live in London (but I would miss the mountains).

If you have kids, you won’t want to miss the Vancouver Aquarium and the Telus World of Science – known to locals by its old name, Science World.

Passionate discussions about bike lanes could only happen in my city.

My city should be featured on your cover or website because we have a bit of everything — oceans, water, mountains, and great people!