Friday, December 29, 2006

Toronto vs. Vancouver

Yesterday I flew from Toronto to Vancouver for the World Universities Debating Championships. Since then I've become a finalist in the Master's competition (a separate mini-competition for judges); the final is next Tuesday. Till then I'm judging which might leave me a bit more time for blogging.

I enjoyed Toronto. There's a lot to do. However, just like Berlin I was somewhat left wondering what the point of the city was, at least from a visitors point of view. But for having friends there I'm not sure I'd have gone any time soon and I'm not sure what would drag me back. It operates somewhat like a sanitised New York and I am pretty certain guarantees a superb quality of life for its residents, felt very safe and was clean and good looking but had a shortage of what makes a city really interesting; to me at least. It seemed rather too new.

Vancouver is absolutely beautiful. Set against the mountains with a lower skyline than many North American cities but design that seems far more settled. I don't think I have ever seen the Pacific before (my trip to China was only to Beijing and I was in the middle of Russia) but I am told this is what a West Coast city feels like. It has some European character to it which makes it an interesting contrast to New York, Philadelphia, DC or the other East Coast cities. It is probably closest to Boston. We went to an Italian restaurant today which combined North American ease with European quality and distinctiveness. I would recommend it, Savory Coast on Robson Street if anyone should find themselves in the city any time soon.

My only real reservation over Vancouver is that I'm told to expect hippies. This may cause my current good temper to fray.

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