Postcards from Vancouver – Record-breaking rain

The day I left for Vancouver last week was very much a Monday, in the most pejorative sense of the word. Due to huge line-ups at the security gate, even more huge line-ups at the Tim Hortons inside the departure lounge, and the most terrifying turbulence I’ve ever been subject to (as in, holding on to the seat in front of you in a white-knuckled death grip) I didn’t actually get my first coffee of the day until we were flying somewhere over Winnipeg, a good five hours into my day. And my personal TV thingee didn’t work. And thanks to the lack of coffee, I had a pretty good headache.

I’d been watching the weather for weeks, and the forecast for the day of my arrival had never varied: rain. Not showers, and not even a hint of potential sunshine. And it figures, this was the one time that the forecasts were 100% correct. The clouds were so heavy that I could barely see the tops of buildings let alone the mountains as we made the quick trip from the airport to downtown. It was the flattest, dullest, least-photo-friendly light you could possibly imagine — and yet I was still taken with how gorgeous a city Vancouver is. It reminds me of Ottawa, and of London Ontario, where I grew up. I was first struck by how green everything was, and by how livable the city seemed.

Despite the ongoing downpour, I was determined to make an adventure of my time in Vancouver. By the time I checked into the hotel, it felt like it should be late afternoon but in fact, it was barely 10:30 in the morning and the whole day stretched out in front of me. I packed my favourite lenses into my camera-backpack, grabbed the complimentary umbrella the hotel so courteously supplied (should have seen that as foreshadowing!) and headed out. I wasn’t even completely sure where I was headed, but by the time I hit the lobby I figured Granville Island would be a good place to start.

With umbrella clutched in one hand and holding my jacket closed over my camera in the other, I stepped out into the rain. After a block or two, I shifted my backpack to my front to better protect it from the rain. The walk to the aquabus mini-ferry that would take me across False Creek to Granville Island was only about eight blocks, and I was delighted to find an edifying cup of Tim Hortons coffee on the way.

This is the Burrard Street bridge, a block down from my aquabus stop. I’d spend a lot of time on my Vancouver mini-vacation either pointing my camera at or standing on this bridge pointing my camera at something else. And FWIW, when the light is so unbearably flat that the world is almost monochrome anyway, B&W photography is your friend!

Burrard Street Bridge

This, on the other hand, is the Granville Street Bridge. Most of Granville Island, which isn’t really an island but a peninsula, is tucked underneath it.

Granville Street Bridge

And then, like a burst of sunshine, I found the public market. It was warm, it was dry, and it was unbelievably photogenic.

Hooray! Something to photograph where it isn't raining!!

Granville Island market flower shop

Fine porcelain painter

Coffee break

I wandered happy little loops around the market building for a couple of hours, stopping now and then to have a bite to eat (fresh cheese and spicy sausage for lunch, a banana and another coffee for a snack) and to touch base with the rest of the world on my iPhone.

I have to tell you, I started out homesick and never really got over it. I love love love traveling, and exploring a new city by myself with a camera is just about the definition of a perfect day rain or not, but everything I saw I wanted to share with someone. When I saw this candy shop, for example, my first thought was for Beloved and how he’d be drooling over it. I even e-mailed him this picture: Wish you were here?

Wish you were here?

And then I discovered the amazing Kids’ Market at Granville Island, and missed the boys even more. It’s a whole warehouse dedicated to kids’ stuff — multiple toy stores, book stores, kids’ clothing stores, and even a huge indoor play structure.

Granville Island Toy Company

Flags and puppets

Alas, I could only spend so many hours in the warm, dry and not-raining market before I had to move back out into the rain. I explored the marina for a few moments before hoping back on the aquabus and heading back downtown.


It was still only mid-afternoon Vancouver-time by the time I made it back to the hotel, even though it felt like it should be the middle of the night. I paced around my hotel room for a little while, considering various options, before I decided that the Pacific Centre would make a good option for more rain-safe wandering. Plus, they had a Tim Hortons. It was all I needed to motivate me back out into the wet, umbrella clutched like a talisman.

102:365 Rainy day in Vancouver

I was too tired to be interested in much more than idle wandering, until I discovered H&M. I’d heard people raving about H&M before, but had no idea what a fantastic store it was. Really, why do we not have one of these in Ottawa? Great quality stuff and, at least while I was there, amazing sale prices. So what did I stock up on? Clothes for the boys, of course.

By the time I was shopped out, it was close enough to dinner time for me to call it a day. I stopped one last time to take pictures of these daffodils across the street from my hotel (it’s been kind of disappointing to return to the pre-spring muddy brown that predominates here in Ottawa after the lush verdancy of emerald green and blooming Vancouver!) and thought the composition with the umbrella in the background was a nice take on the old “April showers May flowers” cliché.


Soaked to my knees and thoroughly walked out, I finally made it back to the hotel room. It would be nearly a full day before my hiking boots dried out! I figure I probably walked a good 10 km or more, and though I was quite proud of myself for actually getting out despite the rain, it seemed by the throngs of people in the street that getting out in the rain isn’t much of an accomplishment for Vancouver natives.

The view from the hotel room, by the way, was pretty spectacular, looking right down on Robson Street and the commercial district.

102b:365 Hello Vancouver

I had to laugh when I was listening to the local weather that evening. Not only had it been a rainy day in Vancouver, but it had been a record-breaking day for rain. The previous record for April 4 had been 18 mm of rain, and up until the evening news broadcast, more than 30 mm of rain had fallen. Somehow, that made it all worthwhile. 😉

Author: DaniGirl

Canadian. storyteller, photographer, mom to 3. Professional dilettante.

3 thoughts on “Postcards from Vancouver – Record-breaking rain”

  1. I’m so glad you got to the market. Granville Island is by far one of Kevin’s and my favorite places to visit-both for the great photo ops and the food! We always find interesting things to buy and take home to sample.

    Vancouverites also have funky rubber boots for days like that, so we don’t get quite so wet. And I know what you mean about homesick-I had my moments too in Toronto, especially at the Dark Horse Cafe when all I could think of was how Kevin and John would LOVE it.

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