Quiet zones: Top 5 places to rest and recharge during the 2010 Winter Games

Sun Yat-Sen Garden (Photo: Tourism Vancouver)

It’s all fun and games in Vancouver these days–except when it ain’t.

There have been a couple of  times in the last day or two when I’ve felt like a salmon struggling upstream as I’ve made my home through the crowds after a shift at the Main Media Centre.

When you find yourself needing respite from the riptide of humanity, reclaim your sanity at these Top 5 downtown oases of calm:

1. The Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden: This sublime classical Chinese garden in the heart of Chinatown has extended its hours (9:30 to 5) in February to celebrate the 21 days of Chinese New Year and the 2010 Winter games.

2. The Vancouver Sun plaza: Located at the foot of Granville Street adjacent to Waterfront Station, this pretty square with a killer view of the North Shore mountains is a favourite lunch spot for office-bound sunseekers and foot-weary visitors.

3. Christ Church Cathedral: This welcoming Anglican church at the corner of Burrard and Georgia is open from 8:30 am to 8:30 pm throughout the Olympics. The cathedral choir performs Chants for Peace, an intimate candlelight service of music and quiet reflection, every day at 5:30 pm.

4. The Coal Harbour seawall: From the new Vancouver Convention Centre at the foot of Burrard, take the stairs down to the seawall walk and enjoy an easy and scenic 20-minute stroll along Coal Harbour to the edge of Stanley Park. (If you’re feeling energetic, the seawall continues for another 10 km around the park to English Bay.)

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Along the Coal Harbour seawall (Photo: Tourism Vancouver)

5. Spaaaaaaaah: Vancouver is blessed with a number of excellent spas, but the Absolute Spa at the Century on Burrard is my perennial favourite for three reasons: one, the parking is free; two, every treatment includes a light spa meal; and three, you’re actually encouraged to linger and enjoy the lounge, steam room, and ozonated swimming pool. OK, let’s make it five reasons: the staff don’t constantly pitch you on products, and their treatments are consistently top drawer.

Where’s your favourite “quiet place” in downtown Vancouver?

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