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.)


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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