A Date over 550 Feet in the Air: A Visit to the Vancouver Lookout

Sourced from the Vancouver Lookout website

Sourced from the Vancouver Lookout website

The first couple of months after my boyfriend (“S”) and I met were characterized by a gradual unfolding of information: “I have two elder sisters.” “Getting my degree has been my greatest achievement.” “I’ve cried in every single Disney animated movie.” There is something wondrous and nerve-wracking about getting acquainted with, and potentially falling in love with someone new.

Now that we’re in couple territory, that initial exciting novelty has faded and been replaced by a knowing comfort. He’s seen me without my fake eyelashes, and I’ve witnessed him cleaning his bathroom. And as much as I enjoy not having to wildly impress him anymore, I have to admit that I sometimes miss that initial thrilling stage of dating.

The other night I declared we were going to “do something romantic.” I didn’t want it to be another dinner out, or watching the latest James Bond movie (which, by the way, was incredibly boring). Then, I had a date idea. After all, it was a clear night, a perfect night for what I had planned.

I’ve lived my whole life here, but have never gone to the Vancouver Lookout, a panoramic observation deck situated downtown. It’s one of those attractions that I always mean to visit but never do. Fueled by the romantic notion of being above the city together, I convinced S to make the short walk to Harbour Centre (555 West Hastings Street) to give the Lookout a try.

After getting our tickets, we got in an elevator and rose 553 feet above ground in less than a minute. Nearby buildings twinkled through the glass elevator windows.

Me surveying the city in the ride up.

Me surveying the city during the ride up.

The doors opened and we were greeted by an empty observation deck, save for an employee decorating the space for a wedding happening the next day (I took this as a good omen for my own relationship).

Vancouver Lookout

The city was entirely ours. A lovely darkness had descended, with Vancouver now lit up with thousands of tiny lights. We walked slowly around the perimeter of the Lookout, stopping to point out and ooh and ah over well-known landmarks, like the Lions Gate Bridge, Gastown, City Hall, and the five white sails of Canada Place. Many of these places evoked memories that we shared with one another (eg S told me about his adventures working on the Canada Line in the lead-up to the Olympics; I told him about going to the old Woodward’s department store in December to see the window displays).

Vancouver Lookout

Sourced from Vancouver Lookout website

We tried to find our own homes, S pointing into the distance at Main Street, and me tracing the line of Georgia Street towards Stanley Park. My apartment seemed so small and far away. We also played around with the binocular viewers, trying to see the names on the shipping containers at the port and the people in the cars on the streets below.

Vancouver Lookout

The Lookout, in many ways, is the perfect quintessential date: the skyline gives you something to talk about and focus on together, it doesn’t take too long, there’s an element of discovery, and you have amazing sightlines that practically scream romance. Most of all, I was struck by what a change in perspective can do. I take both my city and S for granted in that they have become familiar, sometimes ordinary. But seeing them from up high, I saw them differently. They were made anew. Vancouver became a beautiful, unified whole instead of disconnected neighbourhoods. And S was that boy I met for the first time over grilled cheese and soup who had new, interesting stories to share.

At the end of the visit, there was no proposal, just a grand, mock declaration of love before we made the descent back to reality and the streets. Akin to An Affair to Remember, we made a plan to go to the Lookout another time, perhaps during the day, or at sunset. As we walked back to my place, I tried my best not to be smug that I had done well on the date idea.

Sourced from Vancouver Lookout website

Sourced from Vancouver Lookout website

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