Walking is one of the best ways to explore a city, old or new. And since Vancouver is still very new to me I have a lot of exploring to do. One evening a couple of weeks ago I set out for a walk with a friend and discovered an assortment of exciting new sites, scents and spectacles.
We met at a checker board at the intersection of Ontario and 18th, which I didn’t even know existed until that evening, even though it’s only a few blocks away from my house. From there we wandered for 3 hours with no particular destination. It wasn’t too far off from an exercise in psychogeography, which was a new concept, but not a new practice, to my fellow ambler.
There were many memorable sites/sights along the way. We followed a sign in Queen Elizabeth Park that read “Small Quarry” only to find (to our disappointment) a landscaped space which didn’t look much like a quarry at all. Although I must say the view from the top of the park was stunning.
Later in the evening we discovered a “neon Virgin Mary” – back lit with two tubes of lighting that formed a halo above her head, and a passage in a hedge that led to a cemetery where it “smelled like country”. There were scents of BBQ and marshmallow in the air that evening too – but not in the cemetery.
I also learned about the array of fruit trees and other edible treats available if you look for them. Kiwi? I had no idea! I must find the kiwi tree!
Last night I dreamt of a city I have only ever visited in my dreams, and it made me remember a dream I had a few years ago. I know I have a fuller account of it somewhere, but this all I could find right now:
“Last night I travelled the world photographing beautiful mindful contradictions until I got lost in an Alice in Wonderland-esque hotel, which I stumbled upon after crossing a dam somewhere in Germany”. The hotel was the most memorable part of that dream, with each room a different hue of orange. It was ethereal and vivid all at once.
The city in last night’s dream was a beautiful juxtaposition of a modern North American city built around ruins – hotel courtyards with corridors leading to rooms built entirely of tile and gold inlay, abandoned and dusty, these rooms were forgotten spaces within the city, spaces that were passed by dozens of people every day but rarely noticed.
Ruins as ‘fragmentary remains’, can be used “to piece together conflicting visions of the city by making unexpected connections between sites of past- and present-day ruin” (The Miss Guides).
I discovered City of Memory sometime last year and I wish I could remember what initially led me there. The site provides a place for people to share memories and stories about New York. It’s a wonderful way to rediscover spaces and places you’ve visited, discover new and historical things about the city, and share your own stories. I’ve added two of my own “Bridges and Movie Sets” and “Riding the Subway 1930’s Style“.