Catch the buzz in Vancouver, B.C.'s trendiest neighborhood

Eric Lucas

The lobby of the Opus Hotel (322 Davie St.;866/642-6787) is utterly unexpected. Black-clad reception clerksgreet visitors from behind a stand-alone podium, and an alcove litwith votive candles provides the warm glow of a fireplace. Yetdespite its contemporary style, the Opus occupies a verytraditional-looking building, a seven-story brick structuredesigned to blend in with the neighborhood.

The juxtaposition of old and new, traditional and unorthodox, isexactly what gives the Yaletown neighborhood its appeal. Oldwarehouses, where horse-drawn carts picked up dry goods and producea century ago, offer a distinct contrast to the glittering towersof Vancouver's downtown. Virtually every building has 2- by 3-footDouglas-fir pillars and beams flanked by weathered bricks; manystructures have concrete shipping platforms that have beenconverted to patios.

"I like that feeling of longevity," says Barbara-jo McIntosh,owner of Barbara-Jo's Books to Cooks (1128 Mainland St.; www.bookstocooks.com or604/688-6755), a cookbook store housed in a century-oldbuilding. "And I like the fact that you can walk into almost any ofthese old buildings and find a modern use."

The Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre (181 Roundhouse Mews; www.roundhouse.ca or604/713-1800) is another updated relic. Situated in an 1885building, the five-year-old center includes a theater as well as agallery displaying the work of local artists. Outside, a hugelate-19th-century Canadian Pacific locomotive sits in the center ofthe brick plaza that was once the city's rail terminus.

For tapas, fondue, and one of the city's best B.C. wineselections, visit Brix Restaurant & Wine Bar (closed Sun; 1138 Homer St.; www.brixvancouver.com or604/915-9463). Another local favorite, Blue Water Cafe (1095 Hamilton St.; www.bluewatercafe.net or604/688-8078) serves stellar seafood (try the appetizer tower)in an industrial space.

Next door, Vancouver Cigar Company (1093 Hamilton; 604/685-0445) has an outdoor patio wherepatrons enjoy the fine Cuban wares ― an age-old pleasurethat, like Yaletown itself, is still in vogue.

CRUISING YALETOWN

WHERE: Yaletown is just southeast of downtown Vancouver,B.C., bounded by False Creek and Seymour and Smithe Streets. Fromsouth of Vancouver, head north on Granville St., cross theGranville Bridge, and turn right on Davie St.

CONTACT: Tourism Vancouver, www.tourismvancouver.comor (604) 683-2000.

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