Peeking in Canadian Windows

The first stop in our Northwest trip was Vancouver, the prettiest city I have ever seen. Not pretty the way European cities are pretty (patinaed, with an authentic griminess), or even San Francisco (detailed and darling) or New York (so substantive it doesn't have to worry about its looks). Vancouver shines, bright with new buildings made of polished steel and green glass. Everyone is wearing effortless, slouchy layers of very hip clothing. They are seemingly from everywhere, stylishly global. The whole city seems to be saying, "Sore-y, we can't help it. We're just better than you." But Vancouver is not trying to make you feel bad, you can tell.

One morning, I ran along the waterfront past the fancy condos. All the green glass windows were open (windows open! in early September!), so I could easily peer in on their little Canadian lives. I saw families tucked into trim, modern breakfast tables, one with a couple of kids at their own pint-sized table which I recognized as very expensive. Others sipped coffee on their decks (good coffee from Scandinavian mugs, I guessed, but could not see as I ran along). The whole thing was like an ad for a Canadian real estate developer: Move here. You'll be a better person and you won't even have to learn a new language.