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Today, the Winter Olympics officially launch in Sochi. It will also mark nearly four years since Vancouver held the honours of hosting the largest sporting event in the world. We’ll no doubt be watching with trained eyes to see how our successors handle the task. It will also be a good time to take inventory of how the city of Vancouver has changed since those monumental two and a half weeks. Let’s have a look at some of those changes.

Sea to Sky makes a beautiful ride

Just 10 years ago a trip up to Whistler always inspired an anxious wish: I hope we make it there in one piece. Since the expansion of the Sea to Sky highway, the trip up not only takes half the time to get there, there’s also a lot more take in, with several viewpoints along the way. The white knuckling has since been replaced with head turning.

Canada Line does our city just fine

There aren’t many cities that can boast a transit system so efficient, it’s more convenient – and often faster- to use than driving. Thanks to the addition of the Canada Line, it now takes 22 minutes to get from Vancouver International Airport to heart of downtown, an impressive and applauded feature our city has to offer both tourists and residents.

Playing host comes to us naturally

After hosting an event of, well, Olympic-sized proportions, it opens a city up to take on nearly anything. A good example of this is the upcoming TED2014, which Vancouver will have the pleasure of hosting. A bit further down the line, in 2025, Vancouver will also produce the largest conference the city will have seen: Alcoholic’s Anonymous, which is expected to draw 48,000 attendees.

We’ve upped the ante for eating and drinking

Vancouver has always been known as a culinary destination, and the Olympics helped boost that status. In the last four years, there hasn’t been a shortage of award-winning new cuisinebarsfood trucks and even distilleries. Add to that a slew of food and drink festivals, and you’ve got a city that thrives on keeping bellies full.

“Best of” is something we’ve become familiar with

Vancouver’s always had a pretty comfy spot on the top of “Best of” lists. That certainly hasn’t slowed down since we hosted the Olympics. Some of the recognition we’ve received over the last few years from prestigious outlets  include Best City in the Americas by Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards, World’s Most Liveable City by the Economist Intelligence Unit, and Top Canadian Destination by Travel Weekly magazine.  All things we already knew, but hey, we’ll gladly take it.

Photo: adrian8_8 via Flickr, creative commons

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