Some random thoughts about exploring cities in the dark...
When you're walking you really get a feeling for a place; its rhythms, sounds, its aromas, its nooks and crannies. In many ways, walking is a better way to see a city than driving. One of my favourite things to do is to roam at night. I've been fortunate to have walked under the light of the moon in many famous places: Paris, Rome, Venice, and Toronto, to list a few. Walking at night is a different experience. In many ways you're seeing a city after its work mask has come off and the city has put on its comfortable clothes and getting into relaxation mode.
After the sun goes down, the sun's reflections disappear off windows and for a visitor the focus of attention moves naturally from outdoors to indoors: lights are turned on inside buildings, and suddenly you can see through the glass barriers and see people in their private spaces: working in offices, preparing dinner, watching television, having people over or getting ready for a night out on the town.
Like Charles Dickens, that incessant walker who used his nightly strolls around London to assemble great stories in his head, exploring a city at night provides a different perspective. It's more intimate, but also more anonymous; in the dark, details are lost, people move in the shadows and only become recognizable when they come under the light.
The night brings its own character. Lights create pools of colour and shadow. Couples huddle close, groups of people laugh and line-up at restaurants and night clubs, freed temporarily of their schedules and deadines, everyone putting their best foot forward.
Streets are uniformly black, dirt and stains not visible. If it has rained, then everything takes on a reflective sheen; a freshly-washed tableau.
In Vancouver bridges have their own special allure. The lamps over the darkened water create reflections, and the lights from buildings and boats move like brush strokes of colour on the water.
"I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day." ~Vincent Van Gogh