Hello from Vancouver! Well, actually, hello from Minneapolis, we just got back from Vancouver, but hey eh, it’s all the Great White North as far as I’m concerned! (Although Vancouver is much comelier than her older cousin Minneapolis…but shhhh, we won’t say that aloud…)
Yes, John and I blew north last Thursday, via Seattle, arriving in Vantown, oh, around 4:00 p.m. I immediately did what I always immediately do upon dumping my bags in a fancy-pants hotel room – giddily pry open the mini-bar (tee hee!), crack open a cold beer, sink into the fluffy bed, and hungrily scan the room service menu for a club sandwich or cobb salad. Oh how I love room service! Oh how I love mini-bars! Woo hoo for great hotels! (We scored a club sandwich, btw…turkey, avocado, bacon, cheddar, and a super-secret ingredient – a fried egg! Genius! I’m totally stealing the idea, yum.)
We always stay in cool hotels, but this one was particularly lovely, thanks to the 25th-floor views of the Harbor and Stanley Park. What a city! A pretty intoxicating mix of uber-chic-urban meets crunchy-granola-outdoorsy. A comfortable Chanel-Patagonia mix, as it were. Apparently west coast is West Coast, US or Canada…
We didn’t spend the whole trip in the hotel, although it was mighty tempting, ha. No, we fell into our usual John-and-Stephanie groove – pretty chill mornings (breakfast and lots of good coffee en room), then out the door late morning for a few hours of exploring and sightseeing on foot, followed by a late-afternoon drive.
We started Friday with a stroll through the newly gentrified and very quaint Gastown neighborhood, then made an ill-advised loop through Chinatown (turns out Vancouver has a significant, sadly infamous homeless/drug-addicted population that tends to gather near Chinatown, bit of a rough crowd), then turned back west for a trip up to the top of Harbour Center, a funky Seattle-Space-Needle-esque lookout with 360 degree views of the city. Very handy for map studying and getting our bearings. Then back down to street level for more wandering and a stumble into a cute little bistro for big glasses of icy coldMolson Canadian (gooood stuff) and hot, toasted sandwiches (with fries, mmmm, fries…).
Properly fortified, we strolled back to the hotel, hopped in our car, and drove north over the majestic Lions Gate Bridge and on up into the mountains. Our first stop was at the Capilano Suspension Bridge, a well-known tourist spot worthy of its fame. The bridge is for walking only, suspended on cables over a plunging, Douglas-fir lined ravine. As you walk across, the bridge bounces and sways (shiver), but the view is breathtaking. On the other side, there’s a short, fragrant path weaving through a patch of soaring temperate rainforest. After a quick-stepping (!) cross back over the bouncy bridge (shiver again), we continued on up, via large gondolas, to the tippy-toppy peak of Grouse Mountain, which overlooks the whole city, huge Stanley Park, and the city’s several bays. Uh, wow.
By then, we were toast, walked- and toured-out, so it was back to the hotel for a chat with the concierge, who helped us settle on an Italian restaurant called Cin Cin for dinner. After a quick change of clothes and a three-block walk from our hotel, we were fully immersed in the after-dark Robson Street scene…chic, young professionals, merrily shopping, dining,
and cocktailing all around us. Cin Cin just happened to be featuring an autumn mushroom and truffle menu – score! We split a gorgeously rich and creamy mushroom soup, topped with chanterelles and truffles, as well as an earthy risotto showeredwith both white and black shaved truffles. Fantastico! But filling-o! Man we were stuffed, causing us to decide then and there that we didn’t really need to go out for dinner each night, since we both prefer to do our serious eating earlier in the day, when we have a chance to, you know, walk it off, uff.
Good decision given that Saturday morning we set out for Granville Market, a permanent open-air market just south of downtown on Granville Island. Shops, restaurants, and the creme-de-la-creme, an indoor bazaar of best-quality food vendors, selling everything from pastries to cured meats to chocolate drinks. Heaven. On. Earth. We had read enough raves to know we’d be happily eating our way through the place, so we were ready with big, big appetites. And even then, we hardly made a dent in the offerings! We did however score delicious bites of butter chicken with basmati rice and warm naan. Smokin’ hot fish-n-chipswith malt vinegar andlots of cool, creamy tartar sauce. Beefy cornish pasties wrapped in the flakiest of crusts. Almond and pecan tartlets (again, seriously melt-in-your-mouth pastry, rarrr…).Frozen hot chocolate and steaming espresso. We faded at that point, although I had my eye on a stand with the most gorgeous pies I’ve ever seen. Next time, next time…
After a long, bracing walk along the Seawall and through Stanley Park, where we almost got attacked by swans (check out the look on my face as I posed with the monster of all maple leafs…the swans were silently, menacingly stalking up behind John!), we burned off enough of our feast to manage a little nosh and nip in the hotel bar before turning in for the night. I lurve hotel bars. Naughty snacks, great people watching, all cozy and buzzy and such. Lovely day, that Saturday, yeah.
Sunday didn’t suck either, despite the fact that our intended float-plane tour up into the mountains was canceled due to low cloud cover. Boo. But we rebounded with a tour through the Georgia O’Keefe exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery, followed by a fantastic, gorgeous lunch at a harbor-side spot we stumbled upon called Lift. Scrambled eggs with asparagus, caviar, and truffles, and more fish-n-chips, worked their decadent magic and Lift-ed our moods mightily, as did another long, bracing walk along the harbor. It was quite romantic and cozy, strolling along with all the other Sunday Strolling Couples.
And then Monday…home. I was ready, I have this inner five-day-trip limit (drives John nuts, but I’m a homebody, and anyhow, I miss Nathan too much to stay away longer). John was genius-ly able to maneuver at the airport to get us on the direct flight home, saving us hours of travel time. Yes! Aaand he let me take the one first-class upgrade we were able to score. Nice husband, huh? Yep, indeed a keeper!
So Happy Vancouver-ish 5th Anniversary! (We’re now officially done celebrating, in case you’re wondering…)
I could absolutely imagine living there - gorgeous and totally low-key, that's a pretty rare combination. It's a very special city! Hope you make it back soon :) S
I love, love, love Vancouver...went there many years ago and really thought it was a place that I could live. I still think that! I'm jealous..now I want to go back!