Day 2 - Vancouver
Updated: Jun 18
My plan was to get up early to watch the sun come up on the Burrard Street bridge. Seemed like a typical, Vancouver vacation thing to do.
It didn't happen.
Unfortunately, I managed to spent the majority of my night tossing and turning... my mind plagued with trivial work stuff. With this chewing away at me, I found myself wide awake at 2:30AM.
Another contributing factor to my sleepless night was the fluffy pillows... If there is one thing that makes me crazy, it's a fluffy pillow.
I more of a flat pillow girl.
There was also some sort of high pitch, squealing pipe that temporarily managed to trigger as soon as I attempted to close my eyes. This also proved to be quite instrumental in denying me my well deserved slumber.
Top notch hotel.
It actually isn't that bad at all. Ignore my groaning.
When the alarm sounded at 5:45AM, it was all I could do NOT to get up. Plus... it was cloudy. Not a great sunrise in the clouds.
It was the acceptable excuse I presented to myself in order to allow another few hours in bed... and at 8;30AM, I hit the road to begin my first full day in the city.
I headed towards Kitsilano and decided to have some breakfast along the way. Admittedly, I got a little lost, as I tried to navigate myself... desperately trying to follow the little blue dot on Google Maps... searching for this recommended cafe...
Cafe Zen on Yew.
I am having difficulty trying to figure out if I read that this was the "best place to have breakfast" or if it was, simply, "A place to have breakfast."
Now normally, I would not describe myself as an eat-big-breakfast kind of person, but being on staycation, and so close to the ocean, I decided not to miss the opportunity to indulge in, what I expected to be a delicious Smoked Salmon & Avocado Eggs Benedict.
What better occasion to celebrate the local seafood of my home province,
Well... the first round was stone cold.
And when I say 'stone cold,' I mean it in the most literal way. The entire meal. I felt horrible sending it back... but it couldn't be avoided.
The second batch was pipping hot, but quite obviously, thrown together rapidly... and subsequently very runny and bland.
Oh well... the cafe was cute though and in a perfect location, not far from the beach.
I wandered back along Kitsilano beach, Vanier Park, along the Marina, through Granville Island Market and then took the AquaBus across the harbour, back to Hornby and back to my hotel.
Around noon, I adventured out, (courageously, I might add) ON MY BIKE. I do not have a lot of experience biking in the city... but I managed to overcome my initial fears and trepidation and hit the bike lane on Hornby, which took me straight down to the Waterfront. Here, I met up with Bronwyn, her daughter Mikayla and friend Sadie, to bike the seawall at Stanley Park.
Thumbs up for bike lanes in the city. BIG thumbs up.
During COVID, everything has changed, of course, and the city has removed bicyclist's from the main seawall path, which originally was shared with pedestrians. The bicyclist lane has been relocated up to share the road with the vehicles. So what once was a two way driving lane, or one way with ample parking, is now solely a one-lane for vehicles and parking has been almost eliminated altogether. Manoeuveing our way through pylons and detours proved to be a bit confusing at times, but all in all, it was ok.
The Seawall was beautiful and Bronwen and I both took advantage of the numerous photo opportunities that the park presented us...
... much to the dismay of the teenagers! :-)
A lot of the journey was on flat, paved road... but we did encounter one endless hill, which eventually led us over the Lions Gate Bride viewpoint and directly to Prospect Point... and raspberry lime mojito sorbet.
From Stanley Park, I continued my bicycle tour through English bay and along Beach Drive, back to my hotel.
Then I was off to meet up with Sara!
Sara was a friend and colleague of mine, back in my Post Hotel, Lake Louise days. She was in the Lower Mainland for the day and planning to head back to Squamish. I convinced her to spent the day with me, as a partner in my international culinary tour of the city.
As soon as she agreed, she was dragged all over the city and made to try new concoctions like milk tea and baked eggplant.
We walked a LOT.
First stop: ChinaTown
It would be absolutely uncanny to spend time in Chinatown and not partake in the delight of Chinese Food...
Dim sum was calling our names.
We popped in for pork dumplings at the Jade Dynasty Restaurant.
They were extraordinarily hot and served with something foreign and, at first, unrecognizable. Dipping the pork in with eat bite, trying to place the taste, we finally came to the conclusion that it was sweet, red vinegar.
Interesting choice of decoration inside and chipped glassware, but all in all, delicious food and tea.
... and I NEVER drink tea.
From there, we made our way to the critically acclaimed and highly recommended Phnom Penh Cambodian Restaurant, but were disappointed to discover that it was take out service only. We temporarily contemplated ordering take out and finding a park bench to sit on, but we eventually just moved on.
I was quite surprised at the homeless situation in ChinaTown. I envisioned this vibrant, cultural and historical neighbourhood, but was surprised to discover how abandoned, dirty and grafittied most of the area was.
There was a large homeless situation which was evident before we even entered in to the main district. To me, Chinatown represented a cross between an area set on a downward spiral and that of an up-and-coming, hip community.
Popping in for a pint at the London Pub was a nice break, and the staff were both engaging and entertaining.
Then right around the corner was The Union.
They describe themselves as an industrial-chic hub that serves up Pan-Asian eats.
I had to look up what Pan-Asian meant.
Pan-Asianism is an ideology that promotes the political and economic unity and cooperation of Asian peoples.
Sara and I split the Kimchi Fries.
Bacon, cheese curds, gochujang mayo, scallions, bean sprouts and sesame.
Kimchi is a staple in Korean cuisine - a traditional side dish of salted and fermented cabbage.
This was a Pan-Asian Poutine!
It was nothing I probably ever would have tried, had I not deliberately set myself out on this educational and international culinary tour today. I am not that adventurous when it comes to trying new things at restaurants. I tend to identify my stock favourites and stick with them.
From ChinaTown, we made our way back in to the West End - and ended up wandering around Richards, Robson and Granville. After a feast of fermented cabbage and pork dumplings, I was desperate to use the facilities and we took refuge in the first place that we could pinpoint a toilet.
It was Bentoya, a Japanese restaurant
Here, we enjoyed Chicken Karaage, which was breaded and deep fried chicken, that was crispy and juicy... but slightly greasy.
We also tried Milk Tea... highly not recommended. It tasted like... cold watered-down tea... with too much sugar... and too much milk... and left to sit too long.
It's the day to try new things though!
Even Milk Tea in a bottle.
Our final excursion was destined to be Afghanistan. I'd heard tales of this fabulous restaurant in Granville Island, and Sara was quick to confirm rumours.
Jumping back on the Aquabus, we ventured back across the harbour and made our way to Afghan Horsemen Restaurant for some Sabzi Mast, Houmous and Baked Eggplant dip.
I can't even begin to describe how glutted we both were, but the Sabzi Mast was too delicious to stop eating. In fact, we even convinced the fabulous waiter to bring us more bread and kept stuffing it in to our mouths.
Lazy and full, we called an Uber to get our fat asses back to the hotel and that was the conclusion of the International Culinary Tour of Vancouver for the day...
My tour of the world so far...
Passed out by 10PM...