02.09.2009 - 05.09.2009 21 °C
Sitting in the taxi driving us to the airport, we just got extremely excited since this is the first leg of our trip that requires taking the plane which also means we won't see the comfort of our home for another 7 months.
For Mark, Vancouver has always been a prime destination in Canada so he wanted to introduce me to it. Also, many of his really good friends have now established themselves in this rainy city and he was really excited to be able to catch up with them.
We arrived on Wednesday afternoon and were picked up by Pat & Sarah (our super nice hosts for most of our stay in Vancouver). It was cool since I just met them a couple weeks ago on the East coast during our trip to the Maritimes and now we get to spend time with them on the opposite coast of the country. Pat & Sarah live in the Kitsilano area of Vancouver which is this super cute neighborhood right next to the beach. After settling in, Mark and I went to have this delicious lunch at this trendy and casual vegetarian joint called The Naam. We were then joined by Pat for a long walk along the beach to Granville Island which has tons of interesting little shops and an amazing food market. We also got to enjoy a little sake tasting at the only sake maker in North America. We called it a day after a couple boiled corn and episodes of Entourage.
The next day, we woke up early and had breakfast at this Vancouver staple called Sophie’s which was voted best breakfast by the locals many years in a row. We then hopped on a bus towards downtown for a long stroll to sightsee but also to run some errands we didn’t have time to do back home. I was amazed at the number of restaurant that downtown Vancouver boasts and how the majority of them are Asian, especially Japanese. Having already been there, Mark takes me to this Isakaya style Japanese restaurant, Guu, for lunch. It was chaos; not only was the place jam packed of mostly Japanese people on their lunch break, but also the staff’s continuous screaming of welcomes, orders and thank yous definitely added to it. The food was simple but extremely tasty and I guess it’s always a good sign of authenticity when you see mostly Japanese people in a Japanese restaurant. With our stomach satisfied, we headed back home for a much needed nap. That night we (us & Pat, since Sarah was at work) decided to cook a delicious dinner of sockeye salmon with pineapple salsa, asparagus and wild rice. We ended the night with a few beers an almost endless conversation about human’s purpose on this earth. Oh lord…and to think it all started by us talking about how Pat took a year off of works a few years back.
Friday started with a long walk back to Granville Island for a crepe breakfast at the market which was decent but nothing spectacular. On our walk back home I stumbled on this little shoe shop and finally found some TEVA flip flops, I’ve been looking for those suckers for months. For lunch, all four of us went to this fantastic hand-made ramen restaurant, Kintaro, and waited in the apparently-normal lineup. An enormous bowl of ramen in miso soup with bbq pork later, I rolled myself out of the restaurant and we went to see the sights around the Vancouver Convention Center. Costing around a billion dollars to build, this building is quite impressive by its size but also by its roof covered with green space. We parted ways with Pat who had to return to work and then Sarah drove us to see the Stanley Park and its popular totem poles and we also got a glimpse of the University of British Columbia. We all went home afterwards to rest before our Indian dinner with Ed & Laura. Ed & Mark have been really good friends since they were 14 and Laura is Ed’s lovely wife. All five of us (Poor Sarah had to stay behind since she was feeling really sick) had an amazing Indian dinner at Chutney Villa and then headed for a psychedelic Radiohead Laser Show at the Vancouver Space Center. It was such a unique experience that Mark and I won’t soon forget.
Saturday was our first rainy day since we’ve been to Vancouver but we wouldn’t let it stop us from attending the fair at the PNE (Pacific National Exhibition) with Ed & Laura. We arrive onsite to find out that parking fees were outrageous but the people who lived around the site were out on the streets trying to rent out their personal parking spot for a lesser fee. We agreed to rent the spot of this lovely old Chinese woman who was waving at us across the street from the fair entrance. But as soon as we agreed, she told us to follow her and started running, and running , and running… Ten minutes later, we couldn’t even be mad at her for making us park so far from the site, we were just so impress that such an old lady had the stamina to run for so long. This fair was like any other fair, with its greasy foods, sketchy rides, market that sold all kinds of gadgets, an animal farm, and what we enjoyed the most, a Superdogs show. We ate very healthy that day downing some fried jalapeno peppers stuffed with cream cheese, fried Mars bar (oh yah, as in the chocolate bar in a batter and then fried), fried Oreo cookies (mmm…), a poutine, a beef sandwich and the best scone I ever had. We also bought a candied apple but thought it was wise to keep it for another day. We returned to Pat & Sarah’s and past out after a couple episodes of Eastbound &Down (hilarious!!).
After only a few days in Vancouver, I’m definitely sold on its charm (Mark knew I would be). I love the beaches, the active lifestyle of the locals and their health consciousness, and the gross amount of Japanese restaurants it has to offer.
We have a few more days in Vancouver and then Japan…
Thanh (for Mark & Thanh)