Having only a couple of days in Vancouver before the wedding, we wanted to get around and see a few things around the city.
Elizabeth, myself and my hangover got up bright and breezy on the Friday morning and hailed a taxi to take us out to the University of British Columbia campus and the Museum of Anthropology. The museum was very small and was a bit disappointing in that regard. However, what they did have was excellent, including some totem poles carved by the First Nation inhabitants (in this region, they are not called Native Americans, Indians or any such like).
The attached pictures show some of the artwork, including an impressive eagle!
From there, we headed down towards Granville Island and lunch. Down by the water, just opposite the island we found a small little shack called “Go Fish”. Still early (for lunch anyway), we walked up to the counter and were directed around the corner to place our order. It seems this little place is Vancouver’s worst kept secret as even at 11.30am the queue for food stretched around the corner! Having queued, paid, waited and found a table, the food turned up and boy was it worth the wait! My fish Thai curry chowder and fish sandwich were amazingly fresh and on top of a hangover hit the spot perfectly. Even Elizabeth’s fish and chips tasted good and I hate the batter fish is usually fried in! What a great find!
One thing will become apparent as you read the journal for the next couple of weeks – food was definitely not in short supply and most of it was good but some of it was excellent. This was excellent, without a doubt.
Content, rested and slightly refreshed, we headed over the bridge to Granville Island itself.
The plan here was to visit the brewery and sample the beers. Having a hangover and on top of lunch, we wandered around for a while first, visiting the public market and being completely immersed and consumed by all the fresh food, from fish to fruit and vegetables. This might sound silly to many but those who have lived in Bermuda will appreciate how difficult it can be at times to get fresh fruit and veg. It was like a dream for someone who loves cooking (and eating) as much as I do.
As the weather continued to warm up, so did we. The time felt right to hit the brewery! We didn’t bother with the tour but the bar itself sold a little sampler of six beers so we each worked our way through them. Most of the beers were very tasty, even the darker ones, but the very darkest was extremely bitter and was a struggle to finish!
Having purchased the obligatory souvenirs (beer glass, magnet!) we headed up to the main road and the bridge leading from the island to downtown. Given the walking we’d both done of late, we decided we would walk back to our hotel and then get ready to go out.
In the evening, Phil and Tina had planned some drinks with family and friends at a bar called Steamworks. On the way to the bar, Elizabeth and I detoured to visit the Vancouver Lookout to get some views of the city. The building itself was strange, not in looks but in height. It had obviously been built a few years previously and in current years had been consumed by downtown Vancouver and the ever increasing high-rises. From the top, however, there was still a pretty good view in most directions and it gave you an idea of the size of Vancouver and its suburbs.
After that brief stop, we headed to Steamworks where we met Phil and Tina, Peter, Phil’s parents and a number of other relatives of the couple as well as Tricia and Keith, a couple we both knew from Bermuda who had recently escaped the island! It was a nice way to meet some new people and catch up with some old friends, too.
Waking up without a hangover, Elizabeth and I headed out of the city a little, catching the shuttle bus up to the Capilano Suspension Bridge. The bridge links one side of the Capilano river to the other via a wooden bridge held up by metal cables which move quite a lot under the forces of the people walking over the bridge. Heights don’t scare me but, although this wasn’t that high, standing near the edge taking pictures while it swayed was a little unnerving! This didn’t stop me deliberately jumping around to try and scare Elizabeth!
The far side of the bridge entered into a wonderful, lush forest. In fact, everything we saw in this region was pretty lush and green! We wandered around the forest, including an elevated walkway through the tree canopies and made the most of the cool, ideal walking conditions.
Back over the bridge, we visited the shop and bought more souvenirs as well as a lovely chunk of chocolate fudge!
Despite the overcast weather, we decided to head up to Grouse Mountain, too, which was only a couple of miles further up the road. On reaching the bottom and the cable car entrance, we paid the crazy fees (I think Capilano plus Grouse cost us nearly $75 EACH!) and gave a quick glance skywards. The top of the mountain was not even visible and neither of us were really dressed for bad weather.
As the cable car climbed, the city of Vancouver was visible beneath us while all the while, the mist drew closer. It wasn’t long before we were surrounded in dense white fog and the city had disappeared. At the top, visibility was poor and there was no chance of seeing the bottom but, nevertheless, we set-off for a walk around the peak, wrapping ourselves up as best we could.
Having wandered for a while, seen an eagle, a couple of bears and a number of ski lifts which looked like they lead into the clouds, we decided that any further exploration would prove fruitless and headed back to the café for a warm drink and some fudge!
We had nothing planned for the evening (once we’d warmed up) so we dropped by Peter’s room to see if he wanted to join us for dinner. We found an Indian restaurant close to the hotel, buried in the heart of the Vancouver gay district, and headed down there for a very filling meal of samosas, bhajis, curries and naans! Afterwards, we headed back to Joe Forte’s so that Elizabeth could see the roof terrace and enjoy the beers once again.
Thankfully, with the wedding set for later tomorrow, the evening ended at a reasonable hour and we got a fairly early night.
With the wedding not until later in the day, we took full opportunity of our final day in Vancouver. From our hotel, we walked through the city to Stanley Park. The weather was great, much clearer than yesterday and the views from the edge of the park back into the city were lovely.
At the far tip of the park there were a number of totem poles which had been erected together. The carving and colouring on these was amazing and so well defined. Some of them were huge, too, making you wonder how people many years ago used to stand them up – lifting an almost solid tree trunk takes some brute force, I’d imagine!
From there, we headed towards the centre of the park and into the aquarium, which had a brilliant statue outside depicting the First Nation symbol of a whale.
Inside, we saw Beluga whales, Pacific dolphins and some incredible jelly fish tanks as well as the usual array of tropical fish, eels, balloonfish, poisonous frogs and snakes!
I still reckon one day I’ll get to volunteer and help out at one of these amazing aquariums – even though I dive and see some of these things up close, I still love visiting aquariums and could spend hours walking around and watching the fish, even out of their natural environment. I would however have one request (those of you with kids, look away!) – aquariums, and zoos, museums and art galleries for that matter, should have one day a week or month where children are not allowed. While I love seeing the children enjoying the displays and the chance to learn about other creatures on this planet, I despair of those who have no manners and are ignorant and are seemingly left to their own devices by their parents. I hate generalizing, but would it be so bad if one day I month I could enjoy the peace and tranquility often provided in these institutions without some spoilt brat running around and screaming? Sorry. Rant over!
By the time we left the aquarium it was early afternoon and the weather was excellent. We decided to head back to the hotel for some lunch, get our bags sorted for our departure tomorrow and then get ready for the wedding.
Just outside our hotel we had noticed a hot dog stand called Japadogs. Usually I try to avoid these but having mentioned the stand to Tricia on Friday night, she mentioned that she had heard about it and wanted to try it! So we went ahead, risked our stomachs and tucked in to a hot dog flavoured with a teriyaki based sauce and seaweed. To be fair, the stand did have a cutting showing it had been visited by Anthony Bourdain so it came highly recommended! And it was an interesting taste but these things were very good. I almost wish I’d got a second one!
In the evening, we got dressed up and headed down to one of the ballrooms where the wedding was. After the actual ceremony, over a glass or five of champagne, we had a chance to chat to some other friends we knew, including Greg who used to share a house with Phil in Bermuda. Dinner was a huge buffet and there was so much on offer – I tried to restrict myself but buffets are just too tempting sometimes. I did avoid dessert though so I didn’t completely pig out! It was a great evening and it was so nice to be there for Phil and Tina’s special day.