I’m here in Vancouver for work. I feel sort of bittersweet about this trip because I ended up missing a ton of important things at home this weekend, but I didn’t realize how much I’d love this city. It’s plunked down on a peninsula right in the middle of a harbor and surrounded by snow-capped mountains. It’s so beautiful.
I landed in the afternoon 2 days ago and took the opportunity to find the two walking-distance things I’d saved on TripAdvisor, the Vancouver Lookout and the steam clock. The clock was cool; it’s entirely steam powered — even the chimes are like a steam engine whistle. I also grabbed a vanilla stout at Steamworks Brewery, a fun Vancouver staple. I actually took two trips up the lookout tower because it was a 24-hour ticket and I realized I wanted to see the sunset. It was worth it.
My afternoon was light yesterday so I got adventurous and walked across the peninsula to catch a ferry to Granville Island (just a few bucks), which was originally an industrial area that was revamped into sort of an artist colony. I checked out the public market, full of food vendors of the organic/crunchy variety and all sorts of really talented artists and artisans – I think one of my favorites was the obsidian knives. I ate lunch outside by the water. There was live music, and I overheard a musician, who was getting his stuff ready over by the boats, tell someone that the fee was really reasonable to reserve a spot on the market pier to perform on a regular basis. There were a ton of people there, so maybe it’s good exposure. I walked around the island, which has an art school and a bunch of art galleries. There was a chalk paint wall that invited you to write your thoughts about love. I heard piano music start up and peeked through a door and saw a ballet class going on. There were enormous industrial tanks painted with what looked like hipster luchadores to me. I saw a seal come up for air and dive back down under the boats. The walk itself to and from the ferry was fun (except that I felt old and slow — I’ve lost my city walk). It reminded me of being in Dupont Circle in DC. Also tons of cyclists who looked like they were not afraid for their lives.
On my hotel bartender’s recommendation, I had dinner last night at Miku, a sushi place that distinguished itself here with its “aburi” sushi, made with a flame-searing technique that didn’t sound all that awesome until I tried it. I’m actually lucky I got in; I had to show up before 6 to even catch a seat at the bar. Speaking of my hotel, I stayed at the Pinnacle Harborfront, and was very happy with everything except the gym (yikes). And the bartender there gave me a small lesson in British Columbia wines (Jackson-Triggs is a popular local wine, and I thought the chardonnay and the sauvignon blanc were pretty tasty).
Turns out yesterday I walked something like 8 miles. No wonder my feet feel like ground beef today. Anyway. Some photos are below. The photo that looks like the aftermath of a fatal car crash is actually a movie set a block from my hotel. There’s a picture of houses; I really liked the architecture of the houses in the residential areas (although apparently real estate is SUPER expensive in Vancouver – cab driver told me his house value has doubled since 2009).
The woman on the Toronto-Vancouver flight with me was also originally from Philly and moved to Vancouver with her (Canadian) husband. She spent most of the time we talked telling me I should really check out the immigration application because it’s amazing out here. Now I see what she was talking about.