It is amazing how Vancouver closely resembles Perth that I almost forgot I was in a foreign city. There is the obvious difference of Vancouver being livelier and busier even during the night but, apart from that, I can totally see myself living there and adjusting to this new city within a matter of days. Plus, food is much cheaper too. A bento box in Perth that would normally cost me $10.90 costs only $6.45 in Vancouver! And you get more food in the box too.
The area i loved most is Yaletown because this is where the atmosphere is most like Perth. It is not as rowdy as Downtown but is still busy enough to keep you occupied. I’ve heard that Canadian are known to be amongst the friendliest bunch. True enough. As soon as we got out of the train station, a seemingly nice guy approached us and asked if we needed help with directions as we were helplessly confused with the map. Need more evidence? We walked into a hair salon to ask the owner, Sue, how much a haircut is blah blah blah. Before we walked out she spotted my huge ass camera, making us look very touristy, and started chatting with us and recommending all the places we need to go and highlighting all those places in the map. I couldn’t love her more!
For a more relaxing late afternoon arrival, K and I decided to go to the Vancouver Lookout. This, in my opinion, is a major rip off. Yes you get to see the “spectacular” views of Vancouver and all that but that’s about it for $15. The inside was pretty dingy and there was no photo souvenir no nothing. Guess I was just expecting a little bit more than just the views. And to top it off, they have this display of the tallest buildings in the world and how this Vancouver Lookout compares. It doesn’t even come close to the second shortest building in comparison!
One good thing did come out of the trip to the lookout though. K saw this little info about a Steam Clock in Gastown, a neighbourhood not too far from the lookout so it was walkable. This clock is powered by steam and chimes every 15 minutes to the tune of the chimes in Westminster Abbey in London, according to the brochure. We crossed over to Gastown to hunt for this clock and there is was surrounded by tourists like us waiting for it to chime. Finally a quarter of the hour arrived and the clock chimed complete with steam blowing out from it. Even diners at the italian restaurant in front of it were awestruck. This neighbourhood here is much like Leederville or Subiaco in Perth with all its pubs, restaurants, cafes and specialty shops. It was already dark when we popped by so we did not actually walk into any of the shops; but we did have dinner there at The Old Spaghetti Factory, which is an iconic restaurant in this part of town. If you are looking to get your teeth on some spectacular spaghetti meals, don’t get your hopes high. They were nothing but ordinary and the bread was not even good. After that we headed home and bid Vancouver goodnight.
On the next day, our first official Vancouver sightseeing day, K and I went to the famous Capilano Suspension Bridge. The main reason for the existence of the said bridge is to cross from one mountain to another. We hopped on the free shuttle and about 20 minutes later we arrived at the bridge. Aside from the bridge and the new Cliffwalk attraction there isn’t much else to do. Do cross the wobbly bridge though for the sake of saying you have crossed the bridge. When we headed back down they gave us a certificate for crossing the bridge. Not too shabby, eh? Whilst waiting for our shuttle to go back to Downtown we stopped by and chatted with an info centre staff named Gemma. She is really awesome because, apart from telling us where to go and which beaches are prettier, she recommended the most awesome dessert cafe ever called True Confections, which we will eventually head off to after dinner. When we got to Downtown we searched and searched and finally asked a local where the Japadog stall is. Japadog is like a normal hotdog in a bun only it’s Japanese style which means that it is way better that frankfurts with ketchup and mustard. This stall has all kinds of Japanese-style hotdogs in a bun topped with Japanese mayo, seaweed, bonito flakes. Whatever you want. Oh, there is also that wasabi mayo. It’s a little pricey for about $7 to $9 that does not fill you up that much but I am so willing to pay for that second hotdog.
After lunch we decided that we needed to burn off some of the calories we just consumed so where better to do this than Stanley Park? I really though walking to the park would be a no-brainer but it turned out to be very far so onto Plan B. We took the Capilano free shuttle to the Westin and walked from there. This was way easier than walking from Downtown. Walk, run, jog, hop…whatever you want to do at the park you will see really great views of people’s boat moored around the marina. We followed a short trail heading towards the beaches whose names I can’t remember aside from Sunset Beach and I had way too much fun spotting wildlife I don’t get to see in Perth. We saw racoons in daylight, squirrels and Canadian geese crossing the street. How cool is that? An hour or so later we made it back to Downtown under the blinding Canadian sun and had a Greek/Persian dinner at some restaurant in Denman Street. We had the chicken shawarma and it was delicious! We cooled off with desserts at True Confections a few blocks down the road. When Gemma told us that they make the biggest cakes you’ve ever seen she was not kidding. The cakes were really ginormous, height-wise, having about 4 layers of cake and 4 layers of cream. I had the strawberry shortcake and this could easily be the best strawberry shortcake I have ever had. What made it so good was the use of fresh strawberries. The cream filling wasn’t too sweet and it was loaded with huge chunks of fresh strawberries. Top that with strawberry sauce. And by that I meant mashed strawberries seeping through the vanilla sponge cake. O.M.G. I almost died of goodness. When you have the cake you will not be left feeling super heavy because they slice the cake very thinly. Height is big but width is small so it’s like having a regular sized slice of cake.
A little walk around Downtown to get us all digested for the night and we bought the most amazing bargain we have ever had. An office shirt of good quality for just $2.18.
Onto the next day and our major sightseeing day was devoted to Grouse Mountain. Again, there was a free shuttle from Downtown that goes to the mountain and it fills up really quickly so we had to wait for the next available scheduled departure. We took a gondola to the top of the mountain and there were all sorts of activities up there like bird shows, “theatre in the sky”, ranger talks…etc. We made it to the bird show and learned about the bald eagle, owl and turkey vulture. On a regular day I’d try to stay away from these birds because, first, they are, quite frankly, scary; and, second, they are ugly. Now that the hottie who gave the talk about the birds enlightened me about the birds they don’t seem that scary anymore (if you know, of course, what they can do). Okay, I’ll admit it. Those birds were kinda cute too, at certain angles that is.
After sitting in the heat for a good half an hour for the show we took the chair lift to go to the “eye of the wind” attraction but we did not actually go into the attraction because that’s extra moolah we’re talking about. We just rode the chair lift to the peak of Grouse Mountain and back just in time for the Lumberjack show. It was mostly an awkward show due to poor and obviously scripted hosting but the hunky lumberjacks were an eye candy. We had a photo taken with them afterwards. After half a day in nature we headed back to civilisation and had a stroll around Robson Street for some shopping. Feeling hungry after shopping we had dinner at a ramen place that was so delicious I still could not get over it.
The following day was our last day in Vancouver. K had some errands to do so I was on my own until noon. What did I do? Something I wouldn’t usually do on holidays – exercising. Dressed in my gym attire I went for a jog around the other side of the marina near Yaletown-Roundhouse Skytrain station. The views were absolutely fantastic and the posh apartments certainly made the jog more fun. At the end of my light exercise I gained back even more of the calories I burnt by having breakfast at The Templeton. This was a classic diner with remnants from the 50′s and they serve good food. K and I met up with an old school friend the night before and she took us here where we had a BBB Burger, poutine, raspberry and peach cobbler and deep fried mars bar. I enjoyed eating here so much I resolved to give their breakfast a try (a New Denver omelet) and it did not disappoint. Soft and fluffy omelet with rosemary potatoes and toast.
I met up with K again later in midday and we were off to do some laundry. It was a mission to carry bags of laundry to a “nearby” laundromat. We left our clothes at the laundromat ad headed off to lunch at Vera’s Burger Shack. We really are such gluttons because we ordered a burger each, poutine and sweet potato fries. Sounds alright until you see the serving size. We did not expect the serving size to be THAT big but we did manage to finish both our burgers and half each of the poutine and the fries. Vera’s has a commitment to carbs and calories so do expect their burgers to be big and all that. It has everything you can ask for!
Our last tourist stop in Vancouver was the Granville Island, particularly the Granville Island Public Market. We walked to the island and got a little lost. It looked easy enough to just follow where your eyes lead you because we can see the island from the bridge but we couldn’t figure out where the exit or the entrance to the island is. Even with help from locals it was confusing. We did reach our destination in the end. The market has stalls that sell fresh fruits and veggies, baked goods, soaps and all the other quirky things. Outside the market were little shops for souvenirs, mountain gear, hammocks, and restaurants. For the way back to Downtown we decided to take the bus instead of walking the bridge again.
We called it a night and slept early for an early flight onto the next city the next day.