Our last day in this incredible city, we didn’t want to go home and were both looking for how we could justify the future move to the west coast. Could we break the news to our families? Could we leave our friends behind, and could we find good jobs and raise a family? All questions to ask ourselves as we think about the future.
But no time for that now! We had to grab an aquabus to head back to Granville Island and meet up with Perry and Sarita before we had to leave for the airport. While there we picked up some candied salmon as gifts for our parents (surprise!) and enjoyed some tasty, fresh beef jerky on the patio.
After being terrorized by the local birds, we reluctantly set off back to the hotel to pick up our bags and head to the airport. However, we couldn’t leave before we got a tour of Olympic Village, a set of brand new condos inhabited by athletes from the 2010 Winter Olympic Games featuring some very stylish and all uniquely designed buildings, as well as a ride on the completely automated SkyTrain.
We bid farewell to our sister city on the west coast and made way for home, with fond memories in tow and a promise to return.
We started day six with a nice walk up Robson to Granville St where we checked out Taiwanese Fest and some of the local shops. Making our way west on lower Granville, we entered the shadier part of town where every other store was catered to a select clientele. Nevertheless, we persevered and made a spur of the moment decision to visit the University of British Columbia campus and check out the view. Perry assured us that it was worth the trek.
Hopping on the number 4 bus, we trundled along through Kitsilano towards UBC and toured a bit of the campus when we got there. We were so close to the coast that we decided to head for the beach and walked down the 500+ steps towards Wreck Beach where we noted the sign, “Clothing is optional”. As we were a bit more modest than most, we kept our clothes on but Deb grabbed a hippy scarf and wore it like a skirt so her legs could see the light of day.
This was our first excursion onto a nude beach an let me say how unsanitary it seemed ;). Lots of people in all shapes, sizes and age were enjoying the sun and some were even playing frisbee… Haha.
When we were finished enjoying the view, we headed back to Granville St, had a bite to eat and did some shopping before resting at the hotel. To end the evening, we went to Rodney’s Oyster bar on Hamilton St and had a ‘few’ glasses of sake at Hapa Izakaya. For anyone looking for great food, very entertaining and friendly hosts, head to Rodney’s - you won’t be disappointed.
What an amazing trip. Day Six and Seven recaps coming when I land :).
Enjoying an amazingly aromatic experience at Rodney’s Oyster Bay in Yaletown, Vancouver.
After a late night at Hapa Izakaya yesterday, we were surprisingly quick to wake up on day five. A healthy breakfast downstairs in the hotel lobby and some strong coffee quickly got us on our feet for another sunny day in Vancouver. We walked down the street to rent some bicycles for the morning and leisurely rode along the Vancouver sea wall from Yaletown where we were staying to Stanley Park. Then we jumped onto some trails and gave our thighs a work out.
After a thoroughly enjoyable though exhausting ride, we made our way to Kintaro in English Bay for some of the most authentic - and delicious - ramen noodles I’ve ever had. As is usually the case with authentic cuisine, the place looked like a hole in the wall, very unassuming. But the line up to get in gave away how good the food was ;).
After parting ways with Perry and Sarita, we visited the Vancouver aquarium in Stanley Park after our first ride on this city’s public transit. We were even given a free ride as we didn’t have any coins and the buses here, oddly, only accept coins.
As we made our way through the tip of Stanley Park and neared the aquarium, we could hear the excited laughter of children and the splashing of sea creatures. We knew we were headed in the right direction! Upon arrival, we were treated to the most well run zoo we’ve ever been to, with beautiful facilities, friendly and extremely knowledgeable staff, and of course, wickedly cool animals including a close up view of 7 ft+ Arapima Amazonian fish just like one caught by Jeremy Wade in River Monsters.
We ended our evening at the original Guu and enjoyed not only some delicious Japanese food, but also a very lively and entertaining chef.
We visited the Vancouver aquarium yesterday and had a surprise visitor in the tropical zone: a very hungry two-toed sloth! It is rare to see these guys as active as this and even more so as close as he got to us. Very cool experience.
Yummy okonomiyaki from the original Guu in Vancouver. So good! Almost like What I had in Hiroshima.
We actually got to sleep in on day four of our engagement moon. My friend Perry met us around 10 am and we took a nice drive through downtown Vancouver to our brunch location on the beach: Cactus Club. There we enjoyed an absolutely delicious butternut squash ravioli, tuna tataki, and cerviche. What was nice about the cerviche was that they used spring salmon instead of the traditional cod or whitefish - it gave the dish a very distinct taste. The overall dining experience was very Vancouver and I’d highly recommend this place to anyone looking for a great meal and a stellar view.
From here we made our way to the Electronic Arts head office in Burnaby and got a tour of the facility from Perry’s girlfriend. They had three campuses, each working on a different set of games and we were lucky enough to get a tour of two of them. Alas, we did not have the blue key to get to the final campus. But holy moly the EA campus was so beautifully designed and well architected; you can completely see how the company tries to keep you on their grounds for the entire day :). There was even a soccer field, ball hockey arena and a beach volleyball court! Well done, EA, and thanks again to Sarita for the tour and gift at the end!
Next up was the Capilano suspension bridge in North Vancouver. Suspended 450 ft above the Capilano valley, this was the largest suspension bridge in North America, and maybe the world. We took another leisurely stroll through the tree top wooden village and their newly opened cliff walk - really gave you a unique perspective on the BC environment.
We were then treated to a fine dining experience at Seasons atop the Queen Elizabeth park hill and had some of the best t-bone, filet mignon, salmon and lamb in a very long time. The view also couldn’t be beat as we watched the sun set on Vancouver and Grouse Mountain. Overall, the ambiance of the restaurant and its patron was modern and contemporary but also rustic - a very tough amalgamation to pull off well.
We ended the night at Hapa Izakaya, a Japanese sake bar on Robson and helped ourselves to some refreshing cold sake and laughed and drank the night away. We’re both going to miss Perry and Sarita a lot when we head home next week - they have been some of the most hospitable and fun people we’ve ever been with, and you really can’t ask for better company. We love you guys!
The most authentic ramen I’ve had outside of Japan: Kintaro in English Bay, Vancouver.
Vancouver Island was today’s destination, and it was another very early morning in order to make it to West Vancouver and the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal for 8 am. The ferry would scuttle us across The Straight of Georgia to Nanaimo where we’d drive to Port Alberni and Cathedral Grove to see the 800 year old Douglas Firs.
As we made our way along another incredible driving road that snaked along a mountain side and was flanked by Lake Cameron, nothing could prepare us for the height and girth of these magnificent giants. So we pulled off hwy 4 west into what appeared to be a fairly unassuming parking lot and began our journey through history.
After our romp through the park, we drove north to Qualicum Beach and Horne Lake Caves into a hidden gem: spelunking! The art of cave exploration, Deb and I went down about 90 ft into an underground tunnel that has never seen natural light, and explored speleological structures few human eyes have ever seen. It was an incredible experience and one of the highlights of our trip so far.
We ended the night with some delicious sushi in Nanaimo at Tomo Sushi Togo, another hidden gem, then waited for our ferry at Departure Bay. What a day!
Definitely a hidden gem: Tomo Sushi To Go in downtown Nanaimo.
Yummy yummy seared spring salmon at Araxi.
Whistler’s Olympic Village