Well, summer is once again starting to wind down. All of our co-workers with kids are wrapping up their long vacations and coming back to work. We realized we haven’t taken a true vacation in a while, so we stole away for a short weekend to Vancouver. Usually, our trips to Vancouver are whirlwind shopping trips and a stop at our favorite restaurant on our way to or back from Whistler. We figured it would be fun to actually enjoy the city a little during the summer. We booked the Amtrak Cascades to head out of town on Friday night, coming back on Sunday night. It’s so convenient to not have to sit at the border for 2-3 hours coming back.
Apparently everyone in North America had the same idea. It was impossible to find a room. Of course we started looking for a room after we booked our non-refundable train tickets. We got lucky though and a guest house on the edge of downtown, in a neighborhood called Mt. Pleasant had one room available. Below you can see the view from the intersection of our guest house’s street looking north into downtown. The view you see here is of the Olympic Village, where the athletes will live during the Winter Olympics 2010.
The town is abuzz, there is so much construction, there are olympic mascots in every shops’ window, it’s quite fun! Downtown, in the city centre, there is a countdown clock for the opening ceremonies. I’m excited to see how Canada does the Olympics. We’re still considering tracking down tickets as we have a place to stay (but 30 other people might be staying there too). We did a little clothes and shoe shopping while in downtown, making a big loop around downtown.
We then wandered over the Granville bridge to Granville Island. This is the view from the downtown side of the city. I enjoy looking at all of the balconies with the trees and flowers.
The city has all of these little foot ferries that go point to point for about 2 loonies ($2 CAD). This one is called the AquaBus. If you remember, I went with Marisa & Ashley back in March as well. There is a huge open air farmers market, artist’s colony, restaurants, bakeries, and even a little brewery. We spent a lot of time just wandering through the market.
After the market, we wandered along the waterfront for a few miles until it was time to cut south and head back to our bed and breakfast. We found this interesting piece of art along the way. Yes, that’s me running.
Saturday night was dinner at Vij’s. We waited 2 1/2 hours for a table. If you’ve ever been to Vij’s, you can back me up. The wait is worth it! Usually when we go, we line up at the door at about 5:00pm. They open the doors at 5:30 sharp every evening and it is first come, first served. Vij, the owner, is not keen on reservations. The food was amazing, as usual. We had lamb & paneer samosas, punjabi heart attack (a small nibble of cashews sauteed in butter with some spices served on a little spoon and a side of lemon quinoa salad to clean that out), lamb “popsicles” (rib chops) in a creamy fenugreek sauce, and a beef tenderloin with almonds and garlic in a tomato and yogurt curry. Yeah, we didn’t eat light, but how can you? It was divine. And worth every bite! We walked about 7 miles over Sat/Sun, it will be fine. 🙂
Sunday morning we got up and headed to Gastown via the new Canada Line on Vancouver’s subway system. The one real sight in Gastown is the steam clock. On every quarter hour (it’s 6 minutes behind, btw), it blows some steam and plays Westminster Chimes. Each quarter hour adds more notes and on the hour it plays the whole shebang. Lots of aggressive tourists, but fun to watch.
Right by the train station & clock is this lovely building we stumbled upon. There is a restroom right next to this window with the most spectacular view I’ve seen from a loo. This window is looking out toward the Coastal Mountains.
We happened upon a small neighborhood farmers market as well. Look at these beauties! I hope my crop will somewhat compare.
These below are Green Zebra variety of tomatoes. If you ever stumble upon them, snatch them up! They are a perfect, meaty, tart tomato. Perfect with cheese and olive oil. Too bad fruit can’t cross borders.
Before our next walking adventure, we stopped off at Steamworks, the Gastown brewery for lunch. We shared a plate of sinful fish & chips and sat in the sunshine.
We walked our way through the city back to our bed and breakfast to grab our suitcases and head for the evening train to Seattle. The train ride is one of those things that I think should be on every Northwesterner’s weekend things to do. It’s seriously so beautiful and so much fun! This was the sun set just after we crossed over the border back into the US.
My favorite part of the train ride is through Chuckanut. It’s about 5 minutes worth of train where you see something that is not accessible by car and is just so serene. It was a perfect sight just before the sun disappeared.
Well. I’m considering our summer NOT over yet! There’s still sun shining in this town and we will take advantage, but it was fun to participate with everyone else in their last weekend of summer.