TL;DR | We made it to the West Coast! Emily, who went to college in Vancouver, showed Stephen the best of the city and we enjoyed a relaxing week meeting up with great friends and family.
Vancouver was a much anticipated stop for a few reasons: lots of friends, good food, and the opportunity to shower (for which we were long past due). Despite the nine hour drive from Banff we arrived in good spirits to our first stop, our friend Kate’s apartment downtown. Our first meal in Vancouver was, naturally, sushi. Vancouver has about as many sushi restaurants as coffee shops… so, a lot. It is cheap, delicious, and certainly a must do for anyone visiting the city.
Vancouver was where Emily went to university, so there were a lot of old friends and favourite places to see and introduce to Stephen. One of them is Revolver, which makes hands down the best espresso ever. Unfortunately it is also closed on Sundays, our first morning there, which necessitated a stop at another coffee shop nearby, where Stephen happened to run into a co-worker. Small world.
Most of our activities for the first few days revolved around eating; we went to Meat & Bread (Guy Fieri went there on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, if you care about that sort of thing), Go Fish (a delicious fish shack right on the water), Alibi Room (great beer selection, as well as cocktails, one of which Stephen custom ordered and enjoyed to the fullest), Grounds for Coffee (cinnamon buns that are cripplingly huge and delicious). We stayed downtown for the first four days, making a visit to Granville Island with Kate, enjoying the local market and brewing company, where we found it completely necessary to sample every single beer on tap (the best way to spend an afternoon before eating yet another meal). We also enjoyed a fantastic dinner at L’Abattoir, courtesy of Stephen’s grandmother (thank you Mimi!) who wrote us a check and requested that we treat ourselves to a “nice meal.” Several evenings were spent meeting up with friends (obviously over food and drinks), including old co-workers and classmates (shouts out to Gillian, Nicole, Shane, Maxx, Vihan, Shaheen, and Nadine!)
We also biked the seawall, a beautiful path surrounding almost the entirety of downtown as well as Stanley Park. This park is enormous, jutting into the ocean and providing views of West Vancouver, the University of British Columbia, the Kitsilano neighbourhood, the mountains, and the ocean, and is home to three beaches. Even for a cloudy Monday the path was choked with tourists, which was somewhat annoying but did little to mar the beautiful views. The other major foray outside of downtown was to the university, particularly to the Museum of Anthropology which houses a collection of native artwork including The Raven and the First Men, Emily’s favourite sculpture.
Our last three days were spent with Emily’s brother Ben and his girlfriend Dana at their home in West Vancouver. Over the last 18 months they have lived there they have slowly transformed the garden in the back from a tangled jungle of who knows what into a provider of apples, pears, blackberries, tomatoes, figs, every herb you could think of, etc. The crowning jewel, however, is the pizza oven which Ben conceptualized and constructed, completing it just in time for our arrival (not really, but we felt very lucky to have the opportunity to experience the type of pizza this thing produces). We spent one of the days with Ben and Dana hiking to a mountain lake near the town of Squamish (which is about half-way between Vancouver and Whistler), swimming away the afternoon in the clear water and sunning ourselves on the rocks. Our last night we enjoyed a pizza party, where every guest was instructed to bring their preferred ingredients with which to construct their own pie. The pizza was far and away some of the best we have had; restaurants WISH they had this oven.
Before departing the next day, we went with Ben to a beach in West Van to throw around the frisbee a bit, enjoying our last hours in Canada. We did stop one last time at Revolver on our way out of town, naturally. We want to give a huge thanks to Kate, Ben and Dana, who all graciously hosted us while in town, and if any of our friends are reading this, we miss you already :)