It’s been kind of a garbage dump of a week, so I’ve had my sights set on this three-day weekend for the past few days. Since Monday, I’ve been making my Saturday plans: sleep in, roll out of bed only for a latte and a scone, and then roll back into bed for an afternoon with Harry Potter and Season 6 of Lost. I believed it was just what I needed. But then my more adventurous, more fun-loving better half turned to me on Thursday night and said, “What if we woke up on Saturday morning in a different country, instead?” We quickly Price-lined a hotel in Vancouver, packed our bags, and as soon as the whistle blew on Friday afternoon, we were Canada-bound.
It wasn’t until I started looking online for things to do near our hotel that I realized July 1st was in fact Canada Day, so we would be in the thick of the country’s annual ‘birthday’ celebration. As soon as we got into the city, traffic slowed to a crawl, as the streets were swarming with people clad in red and white, waving their maple leaf-adorned flags as they danced to the music of any number of bands that had set up shop on the street corners. We snaked our way to our hotel, gladly ditched our car at the parking garage, and set out in search of 1) good food, and 2) general merriment and festive-ness. Jack and La Verne had recommended Zakkushi for dinner, a cozy little Yakitori joint just a few blocks from where we were staying. We snagged a couple of seats at the bar and promptly began ordering to our heart’s delight – items on the menu were about two dollars apiece, and we wanted to try to try just about everything. For the next hour, the waitress brought us plate after plate of pork-wrapped asparagus, grilled quail eggs, and miscellaneous chicken parts, paired with cold, refreshing pints of Sapporo.
Happy and well-nourished, we waddled out of the restaurant and followed the throngs of people to the waterfront in hopes of catching the big fireworks show. We staked out a little spot at the harbor’s edge and watched bang after bang of red and white lights. I marveled at how unknowingly perfect our timing had been in our last-minute decision to make the trip up to Vancouver – you don’t see this every night!
Post-fireworks, we headed toward Gastown to check out the Pourhouse – an allegedly ‘legit’ bar where bartenders respect and know their cocktails. Shane was determined to verify such rumors, so we plopped ourselves on a couple of barstools and promptly ordered our fist round of drinks. Shane was impressed with his Fernet-laced Toronto, and my Golden Fizz (gin, lemon, egg, soda water) was perfectly creamy-but-light. Verdict: this bar was indeed legit.
By the time we left Gastown, it was nearly 1 am, which is pretty late for an old married couple such as ourselves, so we cabbed it back to the hotel and fell into bed with a couple of food and drink-induced smiles on our faces. It had been a very good night.
I was delighted to see sun shining through the curtains early the next morning – I peeked outside and took in the view of the harbor and mountains, pleased that it would be a perfect day for touring the city.
Shane threw on his running clothes and headed out for a jog around Stanley Park. I thought about joining him for all of six seconds, and then decided instead to head back to bed for awhile – I just wasn’t quite ready to give up on my plans of a Saturday sleep-in. Hunger eventually pulled me back out of bed, and we left the hotel mid-morning in search of breakfast. I followed a recommendation for a good crepe place just down the street, so we grabbed a quick bite and then decided that the sunshine was calling us back toward Stanley Park. We found a place that offered cheap bike rentals, hopped on our super-rad orange cruisers, and we were off! It was an incredibly leisurely ride, as we stopped every few minutes to take in the scenery and snap a few photos. Shane said it was the longest bike ride he’d been on without breaking a sweat – that’s what I’m talkin’ about…
We returned our bikes mid-afternoon and knew that we needed to take advantage of Vancouver’s culinary offerings at least one more time before hitting the road. We settled on ramen at Motomachi Shokudo, another trusted recommendation from Jack and La V. And wowsers – these Vancouver-ites don’t mess around when it comes to their noodle soup! Rich, flavorful broth filled with soft-but-not-too-soft noodles and tender slices of pork. I dont think I’ll ever be able to go back to those 25-cent packages of Top Ramen that I loved so much in college…
We ended our trip in Yaletown, for gelato and a stroll along the waterfront, then down the charming brick-lined streets. I love this neighborhood – we’re looking forward to spending more time here next time we’re back.
And with that, it was time to hit the long dusty trail back to Seattle. Thanks, Canada – our spirits were higher when we left than we arrived, so I’d say our little getaway was a smashing success.