Now that I’m back from Vancouver and the temperature here is a gentle 89 degrees ( not the cruel 93 at 9:00 in the morning that we all know is coming) I’ve been savoring my vacation memories. We did so many things in such a short time I’ve decided not to regale you with pictures from the WHOLE trip at once; I’ll be kind enough just to share some glimpses from time to time. Here’s today’s glimpse!
We checked into our Vancouver hotel at midnight, so we couldn’t see too much of the city or our surroundings until the next day. Upon rising the following morning, we were thrilled to find we had a tiny balcony where, wrapped in our thick terry robes, we could enjoy the mountain views as we sipped our coffee. Yes, something was going to have to be done about the coffee. Sweet as the staff were and darling as the hotel was, their coffee was SLAW.
Coffee aside, our hotel, The Sunset Inn and Suites was just what we wanted: a place to feel relaxed and comfy after a long day of exploration. The building had 11 stories, I think, and we were on the ninth. Each floor had only 6 or so rooms. For the same price as a regular hotel room elsewhere we had a bedroom, bath, living room and kitchen- larger than some people’s apartments! Our room faced the backs of some restaurants but that didn’t matter to us; we were looking at the mountains anyway.
Since we had arrived so late the night before we made no definite plans for the first day, merely to orient ourselves in this bustling but walkable city. Neither of us had been to Vancouver. We had chosen to go there because A) We needed a vacation for just the two of us B) I needed more airline miles to retain my pitifully poor airline status C) The ticket to Vancouver was not as outrageously expensive as tickets to other destinations. We were located in Vancouver’s West End, a densely populated section close to many attractions. The weather was brisk, but we ventured out anyway. Remember, the coffee situation was critical.
Even now I smile as I think of strolling in Vancouver. The streets were full of walkers, bikers and skaters, but they weren’t in a huge hurry as they might be for example in New York City. As we made our way to where we hoped we could find some groceries and a little coffee, we happened on this neighborhood garden.
I approached a helpful lady who was on her way out of the garden, who informed me that the garden is on the site of a former service station. Neighborhood residents are allowed to use a plot for ten dollars a year. There must be a huge waiting list! Here are some pretties I found on display.
After we bought our few little groceries for later, it was time for lunch. I had seen the perfect spot from my balcony: The Gurkha Himalayan Kitchen. Luckily my companion accepted my suggestion, and we had a delightful lunch. I wish I had taken more pictures but hey, I was hungry.
Look at that yummy food on a cafeteria tray! I thought we got the trays because we ordered the special, but I saw all the other customers got them as well. Regardless of the presentation of the food, finding a good ethnic restaurant 100 steps from our hotel was definitely a good omen!
We went a different way back to our hotel so that we could check out the local beer on sale at the liquor store. Sadly, the little grocery we had been to did not sell beer. Who knew? But right down the street from the Gurkha Restaurant was a British Columbia Liquor Store where we were able to choose a BC wine and some beer we had never tried. We were quite the celebrities in the checkout line, with all the clerks trying to identify our accents. They couldn’t guess, but we told ’em. We’re nice like that.
Carrying the wine and beer back to our hotel, I realized I desperately needed to run into a florist and get a bouquet for our hotel living room. I chose a magnificent bunch to adorn our home for the week. Ugh! We had cameras, my purse, a cardboard box of beer, wine, and now flowers. But it wasn’t far to the hotel now. But… “Wait! did you see that?” I asked my companion. He said he hadn’t seen “IT” but maybe he had and just hoped I hadn’t.
Yes my friends,; it was a neighborhood book sale! Two friendly neighbors were divesting themselves of their treasures. Of course I had to intervene. My husband gallantly watched all our previous purchases so I could have both hands to peruse the goodies and provided me with the necessary Canadian coins, for I had none. After I made my final choices, the maker of the Book Sale sign agreed to pose for a picture!
After these peregrinations, some relaxing on the balcony was in order. In fact think we both fell asleep. But later we were ready to venture out to what my husband hoped to be Beer Nirvana, The Alibi Room.
The Alibi Room which offers 50 beers on tap, is located in trendy Gastown, is in an old brick building right beside the railroad tracks. I read on a plaque outside the building that it was originally the site of a wooden church which burned in the 1800s. The current building is 100 years old. Inside there are long shared tables and a bar on the top level, and a darker, more intimate area downstairs, with smaller shared tables. We were grateful to be seated quickly at a sliver of the bar, surrounded by raucous parties of twenty five. ( twenty five people AND twenty five years!) Knowing I could be in for an uncomfortable evening if I couldn’t get myself into a chair with a back, I steeled myself to use the age card on our waitress, for at the time we were the oldest people I could see in the place. Happily though I didn’t have to resort to such crass tactics, for two seats became available in a cozy alcove with a window overlooking the railroad tracks.
Once settled in that spot we could admire the passing trains, observe the fashions of the younger set and occasionally point out someone who seemed close to our age. Mostly though we savored our beers and veggie burgers and congratulated ourselves on our coolness.
Aaah. We were in the heart of Vancouver, with the best seats in the house. Just a two mile walk away, our commodious lodgings, replete with newly purchased books and a boisterous fresh bouquet in a blue plastic pitcher awaited us. What could be sweeter?