June 23, 2007

I heart Vancouver

I don't know if I've ever fallen so much in love with a city upon my first visit. Of course the reason for our visit was damn romantic -- P&F's wedding, earlier in the dating cycle and more gung-ho than is typical of our generation. And, then, the food gods shined their benevolent faces upon us, and, the weather was gorgeous every afternoon, the people were nice, and there's tons of trails for walking/running, and... well, what else do you want from a city, eh? That's probably 80% of the battle right there. Oh, and I heard at least 10 languages each day, so that's another 10%.

In short, I'm a sucker for Vancouver. I already told my sister she should consider applying to UBC for grad school, should she decide to go that route. See, P&F are moving *away* from Vancouver as a result of the wedding. But I want permanent connections there. I'm that much enamored with it.

One of the biggest draws is that the city is just gorgeous and very comfortable to me. Oddly comfortable. As in I felt more comfortable in downtown Vancouver than I do in San Francisco. And I feel pretty damn comfortable in SF. I think it was the combination of the slightly more international feel and the less hipster-inspired culture. Somehow, it felt architecturally like home while being more diverse and accepting of differences than SF.

I could live there, if it weren't for the rain thing. Okay, so really, I could probably only live there in the summer, 'cause the dark winter days would kill me. And even in the summer, I'd be grumpy in the morning, when it rains. But, I digress.

Leaving the US, the security guards confiscated my moisturizer and face makeup because they weren't in a plastic bag. Arriving in Vancouver, in contrast, we participated in an impromptu bachelor and bachelorette party (P & F were SURPRISED! Veil, tiara, chocolate mousse which they fed to one another in front of the airport. Fabulous!). This was in the loading and unloading only zone for at least 30 minutes and not a single person dared to suggest that we were a national security threat.

P & F took us to our hotel, which was an aging 3 star where the last star was noticeably losing it's luster. Somehow, I found that all the more charming. It reminded me of the hotel where we stayed in Sydney CBD before E & I got engaged. Also, what it lacked in modern conveniences it more than made up for with substance: Our 30th floor room had a balcony and a view of half of the city, including Burrard Inlet and Stanley Park.

The top of the hotel was a rotating restaurant and bar. You may not think this is a plus. Hokey. Lame, even. But, E has an odd obsession with rotating restaurants and, I must admit, I'm slowly catching it as well.

After checking in at 11:30 PM, we walked half a block and found a selection of 3 asian restaurants that were still open. We opted for Robson Sushi because they had "all-you-can-eat-sushi." All you can eat sushi is clearly the type of thing that's either going to be horrid or awesome. Either you are sickened by the quality of the food, or its the best thing you've ever done. It was the latter. And only $10.95CA. Which reminds me, by the way, we've basically reached parity with the Canadian dollar. They shouldn't have to pay more for books anymore.

Friday day, as a break from working from the hotel, we walked down Robson Street, window shopping and people watching on our way to an amazing lunch at Kalypso. The decor was ecclectic, the greek music relaxing, the service excellent, and the glass of Tsantali white and red wines we each ordered upon their recommendation were both very nice. We shared a greek salad with amazing feta, spanakopita, grilled octopus skewers, and my favorite dish, Saganaki (mmmm....fried cheese with lemon...). The experience prompted us to move Greece up on the list of vacation destinations.

From there, we hit the Sears in Robson square, which, in case you were wondering is nothing like Sears in the U.S. I sent E off to amuse himself with the power tools section while I purchased replacement face makeup and moisturizer and he came back explaining that they had no such thing.

Friday night, after witnessing P & F's wedding, we were treated to a Chinese banquet by F's family at Kirin. As you can imagine, we left stuffed to the brim. Crispy beef, where you been all my life? But we still had room for drinks with P&F in the rotating restaurant.

Saturday, E put on his finest Nasa T-shirt and we took a nice walk through town to to a Creperie and then to the MacMillan Space Center. For dinner, thanks to lucky_girl & hubby's recommendation, we enjoyed omakase with P&F at Tojo's. It was expensive, but quite good. Just another check on the list of the blessed vancouver food experience.

Sunday morning, after an early night to digest, we headed to F's favorite local dim sum joint. Delicious! Dim Sum with a side of chili sauce. Za Leong (or however you spell it) was a new addition and how can you argue with deep fried bread-dough? Plus, nothing beats F's mandarin when trying to order from across the room.

From there, we headed to science world, which, in E's and my estimation, is one of the better science museums in the world, and believe it or not, we're slowly becoming qualified to make that statement. The science museum keeps being the one site we consistently hit in almost every city we visit...

After science world and our viewing of the associated Omnimax film the Human Body, P&F took us to the local brewpup where E and I shared a taster sampler and we all listened to a trio from the Vancouver international Jazz fest.

Shortly thereafter, we headed to the airport where every flight except ours (or at least every one prior to ours) was unacceptably delayed (as in, "could you stay the night?"). We took off a little late but arrived in time and now, I can't wait to sleep.

It was one of the best weekend trips I've ever taken.

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