|Travelogue: Vancouver BC Overnight 1999||
My friends Richard, Heather and Carl piled into the car on a nasty, overcast, drizzling Seattle day and drove up to Vancouver for two half days and one overnight stay.
The drive was uneventful, as was the border crossing (we chose to cross at the truck crossing, which is almost always a good idea.)
Richard had found us an outrageous rate on a special promotion at the Westin Grand in downtown Vancouver. Our rooms on the 26th floor were outstanding. The whole hotel is a "suite" hotel, and my room included a very nice sitting area (with sofa bed for guests), a kitchen space with dishwasher, a large and luxurious bathroom with both bath and show (and really top notch fixtures), and an attractive bedroom with a super-comfy bed. The room was incredibly quiet, and had a nice view looking over the roof garden on top of the Vancouver library. The place looked brand new and spic and span. All of the wood work was really nicely finished pine. It really looked like a place I could live for a while.
For lunch Richard wanted to go to a sushi place called Typhoon, which was just a few blocks away on Robson St. I love the Robson street area, the energy is really great. I still cant put my finger on it, but somehow this shopping/boutique street feels different than similar shopping areas in the US. Anyway, Typhoon is the type of sushi restaurant where a continuous ring of sushi-bearing boats floats around in front of the diners who pick off plates as they wish. Unfortunately, as with all such places, the sushi was not very fresh; I never find it appealing thinking about how long a piece of raw fish may have been circling. Honestly, I wasn’t really in the mood for sushi anyway, so it would have taken the finest of sushi to make me hungry. As it happened, I had passed an awesome looking hotdog stand on the way to the restaurant, so after the others had had their fill, I went back and got a dog. I really do have a soft spot for a good hot dog. Yum.
Fully refueled we headed out to see some of this great city. None of us had been to the Granville market area, so off we went. Granville Island is another of these market/tourist areas that have become so popular in recent decades. It is reminiscent of Seattle's Pike Place Market, Boston's Faneuil Hall, Underground Atlanta, etc. In comparison to others, the actual food part of the market was quite large, and I was able to get some excellent litchi fruit for a great price. This weekend was part of the Du Maurier Jazz Festival, but we managed to get there just in time to have missed the last act at Granville Island. Hi ho. It was pleasant walking around, noshing, and looking into a few little galleries. I'm not sure Granville Island is a "must see", but it was pleasant.
We had just a bit more time before dinner, so we scooted over to Stanley Park, Vancouver's excellent city park. Stanley Park is really huge, basically the same size as all of downtown Vancouver. We drove around Stanley Park, and took in the views over the bay, and wished we had time to get out and explore more thoroughly.
Dinner tonight was at a restaurant that I found on the web called Moomba (3116 W. Broadway, 604-737-8980). The description on Seattle CitySearch's Vancouver restaurants page sounded great, and we were able to get a reservation with little notice. Let me just say that Moomba was great! The place is totally fun. Its located in a really neat, up and coming area called Kitsilano. The restaurant itself has one large dining area on the first floor with an attached bar, then several (I lost count) smaller dining rooms on the second and third floors. There are staircases all over the place, and everything has an airy open feel to it. The top floor also has a little seating area with overstuffed chairs and a fireplace that looked like it would be great for small private parties. We got to talking to the owner, Ronald Zien, who told us that one of his big draws was that later in the evening he has a DJ and dancing, so people can come, eat dinner, and then go dancing without having to go to two separate places. Great idea. Of course, the attractive layout is only the beginning, and the food did not disappoint. I started with crisp fried tiger prawns with a ginger-soy dip, and then had an excellent rack of lamb for my main. Our waitress told us that the chef is a big fan of lamb, so he always does it well. I concur. With no room left for desert, we finished off with coffee and headed out.
Not far from the restaurant was a little jazz club called The Cellar Jazz Café (3611 W. Broadway 604-738-1959). I'm not sure what band we saw, but they were really good, and the space was intimate, fun and crowded. Cover charge was $7.00. A good time was had by all.
Headed back to the Kitsilano neighborhood again for breakfast at Sophie's Cosmic Café (2095 W 4th Ave, (604) 732-6810). There was a lineup when we got there, but it moved very quickly and we were seated in just 15 minutes or so. The food was great (especially the eggs benedict) and the service was super. Highly recommended.
Finally, several from our crew wanted to take advantage of the excellent exchange rate and buy some CD's, so we went over to A&B Sound, at Seymour and Puder streets. We had a tip that the prices at A&B Sound were excellent, in addition to the benefits of a strong dollar. Indeed, the prices were very good, and we all ended up buying something to enjoy in the car on the drive back.
Sadly, all too soon it was time to turn around and head back to Seattle for an evening of Independence Day festivities. We made the mistake of going through the regular border crossing instead of the truck crossing, and ended up in a line over half an hour long. I keep telling myself never to take the regular crossing, but then I just cant believe it could be so bad and do it again. Hi ho.
© 1999, Andrew Sigal
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