We awoke in our hostel to learn the true meaning of the nickname “Raincouver.” The beautiful weather from the previous day had snuck away sometime during the night, to be replaced by thick, rolling grey clouds that gave us a steady procession of raindrops all day.
To start our day, we brunched at the infamous Catch 122, which happened to be just blocks from our hostel. We donned our light rain jackets and small navy umbrella, and strolled to West Hastings. We were immediately seated in a large, spacious restaurant with high ceilings and a decidedly industrial-yet-hip feel. I ate the “dirty breakfast” which included duck confit, eggs, maple beans, and toast, and damn, did it taste good. I sunk my teeth into the ultra-tender meat, the egg yolks were as yellow as the setting sun, and the beans made me feel quite British while eating. Erin dined on a wafflet topped with a variety of tangy citrus, and, relishing in her drinking legality, drank a bellini that was both sweet and uplifting.
After eating, we knew we had to find a place to stop so we could figure out some new plans (in order to accommodate the drizzly weather, and found ourselves in the Bean around the World coffeeshop, which definitely wins my award for coolest to-go coffeecups. It was adorned with sassy needlepoint artwork, and was filled with what looked like students, couples, and retired gentleman reading newspapers. We then decided that we would check out Scienceworld, because it was indoors and, well, science.
What we didn’t take into account, however, was that it was both rainy and spring break, which meant that parents who had been crammed indoors with their children would need a break such as taking them to a cool, interactive musuem such as science world. Standing at 5’4.5″, I am not the most imposing figure. However, I felt like a God towering over the throngs of wild, smelly, and childish children that surrounded us in Scienceworld. To be fair, one of them was especially polite, because we were both headed for the one exhibit not being occupied by sugar-frenzied youths, and a tense moment seemed imminant as we both reached for the guitar with the giant strings. However, the smallish, well-dressed young man stepped aside and graciously let us use it first. How Canadian.
The next day, we met up with three people I had met in Korea when I was studying abroad there. Tammy, the sweetest human on earth who never lets you pay for anything and sends care packages to friends, Melissa, who posts great photos of her hiking with her dog and has a sharp sense of humour, and Tanya, who is worldly and perceptive. They took us out to dim sum, which I initially took to be a type of food, but rather, it is a type of dining. It has Cantonese roots, but essentially is comprised of an assortment of small dishes on the table that ranged from dumplings to steamed dishes, and there is ever present tea. The tradition of Dim sum, the poetic translation meaning “piece of the heart,” began with humble roots. Along the Silk Road, tea houses sprung up to accommodate weary travelers, or farmers who, after working a long day, would spend afternoons in the tea house for relaxing conversations and dining.
The next place we visited was Granville Island, which is really not an island, but a round, island-shaped peninsula sticking out into False Creek.
Granville Island is a hub for art, industry, and shoppers. It began solely as an industrialized place, dotted with machine shops with corrugated roofs that produced chains, barrels, cements, and other boring yet necessary products. Although some of these original factories still exist, the others have been replaced by a large marketplace, quaint shops such as the broom company (which sells, perhaps to no surprise, brooms), and even a mircobrewery. After getting wondrously lost in the marketplace and fighting the throngs to buy some Granville Island tea (it’s damn good tea), we kept exploring the island.
We’re quite grateful to our guides and companions, who at every chance bought food and drinks and gave them to us (at one point, Tammy bought something like a Mate smoothie from Blenz Coffee, and once we expressed that we liked it, she thrust it upon us and would not take it back).
That night, after we parted from this company, Erin and I met with Kathleen Yang, who is energetic and passionate, and I had also met in Korea a few years back. This was our first time seeing each other again, and she took us to David’s Tea where she worked, and gave us some great tea and let us smell about fifty varieties of different others. We explored the mall, re-created a photo her and I had taken in Korea, and she helped us find our way back to the hostel.
That night, we spent the evening in the Clough Club in Gastown, (the only place without a cover charge or line, which worried us initially until we realized it was the best place to be). It had low lights, decorations that seemed Victorian and surreal, and a lone guitarist in the corner with wild hair and who played guitar the way Van Gogh painted – slow and deliberate and methodical and entrancing. The staff was incredibly friendly, the drinks were classy and delicious, and we left with full bellies and happy hearts. We didn’t want to end the night, so we kept walking until we found what appeared to be a western bar with a total of about 8 people including us. The bartenders were ecstatic to see us, gave us some VIP tickets to a big shindig they were having Friday night and took a couple of shots of Captain Morgan with us. Erin and I played a couple of rounds of foosball, gazed at the mechanical bull that was out of order, and gleefully stumbled back to our hostel.
We slept quite deeply that night, feeling welcomed and initiated into the city. The next day, we would go to Deep Cove, explore Gastown more, get lost in some neighborhoods, and slowly begin the long road home. Until then, never stop adventuring.