Mi Madre and I headed to Vancouver earlier this month for a very fun 24 hours tromping around the town, checking out restaurants, bars, parks, and art. Here is a short account of the trip. Please check out the links to read my considerably more detailed Yelp reviews of each of the spots we visited. I’ll also link to photos from my Vancouver photoset on flickr.
After checking into our West End hotel the Blue Horizon (the same hotel where my grandfather stayed for a few months when he first moved to Vancouver in the 1970s), we hit Robson heading east. Our first stop was Japa Dog (4* on Yelp) (photo) – a little lunch time amalgamation of a hot dog stand and Japanese street food. That provided us with some fuel for the long walk down seedy Hastings street. But before we got there, we passed the big construction project that is Vancouver’s BC Place Stadium (photo). When the retractable roof is completed next year it will be the home of Vancouver’s new MLS franchise, the Whitecaps.
Hastings Street is starting to show some signs of gentrification. I only saw two people smoking crack openly on the street. There was still some pretty cool street art to be found (photos 1 | 2 | 3). Once past all that, we came to our destination, Commercial Drive. I had read that The Drive, as it’s known, is one of the more happening parts of Van and the reports seem to be true. It isn’t quite Los Feliz or Abbott Kinney, but it did remind me of The Ave in Seattle’s University District.
We stopped for coffee on the north end of The Drive at Pane Vero (4* on Yelp) before heading down through the heart of The Drive’s shopping district. Amongst other spots, we ducked into the memorable 10,000 Villages (5* on Yelp) where we bought a very cool trivet made of folded newspaper from the Philippines. After that we headed down The Drive past a number of Italian groceries and soccer bars where we spotted a very cool Italian soccer mural (photo). We went on to explore the Portland-esque neighborhood behind The Drive and then stopped for happy hour at an enjoyable spot called Timbre Restaurant (4* on Yelp).
From there we jumped on the skytrain and got out at the east end of False Creek where the sun finally peeked out for a bit (photo). The south east corner of False Creek is where Vancouver’s Olympic Village was built last winter. They’ve turned the media center into a very nice recreation center and all the athlete’s housing is now condos for sale (though most seemed empty). The weird part is that it seemed like they have done as much as possible to wipe away the signs that this is where the Olympics took place. No rings, no flame – the only hint was a street sign that ready Athlete’s Drive. Really it was kind of strange.
Just west of the condos is a very cool park (photo) with some great sculptures and some big kid toys. We had a great time checking this place out and the nice view across the creek (photo) before walking back downtown over the Cambie Street Bridge. Looking down from the bridge there was a very cool view of a huge pile of concrete street barriers (photo).
We walked back through downtown and up to Gastown where we walked past photogenic alleyways (photo) and shops (photo). We had a before dinner drink at my new favorite bar the Alibi Room (5* on Yelp) before heading to the dinner spot we decided on, the disappointing Pourhouse (3* on Yelp).
After dinner we walked back west past a cool interactive wooden art installation (photos 1 | 2). Our destination was a bar (pictured above) near our hotel called O’Douls (3* on Yelp). Unfortunately the advertised live music was a glorified hotel lobby band. But we did have a great time ending the evening sipping whiskey (photo). Stay tuned for news on my momma’s upcoming blog Sketching Scotches (working title).
We awoke to a rainy morning and after coffee took a nice drive around Vancouver’s Stanley Park. We then headed south to trendy Kitsilano where we stopped for brunch and the funky and delicious Sophie’s Cosmic Cafe (5* on Yelp) (photo). After eating we were off to the extremely enjoyable Museum of Anthropology on the UBC campus. I’m going to post a whole photoset of all the cool masks inside the museum soon, but for now here, is a photo of Arthur Erickson’s beautiful building.
After the museum it was time to drive back south to the US of A where we met John and friends for a delicious dinner in BHam at Bayou on Bay (5* on Yelp). All in all it was a fantastic trip. Vancouver is just as fun a city as I remember from those 19 year old drunken escapades – only this time with much better food. I look forward to the next trip. Thanks Momma!