It’s not all that often that I find a place I’d be happy to settle down in, cast of the shackles of London life and find peace. Portland was the first of these, two years ago, and the reason why I keep on returning… but Canada may well be the second. As I write this I’m sitting in the airport, drinking a Vanilla Rooibos tea, and behind me the sunlight is streaming through the windows and in the not-too-far distance I can see three mountain ranges, all dusted with icing sugar snow. In front of that is a beautiful stretch of greenery and foliage, little West Coast houses, and then a little further over to the left is water. I’ve only been here a week and I’m finding it kind of hard to have to leave.
But. As with all destinations that steal your heart and call out to you… there is always the possibility of return. And so Canada I promise you this: I will be back. You’re far too alluring to stay away for too long… Photos can be viewed in a larger format (and I recommend that you do) on my Flickr.
The Last of Galiano
When I was on Galiano I was fortunate enough to both spend time with a wonderful friend and meet new and equally amazing people. Some friends of Dan’s had very kindly hosted a dinner party that I was invited along to in their amazing house. A typical West Coast house, apparently, is quite small and boxy-looking from the outside, but with tall cathedral-style ceilings, wooden panelling and a real sense of home. I’ve never seen anything like it – it’s like living in a cottage in the woods a la Grimm’s Fairy Tales. If I ever end up moving to this side of the world I want a house just like that. The dinner, as well, was fabulous: a beautiful quinoa salad (which I will be recreating when I return to London!), roasted sockeye salmon (how BC), and a gorgeous beetroot and orange salad. For dessert there were the most decadent pecan chocolate brownies, some delicious panforte courtesy of another island dweller (whom I unfortunately didn’t get to meet as she wasn’t around at the time!), and Dan’s rendition of Dorie Greenspan’s caramel-topped semolina cake. The food was great, but the company was even better – a very happy end to my stay!
I also met the most interesting fellow, originally from Austria, who is probably the most self-sustainable man I’ve ever met in my life… and apparently a wonderful cook. His fare in the past has included Cougar Curry (!) and he has a regular stock of moose in his freezer, which he invited me to return to Canada to try! How can a girl turn down a proposition like that?
“Please do not feed the minis, they have no teeth and will choke”…
I spent a lovely last afternoon on Galiano wandering with Dan, checking out the scenery and snapping photos. My favourite discovery was that they apparently farm llamas and alpacas on the island, which caught me by surprise when what I thought were really big sheep turned out to be alpacas instead!
Thanks again Dan et al. for all your hospitality – I have never felt so welcome!
The Blarney Stone
Back to Vancouver mainland and over to Gastown was the order of the day! A good friend of mine, Kat, from Nottingham had ended up in Vancouver, so she spent the day taking me around town and showing me the sights I hadn’t managed to get to earlier in the week. We walked across the Granville Bridge, through downtown, then headed into Gastown and over to The Blarney Stone for lunch, but wait, why were there are so many people? And why were they all wearing American football gear…? Oh yes. It was Superbowl Sunday.
Regardless of the overwhelming patriotic messages that were being blasted at us from the giant flatscreen TVs and projection screens in The Blarney Stone, we still had a very decent lunch. They too were participating in Dine Out Vancouver, but three courses when I had just gotten over a tummy bug seemed a bit excessive, so I passed and had a burger (my first of the trip!). Kat’s salad, the Scottish Highland, had a delicious poppyseed dressing, and my burger, though not mind-blowing, was decent.
The Blarney Stone
216 Carrall Street
Gastown itself is pretty touristy. It’s not surprising when the main attraction is the only steam-operated clock in the world (which is, in itself, quite a bizarre thing). But it was definitely worth a wander, especially by night. I have rarely seen as beautiful streets as there were in Gastown by night light. Poor Kat became my impromptu model for the day as I got her to do all sorts of strange things – all in the name of photography!
We already know how much I love aquariums, so we don’t really need to cover that ground again, but you should check out Vancouver Aquarium, located in the middle of Stanley Park (which you should also visit). They have several sections, including creatures specific to the BC area, but are also home to amazing dolphins and beluga whales. Personally I have problems with dolphins & whales in captivity so this was probably the most distressing part for me, but you should go if you’re so inclined.
There’s also a giant octopus, giant turtle and sea otters (which don’t do very well in captivity, at all), amongst other things. We actually got there pretty close to closing time so it was a bit of a flying visit, but still pretty enjoyable. Kat and I were ooh-ing and aah-ing over the frogs and jellyfish, which you should definitely go and see because they’re awesome.
845 Avison Way
Photo credit: Kat Haworth.
I simply can’t get over the beauty of Vancouver. By day, by night, by sun, by rain – it’s just stunning whatever the weather or time of day. I definitely recommend a walk around the Vancouver Convention Centre by night, though. The area is rife with photography opportunities.
Around the Vancouver Convention Centre.
Remnants of the Vancouver Olympics.
Danger, danger, high voltage…?
Kat looks out over Vancouver.
Vancouver Convention Centre
1055 Canada Place
We popped back into Gastown to Chill Winston, a sexy gorgeous eatery/bar, to meet another friend of mine, this time from Reed, who is doing her MA at UBC. It was brilliant to catch up over drinks (mine was a ‘Spooning Jesus’ which I ordered purely for the name) and fancy-schmancy poutine, which I had been wanting to try whilst in Canada. I know, it’s not the same as Quebec/Montreal but I still wanted some! Stereotypes and all that. I’m probably going to die of an early heart-attack, but I liked it (don’t hate me)! The vibe in there was great – highly recommended. I’ll definitely go back there when (not if) I’m in Vancouver again.
3 Alexander Street
So that’s it! My flight will be boarding soon and I’ll be leaving Canada behind (for now), but trust me, I’ll be back. How could I leave somewhere so beautiful, so polite, so welcoming without ever returning?
Sorry there’s no video and actually fairly few photos from Canada, I was having far too good a time to hide behind my lens constantly! See you in Amurika, and until then, peace and love.