we’ve lived in northwest washington for two and a half years now, but had not once been to vancouver until just last weekend! we’d heard rumors of a big metropolis to the north, more akin to new york than seattle, with a bustling chinatown, and much more diverse population than white washington. we made a list of things to see and places to go, packed our passports and headed north to the border.
the sun was shining and the mountains were all around us. it’s a funny place, canada. something like an alternate universe, where everything is just ever so slightly…different. it’s hard to put a finger on exactly what.
we drove directly to gastown, an old part of downtown made of brick and cobblestone. it was sunday morning. shops were slow to open. we walked the quiet streets with coffee in hand, trying to get a sense of things. we walked through a street-turned-marketplace filled with homeless folks hawking their found wares, which were laid out on tarps. it seemed like the place to go for half-filled bottles of detergent and perfume, or miscellaneous power cords and crumpled clothing.
eventually we found our way to nelson the seagull, a spare, light-filled cafe specializing in crusty bread and espresso. we shared poached eggs on toast with a roasted tomato, and sat at a long, old table.
other things happened too, but the hour spent watching passersby at nelson the seagull was a definite highlight, and the only thing i managed to snap a few photos of. from there, we went to granville island, which has the distinct feel of a theme park. the open-stall market was a maze of vegetables and fruits, fish and cheese, but felt a bit staged, and didn’t have the gritty quality of pike place. we visited a big public park with a tropical bird conservatory and walked through japanese gardens just beginning to bloom. then, onto chinatown for hand cut chinese noodles.we drove back at sunset, full of noodles and dumplings, and tired from miles of walking the city sidewalks.
it was a good day, and good way to travel. we didn’t have any real agenda or purpose other than to be in the city and get a good taste of it (literally and figuratively). i think we succeeded. oddly, i feel quite satisfied with our quick, one day vancouver adventure. i wouldn’t be opposed to going back–i’m sure there’s so much to do (it is a Big City, after all)–but i’m not very eager to. i guess i’m more of a small town gal.
on that note, we’re taking our third trip to portland, oregon this weekend. maybe cities just feel better when you know people in them.