July 18, 2013

Penultimate Post - from beautiful Vancouver

Time flies when you're having fun! I arrived in Vancouver about eight weeks ago and it's become one of my absolute favourite cities. It hasn't hurt that the weather has been perfect for most of that time, although a quick link back to my first post in BC shows me moaning and groaning about the rain.
We leave tomorrow for a grand drive back through the Okanagan Valley, up to Banff, Jasper, Edmonton, on to Calgary and then home, by plane, to hot, sticky Ottawa. That journey, in all its glory, will undoubtedly produce another post, especially since the Central Okanagan Valley and the rugged Rockies come into play.
But before I leave Vancouver, here's a spectacular, mostly pictorial peek at some of the wonderful things this city has to offer. Vancouverites - you have it all!
Deep Cove
In North Vancouver, on Indian Arm, this beautiful bay is a great place for paddling, or hanging out on a hot day. The Baden Powell Trail starts here and the first leg, like many trails in the area, is generally upwards. Spectacular views await.

Grouse Mountain
Definitely a tourist attraction, but big enough to handle the crowds, the mountain is less than half an hour from the City Centre. Apart from the famous Grouse Grind, which allows you to clamber your way to the top and arrive all hot, sweaty and fulfilled, the gondola will also whisk you to the top, where various activities await -
looking at the views, eating, drinking, hiking, watching lumberjacks, watching raptors, looking for grizzly bears,
taking another lift to the Eye of the Wind and popping into the 'highest point in Vancouver' viewing gallery;

or wishing it was winter so you could be skiing on awesome trails right in the city. From the Eye of the Wind, you'll have  a spectacular view of distant Mount Baker in Washington State.

Kitsilano Pool
Vancouver has a number of outdoor pools. This is the one that we frequented. It's 137.5 m long, pristine, heated enough, part fresh part salt water and utterly beautiful. 
Capilano Suspension Bridge
Close to Grouse Mountain, famous, and completely packed with tourists on a warm day, nonetheless the bridge has to be crossed.

You'll stagger around like a drunk as you make your way to the other side, where various activities await, none of them including peaceful solitude, but all of them delightful. You can pace behind a knowledgeable guide who will show you wonderful old trees.

You can see more raptors, up close and comfortable.

You can learn interesting facts about rainforests.

In the summer, there's no end to the number of plays, shows, festivals, music and art you can take in. On our way to see Dream Girls one evening, we popped in for cocktails to a great bar and restaurant on Granville Street  at 13th called West. The cocktail list was a mile long, their Scotch selection was more than impressive and the diners looked very happy.

Bard on the Beach
I mentioned Twelfth Night in a previous post. It was so good that we bought tickets for the other plays at the festival.

Measure for Measure took place on the studio stage, as did Elizabeth Rex, a super play by Timothy Findley, whose characters include Shakespeare and Elizabeth 1. The acting and staging were brilliant. I highly recommend seeing E Rex if you're in this city.

Hamlet, set in 2013, was unforgettable, mesmerizing and fantastically staged and performed. I sat in the front row, within spitting distance, and was completely captivated. Worth coming to Vancouver in the summer just to see this festival.

We visited a few restaurants in the last couple of weeks. VIJ's is a superb Indian food restaurant, a bit of a Vancouver institution, and voted Vancouver's best Indian food restaurant 2013 by Vancouver Magazine. Amazingly, I didn't take any photos, but the food was excellent.
Wildebeest was voted best new restaurant and also won best new design in the Vanmag ratings. The vibe is noisy, the chairs hard, and many of the tables are communal. I liked it more than my dining companion, and I absolutely loved our starters which consisted of bacon wrapped rustic paté and pulled pork polenta rissoles with a  jam that could have been rhubarb/redcurrant. Yum.

We selected mains featuring salmon and beef short ribs, but both dishes had too much sous vide treatment for our liking. Perhaps I'm too much of a traditionalist, but I like my beef short ribs slow cooked and falling off the bone, not slow cooked sous vide and pink with too much uncoagulated fat.
Tableau Bar Bistro on Melville won Gold in the best casual French restaurant, and I loved it for a lunch involving a fabulous duck confit salad and some Joie Farm rosé.
Last Friday, we spent the evening listening to a lecture on the Mysteries of the Quantum Universe at Science World. Do I know how to kick off a weekend or what! It was utterly brilliant, though, and Dr Hitoshi Murayama is a brilliant speaker, who makes hard stuff accessible and awe-inspiring. Afterwards we attended a reception on the balcony at Science World with this view.

The following morning, bright, early and festooned with a  magical bib number, I ran a road race, which took me through Pacific Spirit Park at UBC. Inspired by Dr M the previous evening or the beauty of the park or something, I managed to come in first in my age category and 6th out of an overall field of 83. Yeah!

Five time Olympian, Hayley Wickenheiser was the inspirational speaker, and the main thing I heard her say was " go celebrate", which we did at the Kitsilano Arts and Music festival, eating great street food, before walking down to watch Hamlet. On the way, we passed Kitsilano Pool, where hundreds of folks were seated watching a brass band play.

What a backdrop! What a city!
But now, I must go pack for the trip. We have one day in the Okanagan Valley, where it's 30+C, sunny, and still filled with wineries. In an attempt to be sensible, we're going to taste at five wineries around Kelowna, so check back later for updates on Tantalus, Cedar Creek, Quail's Gate, Mt Boucherie and Mission Hill.
Thanks for following along.

Au revoir, Vancouver. You're beautiful!