At first, I wasn't sure what to make of a city I had imagined to be inhabited with greenery, small buildings and police officers on horses. But, with each and every step I took in downtown Vancouver did all my preconceived notions begin to fade. It was only when I left downtown Vancouver to explore other parts did the essence, the heart of the city, permeate.
First to explore was the Convention Center. Not usually the first I go to when traveling, but on this trip it had to be, as I was technically in town for work.
A welcoming revelation was the convention center PLUS the marina were beautiful; inside and out.
Each day I finished, I chose to walk, walk, walk from the Convention Center instead of taxing immediately; getting lost and then found. I stumbled upon the Vancouver Contemporary Museum one day, a natural market the next and the hotel Rosewood on another based off a recommendation from a friend. I was told I would greatly appreciate the artwork and the ambiance of the lobby...which upon arrival, did I realize he did not steer me wrong.
In the historic lobby of this luxury hotel fashioned with twenties era designs and modern, current day accents; resided next level 3D pieces of artworks.
Clever, unique and they did it's job in transporting me into another time.
After leaving the hotel in awe, I made my way to another recommendation.
GASTOWN: A small section near downtown that one immediately falls in love with upon landing at the intersection.
I loved it. It played with the same feelings of warmth and comfort that I received in parts of New York, but this time with less people, better weather and fair prices.
I took time for lunch at Meet in Gastown for my first poutine (vegan version) fries in Canada.
The spot itself was surprisingly busy and the menu voluptuous with decadent sounding dishes. If it were more than myself I would have loved to have tried many options but, sadly I was a party of one which mean't one order of Teem Poutine would suffice. I wasn't there to go big or go home.
The poutine was tasty, but just a tad underwhelming. I was hoping for more of that tangy, acidic cheese curd flavor, but it never came through. Even so, I still enjoyed my first vegan poutine fries (and ketchup) before leaving the joys of Gastown.
A same day highlight was Granville Island. I could have spent days upon days there. Weaving in and out of the unique stores, tasting delicious dishes and enjoying the wonderful distilleries.
On this trip to Granville I found galleries with symbolic works of art, a tea store with freshly brewed (I watched her mix the different teas and spices with the milk in a Vitamix myself) chai lattes, a delicious bake-on-site bread store, distilleries with top-notch gin cocktails and retail stores in which I could have purchased a whole new suitcase to bring back items for myself and others!
The next day, I was on the hunt for a juice spot before my trek to Grouse Mountain. It was bright and early on a weekend morning and thankfully the spot I found to be open was near the meet up location.
I ordered a necessairly large Kale Aid with lemon, kale, spinach, ginger, apple and celery.
From there I walked to the Convention Center to take the shuttle to Grouse Mountain. I was excited to do this alone because I was in a period of time where reflecting on myself, my situations and my circumstances surrounding me that involved me were overwhelming and I knew needing that time was essential. If you haven't noticed from my past traveling posts, I've been in a a time of reflecting. Something I feel we should all do often to check in with our selves and see where we are at. Life happens and changes are inevitable. Times of reflecting, understanding and moving forward is essential to us being able to grasp our reality and decide where to go from there.
I took a tram to get to the mountain and then from there I walked around for a while before taking the ski-lift up to the highest peak.
It was an incredible view all the way around; from the breathtaking rolling mountains to the full landscape of downtown Vancouver.
I was soaking it up and taking in the deepest breathes my lungs would allow.
After Grouse Mountain I met up with a local for lunch, @Vegan_Frog at Heirloom- a beautiful vegan/vegetarian, locally sourced, fair trade ingredients only restaurant outside of downtown Vancouver.
I was able to get a very delicious, very fresh hash with hash browns, roasted summer squash, broccolini, red onions, oven roasted tomatoes, creamy cilantro, added avocado and marinated tofu.
AND before heading to the airport, the duo from lunch and I made sure to stop and try Cartems Donuts. Cartems is a great donut/coffee/tea spot that ranks high in the clean, minimalistic design approach. I also appreciated the spaciousness of the interior as it lends itself well for those who utilize the space to work remotely.
Favorite donut was the Apple Fritter
As I made my way to the airport, I realized that I judged a book by its cover upon arrival. I was only in Vancouver for three days, but I felt I accomplished and appreciated a vast amount to disprove my initial thoughts.
I've also come to understand that the Vancouver food scene is plentiful, eclectic and vegan options are everywhere. Pieces of artwork are strewn about the city and I even stumbled upon a reasonably priced massage spot to enjoy some reflexology after walking for hours. Within this immense city lies many suburbs, many cultures and many walks of life that lends itself to making the city diverse. It breaths, it lives, it's constantly changing.
I know there is still much more to explore in the future both within the city and the outskirts. I'm game to come back and enjoy round 2.