I just got back from my first ever visit to Vancouver. What a fantastic time I had! I was meeting up with a friend (more on him in another blog entry) and I figured he’d be more comfortable with a specific game plan, so I read my guidebook from cover to cover, and set out an itinerary so that everything would flow like clockwork. Ha! The Gods must have been laughing.
I was to meet him at 1:30 on Sunday at a coffee shop. I wasn’t expecting to have a 5 mile long line at the border crossing. Since I don’t follow sports very closely, I didn’t realize that the USA women’s soccer team would be playing Japan for the FIFA world cup that day in Vancouver, and it seemed that half of Washington State wanted to see it for themselves. And a lot of the downtown streets were blocked off, too, when I finally arrived in town. So I got to the coffee shop around 3:30. Fortunately my friend was still there, patiently waiting.
My first impression of Vancouver was…my God, is that pollution? Everything was enveloped in a smoky grey fog. But no, it turned out that there were forest fires to the north, and the smoke was blowing down into the city. I know that this city is near mountains, but I didn’t get to see them at all during my visit. But I view it as a good excuse to go back.
So the plan was to pick up sandwiches from I place I had read about that I was dying to try. It’s called Meat and Bread, and it sounded delicious. So we walked over there, and my mouth was watering. Turns out they were closed on Sundays. Picnic crisis! But we found a shop next door and I managed to get a really delicious hummus and eggplant panini. Crisis averted.
The next plan was to go to Stanley Park, check out the totem poles, and then picnic at Lumberman’s Arch. But by then I was ravenous, so we sat on a hill and watched a couple teams play an enthusiastic game of cricket. I’d never seen cricket outside of TV, and I find the rules incomprehensible, but we enjoyed our picnic and were happy when the people cheered, even if we had no idea why they were doing so. It was a pleasant way to pass the time. And the whole time I was thinking to myself, “I’m in a foreign country! And with a great friend! This is so awesome!”
Then we made it to the totem poles, and they were as impressive and amazing as I thought they would be. I love seeing things I’ve never seen before.
Then we wandered amongst the immense cedar trees. It was hard to believe we were in a city. We drove around the park, too. It’s huge.
After that we hung out for a while at my friend’s apartment, and then the plan was to go to the Chinatown Night Market. The guidebook really talked it up and I was excited. But it’s no longer there. On line they said it was at a new location, but it wasn’t there, either. Major bummer. We did drive through Chinatown, though, which was pretty amazing.
We also intended to see a sunset, but the dense smoke pretty much destroyed that plan. So we went back to the apartment and had a kind of slumber party. I offered to paint his toe nails and gossip about boys, but for some reason he wasn’t into that. But it was nice catching up with a friend. I fell asleep to the sounds of the city, and it was really nice to be with company for the first time in ages. I slept well.
So pretty much nothing went according to plan, and I’m so glad it didn’t, because it was a perfectly lovely day.
More about Vancouver tomorrow…