Vancouver: You Make Me Brave

Messages on the boarded up windows of The Hudson Bay

We left during second period, knowing the game was finished, that the Cup was lost.  In hindsight, that might be considered strategic.

Our mistake was staying downtown.  I had taken Dylan, Lorna and Mark to one of my favorite restaurants on Robson, savoring two aloe vera and vodka’s, sharing Tuna Tataki.  I felt pride that they were enjoying the food in a city I haven’t seen in over a year.

Since I’ve returned, the Vancouver that met me has been a dose of pleasant.  I walk down the tree-lined streets, inhaling musky droplets after a sprinkle of rain.  It always reminds me of a load of laundry coming out of the dryer. Clean, fresh, new.  I’ve revisited memories, places that made me ridiculously happy.

That night, it changed.

Respect for the Vancouver Police

I could recount moments after our dinner when we looked towards the skyline, as smoke billowed upwards.  That was Georgia, at least two cars burning to blackened, twisted metal.

I could recount our walk towards Granville, where Dylan and Mark were staying.  We had little knowledge of what was unfolding.  Our banter and gait was a pause.  That moment when an intake of breath happens and you wait, unsure what will come.

I could recount the crowds as we approached closer, the screaming, a high-pitched scraping sound as someone toppled a newspaper stand or howled in unbridled angst.  Against what?

Lorna, ever the documentarian and calm presence, snapped photos of the

5 Places I Like to Eat in Vancouver

I am old.  An imperfectly carved, ancient relic.  It dawned on me I’ve lived in Vancouver just over 10 years, much longer on this earth.  Which is why you should listen to me on where to eat. Respect your elders.

1.  The Reef – Carribbean

I sometimes get my island fix at Riddim and Spice on Commercial Drive.  See, I just love hole-in-the-walls.  Those places have the most run down decor, chairs shakily held together with duct tape, and the best food.  Yet, truly, my heart is with The Reef.  They have four locations: Commercial, Main, Chilliwack and Victoria, BC.  The original location was on Main Street, a happening neighborhood for families and hipsters.  Why do I love it?  They house at least 40 different rums.  That constitutes a rum bath.  And the food is fresh, spicy or even milder, with the right notes of crispy, tender and tasty.  I typically go for a vegetable roti or ackee and saltfish.  To accompany a meal, usually a rum concoction suggested by the server sustains my rum cravings.  4172 Main Street.  +1-604-874-5375. Take the #3 bus on Main and get off at Main and 28th. http://thereefrestaurant.com.  Prices: $6 to $18 CDN.

2.  Yamato – Sushi

I strive to shatter rash appearances, and Yamato would easily be categorized as shifty, due for a shut down by Vancouver health inspectors.  Wrong!  Apparently, Yamato’s cramped size and interior mimics eateries in Japan. The prices cause you to read them twice.  22 pieces for $5.95.  Uh huh.  They offer inventive rolls and rock bottom prices.  Right on the edge of downtown,

By |May 31st, 2011 |Categories: Vancouver |30 Comments

Goodbye Vancouver, Hello World!

Today is my last in Vancouver.  I spent ten years here, remember vividly the first day my boyfriend and I pulled up in a Budget van, dusty from prairie dirt, the windshield littered with bugs who met their demise.

Aerial of Vancouver

Our friend, Alanna had secured a sprawling 2 bedroom apartment in Kitsilano close to UBC.  The second my feet landed on the offensive, shag carpet, I detested it.  Nothing was modern.  We had walked into a seventies dayglo nightmare.  For a price tag of $1,300, it was less than impressive.

With lack of a bed, we had to camp out on the floor of our bedroom.  I clung to my boyfriend as the night crawled, crying and begging him to take me home.  But we stayed.

As that memory dissipates, I question the concept of home.  What is it?  Where is it?  Will I find it?

Over ten years I changed jobs, left the boyfriend, sowed my wild oats, and forged life long friendships.  I will miss that unique scent of Vancouver whenever I exit a plane – a mingling of rainforest and sea tickling my nose.  I will miss the summer days and nights, how the blue sky stretches into infinity, the endless sunsets dipping into English Bay.  I will miss the bustle of Granville on a Saturday night, even those pent up Surrey boys seeking trouble and long legs.

It was a rocky, euphoric ride, Vancouver.  I thank you for giving me space and time to grow up — just be.

Here I stand, at the cusp of a round the world trip, one potentially rife with challenges.  But I will

By |June 4th, 2010 |Categories: Vancouver |35 Comments

Why Victoria is Worth Visiting

I spent the May long weekend in Victoria, BC.  The city is significant for one reason, one of my closest friends moved there over a year ago.  For the sake of anonymity, I’ll refer to her as Jabba.  The move proved difficult for her, Vancouver held a sacred place in her heart and to leave it was devastating.  The power of a place and its memories can stay with you.

Crowned the capital of British Columbia in 1871, Victoria is Western Canada’s oldest city.  In recent years, British Columbians flocked there for the mild weather, affordable retirement housing, and government jobs.

Tourists also come in droves, attracted to the historic downtown, with a tour typically ending at the Inner Harbour to catch stunning vistas of the famous Empress Hotel and the Parliament Buildings.

Until last year, I wedged a sleepy reputation of Victoria in my mind, but Jabba showed me a different side.  Beyond the retirement jokes and staid government image, Victoria is littered with intimate boutique shops, accessible local restaurants, and fabulous outdoor parks minutes away from one’s residence, instead of miles.  Ocean views are free.

Even though Jabba questions her decision, Victoria is the cooler, laid back cousin to Vancouver’s craziness.

Summer Festivals

A myth about Victoria is the dearth of kicking summer festivals.  A few of my picks for summer 2010.

JazzFest International (June 25-July 4)
Location: Royal Theatre, Centennial Square, Alix Goolden Performance Hall, Open Space Gallery, Victoria Event Centre, and numerous other downtown venues
“Ten hot days and nights of the coolest music in town.” Enjoy over 90 high calibre individual jazz performances taking place in numerous indoor and outdoor venues/stages with over 400 musicians. A series of

By |May 27th, 2010 |Categories: Victoria |15 Comments

What I’m Going to Miss About Vancouver

The parks.

Queen Elizabeth in particular, since it’s near my abode.  I moved here last July, completely bereft to be away from English Bay, but found this gem.  Affectionately referred to as “Little Mountain”, this park wormed its way into my heart.

Tell me fellow travelers, what do you miss about your hometown?  Or maybe you haven’t left yet or thought about it, the truth is we will always miss something.

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By |February 12th, 2010 |Categories: British Columbia, Vancouver |9 Comments
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