After using last year’s vacation for a pretty big trip to Europe, we knew we’d have to stick a little closer to home this year. So when my childhood friend chose to have her wedding at home in Vancouver, we thought it was the perfect opportunity to spend a little more time in one of my favourite cities. Although I’m technically from the lower mainland, I haven’t spent a lot of time in the actual city of Vancouver. It’s always been a pretty quick overnight, giving us the opportunity to grab dinner, drinks, & maybe some brunch the next morning.
In order to have a full, uninterrupted day of exploring downtown, we decided to leave a day earlier than usual. We bunked in a friend, like we have in the past. I briefly considered a few hotels, but there’s nothing better than staying with someone you know. She also happens to live in an incredible location & is an awesome hostess – making us feel totally welcome from the minute we arrived. I’m hoping we can return the favour sometime soon (Stampede, Sash?! Do it!).
We started the day at a nearby local coffee shop, 49th Parallel. Not only is their coffee fantastic, but they also serve amazing Lucky’s Doughnuts in a fantastic little shop. We split an apple bacon fritter on the patio before heading back to the house to get ready for the day.
As it was a gorgeous summer day, we opted to walk to Granville Island for lunch (or pre-lunch? We had sushi plans for later too). The walk from Mount Pleasant to Granville Island was a nice half hour stroll. We arrived ready to sample some of the delicious food at the market, having worked up a bit of an appetite during our walk.
SInce we had plans to get sushi later, so we opted to split a smoked salmon bagel to tide us over until then. I love Montreal style bagels & was pleasantly surprised to find these were pretty close to the real thing – something I rarely notice this far West. We ate them outside on a bench, overlooking the harbour, & fighting off the feisty pigeons. Those little buggers will fight you to get their hands on any little scrap. Guard your precious food closely!
It turned out to be a pretty eventful morning for us – we officially closed on our house as we munched on our bagel. Luckily, Granville Island Brewing was a few steps away, so we made our way over for a few celebratory beers.
From there, we hopped on a water taxi downtown. For a few bucks, we were ferried across False Creek to the Aquatic Center on a cute little passenger boat. I really enjoyed the ride over, & the beautiful views. We were also getting pretty hungry so cutting off some time in favour of getting to sushi seemed like a good plan.
Our friends first introduced us to Kadoya Sushi a few years ago & it’s become a must-visit every time we’re in Vancouver. We’ve fought rush hour to eat there. It’s seriously that good. (Most sushi in Vancouver would give Calgary’s selection a run for its money, but this one is our fav!)
We ordered our usual favourites: an avocado roll, a dynamite roll, a spicy salmon roll, a specialty roll, & of course, the star of the whole show – salmon sashimi. I think I could eat salmon sashimi every day & not get sick of it. (We both included it in our vows without consulting one another. The obsession is strong…)
Next on the list was a bike ride around Stanley Park. We rented bikes from one of the many shops near the park’s entrance. Our bikes were nothing special (when was the last time you used rear brakes?!), but the path is flat & easy. I’d recommend it to anyone – you’re rewarded with breathtaking views & there’s plenty of spots to stop along the way. It also helps work off all the sushi & beer (so you can make room for more!).
It turned out to be much warmer than forecasted that day & I kept wishing we’d packed bathing suits as we biked passed the many beaches along our route. Instead we stopped for beers at a pub under the Burrard St Bridge – not a bad compromise if you ask me.
We returned our bikes before dinner & started the trek towards China town. I’m never in a huge rush on vacation so although it was a bit of a longer walk across town, we were ok with it. & there were German sausages at the end of road!
We’d settled on a little german spot in Chinatown (yes, you read that correctly) called Bestie. Serving up a delicious selection of sausages, fries, salads, pretzels, currywurst, & beer, this place is wicked! The food is cheap, the beer is good, & the servers are fun & friendly. I highly recommend checking it out if you like German fare even a little bit.
N went with the popular currywurst – sausage served with curried ketchup over crispy fries – & I went with sausage & sauerkraut. Both were excellent, but the currywurst was the show stopper, & at $9 you really can’t go wrong! We also shared the daily salad: a spicy peanut slaw. I’m a sucker for a good coleslaw & this one was especially delicious. I would love to get my hands on that recipe!
We enjoyed our first steins so much that we wound up sticking around for a second one. They had a great atmosphere going, & sitting at the bar, we found ourselves chatting with the bartenders, all of whom seemed to be enjoying their evening at work too.
We capped off the night with a drink in Gastown. I doubt I’m alone in loving this neighbourhood, & it seems impossible to take a bad photo of its cobblestone streets. They’re just so pretty! We got a couple drinks at The Flying Pig before packing it in. We figured we should call it a night relatively early, in preparation for what would probably be a late night at the wedding.
The following day, we headed back downtown with Sasha to meet another friend for some tacos. I’d heard so many rave reviews about Tacofino & was pretty excited to finally check out their Gastown location. We grabbed a spot on the patio & dug into some of the best tacos this side of the border. They were seriously delicious! N & split a few different kinds, but I think my favourite was the Pork al Pastor. The simplicity of pork, pineapple, & pickle onion on a corn tortilla was exactly what I’d been craving (& has got me seriously stoked for our trip down to Mexico in the new year!).
After lunch, we had to head out to Langley pretty quick. I could have easily spent another couple days exploring, & eating, more in Vancouver. Our visits always seem to go by so quickly (probably cuz they are quite short.) Lucky for us, it’s not too far away so I’m sure we’ll make another trip out soon!