Canadian Sugar Mama (Day 2)
June 22, 2014 § Leave a comment
According to Chen, Seattle is boring and can be toured in about a day, so we somewhat hastily planned a visit Vancouver. (I use the word “planned” lightly as we were all too busy/lazy to figure out an itinerary until the last minute. We might not even have ended up going if I hadn’t booked a hotel??)
The four of us (minus Shirley) left the morning of the second day. The two-and-a-half hour drive passed by relatively quickly, probably because I was sleeping in the backseat, hehe. (Thanks for driving, Chen and Lucy!)
It was kind of scary having to turn off all our mobile services after crossing the border simply because we were so unprepared. On the way, we furiously Yelped a few places to eat while Lucy took screenshots of all the maps we’d need.
We were so preoccupied with simply having our passports (I might’ve threatened to maim anyone who forgot hers…only because I had a previous time-wasting experience of a friend forgetting his!) that we forgot one major detail: None of us had any Canadian money, and we had no idea where to find currency exchanges. And it turned out that I was the only one with a credit card that had no foreign transaction fees.
Conclusion: I became a sugar mama for 24 hours.
Everything from parking to souvenirs to meals were billed to me. (Give me all the points!) It was actually kind of fun? But only because I knew they would pay me back later! And it certainly made things easier not struggling to split the check at the table. (I kept all my receipts and spent some time with Excel upon returning to Chicago.)
When in the Pacific Northwest, eat more oysters! Our lunch stop was Rodney’s Oyster House in the charming neighborhood of Gastown. As I mentioned in the previous day’s recap, I’m not really a fan of raw oysters, so I just nibbled on one and let the other ladies take care of the rest. The scallops, however (pictured above), were DELICIOUS.
I ordered clam chowder, which I had been craving since being deprived of it the previous day. It was amazing. I will never eat clam chowder the same way again?? It ruined me!
Everything we got was delicious except for some salmon Xixi had ordered, which was basically sweet salmon jerky (they called it “Haida Gwaii Candy”). Probably good as a snack, but not exactly what we were looking for.
I forgot to ask for a photo (see here instead), but the waiters wore hilariously inappropriate T-shirts emblazoned with the phrases “Eat Me Raw” and “Suck Me Off.” I was tempted to buy one but would have nowhere to wear it. Alas!
Being the poor planners we were, we knew we wanted to go to the Capilano Suspension Bridge afterward but didn’t know what time it closed. Neither did any of the waiters (whom, might I add, were adorable young gentlemen), so we asked to use their Wi-Fi — surprising that the restaurant even had a network — but the moment Xixi tried to log on, the power went out, and the whole place went dark.
There weren’t that many other people in the restaurant — apparently it was a holiday weekend — so we all sat leisurely in relative darkness and quiet (dining ambience is so different without music!) for about 10 minutes while the staff rushed to fix a lobster tank that started overflowing. Apparently the power for the whole block had gone out! How strange.
Eventually, we completed our meal (with the lights on) and went on our way. The bridge was still open for a few hours, so we headed over.
The Capilano Suspension Bridge is almost 500 feet long and more than 200 feet above a river — basically, really long and pretty high. I don’t even know how they managed to build the thing using mere rope in the 1800s! (Then again I suppose I also don’t know how they built the current steel-cabled version, because I’m not an engineer.)
Anyway. Parks are perfect places for photo ops.
Our group photo looked like some promo for a family sitcom, complete with stereotypical characters…
I laugh every time I see this one — Lucy looks like some kind of anguished ghost that appeared above Chen’s head:
Finally on to the wobbly bridge!
On the other side of the bridge is a large area with a few different paths, as well as some educational stations about wildlife. For example, we discovered that neither Xixi nor Lucy have wingspans as long as a Canada goose, no matter how much they stretched.
I took this photo and laughed really loudly, which startled the hawk and it tried to fly away…oops lol.
It was very peaceful to walk among the tall trees! The park is very well kept, though I was in constant wonderment at how they built such nice wooden walkways on the side of a mountain.
The Treetops Adventure is a series of smaller suspended bridges high up in the trees, offering a bit more of a thrill for people into that sort of thing.
At the end of the walk, Xixi encountered a little kid (he and his friend had been underfoot the whole time) and had a very strange conversation…
Xixi: “Hey, I like your shirt.”
Xixi: “Can I have it?”
Kid: ……… *runs away*
All right then.
We crossed back over the big bridge and stopped by the gift shop.
It was like being a parent…my friends clamored for me to buy us a piece of fudge, and later Xixi asked for a bottle of soda and Lucy wanted a shot glass. Haha.
Then, my least favorite section of the park: the Cliffwalk, which can be seen from the suspension bridge:
Basically it’s a very narrow walkway that sticks out from the side of the cliff with nothing underneath, like so:
I found it terrifying.
My friends were oblivious to the paralyzing heights. Lucky.
I was actually lightheaded during the brief walk. This is me smiling because we had reached the end!
“Chen taking pictures of things” could be its own meme at this point.
To be fair, the flowers were quite pretty!
These two insisted on a game of checkers (which mainly resulted in mosquito bites for the two of them), so Lucy and I made friends with the gift shop bear.
Afterward, we made our way over to the Listel Hotel in downtown Vancouver. My requirements in looking for a hotel were free parking and free Wi-Fi. On principle, I refuse to pay extra for hotel Internet, even if it’s just factored into the cost of the reservation otherwise. Internet access in this day and age should be considered a given utility, not a privilege!!!
The hotel was cute and full of interesting art (that’s its ~thing~), and I found it to be tidy though the bathroom was a bit dark. (There seemed to be another light that I couldn’t figure out how to turn on…) I like that hotels in Canada (or just the boutique ones I’ve stayed at?) have recycling!
On our agenda: Eat more seafood! We Yelped sushi places in the area in search of an upscale place; we weren’t opposed to spending a little extra on the full experience. But all the results were two-dollar-sign places, so we just picked a random one within walking distance.
Shizen Ya turned out to be GREAT. Everything was so fresh and succulent!! Plus it was vegetarian-friendly, so it had creative non-fish rolls that were just as delicious. The waiter recommended a hot sake that for whatever reason was really tasty, though he did card us first (drinking age in Canada is 19 LOL…trust me we’re old enough!).
All the rolls came with brown instead of white rice, which falls apart more easily but didn’t detract from flavor.
The most amazing thing was how affordable the meal was — we all left stuffed and spent about $30USD each. People in Vancouver get to eat like this all the time?! Can I live there too?!?
On our way out and down the street, a homeless kid (he was scrawny and looked to be 17 though he turned out to be 24 oops) asked us for money. Usually I tell panhandlers that I don’t have any cash even if it’s a lie (I live in New York; how can I not carry cash around lol), though that time it was actually the truth.
He persisted, though, and asked if I could just buy him some food at the Subway further down the block. That was the first time someone had actually asked me that specifically, so I paused, taken aback, and agreed. So he picked up his giant backpack and the five of us went to Subway, where my friends used the bathroom and I bought him a dozen cookies and some orange juice. (At some point I introduced myself but have since forgotten his name…) He didn’t want a sandwich because he had already eaten dinner and wanted to get some food that would last :/
We asked him why he was living on the street, and he replied (in his thick Canadian accent) that he had wanted to get out (of his parents’ house?), but subsequently had a string of bad roommates (drug dealers and prostitutes or something??) and was now just on his own. Best of luck, dude.
Afterward we went to a popular bar with very mediocre drinks — Chen got a bloody Mary topped with onion rings and chicken wings wtf but the drink itself was nasty. It wasn’t that late, but Chen, Xixi and I were all pooped (we’re getting old?!), so we strolled back to the hotel and called it a night.