Oh, Canada! Our last country on the “big trip” and Vancouver was our second-last stop before the trip turned into the “big move” to Montreal.
It felt good to be back in a familiar setting. Hugo got a bit overexcited when we went to the supermarket for the first time and bought loads of his most favourite Canadian treats. I bemoaned the terrible cheese selection in the supermarket. Hugo finally got a hair cut and trimmed his beard, which had begun to take over his face. We caught up with friends and spent rainy days inside playing Settlers of Catan or watching films. It was super chilled.
In Canada, every province has a motto printed on its license plates. While “Beautiful British Colombia” isn’t as sweet as “Friendly Manitoba” or as poetic as Quebec’s “Je me souviens”, (“I remember”, a reference to a poem about french heritage), it certainly hits the nail on the head.
Yeast Van and delicious downtown
Vancouver is a stunning city. The open ocean and the Rockie Mountains are never far away, even when you are in the middle of the city. It’s heavily built up in the centre but the skyscrapers are glassy and bright, making it feel airy and spacious. It reminded me a lot of Hong Kong and apparently a lot of the construction was done by the same investors and companies.
We were lucky enough to be able to house-sit for a friend of a friend, complete with adorable but painfully shy black cat. It was such a joy to have an apartment to live in after the confines of our tiny room in Tokyo, that only had space for a single bed and then a roll-out futon that took up the entire floor. We stayed in East Vancouver, also known as East Van and sometimes, Yeast Van, due to the collection of independent breweries that have popped up across the area.
My friend and our local guide for the week, Danielle, took us on a whirlwind tour of these breweries one night. We had “beer flights” at each of the four establishments we visited, meaning we ended up tasting about 24 beers in total. There are no photos available for that evening.
We also went for a three course brunch that started with waffles and ended with banana cake, ate the best cheese toastie ever, had fantastic fresh sushi, drank superb coffee, tasted more beer, scoffed down some authentic fish and chips, tasted candied salmon, went to a wine and nibbles party at Hugo’s friend’s place, drank delicious BC wines and went for the most epic, five course Canadian Thanksgiving dinner at Danielle’s uncle’s house, who happens to be a chef by profession.
In short, we ate and drank. Very well. And a lot.
Walking it off
Given the amount of input, it was only natural that we should be getting rid of some of the excess energy by making the most of the surroundings.
After the aforementioned three course brunch, we went for a walk around Stanley Park, the biggest urban park in the world. It sits out in the bay, surrounded by the ocean – the residents of Vancouver are so lucky to have such a beautiful place to relax!
We also did two hikes – one extremely steep one up the “sea to summit” trail in Squamish, that had us scrambling through steep autumnal forests and clinging on to cliffs to get up to a beautiful view point with a cafe at the top. Chips and a beer were necessary before we cheated and got the cable-car back down.
The second hike took us past Port Moody to the East and up Diez Vistas, a rather loooong but stunning 15km trail that took us quickly up a big mountain and then slowly down and round a lovely lake.
I feel like we only scratched the surface of what Vancouver had to offer! The week was over so fast and it was soon time for our last stop on the “big trip”… onwards to Montreal!