Saturday, June 22, 2013

Vancouver B.C. June 2013
I took the Amtrak from the new Seattle train station on Jackson to Vancouver B.C. in the early morning with a breakfast picnic from Foxglove Guesthouse in tow.  My lovely window seat heading in the right direction made a beautiful, comfortable trip.  Arriving at the station about noon, I took the sky train to Burrard station and walked about 10 minutes to Barclay House Bed and Breakfast ( in the West End where I stayed in the Garden Suite for three nights.  After checking in, I walked a few blocks to Market by jean-georges ( where I had lunch.  It is a lovely restaurant with ecletic fare and the beet salad with grapes, walnuts and warm goat cheese, scallops with caramelized cauliflower and caper puree and creamy peanut butter bar glazed with
chocolate were all excellent!! 

As the day was bright and sunny I walked along the sea wall near coal harbor and Stanley park to the suspension bridge which took about 2 hours, passing the first nations totem poles on my way.  Dinner was in Gastown at Wildebeest (, a quirky little restaurant with a very unique menu!!  I sat at a long wooden table with other diners which was terrific as you could see what everyone was eating and enjoying.  I ordered asparagus and ramps with potato mousse and clam vinaigrette followed by “the garden” which was a plate of partially raw and cooked vegetables on top of creamy mascarpone cheese with carrot sorbet – sooo delicious!!!  Dessert was a chocolate ice cream sandwich.  It was such fun being there!!!  I leisurely strolled through gastown back to the guesthouse. 

After an uneventful breakfast I walked down Robson Street across the bridge to Granville Island for a quick glimpse of the market before taking the bus to the UBC Museum ofAnthropology about 20 minutes away.  What a fascinating museum that was!!!  Filled with giant carved totem poles from Haida and first nation villages, masks, wooden boats, etc.  An incredible yellow cedar sculpture called “The Raven and the first Men” carved by Bill Reid was beautifully displayed along with some of his jewelry.  Outside are some wooden Haida houses with more totem poles surrounding them.  A highlight to be sure!!!  I caught the bus back to town and had lunch at Lily Mae’s ( , a charming little bistro in Gastown.  I just made it in time for lunch and was perhaps the last person eating!!!  I had a delicious organic baby purple spinach salad with goat cheese, candied pecans and orange segments followed by a warm apple cake with pecan caramel sauce – sooooo good!!! 

I took a walking tour of Gastown & Chinatown recommended in my guide book which started in Canada Place with its five Teflon sails meant to resemble a giant sailing ship.  I walked along the promenade and passed a huge ship filled with passengers departing for an Alaskan cruise.  On to the Steam Clock which lets off “steam” on the quarter hour to the T&T Supermarket which is an enormous Chinese market filled with every delicacy imaginable and then some.  Passing through the Chinatown Gate I came to a street market with vendors selling pot stickers, spring rolls, etc. to passersby.  There is also a nice Chinese Cultural Centre and gardens but both were closed so I wandered back to the shops on Water Street before heading to Forage in the Listel Hotel in the West End.  It’s a small little “cafĂ©” which uses produce sourced from local organic farmers when possible.  I had some sizzling mushrooms topped with goat cheese with grilled caraway seed bread to put them on, grains and quinoa with carrot and butternut squash cubes served with raita and naan bread which could have used a bit more flavor and finished with a chocolate terrine with “bacon” brulee which was not as interesting as it sounds.  Luckily my guesthouse was only 10 minutes away after all the walking I had done….

After breakfast at a Starbuck’s nearby, I started the Yaletown, Granville Island walk which began at the Vancouver Public Library whose exterior resembles the Colesseum in Rome!  On into Yaletown, a funky upscale district of shops, restaurants, “New York-style” lofts and lots and lots of clubs.  Down Davie Street to the Roundhouse inside of which is the locomotive that pulled the first passenger train into Vancouver back in 1887.  Davie Street South to the False Creek waterfront at the end of which I caught the mini-ferry to Granville Island.

I spent about 2 hours wandering through a fascinating collection of shops, restaurants, workshops, the public market, etc., picking up a few things that spoke to me.  I passed by the Fish Dock as I walked around the edge of Vanier Park to the Vancouver Maritime Museum to see the 100 foot tall replica Kwakiuti totem pole.  On I walked along Kits Beach to the the Kilsilano area and ended at West for lunch.  I had been to West many years ago but didn’t realize that the head chef had left to open his own restaurant a few years ago.  So I was a bit disappointed in my selection.  My tuna salad with grilled vegetables was beautiful and delicious but the potato gnocchi with asparagus and peas although tasty was not particularly interesting to behold.  Dessert was a chocolate crunch cake in a custard sauce but really needed a lot more chocolate…

I leisurely wandered around before heading to the West End over the Granville Bridge.  The West End is filled with trees, large streets and lovely mansions.  My next walk took me down Robson Street and up to English Bay Beach Park where you can sit at one of the many cafes overlooking the water.  One of the most interesting parts of the walk was the Mole Hill area with its historic houses and little gardens everywhere.  A charming place to live!!!  As it was rather late by then I simply walked back to Gastown and had the best meal of the whole trip at L’Abattoir ( .  I started with salmon Nicoise which was cured salmon slices with crispy rice balls and a roasted pepper/tomato sauce followed by a warm steelhead and crunchy potato salad with arugula and shaved horseradish.  Dessert was a brulee lemon tart with berry compote and along with my meal I had a wonderful chilled glass of blended white wines from Washington State.

An early rise in the morning and a taxi to the train station, I passed through customs and bordered the train for Seattle about 7 a.m. Breakfast was banana bread and oranges which I had picked up the day before and a cup of hot coffee which I enjoyed while traversing the same lovely landscape as before.  I arrived in Seattle about 11:30 a.m. and made my way as fast as possible to Wild Ginger for a quick lunch of crispy spring rolls wrapped in lettuce leaves before catching the light rail to the airport and back to Orange County.

Lots of great memories of new places seen, new restaurants tried and new experiences undertaken….but it is always good to be home

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