Monday, December 30, 2013

First taste of liquid sunshine - Vancouver Dec 2013

How much can you say about a city when you are just transiting through it for a brief time? Surprisingly, a whole lot. On our way to Whistler Blackcomb for skiing in December 2013, we stopped at Vancouver for two days. Our transit turned out to be a great teaser. Vancouver is a beautiful and a very friendly city and often called the "best place to live in the world". The downtown has glassy high rise buildings and a very cosmopolitan population. We stayed at The Sutton Place Hotel on Burrard Street. Burrard Street runs through the middle of downtown, with easy access to the shopping areas, restaurants and tourist spots such as the waterfront. While walking along the Burrard street, we came across the Vancouver Visitor Center (across from the convention center). We decided to stop by and ask the folks at the visitor center about things to see and do in the short time we had available. That turned out to be one of the best things we did. The folks at the Visitor Center were really helpful. They suggested we buy a daily bus pass and use the public transportation as a hop on/hop off bus. The day pass cost approx $10 CAN per adult and $8 CAN for kids.

We started our day with a great breakfast at Leonidas, a cozy Belgian chocolate café located right on the waterfront opposite the convention center. Leonidas probably has the best hot chocolate that I have ever tasted. Their chocolates are made in Belgium out of 100% cocoa butter. You get to select whether you want white chocolate, 52%, 75%, 85% dark chocolate. I selected 52% but there were several in our group who selected 85% dark. We all loved our drinks. Leonidas is probably better known for its variety of chocolates, macaroons, cheesecakes and other confectionary.  In addition to awesome hot chocolates, they also had a good selection of coffee specials that was very different than what is found at Starbucks. If you are a chocolate and coffee lover and looking for a cozy cafe in downtown Vancouver to hang out with your friends, Leonidas is definitely the place to be. For breakfast, Leonidas recently introduced Belgium waffles and crepes to its menu. My favorite was the savory crepe, "Javier special" with cheese and ham. We went to Leonidas at least four times during our two day stay in Vancouver. Twice for breakfast and twice simply for hot chocolate and dessert.  We were a big group of 11 and we were loud. Javier (the proprietor) was very accommodating and did not mind us sitting around in his cafe talking and having a great family time. Not once did he made us feel rushed.
After breakfast, we took the local bus to see Gastown. Gastown is a quaint historic part of the town with a beautiful steam clock that cost $42000 and weight 2 tons. The town has lots of artisan galleries, gift shops, kiosks with trinkets. Granville Island is an eclectic mix of art galleries, restaurants, artisanal shops and a farmer's market. The farmer's market with fresh seafood and produce was huge. We also visited Stanley Park, and Yale town. Stanley Park is Vancouver's first, and largest urban park. It boasts scenic views of the water, the mountains, and the majestic trees along the famous Seawall. The Seawall is the most used facility and the totem poles are Stanley Park's most visited tourist attractions. Yale town was formerly a warehouse district but is now transformed into one of Vancouver's chic areas with plenty of sidewalk cafes, a thriving nightlife and trendy restaurants. We capped our first day with ice skating opposite Pacific Rim mall. For food, we tried Tony's Fish and Oyster in Granville Island for lunch and Lebanese food at Nuba in Gastown for dinner, and. Both excellent restaurants with good selection, fresh food well prepared and a friendly vibe.

On day two, we saw a lot of Vancouver's famous liquid sunshine (commonly known as rain). We had plans to go see the Suspension Bridge, but because of rain, we chose to walk around in downtown and try some of their famous Japadogs. Japadog is a chain of street food stands in Vancouver. They specialize in all kinds of hot dogs but especially variants of Japanese style foods (thus their name) such as Okonomiyaki, Teriyaki, Yakisoba etc. In downtown, we walked along Pender street, Burrard street, and Robson Street. We stopped at Joey's for an early Dinner (or late lunch). Joey's gets reserved for dinner months in advance, but since we got there between lunch and dinner, we were able to get seating for our large group. The food was incredibly fresh and really well prepared.

After seeing the Vancouver teaser, we are convinced to visit Vancouver as its own destination in the summer to truly spend time visiting not only the above places, but also to enjoy the great outdoors with whale watching, sea-kayaking and so forth.


praveen sharma said...
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praveen sharma said...

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