July 29, 2010

Vancouver: Day One

Wednesday morning we were up bright and early, although that should probably be foggy and early. It was misty and damp waiting for the bus. It dropped us right near the Amtrak station. We got our seating taken care of and we lined up to board. This is my first time on Amtrak. The best part is no need to arrive an hour or two beforehand. We were in the 6th car. Seats were roomy, and we were on our way in no time. Bye, bye Seattle! Had it not been so foggy we would've had excellent views, but nearly the whole way the sky and sea were dreary shades gray. The sun finally peaked in northern Washington. By then, we were surrounded by farms and timber. Later, we arrived. We're in Canada, eh? Customs was easy, it lacked the chaos you experience when traveling to Mexico. The train station was an odd place. There was a woman bathing in the bathroom sink and then as we walked outside another woman pulled up to pick up her friend. She was in a bikini and seemed to be high as a kite. I could only laugh and wonder what else was in store. We hopped on the bus and we were checked into our hotel, Best Western Downtown Vancouver, in a jiffy.

It was lunchtime and we were starved! Frank picked Nuba for lunch, which we almost missed. It's located in the basement of a corner building in Gastown. We ordered red lentil soup to start. It was terrific. Eggplant stew and lamb pita followed. I liked the stew best, the pita was filled with bold flavors (lamb, baba, feta, taboulleh and onions) I felt they all worked against each other, rather than blending harmoniously.

After lunch we walked around Gastown to see the sights and get our bearings.

I think they might have had the same number if not more coffee shops here as Seattle. We came across the steam clock, it wasn't until later that we realized it literally steams a few times a day.

That's a Japadog stand in the bottom left corner. It seemed to be the thing to try while in Vancouver, but we were stuffed when we found it. We never came across it again. I suppose we missed out.

After our brief tour of the neighborhood we were back at the hotel and ready for a siesta. We were beat.

Hours later we were rested and hungry (again). We knew we'd be catching the Celebration of Light firework display so we wanted to stay close by, it was scheduled to begin at 10pm. We settled on Cioppino Grill in Yaletown for dinner. It is known as THE place for Italian and fresh seafood. It's also known for high tabs, but we found it to be on par with strip prices. We started with a daily special, Heirloom Tomatoes and Dungeness Crab with Avocado vinaigrette. It was fantastic! It tasted like summer on a plate. Clean and refreshing flavors.

For entrees, Frank selected the Risotto with Dungeness Crab and herbed peas. Simply wonderful! And I had slow cooked Halibut with Tomatoes, alongside asparagus, peas and mashed potatoes. It was excellent. All in all, a stellar meal.

We raced over to the beach at English Bay to find a spot to view the fireworks. Once the sunset faded away, the fireworks began.

It was a series of displays all synchronized to music. This night of the competition was USA, so we heard all sorts of familiar songs.

The firework show lasted 25-minutes. We sat on the beach to let the crowds clearout, we admired the parade of boats as they left the bay. We also touched the water, just to say we were in it.

We walked back near the hotel and went to bar called Morrisey, it was a dark and dank little place. I had a Kronenbourg and Frank had a Hefe from Quebec. We were still exhausted so we turned in after our drink. The early day and previous days walking all over Seattle had worn us out.

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