Ah, Vancouver! It will forever hold a special place in my heart, since it was the city in which my husband and I first dated. Long distance relationships are fraught with all sorts of difficulties, but the course of true love is always a little bit less bumpy when it involves traveling to a beautiful place. And is there a more beautiful place than Vancouver in the springtime?
This time around, as always, the city is positively riotous with colour. Everything grows lush in Vancouver, even in the most shaded, concrete-bound or forgotten of places.
And then, of course, you have the views. No matter in which direction you turn, you are bound to see some piece of landscape that will make you practically gasp. For any indecisive people – like yours truly – who cannot seem to settle on a definitive answer to that age old question “mountains or sea”, Vancouver has the perfect solution: both.
Another thing the city has to offer in abundance is good food. I couldn’t begin to write an exhaustive list, but most of my favourites are little hole-in-the-wall type places where locals tend to congregate, and for good reason. For me, one of the best kept secrets of downtown Vancouver dining is The Dish on Davie. I am by no means a healthy food fanatic – as my steady diet of carbs, sugar and chocolate (yes, it’s a separate category) can surely attest – but I crave the delicious, all-fresh and all-natural fare served up at The Dish. If you ever find yourself in the neighbourhood, you simply must try the to-die-for “Romaine wasn’t built in a day” salad (I dream about it in between visits), and one of the mouth-watering wraps (my faves are the Sophia breakfast wrap and the Chili Feta wrap). And don’t forget to say hi to the friendliest people around!
If you’re traveling with kids – or a kid-at-heart – a stop at the Vancouver Aquarium is a must. Located in beautiful Stanley Park (a must-see on its own), the Aquarium is chock-a-block full of fun for the whole family. Everyone has their favourites, and mine are the otters and the jellyfish. A special shout out to the belugas too. The last time I visited the Aquarium, back in the summer of 2009, they were on special exhibit as “baby belugas”; how time passes – they are now all grown up, though still a special sight.
Traveling to Vancouver always ends up feeling a little bit like a sort of home-coming. Things change and yet, somehow, the city still resonates the same deep down. This time around, traveling with my son for the first time, I learned a few things though. First, and most important, traveling with a kid is nothing like traveling alone or with your spouse. I’m not sure why I was surprised by this – seeing as how life with a kid is nothing like the life I used to know – but I was unprepared for it. Once you embrace the chaos, though, things tend to go much more smoothly. Second, people in downtown Vancouver loooove babies. Over the past ten months combined, I have never had as many strangers stop to look at and chat about my son as I had over the course of one week in Vancouver; this happened everywhere – buses, stores, restaurants, the beach, the street. My kid’s a total ham, so he ate up the attention, setting up a dangerous precedent. He considers his parents a poor substitute for the audience he is now used to. Third, living spaces in Vancouver are tiny. I already knew this, but working to manoeuvre an Alberta-sized stroller through doorways, hallways and various public and private spaces certainly brought the point home. Last, but not least, a picnic on the beach on a sunny afternoon in Vancouver will make you almost wish that the city was your first home.
Till next time, Vancouver!