Beautiful British Columbia
Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada is a beautiful 3 1/2 hour drive from Seattle, making it the perfect 3-day weekend road trip. I possess a Global Entry card which means that I am eligible to use the NEXUS lane and skip all of the lines at the border. Sounds pretty sweet, right? Unfortunately, this is completely useless with Danny in the car. If you know anything about his past, you’ll understand why he isn’t exactly welcomed into a trusted traveler program.
When pulling into the city, the first views are dramatic. Think Seattle meets San Francisco meets Hong Kong. And with the exception of Chinatown, it is a spotlessly clean city and super walkable if you don’t mind an incline here and there.
Gastown, located in the city’s original core, is probably my favorite part of town. You’ll find great shopping, restaurants, and a smattering of touristy souvenir shops. I happen to love a good bullshit shop and am known to buy snow globes, collectible spoons, shot glasses, and, in this case, miniature bottles of maple syrup for friends. After spending half a day deep in the trenches of the various record shops on Hastings Street, we wandered into the Clough Club for a drink. Amongst the sophisticated decor, you can’t help but notice the ceramic white hand under a glass cloche on one of the tables. Danny and I were intrigued. According to the bartender, this joint is named after John Clough, a one-armed lamplighter who mysteriously lost an arm on a drunken adventure and had no memory of the amputation, setting an interesting vibe in this 115 year old establishment.
I made quite a few gastronomical discoveries in Vancouver. One of which is that Yaletown, the formerly industrial turned trendy and populous neighborhood, is foodie central. The Flying Pig will forever be credited for my love of the Bloody Caesar. It’s a Bloody Mary, but swap the tomato juice for Clamato. The fact that this drink is so delicious despite two of Clamato’s main ingredients being high fructose corn syrup and dried clam broth is nothing short of mind boggling. At Minami, I was thrilled to learn about Aburi-style sushi, which is quite prolific throughout the city. The Aburi method involves searing the tops of the fish, whether it be nigiri or a pressed roll, giving it a toasty torched flavor while the fish remains raw underneath. Gonna have to get out my creme brûlée torch and try this one at home.
Jimi Hendrix Shrine
Being that we live in Seattle, the hometown of Jimi Hendrix, visiting the Hendrix Shrine in Vancouver seemed weirdly apropos. Spoiler alert: It’s a random assortment of photocopied and homemade paraphernalia some may refer to as a fire hazard. The highlight, if you will, was a stove “similar to the one Jimi’s grandmother used” back in the day when she was a cook at a nearby restaurant. I didn’t expect much and it was still a letdown. I’m not saying don’t go to it. I just… you might… well, maybe I am. If you want to see a good Jimi Hendrix exhibit, go to MoPOP in Seattle or Handel & Hendrix in London (more about both of these another time).
Good, Clean, Canadian Fun
We spent the rest of our time in Vancouver checking out Flyover Canada, an experience similar to Cruisin’ Around the World at Disneyland California Adventure, walking through Stanley Park, taking a water taxi to Granville Island (dare I say I prefer their public market over Pike Place?), dining at the revolving restaurant Top of Vancouver (the Space Needle is way better), and enjoying all that the Pacific Northwest has to offer.