I had a wonderful - WONDERFUL - time in Vancouver. I did very little research before the trip, both because I have been traveling so much and because I was there for a conference and didn't know how much of the city I would get to see.
I flew in a day before the conference so I wouldn't be that jet lagged chick at the opening dinner. First order or business: run. I ran four times while in Vancouver, and each one of those runs included Stanley Park. It's perfect for this - one loop around the park's sea wall is 5.5 miles, and it was close to my hotel. The trail has separate biking and walking/running lanes, which is amazing. I can't tell you how tough it can be sometimes to run in Philadelphia's Fairmont Park with all the walking and biking traffic.
To keep myself awake and try to re-set my inner clock onto Pacific Standard Time, I took a walk from my hotel down Granville Avenue to Granville Island. It's about two miles, and takes you from waterfront/convention district to downtown to somewhat seedy/South Street-like Vancouver (I passed an arcade/shooting gallery/peep show place - yes, all in one location) to redeveloped Vancouver. Granville Island used to be an industrial area that's now shops, restaurants and artists studios. They have a really interesting collection of stores, including the Granville Island Broom Company.
I went back to Granville Island on Thursday morning, and had the best meal of this year at Experience Canada. Despite the somewhat cheesy name, they're serious about food - local food, and fresh. I'll never look at butter the same way after tasting their foie gras butter, and fries? Oh, they were fried in duck fat, and so tasty. I would have gone back if I didn't run out of time. (And yes it's the place that banned men from peeing standing up in their bathrooms)
I also checked out the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classic Chinese Garden, which was gorgeous and a very quiet spot in a busy part of the city:
The conference was held between three hotels: The Fairmont Waterfront (where I stayed), the Fairmont Pacific Rim (where the conference sessions were held) and the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver (which hosted the opening dinner). Each of these hotels was lovely and different. Waterfront is your standard nice hotel with an optional water view. Pacific Rim seemed more urban and New York like. Hotel Vancouver is a classic, historic place. Here's a photo from opening night dinner at Fairmont Vancouver:
Lovely, isn't it?
After that - much of my time was spent in a conference room. But here are other highlights:
Richmond: Richmond is about 30 minutes outside of Vancouver, and has grown in popularity since the 2010 Winter Olympics. It's population is 65% Asian. A tourism official told me a lot of people from Hong Kong moved over after China took back control of the city.
Thats a bubble tea from the Zephyr Tea House Cafe in Richmond. I ate lunch that day at Jade, which is known for its dim sum. Yum.
Cocktail Culture: Canada has some screwy liquor laws, but there's an interesting cocktail culture in Vancouver. We had drinks one night at Pourhouse, whose slogan is "serving plain and fancy drinks." I also took a cocktail making class at The Diamond.
That's me making a Moscow Moose, which involves vodka and ginger beer.
I'll do a separate post about the North Shore Credit Union Half Marathon. It's the first (and probably last) time I've run with my iPhone. You'll see why in that next post.
It was an interesting conference, too. I was there for Travel Classics, which is for travel writers. I'm not a traditional travel writer - I don't go all over the world to new places with the idea of writing about them. I have made myself an expert on one region and continue to write about it for many different publications (which is probably why you're reading this blog), while sometimes writing about different places I've visited or have come to know (i.e. Tampa). I'd like to be able to write about more cities and locations, which is one of the reasons I came to the conference - to learn how that works. This doesn't mean I'll stop writing about the Jersey Shore (why would I? I love it), but it could open new avenues of writing for me. I always take notes about cities we visit, even if I'm not assigned a story about it. Why not try to write about the fun things I see in other places?
I might not be making sense. I have a massive head cold right now (thanks, airplanes). But hopefully I'll be more lucid tomorrow.