My Canadian Vacation

When my best friend, Kiko, texted me saying that flights were super cheap, I was completely on board to wherever she wanted to go!  However, “super cheap” is still pricey when you’re flying overseas.  The original plan was to go somewhere in Europe… but, being the broke Southern California resident that I am, I requested somewhere a little more within my budget.  After a few days, Kiko came back with, “my mom wants to go Vancouver – How does Canada sound?”  It sounded perfect!  She found a great deal which included flight, hotel, and a rental car, so I Venmo’d her the money and Boom! we were all set for Canada!

The Food

Whenever I travel anywhere, I always am so excited to try the food!  Even though some people might classify me as a “picky eater,” I will pretty much try any food once (but once I don’t like it, good luck getting me to try it again!).  Lucky for me, Kiko loves eating at highly Yelp-rated eating establishments, so she picked out some pretty delicious places for us to eat at around town!  The first place we ate at was Wangs Shanghai (I had no idea that Vancouver was known for its Chinese food, but, guess what? IT IS!)  We ordered some Dim Sum that consisted of Pork Steam Buns, Rice Steam Buns, and Thick Fried Noodles.  We were all in the mood for some dim sum… and MAN, did this place deliver on it’s deliciousness!  The pork buns were so well seasoned and juicy and the thick fried noodles were the perfect consistency, had a delicious sauce, and tiny bits of chicken in them that made them extra mouthwatering.

My Buffalo Chicken Sandwich
from Meat & Bread

While exploring around Downtown Vancouver, Kiko found a delicious looking little eatery called Meat & Bread. With a name like that, I assumed that they would specialize in delicious sandwiches… and that is EXACTLY what they specialized in!  Kiko and her mom ordered the sandwich they’re known for which was a porchetta sandwich.  I decided to go with something a little more avant-garde: the buffalo chicken sandwich.  They were all so delicious and beautifully presented!  I paired mine with a bottle of Rose Lemonade (I love little hipster drinks especially if they have a floral element to them!) which was delicious – it can be found at Cost Plus World Market apparently.  I honestly think this was my favorite meal of the trip.  After our sandwiches, Kiko’s Mom wanted to visit a little gelato shop that happened to be on our way toward our next photo spot, so we chose to get dessert!  At Bella Gelateria I chose to get get two scoops (that were a little pricey*) of gelato in a cup — Mint Chocolate Chip and Lavender.  It was sunset, so it was a bit chilly outside, but that never stops from enjoying any and all kinds of ice cream treat!  The lavender was delicious and not too over-flavored and the mint chocolate chip was lite and deliciously refreshing.  

As you can probably tell, I love food and I love sweets.  One of the yummiest things that I got to have was a freshly baked cinnamon apple hot cross bun.  This one little piece of bread has left such an impact on me for kind of a weird reason: it reminded me of music.  When we walked up to the Lonsdale Quay Market in North Vancouver, I was immediately hit by one of my favorite smells, Cinnamon Apple.  We walked around the Market for a while and there were so many other smells that I couldn’t find where it was coming from.  We finally walked by a little bakery called Cobs Bread where they were sampling hot cross buns.  I had never actually seen hot cross buns, I had only read about them, however, “Hot Cross Buns,” had been one of the first songs that I had ever learned how to play on the piano, violin, trumpet, and clarinet.  I had to know what these little buns tasted like and, lucky for me, they had apple cinnamon ones!  I ordered one and ate it up!  With each bite, I understood why the song was the way it was — these little buns are so simple, yet so satisfying, just like the first song I learned on 4 different instruments: simple and satisfying.

My Leige Waffle with Passionfruite Creme and Lavender Hot Chocolate from Medina Cafe

Later in our trip, we stopped by Downtown Vancouver again to eat some Poutine!  Kiko’s Mom found a place called “Frites (Fries with Benefits)” that had a full menu filled with all different concoctions that all revolved around french fries — so basically… Heaven.  We ate a lot of chips and snacks prior to arriving at this eatery, so we decided to all split one large order of Kimchi Poutine and, let me tell you, it was SO DELICIOUS!  You wouldn’t think that gravy and kimchi would go together, but over fries, hell yes it does!  The next morning, we stopped by another place that Kiko’s Mom found (her love for food exploration is a wonderful thing) called Medina Cafe (you’ll hear about this place again in a later section).  They are known for their “Leige Waffles,” which are small delicious waffles that are sold individually and run out quickly!  We each ordered one single waffle and a dipping sauce — I got Passionfruit Creme, Kiko got Caramel, and Kiko’s Mom got White Chocolate Lavender.  Even though they are a little pricey*, they are WORTH IT!  Those little waffles literally made me want to eat waffles more often because of how good they were and the Passionfruit creme was amazing!

*I know I kept saying that things were a bit pricey and that is because a lot of the things in Vancouver was inexpensive, especially with foreign exchange rates, but the things that I mentioned were all-around pricey, not just Canada pricey.

The Sights

Kiko, Me, and Kiko’s Mom in front of the Bloedel Conservatory

On our first full day in Vancouver, we visited Queen Elizabeth Park which is beautiful and even has a Conservatory!  The one thing I kinda super loved about Vancouver was that all good doggos and puppers aren’t required to be on leashes unless specified!  That means there were a lot of pups running around this park off-leash, just playing and saying hello to everyone!  We made our way to the center of the park where the Conservatory was.  it was in the low 40s so it was quite chilly and we were as bundled as three carry-on only Southern Californian travelers could be.  But when we entered the Bloedel Conservatory, it was like 80 degrees and we couldn’t get our coats off quick enough!  The Conservatory was pretty, filled with all kinds of different plants and birds.  You could tell that the smaller birds were used to people because they just went about their little birdie business until a human got super close or approached too quickly.  The larger birds all had names, their own perches and plaques, and were set back farther from the pathway so that they could be seen and not come upon too closely.  My favorite part of the Conservatory was when Kiko and her mom spotted a tiny field mouse (who probably wasn’t supposed to be there, staking out the bird feeder in hopes to steal some morsels of food — mice are such cuties.  We left the Conservatory and took in the views from the park as it was on a hill.  we continued to walk around for a little bit before walking back over to the area where all the dogs were playing together.  When we got to our car, one of the puppers even tried to come over and get in the car with us;  I would have totally let him, but he was being super rebellious and not listening to his mom telling him to get in her car!  Silly pup!

The next day, we went and explored one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to, Lynn Canyon Park.  The entrance to Lynn Park is a beautiful suspension bridge that hangs over a waterfall fed riverbed.  We spent a lot of time on that bridge even though it was a little bit unsteady and wet from the waterfall spray.  After we got all of our photos on and from the suspension bridge, we headed on a trail toward a place called Twin Falls.  The scenery was so green and lush.  There were tall trees with moss and fungus growing all up an over them.  We passed other hikers, some with dogs, some without, and even though, at some points on the trail, there were signs that all dogs must be on leashes, they usually weren’t if they were already walking without a leash.  Twin Falls was two small waterfalls with another bridge over them; there were less people here, but it was still populated due to the area’s close proximity to the entrance.  That park was so beautiful that it makes me want to move to the Pacific Northwest just so that I can explore more parks like Lynn Canyon Park.  After we left Lynn Canyon Park, we headed to catch a glimpse of Capilano Park.  We decided to goto the Salmon Hatchery because it sounded interesting — what we didn’t know was that it was down at the bottom of a few hundred stairs!  We got to see some baby salmon in their nurseries and learn about how they raise them and help them find their way upstream and into the hatchery. It was very educational and quite interesting!  The worst part was walking back up those hundreds of steps (I think Kiko lost count somewhere in the 160s).  Kiko’s Mom and I had to take multiple breaks, but we eventually made it to the top and celebrated our VICTORY!  The next day, my legs and booty were so sore, I felt like I had gone to the gym!

Downtown Vancouver feels like other major cities, but more adorable!  I loved how they had an area called Gastown because it reminded me of Mad Max: Fury Road!  In Gastown, there is this really cool clock that runs on steam and smokes like a steam train!  Every 15 minutes it blows its chime and emits a ton of steam, like a grandfather clock, but with a whistle instead of chimes!  There were also a ton of really beautiful buildings, Hipster eateries and pubs, and adorable shops that I wanted to spend all my money in.  There is one section of Downtown Vancouver that has the Olympic Flame Statue and a statue called The Digital Orca.  Kiko wanted to take a photo with the Digital Orca so badly and I feel that we went at a beautiful time because we got to see Downtown at Sunset, which is gorgeous!  Right next to Downtown is Stanley Park, which looks HUGE on a map!  It is very pretty to drive around and has an area with a bunch of Totem Poles that you can look at and read about; I really enjoyed knowing which animals and beings were represented in each one and who they were made for.

Just breathtaking views

Our major day trip was taking the Sea to Sky Highway to Whistler!  It takes about 2 hours to drive from Downtown Vancouver up to Whistler and man, is that a beautiful drive.  It takes you along the coast and toward the mountains for about an hour before it heads inland through the mountains (which were covered in snow while we were there!)  Along the way, we stopped a couple times to look at pretty things like waterfalls and lookout points.  The first place that we stopped at was Shannon Falls which was a large beautiful waterfall; pictures do not do nature justice, especially with waterfalls!  We also stopped at a lookout point where I took one of my favorite photos of the trip — the people in the photo are complete strangers to me, they just happened to be there at the same time we were.  When we finally made it to Whistler, i fell completely in LOVE.  Whistler looks like it was taken straight out of the Swiss Alps and placed into Canada.  It is so incredibly charming and adorable — everyone should go to Whistler in the winter at some point in the life!  OH!  I forgot to mention in my Food section, but Whistler has an ice cream shop called Cow’s Whistler that is DELICIOUS!!!! All of their flavors are named with puns of something to do with cows, milk, or something related to either of those!  The texture is delicious and it was so cold (it was like 32 degrees) that my ice cream didn’t melt one little bit!  It was amazing!

Canadians are So Nice

There were a few people who stand out in my mind when I think about this trip.  The first was the Cashier at the London Drug Store.  As she rang up my ridiculous amount of chocolate (Canada has delicious European chocolate and other goodies that you can’t find in the U.S.), we bonded a little bit over how much we loved chocolate and how we wish that it wasn’t so terrible for us.  She had the cute little Canadian accent that I wanted to hear so badly and was one of the few people to say “eh” at the end of her sentences!  Another person that I remember is the man who sold me my hot cross bun at Cobs Bakery.  When I was paying, I asked him if I should swipe or use the chip in my card.  He laughed and said, “you can always tell Americans because they don’t know what to do with their card — you’re American right?”  and we ended up having a very entertaining conversation about how the U.S. should just get it together and decide once and for all: Insert or Swipe.  The final person was the cashier at Meat & Bread — he lied the way I talked.  Meat & Bread was one of the first places that I used my credit card, so I was still trying to figure out if I should swipe or insert.  When I answered him or replied, he giggled and when I asked what was so funny (in a curious way, as I was not even remotely offended by the giggling), he said that he just liked the way I talked — he liked my “SoCal accent.”  I am always so intrigued when someone says they like my accent because I think I sound so ridiculously Californian and Valley Girl that it MUST be annoying, but I guess people that don’t hear it, happen to find it amusing or even charming.  Everyone in Canada was really nice, I honestly can’t think of any people who were mean or annoying.  Thanks Canada!

Trip Fails…

Breakfast Sausage — The hotel we stayed at offered a continental breakfast.  It wasn’t the best, but they had a pretty good assortment of carbs (bagels, muffins, and danishes).  On the first day, we all decided to test everything, so we all got a little bit of everything.  The eggs were average, the bacon was fine, the coffee was great (according to Kiko since I don’t drink coffee), but the sausage… man, that was weird… It was mushy and had a weird tasted texture.  We later found out that it was turkey sausage, but it didn’t taste like any kind of turkey sausage that any of us had eaten.  As the weekend went on, and as we eavesdropped on other tables’ conversations, we found that we weren’t the only ones who felt that way about the sausage!  Apparently it was the talk of the room and of the Yelp reviews!

Costco — Kiko’s mom had been talking about going to Costco and buying a Costco-sized box of candy to take back home.  Well, when we finally made it to Costco, we went to the candy section and the only box that had the candy she wanted had a bunch of other candy bars that she didn’t want, but she was willing to get them anyway… but, upon further investigation, I saw that out of the 24 candy bars, only 4 were there one that she wanted!  We left Costco empty-handed and just ended up getting a bunch at a grocery store.

Lonsdale Quay Market — The Lonsdale Quay Market is like a big 3-story food court with a few little shops strewn around.  When we walked into the Market, we entered on the third floor as that was the “ground floor” from the parking structure.  Upon entering, we saw that a performance was about to start for Chinese New Year.  We decided to watch for a little bit before we walked around to find something to eat.  The performance began, we watched the performance in the small performance area and decided to move on once they started leaving the performance area.  As we walked down to the first floor, we noticed that the Chinese Dragon performers, drummers, and gong ringer were making their way around the entire bottom floor of the Market.  I asked if we could step outside since it was so incredibly loud and echo-y in the Market, so we did.  After about 20 minutes, they were still going… they moved to the 2nd floor… and eventually the 3rd… stopping at every… single… storefront to grant them a prosperous Year of the Pig — it lasted over an hour!  We were starving by the time they finished, but did end up getting food… but man I had such a terrible headache after that!

At least the snow was pretty!

Whistler Olympic Park — On our second to last day, we planned a day trip up to Whistler!  I looked up some of the things to see in Whistler and I saw that they had an Olympic Rings statue from when the Winter Olympics wee in Vancouver a few years ago.  When we were getting close, Kiko asked me to get directions to Whistler and I told her that I wanted to see the statue of the Olympic Rings, so I put in “Whistler” and “Olympic” into Google Maps and found Whistler Olympic Park, so we decided to go there.  When we got there, it was $25 to get in as just a day guest; we paid and drove in.  We parked our car and went into the lodge that was there… and we quickly realized that this was not the right place… this was just a place for people to ski… so we took a couple photos in the snow and peached out because we saw that ACTUAL Whistler was actually like 20 minutes away… so we paid $25 to take a couple photos in the snow… If you ever goto Whistler, don’t go to Whistler Olympic Park unless you are actually going to ski or walk some trails in snowshoes and such… basically do your research!

Medina Cafe — On Sunday morning, we decided that we wanted to go get these delicious waffles that Kiko’s Mom had been talking about.  We found parking (Downtown Vancouver and Downtown LA have very similar parking atmospheres… terrible and metered) and walked a couple blocks to the cafe.I put our name in and asked how long the wait was going to be…. to which the hostess replied about 90 minutes to 2 hours…. BYE! (We went back the next morning and only waited 20 minutes… Lesson learned: don’t go on a weekend)

My Favorite Things

I loved Vancouver!  It gave me that feeling of home as soon as we arrived (I got the same feeling in London).  Everything about that city was lovely, but here are my absolute favorite things from this trip:

Lynn Canyon Park — it was so green, gorgeous, and crisp.  I could have just spent hours looking around!

The Chocolate — It’s just so yummy and cheap!  I ate wayyyyyy too much chocolate, but it was so worth it!

Ketchup Pringles — I literally brought 3 cans home with me because they are DELICIOUS!!! They were gone a week later…

The food — All the things I wrote about in the above “Food” section are my favs!

Honestly, #nofilter

Sunrises/Sunsets — We went in January, so the sun rose at 7:30ish in the morning and set around 4:30pm, so we got to sleep in and still see the sunrise and always see the sunset!

Kiko and her Mom — My absolute favorite thing was getting to spend time with my best friend and her Mom (who I also call Mom).  I love them so much!

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