Dave and Mary, Tea, and Granville Island
3:46 pm: Jet only got up for ten minutes last night, at about 4:10, when he walked into Isabel and George's bedroom and she told him it was still sleeping time. She held him for about ten minutes and he was fast asleep again, and stayed that way until well past 6.
Dave and Mary arrived this morning on their way to Tacoma. George made pancakes with Jet, and we all ate them with fruit, yogurt, and a variety of Isabel's jams. Jet had a blast playing with Mary and David again. I think he remembered them and was very comfortable with them. He had fun playing horsy with Mary, tumbling and wrestling with Dave, pulling rubber worms between David's toes. Jet was fascinated by Dave pulling linoleum samples from his ears for quite a long time. During breakfast Jet refused to sit down with us, instead going under the table and giggling a lot while Dave's feet played with him. Eventually, he got out from under there and played with some cars before ending up in my lap.
He was very tired by 11, and I finally just collected him, had him kiss Dave and Mary good-bye and nursed him to sleep. The six of us sat around talking for a while about names, family traditions, and various other things before it was time for Dave and Mary to leave and for us to pack and get going north.
It's been a pleasant drive. I already miss Jet, but that's okay. I can miss him mildly and still enjoy myself. The weather's been hot. The weeks we've been here have almost all been in the 80's, and today it's supposed to get to 90 something during the day. Ugh. And I think we're in the heat of it, but the AC and the shade we do manage to find has been good.
I slept a good deal of the way up, only waking when we pulled off to get gas and then get across the border. Police had blockaded the way north, checking everyone that went through, I guess they were trying to stop someone from getting through the Canadian border the usual ways. The Canadian check was easy. George and Isabel had warned us that coming back was much, much harder than it used to be if you didn't have a passport, so we have ours this time through. But there were no problems getting through to Canada, at all. Just a few questions about firearms, fruit, and beef.
Wow. We just saw an enormous pagoda in Richmond. Richmond is where a great deal of the Hong Kong population went before China first took over Hong Kong. A lot of people moved there, along with their favorite chefs. So there's a lot of great Chinese food in the area. I don't think we'll get out there for food, but it does mean that the general quality of Chinese food in the whole city has gone up significantly.
We're headed for the hotel, to check in and get our bearings before exploring. Vancouver is such a marvelous walking town I expect I'll get a lot of walking in.
We did! We did!
Though, at first, we unpacked and went hunting the Casablanca lounge, as they advertised a 3-5 high tea. We got there at 4:45 and found that a true high tea had four kinds of sandwiches, cakes, and scones as well as pots of Mighty Tea with four kinds of black, three greens, and six types of herbal or tisanes to choose from. The high tea was about twenty dollars Canadian. John read the menu further, though and found a simpler scones and tea at the bottom of the menu.
We opted for the scones and tea and got something we could have never gotten in Colorado. We got two buttery, tender, crisp on the outside cream scones with nothing mixed in them, a Chinese soup spoon of Devonshire cream, a personal pot of strawberry jam,, and a personal pot of tea. Each pot of tea had a fabric bag filled with whole leaf tea. True, whole leaf tea. Originally, in China, they used to sew leaves into silk bags as the silk didn't mess with the taste of the tea, these are probably nylon mesh bags, but the same concept. I liked the vanilla bean tea a lot, though the vanilla certainly overwhelmed the tea I liked the creamy sweetness of the jam and cream on the scones balanced by the astringency of the tea.
And sitting in the hotel bar watching all the rush hour traffic jam up under the windows. It was cool to not be in it.
From there we headed back to the room, got our walking shoes on and headed, according to the hotel staff's directions, towards Granville Island. I was mildly puzzled by the instructions, as they took us through what were residential areas, no businesses, and lots of construction. There were, however, lots and lots of businesswomen walking with us. I was bemused by just how many women were walking the way we were. I figured by that, that this was an especially safe path, but boring.
It took us down to the water of False Creek. There were False Creek ferries, which charged a couple bucks to take us across to the island. It turned out, however, that since it was past 6, most of the island was closed for the evening, already. The two big public markets were only open from 10-6, and with them most of the other businesses closed up, too. So we spent a couple hours wandering around the island and peering into closed shop windows.
It's very much an art community. Half the island is covered with art shops, painting, sculpture, weaving, crafts, photos, framing, supplies, an art institute, and lots of galleries. Another quarter was devoted to a very viable marina and boat repair and brokering businesses. There were dozens of ships up on blocks for inspection and repair, and it was fun to wander through the shipyard and see what there was to see.
There were a few restaurants, all disappointing. Chains or unimaginative menus or just plain scary. We did stop at the Granville brewery, which looked pretty interesting, but they didn't have any food worth mentioning.
So we eventually went back across the water and walked along the waterfront. There were quite a few interesting restaurants. One of which was called Stonegrill, which was a literal name, in that all the food there was served with a lavarock heated to some unimaginable temperature, and you get to slice your own food and put it on the stone grill to cook to your desire. The whole dinners came with salad, vegetables, and some starch, but the main attraction was the meat and the stones. Since it was nearly fifty, Canadian, per whole meal, the folks going in were in suits and dresses.
I really wasn't in the mood for meat. I can get great red meat in Colorado. I was looking for something else here, though the cooking method was unique, it wasn't what I wanted.
So we walked back in the direction of the hotel. By this time I was getting mildly dizzy as we hadn't had anything to drink for quite some time. I still wasn't hungry, per se, but I was extremely thirsty. After two more restaurants, a heavy British style eatery and a Greek style restaurant with half it's cook staff out, struck out, I asked John to get me a bottle of water from a hot dog stand and slugged half of it immediately.
Feeling far more refreshed, we decided that instead of going back to the hotel and asking or looking things up, we'd wander down Robson and see what there was to see. The ferry guy, who admitted that he didn't know anything about restaurants, had said that there was a slew of stuff up there, but he didn't know what was good.
So we wandered down the street, and right at the Lush store, we found a cluster of five restaurants! My main objective for this whole trip was the Lush store, so it seemed kind of cool to find that many restaurants right there. One was a farther expensive French restaurant, one was a rather expensive Italian place, another was a sport bar, another a sushi bar with no one in it, and the last was a Greek place with an offer of a free appetizer and an interesting looking menu that wasn't too extravagantly priced.
I would have gone for the French place in a shot, as they had duck with seedless blackberry sauce; but we were very sweaty, in shorts and t-shirts, and the place was white tablecloth and filled with dressed up patrons. Normally, I'd like to think that that wouldn't have stopped me, but I seem to be getting more conservative with age. Besides the friendly lady matre'd at the Greek place just made me feel more comfortable, so we got seated on the patio.
When we'd first arrived at the hotel, the clerk there had recommended both the Granville walk and a walk to or through Stanley Park as ways to enjoy and take advantage of the "great weather". All of the bars, grills, and restaurants we'd seen all day had been completely empty but for packed patios. Everyone was out enjoying the sunshine. So the poor sushi place, with its excellent bar, was abandoned for restaurants with more outdoor seating.
It was actually nice in the shade. The food was got was good. I got the salmon special, while John got a marinated, roasted chicken thigh plate. It's unusual for a place to offer thighs instead of breasts, and it seemed like a good thing to take advantage of, and it was surprisingly great. The skin on the thighs was crackling crisp, the meat tender and juicy, and very well seasoned. My salmon was good, but not great. The hummus appetizer was very tasty, the salad okay, and the pilaf not really my kind of thing. It was, however a good, satisfying meal, and not too expensive.
It had been 8:30 when we went in, and was 9:30 when we got out, and the Lush shop, which closed at 10, was, of course, open. So I went in and indulged. Normally, when I shop on the site, I pick a bit of everything that I want, and then delete all the things that I don't really neat. In the store, it was far harder to 'delete' stuff because after you choose it, you package it before putting it in your basket. So I just got everything I wanted in the parts I got to before 10. Yes. I got that much stuff in that many parts of the tiny store, and still had the soaps, shower gels, and moisturizers to go.
I did buy myself some Herbalism, as they said that it would better control the oils on my noise, and I wanted to try a few things before leaving, as they have a 31-day return policy. If you don't like it you can return it, no questions asked.
But first, we decided to have dessert. All day we'd passed various crepe shops. There is a decided French influence around here, and it seemed like this would be a good place to try such a thing. So we crossed the street to the Crepe Cafe, which had a window out to the street for to go orders, and a small seating area in the back for eat there orders.
It was a hot day, and it wasn't cooling off all that well, yet, as the sun hadn't really gone down until 9:30 or so. Yes, we're even further north than Seattle, and it was very interesting to eat dinner at 9 and have the sun setting to the west. But it did mean that it was pretty hot outside, and inside the crepe place, with no air conditioning, I was seating just sitting there.
John then orders a latte. Hot. I blink mildly at him but he doesn't say a thing about it. I found a crepe with chestnut cream and had to have that, as I don't get chestnut creams at home. Chestnut anything seems to be impossible to get in the Western states, and it seems to be very British to me. I also got a limonata as I'd been craving lemonade all day. John got the bittersweet chocolate crepe, and we shared a bit of each other's desserts when they came.
The bittersweet crepe was wonderful, just a thin, melted layer of bittersweet chocolate all through the chewy, thin, egg rich crepe. The chestnut creme was rich and deep and complex. That sweet, musky oddly distinctive taste of chestnuts made even sweeter, pervading the wonderful texture of the crepe. Yum.
It was fun to watch the to go orders, too. People of all stripes and character coming to order something unique to their desires. The crepe man kept saying that they could make people anything they wanted from any of the ingredients listed. And people would order what they really wanted. That was fun. A couple of American tourists, and one of the women wanting a crepe with marzipan and Grand Mariner AND Bailey's Irish Cream. Local girls wanted just a crepe with jam or sugar. A group of techies talking about network options each getting crepes with three or four things in them and topped with ice cream and whipped cream.
Made me wonder about how much the crepe man could tell of a person's personality from what they ordered. Would that be magic? or just experience and social skills?
On the way back to the hotel, I stopped by a building next to our hotel's to mess with my purse or something, and John happened to look into the building. I heard him gasp and when I looked up there was a HUGE pillar swinging through the air. It turned out to be a pendulum, made by a local artist, 3500 pounds of it in a hollow, meter square, pillar that moved with a hydraulic assist at the top. But it was massive looking and moved with such precision that at one extreme of it's arc it blends in with a spur on the ground and looks like w simple support. John had seen it at the instant of it looking whole and then had seen it 'fall apart'... wow. It's pretty awesome.
Afterwards we went back to the hotel and I got a long, cool bath with half of a Bathos I'd actually brought with me on the trip. I had all these new toys and I went with the old one just to use it op. the Crowne Plaza Hotel Georgia had great, deep tubs, not too long, so they could be deep and not make me feel guilty about water usage. I loved that tub. I used my new shampoo and old conditioner and the new face cleanser and found them all good. It was also nice to just be not sticky again. Yum.
A very good, very busy, very full afternoon. Tomorrow promises to be at least as good.