Tourist in My Own City: Tour Guys Granville Street & Gastown Tour

Although I don’t have a big trip planned this summer I’m not going to let the next couple months go to waste. As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve decided to play tourist. I don’t think I’m the only person who takes what’s right there in front of them for granted. I’ve explored other cities in the world WAY more than I have explored Vancouver. What better time to change that?

When I was in Amsterdam last summer I took an amazing free walking tour and I wondered if Vancouver had one as well. Good ol’ Google came to the rescue and directed me towards “Tour Guys” which offers four walking tours:  Downtown & Waterfront, Granville Street & Gastown, Chinatown and Granville Island. The tours are all free however the hope is that you will tip your guide at the end.

The Granville Street & Gastown tour fit best into my schedule for the week so I booked myself a spot online and made the trek downtown via the Skytrain from Coquitlam – gotta use that U-PASS I’m paying an arm and a leg for every semester (I’m sure some of you local post-secondary students can relate!)

The tour began outside of Pacific Centre (Georgia entrance) and worked it’s way down Granville Street and into Gastown.

We popped into Sinclair Centre and had a look at the original bell from the tower in 1909 while we heard all kinds of information about the history of the area.

From there we ventured down to Waterfront where we had a great view of Canada Place and the North Shore (including a cruise ship that I wished I was boarding!)

Next up was Waterfront Station. We heard a bit about the history of the building, much of which I didn’t know!

From there we went to Gastown where we saw the statue of Gassy Jack (I admit that pic is from March…I didn’t take one today!), the famous steamclock and the old (and not so old) buildings.

We also walked through Bloode Alley as well as Gaoler’s Mews which I never even knew existed.

The tour ended at the statue of Gassy Jack. I was highly satisfied. Our guide, Kyle, was great and I learned a ton about the history of this part of Vancouver. If you’re looking for a great walking tour check out the Tour Guys website at http://www.tourguys.ca/free-tours

As an aside, after the tour I went to MeeT in Gastown (http://www.meetonmain.com) for lunch with a girl I met on the tour. If you’re looking for delicous vegan fare check it out! We shared Organic Steamed Kale and Sweet Chili Cauliflower…so delicious! I forgot to take a picture of the kale but here is the cauliflower.

Tourist in My Own City: Granville Island

Here it is…kicking off my Tourist in My Own City series…first up, sushi and Granville Island!

My friend, Kyla, was in town from Kelowna for a few days and an adventure was to be had on Friday! We headed to Tomokazu, an all-you-can-eat sushi place at 201-1128 West Broadway. Coen and I actually discovered this restaurant on Spring Break and I had been waiting to go back. It’s worth the drive!

Since we were already in Vancouver we decided to attempt to find parking at Granville Island which is no easy feat at the best of times, nevermind a sunny summer day. When we first arrived I thought it was a huge mistake as we were met by a traffic jam. With no choice but to follow the steady stream of cars we stuck it out and after a few minutes we totally lucked out and found a spot. I drove past it at first because it was kind of hidden but managed to back up in time to grab it!

I admit I haven’t explored much of Granville Island. When I visit I usually only go to the Public Market. On Friday we checked out Railspur Alley which was lined with cool shops, cafes and hanging baskets in full bloom!

Next up was the Edible Canada retail store. I didn’t buy anything but it was filled with all kinds of Canadian-made goodies. I was tempted by different jams and seasoning salts but I already have so many! This would be a great place to buy gifts! You can check out the website at https://ediblecanada.com/shop/ I wouldn’t mind eating at the bistro one day!

From there we headed into the Public Market. I love being surrounded by fresh fruits, veggies, meat, seafood and freshly baked pastries! Combine all that with tons of local artisans and I’m in Heaven! We grabbed a drink (White Tea Lemonade from Granville Island Tea Company – http://www.granvilletea.com) and headed outside to sit in the sun. We caught a street performer’s act then enjoyed the gorgeous scenery.

We spent the next little while checking out everything at the market. There’s no shortage of delicious treats but I settled for an apple cinnamon muffin and cheese scone from Laurelle’s Fine Foods (http://www.laurelles.com) and Kosher Dill pickles from Kaylin and Hobbs Pickles (http://kaylinandhobbs.com)

All in all it was a pretty terrific day!❤

Challenge Accepted: June’s Mini-Adventure at Township 7

I’m running out of days in June and next week is busy with it being the last week of school so I thought I better do at least a little something solo today.  I was heading to my brother’s out in Langley and decided I would check out a local winery. For years I’ve seen winery signs on Highway 1 but have never been to any. Today was the day! I spotted a sign just before the Cloverdale exit and ventured on to 176th. I just kept following the wine route signs, not really knowing where I was headed, until one had an arrow! I was headed to 1st R.O.W. Estate Winery Ltd. Or so I thought. After turning into an industrial area I pulled over to google it. It was closed. Upon looking at reviews it seems it isn’t really a winery either; just a storefront. I wasn’t too disappointed that it wasn’t open. I looked at nearby wineries on Google Maps and decided to head to Township 7.

The winery has a small tasting room and a cute patio/picnic area.

I decided not to do a full tasting ($5) however the woman helping me offered smaller tastings of whatever I wanted to try. I tried their Pinot Gris, Rose and 7 Blanc. I’m not a huge wine drinker (I know, it’s kind of weird that I would go to a winery) but I thought all three were quite good. When I do drink wine I usually have Pinot Gris so I decided to buy the Rose today…something a little different for me!

It was a short adventure, but solo nonetheless. I’d never been to a winery by myself before and the woman helping me seemed surprised that I was there on my own. I’m counting it…just in case I don’t have time to do something else this month!

You can check out the Township 7 website at https://www.township7.com. They are also located in Naramata.

Sunshine! Lonsdale Quay & the Coal Harbour Seawall

3pm Sunday afternoon. 28 degrees. What to do? Grab a girlfriend and head into Vancouver!

We took the Skytrain from Moody Centre Station to Waterfront Station then hopped on the Seabus over to Lonsdale Quay.

One of the reasons I like visiting Lonsdale Quay is because it is way less busy than Granville Island. It’s smaller-scale but has a variety of great vendors. You can pick up all kinds of goodies; fresh fish and meat, baked goods, soups. There is something for everyone! The top floor of the market has different shops. Check out http://lonsdalequay.com for a list of vendors.

Lonsdale Quay also boasts a gorgeous view of Vancouver especially on a clear day.

There are also often beautiful boats docked next to the market. The large yacht usually docked wasn’t there but there were some smaller boats.

I grabbed a London Fog from Bean Around the World Coffees (my all-time favourite London Fog) and Allison got a drink from Starbucks and we hopped on the Seabus back to Waterfront Station.

We decided we would walk by the water. There is a gorgeous view of the North Shore from Canada Place. Nothing beats seeing the snowcapped mountains and shimmering water on a sunny day.

We walked down to Jack Poole Plaza where the Olympic Cauldron is. From there we walked along the Coal Harbour Seawall to Broughton Street before heading back towards Waterfront Station. There is so much to see along the Seawall; sea planes, wildlife, boats.

Vancouver truly is a gorgeous city. We do get our fair share of rain, okay more than our fair share, but it is the rain that keeps everything so beautiful, lush and green!

Yaletown & Main Street

It’s May Long Weekend and we’ve finally got some gorgeous weather! My friend, Brook, and I took advantage of the sunshine and headed to the streets of Vancouver yesterday.

We started off in Yaletown before heading down to the water. Beautiful!

Hunger started to kick in and we were looking for a patio to relax on. We recalled walking by a Tacofino earlier and headed there. I had heard great things about Tacofino but had never been. I was NOT disappointed. A fish taco, a soft and crunchy carnita taco and a paloma satisfied my food and beverage needs!  Their website is https://www.tacofino.com/location/yaletown-burrito-bar.

We wondered through Yaletown awhile longer and stopped in at the Yaletown Distilling Co. for a vodka tasting. I tasted their mandarin vodka and it was only $2.  Check out http://ytdistilling.com/.

We decided to pop in to Goorin Bros. Hat Shop (http://www.goorin.com/) and within seconds one of the girls working asked if we wanted some beer while we were there! What!?! Really!?! Yes please! It turned out they had a little Happy Hour thing going on with beer and entertainment. They have it every Saturday and this week Coldwater Road was featured. You can find their music on Spotify or check out their website: https://www.coldwaterroad.com/.

This store had a ton of cool hats most of which I would say were reasonably priced. And if you’re looking for a feather for your hat, look no further than the feather bar…

At this point we decided to head to Main Street so we hopped back on the Skytrain and got off at Main Street-Science World. We walked up Main and went into a few gift-type stores. We wanted another drink before we headed home and ended up choosing Colony Bar (http://colonymainst.com/.) It had a cool little bar to sit at outside – great for people watching! I wish I had taken a picture.

Afterwards, we hopped on the #3 Bus down Main to the Skytrain station…my first time on a bus in Vancouver since we hosted the Olympics in 2010, HA! Despite a bit of a sunburn and my first blisters of the season it was an awesome adventure!

Challenge Accepted: May’s Mini-Adventure on “The Drive”

I’ve lived in the suburbs of Vancouver my entire life and I’ve been to Commercial Drive or “The Drive” as many locals call it, all of three times. 10 years ago with a girlfriend, early last year on a date (Sula Indian Restaurant is delicious. See http://sulaindianrestaurant.com) and last summer with girlfriends (You really can’t beat La Mezcaleria. See http://www.lamezcaleria.ca.) Never by myself, here was my chance to complete my solo adventure for May.

I took the Skytrain from Coquitlam Central Station to Commercial- Broadway Station (if I’d driven I might have had to parallel park haha.)  Once off the train I headed started walking on Commerical towards 1st Ave. I admit it was kinda sketchy at first, but the more I walked the nicer it got.

My first stop was at JJ Bean for a quick coffee. It was good but I had been to another location before. Next time I would keep walking, as I came across a couple different coffee shops a few blocks later.

I continued on my way stopping to browse in some of the used book stores and other shops and I picked up some cute notebooks from Lala’s on the Drive.  I came across Rosemary Rocksalt which makes Montreal-style bagels. I picked up 1/2 dozen bagels and kept trekking along.

Visit https://rosemaryrocksalt.com for info!

Dinner time arrived so I started looking for somewhere to eat. There was no shortage of choices but I felt like sushi. I ended up going to Sushi Ville. For $10.50 I got a huge California Bento Box. I couldn’t finish it all; that RARELY happens! Sushi Ville is worth a visit.

After sushi I headed back to Skytrain. Throughout the day I was reminded that The Drive is quite an eclectic street, visited by all kinds of people and lined with a ton of different ethnic eateries and shops. I only went as far as Charles Street but I know there is more to offer beyond there. It’s definitely worth checking out. The Commercial Drive Neighbourhood website at http://www.commercial-drive.com has information about community events!

British Columbia Views

There is nothing like having an out of town visitor to remind me that I take living in the lower mainland for granted. We are surrounded by beauty. While the weather has been pretty gloomy the last few days we haven’t let it stop us from venturing around the lower mainland in search of some nice views.

Rocky Point Park, Port Moody

Burnaby Mountain, Burnaby

Barrett’s View, Cypress Bowl Provincial Park, West Vancouver

Mount Seymour, North Vancouver