Saturday, April 28, 2007

Vancouver highlights

Despite the car woes, we had a really good time in Vancouver last weekend. Here are a few of the highlights:

  • The Pacific Pallisades hotel is highly recommended - it's right on Robson St, so you can walk to most of downtown. Bright, spacious rooms decorated in a modern mediteranean style. Wonderful friendly service, and there's a nice restaurant downstairs for breakfast.
  • Liberty Wine Merchants have a few stores around the city - one on Robson Street near our hotel, and one on Granville Island. The store manager at the Robson St. store was really friendly, and their selection is great. I was very happy to see their large selection of South African wines (compared to most Washington State stores), and they had a lot of wines from SA that I'd not seen before. They also had some really good Italian wines (a few Brunello di Montalcino's that were tempting but a bit out of my price range...) And they had a Barolo Chinato that looked good. Of course they also have a great selection of wines from British Columbia - we bought a Cab/Merlot from the Okanagon Valley as a gift for some friends.
  • There are some great coffee shops. A new chain, Blenz, seems to have popped up since I last visited Vancouver a few years ago. They are quite prevalent - I think I counted three on Robson St - and their drinks are very good. Their dark chocolate mocha is great (maybe even better than the Dilletante dark mocha that Tully's used to have). They also have some really good tea lattes: in addition to the normal chai tea latte, they have a matcha latte, and a few black tea lattes (London Fog, which is Earl Grey and vanilla, and Royal Tea, which has rose petals). Yummy!
    Another coffee place to go to is Caffe Artigiano - I had visited them a few years ago, and they have the best coffee I've tasted in Vancouver.
  • Definitely take a walk down Robson to Denman St, and head left. Denman St is full of interesting shops, cafes, restaurants, etc. and takes you down to the English Bay park. This is a great spot to watch the sun set on a sunny day. The Denman Street Free House is a nice pub/restaurant with tables that give you a view of the bay. The barman was really friendly, and their mussels are not bad. (The waitresses have a bit of a 'tude though...)
  • Speaking of Denman Street, that's where you'll find an amazing dessert restaurant: True Confections. They've won all sorts of awards, and it's easy to see why - their cake selection is huge, they are all lovingly-made and very tasty. This place is informal and full of energy - more like Seattle's B&O than the now-defunct Coco La Ti Da.
  • Yummy Belgian chocolates are to be had at Daniel's on Robson Street.
  • The huge Chapter's bookstore is worth a visit. While books in Canada are more expensive in the US, they get some books earlier than the US does. For example, I saw the new Iain Banks novel, Steep Approach to Garbadale. They also have a fun list of famous Canadians decorating the wall as you ride up the escalator to the upper level. :)
  • We finally got to see Granville Island Public Market on Saturday, and it was fantastic. If you're staying downtown, I'd recommend taking the water taxi from the Aquatic Centre. The market is about 4 times the size of Pike Place Market in Seattle, and the produce seemed even better (too bad we can't shop here every week!). They also have a nice food court and outside seating (for the few days the sun is shining). The market is surrounded by buildings with interesting stores (clothing, homewares, soap, native art and touristy gifts, ...) The hat store would have made H a very happy lass! There was also an incredible street performer from England (Barry, I think... Barry, if you read this: You rock!)

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