Thursday, 26 July 2012

Outdoor Adventures in British Columbia – Part 2

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English Bay sunset

With three solid days of outdoor pursuits under our belt, Other Half and I made a brief sojourn over to the mainland to visit one of my all time favourite cities, Vancouver.  For it’s food, scenery, and lifestyle, Vancouver will always impress me as the city that did it right, and it’s residents seemingly take full advantage, a fact that I’m both impressed by, and jealous of. Mountains! Ocean! Full city living! Ah, bliss … 2 nights was not enough here.

Our ambitious plans of completing the Grouse Grind the afternoon we arrived quickly fell apart as we spotted the extraordinarily fluffy king sized bed.  It was like a cloud, and what was supposed to be a quick rest before heading out soon turned into a two hour nap and our window for the Grind had closed.  No matter, we were in Vancouver and knew a good meal would quickly erase any lingering thoughts of climbing a mountain of stairs (literally) for fun.

Have you heard of Guu? Have you Guu’d? Because if you haven’t … I can’t recommend it enough.  A small family of Japanese Izakaya restaurants, Guu is a legend in Toronto, of which there are two locations, but originally hails from Vancouver (which has five locations). Each Guu location is slightly different from the next, a different theme, different house specialties, different experiences, but all of them without a doubt (or at least the three I’ve now been to) are awesome.

And so it was that on our first night in Vancouver we made a pilgrimage to Guu Original.  For the most part, Guu is like Japanese tapas, perfect for sharing, order lots, and enjoy the experience. I won’t go into detail about what we ate, just know that there was a lot and it was all delicious.  The chefs wore hats that claimed “Guuing may be addictive” … They don’t know how right they are.

The remainder of the first night was relaxed, involved cupcakes, and a good movie. Sometimes it’s nice to make a strange city feel like home.

No trip to the West Coast is complete without some sort of water activity, and so the next day we woke up early and headed out to Deep Cove for some laid-back sea kayaking (read: no rapids, no currents, just nature and fun … and sore arms).

Deep Cove, BC

Deep Cove is the perfect spot if you’re new to kayaking, or want a more relaxed journey on the water.  It has a ton of land-meets-sea to explore and wildlife to see. Rentals are available from the Deep Cove Canoe and Kayak Centre, and include brief instructions on how to paddle, what to do if your capsize, and some great spots to explore. Overall it was a great experience.

Before leaving Deep Cove, we stopped in at a little place for lunch that I had found online, and boy oh boy am I glad we did! Honey Doughnuts and Goodies was exactly what the doctor ordered. Famous, obviously, for their honey doughnuts, we almost went back to get a couple more for the road … we resisted, but barely. Dense, but light, dripping with a honey glaze and still warm from the oven, we happily ate one before our main lunch arrived, and the other quickly after.  If I lived in Vancouver, I’m pretty sure I would be making regular trips to Deep Cove just for the doughnuts!

After the kayaking and doughnuts, the rest of the trip was a fairly gluttonous one.  While on our way to a recommended Thai restaurant, we convinced ourselves into going to another Guu (Guu Garden) instead – turns out Guuing really is addictive.

I wont wax poetic about the other great meal we had here, just know that I’m not one for repetition when it comes to food on vacation in a city like Vancouver, and I could have happily gone to all five Guu’s if we had the time.

The following day, our last in Vancouver before heading back to Victoria to hang out with the family again, we opted to spend the morning wandering around the wonder that is Stanley Park.  Spending time getting lost on the trails was a great way to say goodbye to this great city and really take in all it has to offer.

Obviously it was time for one last meal before catching the ferry and so we headed straight to the food trucks. I love food trucks for their (usual) creativity, and each city seems to offer it’s own flavour.
Stop #1 was to Japadog, an infamous institution of a food cart in Vancouver. It started in 2005 when Vancouver still faced many street food restrictions, namely, if it wasn't a hot dog, you probablu couldn't sell it. With flavours like Terimayo that includes teriyaki, mayo, seaweed and more, the flavour combinations are unique but not to be missed.  Not even close to your average hotdog cart.

Okonomi from Japadog

Because one lunch wasn’t enough, we also stopped off at Tacofino, one of the many roaming food trucks within the city. You guys … best … fish … taco … ever! Ever. The fish was light, the slaw was crunchy, the salsa was fresh, the combo was to die for. 

After 3 food filled days in the city, it was time to head back to the island. The rest of the vacation consisted of hanging out, eating sushi, some fresh caught fish courtesy of Other Half and his brother waking up at 4am to go fishing for the day, and a return trip to Blue Fox Café (it was that good).

Eventually it was time to come home again, which is always a sad but happy affair. If you haven’t been to the west coast, go. If you’re from the west coast, please appreciate it. And if you’re planning on going, enjoy each day because there is so much on offer… it’s an extremely hard place to dislike, you’d have to try awfully hard.

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