What would you do in your hometown if you would be moving away forever in 2 days? My guess is, you would hit all your favourite gems and little hot spots in the city. You would eat at your favourite restaurant, sip coffee at your favourite coffee house, and sit on the steps of your favourite local landmark to watch people go by. Basically, you would go to all those small local things that couldn’t be found in any other city, and since you only had 2 days, you would have a fire under your ass to make sure you got to them all. There are just so many things to do in Vancouver.
The Vancouver Blitz
So what would I do in my last 2 days in Vancouver? Basically, you would go to all those small local things that couldn't be found in any other city, and since you only had 2 days, you would have a fire under your ass to make sure you got to them all.
So what would I do in my last 2 days in Vancouver? Before I answer that question, here are some things that didn’t make it on my list:
- tourist traps like the Capilano Suspension bridge and Gastown;
- things that would have a long line up like Vij’s restaurant – great food and atmosphere, super busy, but no reservations?
- things that would be far to get to like Whistler-Blackcomb
- things that would take a long time to do and have a low rate of return like walking around in Stanley Park
Here’s a few of the things that would make it on my list:
The Coffee Shop: 49th Parallel Roasters/Lucky’s Donuts (Main Street)
This coffee shop serves some great coffee and also makes the best donuts in town (unofficially). Critics may balk at paying $3.50 for a donut, but let’s face it, everyone wants to know what makes a $4 donut taste better than the one you in a 6-pack from Safeway for $3.99. I’d get myself a nice cup of coffee and a Peanut Butter and Jelly Donut, find a seat by the fireplace, and sit and listen to the hipsters talk about their e-commerce business selling doggy yoga wear made of locally sourced Alpaca wool. Ahhhh, this is Vancouver.
The Tea Spot: East is East
I love myself some Chai tea. I used to brew Chai tea at home in an attempt to reverse engineer the best (again, unofficially) one in town: Darjeeling Chai Tea at East is East. Unfortunately, I could never get the right balance of spiciness and sweetness at home, and I still drive across town to grab a tea at least once a week. Yes, it’s that good. While you’re at East is East, I’d also recommend getting their Tibetan Mantu, a vegetarian dumpling dish that would convert any carnivore to vegetarianism.
The Bakery: Terra Breads
Locally, Terra Breads is a baking phenomenon. Without fail, every time my father-in-law flies into town, finding Terra Breads’ Fruit and Pecan Loaf is the first thing he inquires about (even before asking how my wife and I have been doing). Yes, Terra Breads products are sold in Whole Foods (at least in Vancouver), but go to one of their 4 locations (Olympic Village, Granville Island, Kitsilano, and Mount Pleasant) to get their full selection.
The Chinese Bakery: New Town Bakery (Chinatown)
The first thing you may notice about walking into this bakery is the large number of Chinese folk there. That’s normal. The other thing you’ll notice is the large number of non-Asians (white folk) and other Asian groups (ex. Philipinos) there too. That’s normal too and a sign that the message has gone international (or is it interracial?) that this bakery is the place to get your BBQ pork bun, apple turnovers, and coconut buns (all of which I recommend you getting). Take a number and wait patiently as you see fresh buns come out by the tray (steamed on bamboo trays still). The only thing that bugs me: Cash only.
The Scenic Walk: Yaletown to English Bay Seawall
I have a dog, and I do part of this walk everyday (when it’s not raining). Starting at the turn about at the base of Davie Street, you can walk along the seawall and catch a view of False Creek, Granville Island, David Lam Park, George Wainburn Park, and English Bay. It’s a great walk. You can also take the Aqua Bus or the False Creek Ferry at designated docking stations along the seawall and cross over to Science World, Olympic Village, or Granville Island (by the way, dogs hate getting into small ferries). Or, you can walk the entire way to English Bay and grab a bite to eat along Denman. It makes for a great way to see Vancouver.
The Casual Eatery: Bao Qi
Vietnamese beef noodle (a.k.a. pho) restaurants are as plentiful in Vancouver as MSG in Chinese food. Lucky for me, I found one of the best. What makes it the best is the broth: MSG-free, house brewed, clear, and tasty, I’m surprised people don’t pack the broth in a to-go container when they’re finished. What’s most surprising: it’s a downtown restaurant that serves exceptional food but without the exceptional prices. Note: there are no washroom facilities in Bao Qi, and you’ll need to head to Starbucks to use the one there (you’ll find pumpkin spice lattes seem to go well with pho)
The Dining Experience: L’Abbatoir
I know I said I’d avoid Gastown, but this is one restaurant I would make an exception for. L’Abbatoir is my go-to for any occasion: Valentine’s Day, Anniversaries, Birthdays. And, it’s not a tourist trap (no backpacks or fanny packs on customers in this hip establishment). It’s modern French food without the pretentious attitude or the over-the-top prices. It’s a romantic evening out with a bottle of wine and a warm, dimly lit atmosphere. It’s your get-out-of-jail-free card the next time you’re in the dog house.
There are some more things I would do, but that will have to wait for another blog post. What would you do in your last 2 days in Vancouver? In your hometown? I’d love to know.