After a fitful night's sleep (a running theme on our vacations, I'm afraid), we lazed around the room and then made our way to the Granville Island Public Market. If it's not obvious by now, I *love* food markets and was incredibly excited to learn that Vancouver had one that sold local fruits, vegetables, meats and other assorted sundries. In order to get to the market we took a 3 minute ferry ride across False Creek and disembarked at a complex that contained the market and various entertainment venues (live theater and concerts). From the outside, the market somewhat resembles Pike Place in Seattle but on the inside is much more similar to the West Side Market in Cleveland with a mishmash of stalls taking up the whole floor space (as opposed to just lining the outer perimeter).
After walking around for awhile, we purchased local cherries (straight from the tree), a baguette, a most wonderful and delicious pheasant terrine (with raisins and pistachios) and pork & duck rillettes and then a bottle of chilled rose (on recommendation from the sign at the charcuterie still). We sat outside for an hour or so devouring what was a delicious display of meat finery before making our way back across the water for our walk to Stanley Park. Unfortunately - or fortunately, depending on how you look at it - our bottle of rose made me a little tipsy to start the day.
While the weather forecast had predicted clouds and cooler temperatures, Mother Nature had something else in mind. So much so that by the time we found ourselves at English Bay I had taken off my sweater and was walking around in a tank top. I'm not sure what the locals must have thought but there was no way I was keeping that sweater on while it was close to 70 degrees without a breeze. While on the map it might not look that far, the walk to Stanley Park from the Granville Bridge is quite the trek. We had decided that rather than renting bikes and traveling the sea wall on two wheels, we'd walk into the park and enjoy a leisurely horse-drawn carriage ride.I had inadvertently thought that meant something like what you'll find in Central Park, but alas it was a giant trolley being pulled by a Belgian and a Percheron, which meant rather than a private ride we were accompanied by a diplomat's wife and her grandson. She was a sweet woman, if not somewhat talkative.
Following the carriage ride we walked back along Coal Harbor, past the float plane terminal and the Vancouver Convention Center (and the Fairmont Pacific Rim and Pan Pacific - two hotels I would have loved to stay in were they not $$$) to get back to our hotel. We attempted to ease our weary bones and feet in the jacuzzi at the hotel but the pool was overrun with families of 12 that had no concept of indoor voices so we went back to the room where I promptly fell into a dead sleep.
After letting me nap for a couple of hours, Alan woke me up so that we could decide upon dinner. Before coming to Vancouver there was really only one restaurant I marked as wanting to try so we had no pre-conceived idea of where we should eat. All I knew was that Alan was looking forward to spending significantly less than we had the night before ($150 meals each day tend to add up). After looking through the guidebook we decided to head over to Yaletown to check out the restaurants over there. The Blue Water Raw Bar sounded good but once we got there we saw it was a bit more "sceney" than we liked (would have fit in great in the trendiest part of the Marina in SF) so we walked around a bit more before settling on the Yaletown Brewing Company. While I love food markets, Alan enjoys just as much hitting up all the brewpubs he can while we are on vacation (this started with a rather excellent experience at Shipyard Brewing in Portland, Maine, several years ago).
To get to Yaletown we had to walk down a part of Granville Street that was described by the guidebook as "gentrifying." I'm not so sure I'd go with that description. Rather, it's populated by hostels and low-end falafel & pizza joints and loud bars promoting Iron Maiden (yeah, I don't know what that's all about). There was a traditional Saudi Arabian restaurant where patrons sat on mats on the floor but otherwise it was definitely the cheap and janky part of town - not really my scene. The funny thing is even when I was young and could have possibly done the whole backpacking and hostel thing the concept never appealed to me. Mostly it just seems dirty and something vagabonds partake in (sorry Joe, I know you backpacked around Europe!).
The part of Yaletown we were in looks like what I had hoped Jack London Square would become when we initially bought our loft back in 2004. Alas, it was not meant to be and while the city still has plans to build it out to bring in entertainment venues and fine dining it's slow going and generally not considered a destination area within the city on its own. Yaletown however is quite adorable with its lowslung architecture (unlike what you find in some of the other areas of Vancouver) built to look like a warehouse district that's been updated to bring in fine dining establishments. For dinner we had salt cod fritters with a red pepper remoulade (I am a sucker for barcalaro) and mussels in a spicy tomato broth with chorizo and frites with garlic aoli. It was absolutely delicious! Unfortunately we also ordered a tomato pesto pizza which was just okay but since it was our last item kind of ended the meal on a low note. While we ordered a beer sampler, I can't really recall if the beer was good or bad, which I guess means it was decent if not overwhelmingly so. I remember liking the IPA, but I don't know if that's saying much because lately I'm really enjoying just about any IPA I taste.
After dinner we walked back to the hotel to crash for the night before getting up early and heading off to Victoria. Oh, and before waking up to my 33rd birthday.