04 July 2014

Granville Island, Gastown and Mount Pleasant

Yesterday morning, I decided it was time to see a bit of the south-west side of Vancouver's waterfront, so I ran along the jogging path past Sunset Beach and into Stanley Park, where I paused at Third Beach to stretch before running back to my hotel via a caffeine stop at Timbertrain Coffee Roasters on West Cordova for a most excellent pourover made using a gorgeous copper-coloured Kalita dripper.

We then took a taxi over to Granville Island, a small artsy island — peninsula, really — to the southwest of downtown Vancouver. Granville is part Sausalito, part Brighton: it's small and filled with independent shops, art galleries and a great food market. I practised my Japanese with some chocolatiers in the market, and window shopped in the great book store and stationery shop, and may have picked up a few snacks. The market is a great place for lunch, as is Edible Canada, which does a great brunch at the weekend (maple bacon flapjacks, anyone?).

To get back to downtown, we took the sea-bus. Tiny boats, seating 12 people, nip back and forth between the island and various stops on both sides of the bay closer to the city centre. We got off near Gastown and filled up with a great southern barbecue feast at Peckinpah. The "little bit of everything" combo, which included pulled pork, beef brisket, pork ribs, cornbread, baked beans and fries, was way too filling for two people, but really good.

To try to walk off some of my lunch, I headed to the South Main (SoMa) area, which is about 30 minutes' walk down Main Street from Gastown. It's up quite a steep hill and the first part of the walk isn't very interesting, so you may wish to get one of the many blue buses that run up and down the street. I was heading for 49th Parallel, one of the best coffee shops in town — you can see their beans in their duck-egg blue bags at a number of other caf├ęs around town. The. Main Street branch (at East 13th Street) also hosts Lucky's Doughnuts and I may have sampled one of the huge but delicious peanut butter and jelly doughnuts. I was sad to find that 49th Parallel didn't served hand-brewed filter coffee, so I had an americano (served in a cup in the same duck-egg blue), which was pretty good.

For about ten blocks south of Broadway, Main Street is bursting at the seams with independent shops and restaurants. I liked Pulp Fiction (used books), 8th + Main (clothing boutique), Hach + Hart (clothes, accessories and homewares), and Bird on a Wire Creations (jewellery, bath products and gifts), but there are plenty of other interesting places to discover too. The side streets are supposed to harbour even more shopping and eating destinations, but I had to head back down the hill to change for dinner.

It's lucky that I'm far from being tired of fish, as dinner was at Coast, a seafood restaurant on Alberni in downtown. We shared a huge platter of sushi and sashimi to start (Vancouver is as good as some parts of Japan for sushi, and it's definitely cheaper here), followed by a grilled cod main course. I really didn't have room for pudding but we shared the chef's decadent selection: macarons, chocolate truffles, hand-made gummies, and various other sweet treats. What a feast!

Tomorrow, we are headed to Saskatoon for the wedding. I've really enjoyed my time in Vancouver and I'm glad I get to spend most of the day here on Monday, in between my two flights. I'm hoping to hit one of the beaches, the original branch of Lululemon and a couple more of the coffee bars on my list.

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