All good things must come to an end… including our trip to Vancouver. 🙂
On our final day we once again had the yummy free breakfast at the hotel. We got eggs, toast or pastries or waffles, and bacon or sausage. I got a veggie omelet both days full of greenery, tomatos, and onions, and Mike got scrambled eggs, bacon, and rye toast. It also came with juice and coffee. (Did I mention we drank WAY too much coffee in Vancouver?)
Even though we checked out of the hotel, they let us keep their bags there while we wandered around the city until we were ready to leave for the train station. The hotel staff there was just amazing… I was very impressed with everything about that hotel!
I had read in one of the guidebooks about the older part of the city (called Gastown) and thought that might be a cool place for picture-taking. There was also an authentic Ming-dynasty Chinese garden there called the Dr. Sun Yat Sen garden that was in nearby Chinatown, so we figured we could hit that up too. I got lost twice getting to the garden even with a map. I felt very turned around and disoriented. When I stopped in front of a deserted railroad station and announced we were at the garden, Mike rolled his eyes and took over map navigation. Turns out I was on the right track, but 180 degrees off (I was going south instead of north). I’m directionally challenged… what can I say? 😉
However, we did eventually find the Sun Yat Sen garden, and it was worth seeing! The architecture was just gorgeous. It is actually the first ever classical garden constructed outside of China and is modeled after the private classical gardens in the city of Suzhou during the Ming Dynasty (from the 1300’s to the 1600’s). Over fifty experts from Suzhou spent a little over a year working on the garden. The really cool part is that the materials, tools, and building techniques used were almost the same as those used back in the Ming Dynasty! (I’m partially quoting from the brochure here… I read it and found it very interesting!)
We drank some fragrant jasmine tea from a giant teapot set out for visitors and I took Mike’s picture next to a giant dragon head.
Notice the “leaking” windows that leak in air, light, and scenery!
Many of the corridors weren’t straight and were instead angled in odd ways. That architecture is traditional and is designed to “slow your steps. This zigzag colonnade ensures that the entire path is never seen; incorporating hidden and revealed.” (I stole that line from the brochure we got at the door. Yes, I am the person who reads the entire brochure so I understand what I’m looking at.) I thought that was a fascinating idea! Hallways designed to slow your steps… such a different perspective from today’s culture where everything is designed to get us from point A to point B as fast as possible!
After exiting the gardens Mike and I were hungry and decided to find somewhere in Gastown to eat on our way back to the hotel.
We found an adorable little cafe called The Baker and the Chef and Mike had two sausage rolls and a small bowl of curried carrot and yam soup, and I had a big bowl of the carrot and yam soup and an apple.
After lunch we realized that we still had another hour, so we stopped at a coffee shop next door. I’ll be honest… as much coffee as we had this trip, none of it was even close to as good as Espresso Vivace’s right in our apartment building. The coffee shop was really cool-looking though and had lots of windows and was filled with so many interesting people that we had lots of photo opportunities.
I also noticed some Herman Miller Eames lounge chairs!
Additionally, the picture above Mike’s head makes me think of Herman Miller, but I’m not sure why. ?
Mike and I lingered for awhile people-watching. We finally decided to leave and head back to the hotel to pick up our luggage and head to the train station. It took us 45 minutes to get back because I got lost. TWICE! I started out going northeast when I should have been going southwest. Then I corrected the east/west behavior but continued blissfully with my incorrect north/south behavior. I’m crazy. And also apparently pretty useless directionally without my iPhone! I officially fired myself from giving us anymore directions, and by this point (after we had passed the same clock tower three times) Mike was tempted to agree. However, eventually I got us back to the hotel where we picked up our luggage and a cab. We weren’t sure how long the Canadian customs were going to take so we left in plenty of time. The train station wasn’t very crowded when we first got there, but it became very crowded about ten minutes later. Our timing was good!
On a completely non-Vancouver-related note (wait… are there non-Vancouver-related notes? Lately, not on this blog!), don’t you hate those recipes that claim to be “quick”, but what they really mean is that if you somehow already happen to have 5 lbs of zucchini, two lbs of carrots, and an assortment of onions, garlic, and tomatoes chopped up… then and only then is it a “quick” recipe? That is starting to drive me crazy. I made this soup last night and despite its “quick Italian vegetable soup” title, there is nothing quick about it. Unless you have bunches of chopped up veggies just sitting in your fridge waiting to be turned into soup. Which I don’t. I had to spend about an hour cutting up veggies before I had enough to make the soup. Definitely some shady false advertising going on by the “quick Italian vegetable soup” cook! 😉