Emeryville Amy

This blog will be a combination of my favorite places in the Bay Area and abroad, memoirs, recipes, restaurant reviews and travel experiences.

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Location: Emeryville, San Francisco Bay Area, CA, United States

Monday, September 26, 2005

Vancouver






I have been on the train for almost 24 hours now and we finally arrived at Jasper over 7 hours late. I ran across the street to make this post. Hope eveyone is doing well.

VANCOUVER

The train crosses the border to Canada at the town of White Rock which hugs the coastline. I looked out the window and saw people playing along the edge of the water. As the train pulled into sight all of the school age kids (and a bunch of grown ups too) waved cheerfully at us. It felt very welcoming. We arrived in the station around noon and Krista came to pick me up.

We took the scenic route back to their apartment, going by Stanley Park. Stanley Park fills out the end of the crescent of Vancouver and boasts a big coastline, lots of wooded area, an aquarium, beautiful gardens, lots of trails for bikers, roller bladers , walkers and joggers and much more. On one side of the park there is an amazing view of North Vancouver and the Lions Bridge which is the main route for cars to go up to Whistler. There is concern about the traffic flow from Vancouver up to Whistler for the 2010 Olympics. A lot of road work and building is being done in preparation for hosting the Olympics Games.

Krista and I parked the car and took a nice walk along the path following the bay. They put logs out on the rocky beaches for people to sit on. It is a very natural look and people were out in droves enjoying the beautiful weather. Afterwards we drove home and Krista whipped up a yummy salad for us. I decided to explore the neighborhood because they live a couple of blocks off of a nice street, a la Piedmont Ave in Oakland. There were tons of coffee houses among the other shops and I stopped in one called Caffe Artigiano and read a book for awhile. I thought that I would be doing a lot of reading on this trip, but so far I have been with friends almost non stop and too busy sightseeing to read. Once I leave Vancouver I won't see anyone I know for 10 days or so and I will probably be whipping through the books then. I ended up bringing 8 books and I am ready to lighten my load a bit.

Peter was still out when I returned because he had a class at Regent that evening. I have been hearing a lot about Regent Seminary and decided I would go sit in on his class. Krista pointed me in the direction of the bus and I set off. She also made sure that I had some bus tix and a bus map which was very handy. I got to Regent relatively easy but the bus driver had no idea where Regent was and I might have missed the stop if a student behind me in the bus hadn't told me when to get off. Regent Seminary is only one building so it was easy to find Peter in the main atrium.

The 3 hour class ended up being less than inspiring. It was on pastoral ethics but the teacher didn't really get around to the material until over halfway through. Peter said it was one of the worst classes he has attended even though the same professor/pastor taught well last week. I guess you can't win them all. I felt like my brain was trying frantically to sift through all of the jargon to get at what he was really saying. We rode a very full bus home after the class at 9:30 p.m.. There isn't much parking on the UBC (University of British Columbia) campus of which Regent is a part. Registration fees include a bus pass for everyone because they want to encourage bus riding rather than driving.

The next morning we met up with Jill Boise who was up visiting in Vancouver. Peter had set up the coffee date for 8:00 am at the same coffee shop I went to the day before. I loved the decor of the place and the coffee was very good and they even were artistic with the espresso designs in the foam of the cappuccino. It was fun to talk with Jill. I can't believe how many First Pres people I have seen on the road so far.

Peter had homework and a job at a ropes course to do and Krista had prep for the 5 art classes she is teaching to work on so I took the bus passes and map and with a tentative plan of things to see and do in Vancouver, left for the day. I took the bus to downtown and beyond. I was told to get off at the end of the line, but the end of the line was practically out of the city so I decided to get off and go back the way I came. A kind student told me where to get off for the old part of town known as Gastown. The street-lamps and town clock were pretty cool to see but it was kind of a tourist trap in the way Fisherman's Wharf in SF is. There still is a lot of charm mixed in with the souvenir shops. I wound my way through and found a charming lunch spot called Brioche that was filled with locals.

After eating I kept walking and found myself in front of the building housing the Sea-bus which takes people over to North Vancouver. I rode it over to a big Public Market where the Seabus pulls in. I wandered through the shops which were like the Public Market in Emeryville mixed in with the food shops of Rockridge on the first floor and more boutique style shops on the upper level. There was an Italian deli, a fresh fish shop, a bakery... When I saw all I wanted I re-boarded the Seabus to go back to the main part of Vancouver.

I walked through the downtown area on Cordova St. Most of the buildings in Vancouver are made primarily of glass so it has a lighter feel than a lot of cities. The skyscrapers and the occasional old buildings were very lovely and the streets were remarkably clean. I deterred out of the downtown down Denman Street which is lined with more shops and cafes. I stopped for coffee in one called Delaney's. The interior was a warm wood and the place was full of what appeared to be neighborhood folks by the way they seemed to know each other.

Having been rejuvenated by some more coffee I headed off to the beach area and walked quite a ways along the shore to the Barrard Bridge. There were fantastic views of the boats and the rest of Vancouver from there. I don't know if there is anywhere you can go In Vancouver without seeing the beautiful mountains surrounding the city. This time of the year they were bare, but during the winter and spring they are all snow covered peaks. I am sure they are even more spectacular then.

I somewhat successfully navigated the bus system back to the apartment. I say somewhat because I had to get on and off a few different ones before I made it all the way. But I consider the experience to be successful if I actually get to the final destination. Which I did. Peter, Krista and I headed out by car to the Richmond Night Market. This market is open during the summer and was described to me as a step into Hong Kong. It is a market which is part food booths and part flea market. We went for the food part of course. The most common item sold seemed to be fish balls. I couldn't quite get myself to buy any of those, but Krista bought some shrimp and scallop balls that were tasty even though the texture was a bit funky. Almost all the food seemed to be either in ball form or sold on a stick. Pork, beef and chicken skewers made in every Asian style were available. Many things such as the balls were made by pouring a batter into a muffin type of mold (only round) and cooked over a stove until done. The cook would manipulate them and turn them over using chop sticks and then they often were transfered into a sauce or soup or oil for deep frying. Bubble teas, pork buns, crepes, dipped strawberries and noodle dishes were also present.

We snacked our way through the crowded stalls, sharing our purchases and talking over the music coming from the loud speaker. It was the last weekend of the market and it was very busy. It was a bit of a challenge to not lose each other as we went along. We needed to figure out the arrangements for the following day and eventually decided how to proceed. Krista and Peter were going to Squamish (about half of the way to Whistler) and I planned to take the Greyhound Bus to Whistler.

They dropped me off at 8:30 am at the bus/train depot and I caught the 9:30 bus arriving at 12:00 in Whistler. It was an incredibly beautiful drive along the coast and up through the mountains. I have been so lucky with the weather- it has been clear and sunny almost the entire time with the only exception of a little drizzle in Portland.

I rode the gondola up the hill from the village. It stops 1/3 of the way up and lets off the dirt bike riders who can ride all over the bottom part of the mountain, down little trails and off moguls and over jumps. It was quite a set up for them; it looked like dirt bike heaven. There was a little chalkboard in the gondola hut that told when and where the last bear sightings had been. Two bears where spotted within the hour of when I was riding the chair. Not that I am afraid of a bear or two...

My only complaint about the day was about a group of 10 guys in their early twenties who were REALLY loud and like to use a lot of profanity and surfers-type lingo. They tried to drink as much beer as they could and they even lit up some pot at one point. It seemed as if everywhere I went they were right behind me: in the gondola lift line, in the cafe line, at a table near me at lunch, up the peak experience chair, all around on the peak, on the trail back to the gondola, in line for the gondola ride down and then back in the village. It is a big place and there were lots of people there so I couldn't believe that I kept seeing them. They were by far the loudest people in all of Whistler and they kept showing up right next to me. Just my luck. Those guys notwithstanding, I had a great time in Whistler. It was crystal clear and I went for the "Peak Experience" and took a chair from the top of the gondola to the very top of the mountain. It felt like being on top of the world. The ride in the chair lift back down was a little scary at first. They had big signs saying that this was not something for the easily frightened or with a fear of heights. It also said that if you refused to ride the chair back down you would have to hike and it would take at least 45 minutes. I think the hike would have scared me more with slippery footing...

The bus ride back to Vancouver was as impressive as the way up (no duh..) I tried to connect with Peter to see if he could pick me up at the train station but they weren't home yet. So more city buses for me to figure out. I beat them home and we all crashed out early.

The next morning we went to 10th Ave Alliance Church which has become their home church. The service was good even though there were lots of announcements and hard wood benches to sit on. I am used to nice padded pews...poor me. After church we drove over to the Queen Anne gardens and walked around them. The gardens were very nicely laid out and there still were a lot of flowers in bloom. There was also a man with a trained dog who could play an xylophone, basketball and an obstacle course. We only got to see the xylophone playing, but that was pretty impressive.

For lunch/brunch Peter and Krista made some tasty eggs benedict. With full stomachs, Peter and I set out on a wild goose chase to try to activate my cell phone service. See the separate posting if you want to know more about that. He dropped me off at the train station (which by now has become quite familiar to me). The train was running several hours late and that's where I will leave off for this post.

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