“Canada is like a loft apartment over a really great party.” –Robin Williams
I’ve been in Vancouver for a couple days now, staying with my friend Mary, whom I met while she was couchsurfing in Portland this past spring. It’s my first time in Canada, and it’s been really interesting comparing everything. The money still seems strangely fake to me, and I always feel a twinge of surprise when cashiers accept it (I still have to ask which ones are nickels). The little white man on crosswalk lights is funny-looking, a bathroom here is called a washroom, and people definitely end their sentences with ‘eh?’. Other than that, it really doesn’t feel like a foreign country.
I was warned that everything is more expensive here, but I haven’t experienced any sticker shock. In fact, meals have cost me around $10, which is the same as I’d pay in the states, but with the exchange rate it actually works out to more like $7.50 American. I guess the real expense is the cost of living, because the housing market is insane.
Thursday, my first night here, I went to the hat shop where my friend works. They have a Hat Happy Hour every week during the summer, with free bourbon cocktails, live music (this week was jazz) and, of course, ridiculously cute hats.
Friday we went shopping at Granville Island Public Market, and had lunch on the waterfront. The indoor market reminded me of one I went to in Nashville, and some of the vendors were pretty amazing. There was a massive bakery with every kind of thing you could think of, and they made it all in a relatively small kitchen right there in the market. I also saw a really cool tea vendor with floor-to-ceiling shelves full of specialty teas.
We had a view of downtown Vancouver from the pier where we ate lunch. The buildings are pretty much all the same, made out of very reflective glass, which gives it a cohesive, modern look. It’s really beautiful, and I’ve never seen a downtown like it.
Friday night we had a potluck dinner at Mary’s friend’s house. She and her roommate live in a very cool old house, and she’s decorated it with a very Portland style. Dinner was great, and we had some Canadian beer from Granville Island Brewery. It was lighter and smoother than any beer I’ve had in Portland–I was impressed. (Not that I’m knocking Portland beer…it’s definitely responsible for an embarrassing weight gain since I moved there…). There were about 10 of us, and we played Telephone Pictionary. It’s a great party game for which you only need paper and pens for everyone. Particularly considering we’d all been drinking, hilarity ensued. Definitely will be playing that again sometime. I found the rules online here in case you’re interested (opens in a new tab).
After dinner we went dancing at a bar where the night’s theme was Basic Friday. I only recently learned of this term ‘basic,’ which essentially means very mainstream and uncool. We spent the night dancing to Mariah Carey, early Christina Aguilera, and the Backstreet Boys, which might be called basic, but was a pretty fun throwback to my high school days. I’ve never been that worried about being cool, anyway.
For brunch today, Mary insisted I try poutine, a Canadian specialty. Everyone was shocked that I had never heard of it. (They were also shocked that I didn’t know Canadian teams were part of the NHL…I feel like I’m not really to blame for that one as it’s not called the international hockey league…). I wasn’t very excited to try poutine, which is cheese curds and gravy on french fries, but she knew of a place that had vegetarian gravy, and I tend to be pretty brave about new foods, so I gave it a shot. It actually wasn’t too bad, though I opted to have a veggie chili dog for lunch, instead.
I’m in Vancouver for a couple more days, so stay tuned for more adventures in my next post!