1) Vancouver!

and I flew West to Vancouver last week to:

  • Partake
    in an all-sushi-all-the-time adventure;
  • Shop
    in Gastown and Yaletown;
  • Provide
    some onsite, in-person, design advice to our good friend Maddy, who’s
    just purchased a condo there; and,
  • Most
    importantly, celebrate Gracie’s birthday party on Gabriola Island.

arrangements were thanks to WestJet Sue … thanks Sue! We stayed at
the Sheraton Wall Centre whilst in Vancouver and with Gracie’s
folks – Margot and Barry – while on out on Gabriola Island.


2) the link to Toronto International Airport; 3) Westjet!

is all-a-gog with Olympic preparations and we were very fortunate
that the new Canada Line that links the Vancouver Airport to Downtown
Vancouver had just opened the day before our arrival. It’s a great
system and puts the Toronto Transit Authority to shame. Why the
powers-to-be here cannot manage to get a direct link to the airport
is beyond me. And the Canada Line is void of unionized employees! The
train runs remotely with very, very little humans needed. Love it!


4) the new Canada Line; 5) Vancouver City Centre station

in Vancouver we ate at Kimono and Guu Garlic (both were good).
Guu is
a wonderfully inventive chain of Japanese tapas restaurants that
elicit line-ups each night. Vancouver has four and my rumour control
insiders tell me the first Guu in Toronto will open in December at
the south end of Church Street. Look out for that!

6) Kimono sushi

7 & 8) out on the beach

Thursday night we met up with Maddy at our hotel and wandered through
colour and floor samples and paint chips and dished out some advice
for décor choices. She made good on our advice and by Friday
had even purchased a sofa!

the consultation we headed to West Broadway for an omakase meal at
Tojo’s. We all have Hidekazu Tojo to thank for our fascination with
sushi in North America. He is truly one of its pioneers. He arrived
in Vancouver way back in 1971 and has risen to the top of the sushi
masters on the continent. He even can prepare fugu, and has for
Anthony Bourdain.


9) Tojo’s; 10) our first course: toro tartar

11) zucchini blossom stuffed with scallop and fish paste; 12) halibut cheek

13) more toro with plum sauce; 14) Tojo’s sushi plate

is the sushi capital of North America, anointed by no less than the
Washington Post and if you ever visit, do as us and make it an
all-sushi-all-the-time affair (see article here).

meal here was memorable amid the quiet Zen colours of Tojo’s
restaurant and delivered some outstanding fare, including: a fatty
toro tuna tartar with Japanese potato starter; halibut cheek (yes,
cheek); a just warm toro tuna with an AMAZING homemade plum sauce (no
Wing’s sauce here!).

Saturday night, we tried Okada Sushi, a wee restaurant nestled
upstairs over a food court right by the Wall Centre. It too was
brilliant. The bar was packed with Japanese (always a good sign) and
Maddy and Allison joined us. G and I tried Chef Shigeru Okada’s
fabulous omakase sushi restaurant. Ten pieces of sushi specially
chosen and prepared and that included: sea urchin, salmon roe, and
even geoduck. Visit soon as Okada closes so Shigeru can move to retirement on August 29.
We are honoured to have been so fortunate to have tried his wares
before he closes.

15) Osada Sushi


16 & 17) Osada’s sushi omakase

a 1:40hr ferry ride we met Grace and Margot who kindly picked us up
Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. From there we hopped on another ferry
(20 minutes) to Gabriola Island and soon found ourselves in the
surreal, stunning beauty of Margot/Barry’s farm/home set high above
the Gabriola cliffs looking out onto the mainland. I last visited
back in 2002 when the farm/house was still being built by Barry and
Grace’s uncle, Roy. I lent a hand back then and it was so fun to
see the barn I helped frame, up and completed.

18) Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal

19) on the ferry to Nanaimo; 20) on the Gabriola Island ferry


21 & 22) leaving Nanaimo

sat and enjoyed the views as BC ferries and cruise ships inched
through the Georgia Strait, drank too much, played Frisbee with the
dogs – Xena and Shiloh; minded the new born pet chicken; hung out
with Patrick, the llama; picked our own vegetables and fruits (only
to eat them later for dinner), learned six-handed Euchre and got
caught up
 after far too many years.

22) the view from Margot/Barry’s

23 & 24) more of Margot/Barry’s


25) bamboo!; 26) the ‘monkey’ tree … strange eh


27) in the chicken coop; 28) the freshest blackberries


29) Margot with Patrick the llama; 30) the house


31) Grace starts to pick our dinner; 32) buddha on the grounds


33) looking up to Patrick’s area; 34) here’s the pet chicken helping us pick strawberries


35) mmmmm, fresh strawberries; 36) chicken likes them too!


37) at sunset


38 & 39) we have our filling for the crumble


40 & 41) into the house to prepare dinner


42) Xena eyes a different kind of dinner; 43) out playing fresbie


44) good catch Shiloh; 45) sunrise


46) a BC Ferry passes by


47) Margot brings over the birthday cake; 48) Roy and Grace … she looks so excited


49) out go the candles … Barry missed it!

was SO much fun!

save time on the return trip, we opted to join Grace and booked
passage on a Harbour Air floatplane. This was our first experience
with a floatplane and it was a hoot! We flew out of Nanaimo harbour
up and over Gabriola and in 20 minutes time landed on the Fraser
River just south of the Vancouver Airport. It was loads of (cramped!)
fun. These planes do not fly very high so you can really see what’s
going on below you as you cross the Georgia Strait. I would highly
recommend it to anyone. 

50) Harbour Air terminal; 51) our plane awaits us

52 & 53) a mama sea lion and her cubs play for us on the dock


54) it’s a tight fit inside the seaplane; 55) but the view is worth it

We were also much surprised to see Holland America’s “Zuiderdam” in the harbour in Vancouver. G and I spent a lovely 10 days cruising the Caribbean on this ship waaay back in July 2004 as a celebration for completing Ironman USA. I must remember to post about this one day. Ah, the memories!

Shangria-La … I want to live here; 57) our old cruising ship


58) the Gastown steam clock

arrived home late Sunday night and were immediately checking out
condos in Vancouver and Nanaimo. We’re too funny and obviously
closet condo addicts but I’m betting you’ll see us both in living
in Vancouver in the not so distant future.

are next out to Vancouver in February for the Olympics! I can hardly

Look for Nood arriving in Toronto early next year. You’ll want to
shop here; a New Zealand outfit with way funky stuff.

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1 Response to Vancouver!

  1. upandoutward says:

    I love the Pacific Northwest. You’re making me feel guilty for coming home from vacation last month :( I can’t wait to get over there to STAY.

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