20 January 2013: After waking up around 7:20, we decide to try the complimentary breakfast in the pub. As we head down, I get more and more nervous about the “complimentary” having been crossed off our vouchers, and in a moment of financial panic, I check with about three different people to make sure that our complimentary breakfast is indeed complimentary. It is, and the boyfriend and I have breakfast.
We then spend some time puttering around our hotel room, checking the internet and making sure that the makeshift refrigerator we’re using for our cream cheese (the sealed ice bucket) has kept our cream cheese sufficiently cold. It has—chalk that one up to my boyfriend being intelligent while I dither and wring my hands, wondering what we’re going to do.
Around 4:10 PM: We decided to head to Granville Island after lunch. For the uninitiated, it’s a great little place (not entirely an island) in the heart of Vancouver, home to a public market, an arts university, far too many charter boat companies, and a whole bunch of little gift shops and unique stores. We visited the most awesome hammock store I’ve ever been to (The Hangout Place), wandered through the public market for a little while, then made our way to Roger’s chocolates, where we each bought treats for our mothers. While there, we got to sample the vanilla crèmes, which are delicious.
We wandered over towards the east side of the island, passing by and through the set of shops next to Roger’s, managing to find a place that sells “ginger drinks”—I never did manage to find out what kind. We also went to Dragonspace, one of the better fantasy (think fairies and dragons and such…) shops I’ve been to. After that, we meandered through two gift shops, which left me with a serious hankering for those little maple-leaf-shaped cookies with maple filling which are one of my more favorite Canadian delicacies. We went back to the public market for some gelato, which seems to be preferred to ice cream in Vancouver. I won’t complain, though; the blackberry/vanilla combo my boyfriend decided we should get (I’m generally not picky about my flavors, so they all sounded REALLY good) was perfect in both texture and flavor.
We did a little more walking, and “hiked” to the highest natural point on Granville Island—a hill about 30 feet tall–and I took a few pictures of downtown with the sun breaking through one particular area.
By then, we were getting cold and tired, so we tried to find an ATM so that we could get money for our bus fare, since the regular old bus platforms don’t do ticket vending. We did, but, of course, the lowest amount we could get was $20 CAN, so we had to go and break that. On maple leaf cookies. I have no regrets. NONE.
It was only then that I realized that I had no idea if the same bus that took us there would get us back, as I was of the misguided notion that the street our hotel was on went only southbound, as opposed to bi-directional south and north. As it turns out, I was, as I said, wrong, and we made it back safe and sound to just work on homework and hang out until dinner.
Around 6:30 PM: We wound up going to Aladdin’s Café for dinner. Back home, we have an Aladdin’s… something or other. I think it’s Gyrocery, and my boyfriend thinks it doesn’t have anything tacked on to the end. It does not help that there are 2 or 3 Aladdin’s within about 4 blocks of each other, and they all have slightly different names. I could just look it up, but does it really matter right now? No. What matters is that this particular Aladdin’s in Vancouver had really, really, super-mega-awesomely amazing shawarma wraps. How could this possibly be, you ask? By the addition of a few very simple ingredients.
First, every Aladdin’s—no, every place that serves shawarma/gyros/etc.—has its own blend of house sauces. This café had some really good ones, and they asked before adding them if we wanted our food spicy or not. We both said yes, which turned out to be the correct answer; the wraps would’ve been pretty bland otherwise. In addition, while these wraps had the usual meat/tomato/lettuce/cucumber/onions/special sauce combo, they had two more ingredients that made for a deliciously interesting experience: pickles (that’s right—thin, crinkle-cut slices of dill pickle, which I love) and peppers, along with some pickled peppers, but I class those under “peppers”. These added to the tang of the shawarma and left me craving more, which is a difficult task because most shawarma wraps are one meal in and of themselves for me.
We did have a bit of an adventure finding the place, though. I had sort of memorized where it was from looking at Google maps—the 600 block of Robson Street. I even looked at the surrounding area in street view. However, Vancouver, like most places, tends to look rather different in the dark, and so I wound up taking us about 3 blocks too far, and then being unable to locate it when we passed back by. You see, this little gem does not look like your typical Middle Eastern fare restaurant; at least, not like the ones I’m used to in Seattle. In Seattle, they’re usually brick-and-mortar places where you walk in and the place is tapestried and canopied and very, very reminiscent of the Middle East markets you see on tv. This place has an all-glass front with just a few hookahs (all non-operational and purely for decoration) sitting in the windows, and some framed money with Arabic writing on it. Additionally, the writing on the window advertising the name was light gold, which blended in pretty well to the stark-white inside of the restaurant. I will say, though, that in the end, our search was very worth it.
After dinner, we headed back to the hotel to work on homework again. (A three-day weekend in college usually unfortunately means “yes, you can and totally should pile on homework” to most professors.) However, we did partake in a few more maple cookies, so at least there was that…
Honestly, I’m a little worried about tomorrow. We have to be out of the hotel by 11 AM, and our train does not leave until 5:45 PM, so while we have plans to visit Stanley Park, it will mean lugging around a lot of stuff. We’ll see how that goes, I guess.