A June 2003 trip
to Vancouver by jim
Quote: I fell in love with Vancouver. It is one of the most beautiful cities I have visited and we had a great three-day weekend.
The hotel was very classy in a traditional, dignified way . . . this is one of the oldest buildings in downtown Vancouver. I particularly liked the gargoyles on the outside of the hotel (and outside our window on the 14th floor). Our rooms were spacious and very comfortable . . . particularly the bed (the sheets and pillows were very nice). For bath fans, each bath room has a very nice, deep tub.
The location is another plus. Georgia Street is one of the main streets running through downtown, so it is easy to go anywhere from the hotel. Right across the street is a great mall . . . which we took advantage of. Even better, we could walk or bike to almost anything we wanted to see in downtown Vancouver. Stanley Park was about 1/4 mile away, Granville Island was about 3/4 mile away, and some cool neighborhoods like Yaletown were within blocks.
A few other highlights of the hotel:
- The spa and pool area is very nice and the workout facilities are adequate for a quick workout.
- The hotel restaurants are very nice. 900 West is a fancy steakhouse restaurant while Griffin's is a more casual place to eat. We ate at Griffin's both mornings and really enjoyed our meals.
- Every room had high-speed internet access. It was easy to connect and reasonably priced. After a week in Alaska, it was nice to be able to catch up on emails.
All said, this was a fantastic place to say and I highly recommend the Fairmont.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 14, 2003
Fairmont Hotel Vancouver
900 W GEORGIA ST
Vancouver, British Columbia V6C2W6
Restaurant | "Blue Water Cafe"
There is a lot of wood and leather done in a very classy way. The kitchen is open so you can watch the chefs prepare the food. And the bar is backed by hundreds of bottles of wine. Make sure you try the martinis. They have great combinations, some of which are very unique. Also, make sure you try the sushi. We had a special roll (salmon, eel, and more) that was out of this world. We wouldn't have even noticed the sushi on the last page, but the waiter pointed it out. He also recommended the oysters (but we can only eat so much). I had the salmon (which was very fresh and tasty). My only regret: I didn't have enough time for dessert.
This is definitely one of the most interesting places to eat in Vancouver and the you are only a few blocks from lots of nightlife once you finish. Enjoy.
Blue Water Cafe & Raw Bar
1095 Hamilton Street
Vancouver, British Columbia V6B 5T4
Restaurant | "SOHO Cafe"
I had a turkey sandwich that may have been one of the best I have ever had. The bread was fresh and cut right in front of me. All the ingredients were also extremely fresh, and the condiments and sauces were great. One word of warning: these sandwiches are huge. My only issue was figuring out how to get it in my mouth.
Another great thing: this is also a billiards hall. Back in the back there are several very nice pool tables. We shot a quick game just to chill out and digest our food and had a great time. Finally, the art and decor are very clever. The exhibit on the walls was a bunch of retro movie art . . . actual posters from movies from the '50s, '60s, and '70s. The titles and sub-titles were very funny (i.e. The Stepmother . . . how far will she go; the worst crime ring to ever hit town, the shoplifters wreaked havoc; etc.). I don't do them justice, but the point was to illustrate how what was once provocative is very tame by today's standards.
Definitely check out this place, you won't regret it.
Soho Cafe & Billiards
1144 Homer Street
Vancouver, British Columbia
As for the food, it was extremely tasty and spicy. I opted for the next to highest level of spicy (be careful you will feel it if you want it to be hot). The secret to the tastiness of the food: the chef uses only fresh local produce supplemented by spices imported straight from Thailand. The chef was trained in the finest schools in Thailand and she apprenticed with the teacher of the chefs for the Royal Family in Thailand. Everything is authentic and they take no shortcuts.
My only complaint: the service was pretty bad. We had to ask for water a couple of times and we didn't get much help from the waitress. She always seemed distracted.
Having said that, the food was so good I still wholeheartedly recommend this restaurant.
1211 Hamilton Street
Vancouver, British Columbia
Attraction | "Granville Island Market"
First, there is the food. The market had fresh vegetables, fruit, meat, fish, flowers, bakery items, and lots of other food stuff from local farms and companies. I was like a kid in a candy store . . . or an adult in a candy store. We were looking for picnic items for a cruise on the water (see my boat rental entry). I expected to grab a couple things and be done in about 15 minutes. An hour later, we were still picking things out. By the time we had finished, I had eaten an ice cream cone, a bratwurst, fruit, and rice pudding. Plus, we had enough food for a crew of five. There were so many things that I wanted and the atmosphere was really fun. The market closed around 6pm on the Saturday we visited.
Second, there are the outdoor cafes. We had a couple of drinks outside at Bridges. You can watch the boats go by, people watch and just hang out. The weather was perfect, so it was an ideal day.
Third, there are usually live performers of some sort. We watched and listened to some musicians for about 20 minutes (this was during my ice cream phase of the eating).
Four, there are some fantastic art studios and artisans throughout Granville Island. Go from the market to the studios and you will find every kind of artist you can imagine (i.e. painting, sculpture, silk, baskets, metals, pottery, etc.). The artists are organized into a variety of collectives and you can actually see them working. This makes it much better than going to a fancy studio.
Finally, there a some other fun things to see and do near the markets. You can rent a boat, visit a museum (i.e. the model ship and train museum), go in the children's toy market, buy fish straight off a boat, or just roller blade around.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 15, 2003
Granville Island Public Market
1689 Johnston Street
Vancouver, British Columbia
Call early in the day (even if you want to go later in the day). If you call by 10am, you are guaranteed a boat. We called at around 4pm and got on the waiting list for 6pm when a lot of the boats were coming in. We showed up, got a quick orientation, and were off. We rode around False Creed, around Stanley Park, and out along the coast. We had a 15' outboard, 40-horsepower boat. It got a little rough, but that just made the ride even more fun. We loved the fact that seals came pretty close to the boat, plus we got some great shots of the city skyline.
One note of caution, watch out for floating wood. We were warned, so I was pretty alert . . . and sure enough, I had to avoid a large log. A couple of funny sights: another small boat with about 10 people fishing in it in the middle of the harbor (they couldn't even sit down because the boat was so crowded) and the dog beach near the entrance of False Creek (there were about 20 dogs of all sizes playing on the beach and in the surf).
Granville Island Boat Rentals
Vancouver, British Columbia
Attraction | "Grouse Mountain (the Grouse Grind)"
The Grouse Grind was a serious butt kicker of a hike. It is 1.8 miles straight up the mountain. It starts out fairly steep and never lets up. In fact, it gets even steeper as you go farther up. But don't let this deter you if you are in relatively good shape or you have plenty of time. There were hikers of all levels making the ascent (some faster than others). It took me about 50 minutes, but I was going pretty fast (although a couple of locals passed me without even a glance back). The surrounding forest is absolutely beautiful and the views from the top are amazing. There are several places to hang out up top and a viewing platform at the lodge. One note about your progress up the mountain: you will see signs at the 1/4, 1/2, and 3/4 mark on the way up. It is nice to know how much you have done, but also a little demoralizing as you feel the fatigue setting in. The good news: you can ride the tram down for only $5. Another tip: you can send a set of dry clothes up on the tram for a $2 fee . . . you will definitely be sweaty when you get to the top.
All said, this was a very challenging and rewarding hike that I highly recommend.
A pleasant surprise was discovering all of the activities at the top of Grouse Mountain. There are some really neat wood carved statues, a free lumberjack show (a little cheesy, but fun), mountain biking, hang-gliding a wildlife refuge for injured animals (there a few bears that aren't very bashful). Take your time and enjoy the mountain. After all, you earned it if you hiked up.
6400 Nancy Greene Way
North Vancouver, British Columbia V7R 4K9
+1 604 984 0661
Even if you don't like cigars, stop in after dinner at the Blue Water Cafe. The shop is extremely well done and the cigar store Indian provides a nice photo op.
Vancouver Cigar Company
250-780 Beatty Street
Vancouver, British Columbia V6B 2M1
Charlotte, North Carolina