Vancouver, Main Street – ‘East is East’ (part 8)

(My solo road trip of western Canada – Wednesday 30th September)

OK, if you have been keeping up, a little recap since this morning:

The Sky Train, The SeaBus, Downtown Vancouver, Trees Organic and a fantastic yummy breakfast, The Seawall, Granville Island and Public Market, Railspur District, Gastown…phew!

Now I really needed something good to eat, something different, something with a bit of class, somewhere that has had excellent reviews and has a very good reputation…that will be Èast is East` thank you very much.  There is a link below if you would like to see their website and menu, and if you go to the music page you can listen to some of the music on offer, just this makes me want to visit again…soon!

I walked a long way to get here, actually, by the time I had finished all of the above, and by the time I had reached this place (which I had actually read about back in the UK for one of the best places to eat when visiting Vancouver) it was just after 5pm, I did not leave this place until just before 10pm with at least an hour journey back to my accommodation.  From the photos below, you can see that it was daytime when I arrived and not many people which led into the night and where the place became packed.

Why was this you may ask.  Well, the decor was wonderful, the service was more than I could ask for, the food was so good,  I took their signature dish which are very small portions of all their very best stuff on the menu, and when you finish that, you can order as much or as little as you want from the menu (same as before or different dishes) and the price stays the same.

But honestly, the main reason I stayed there was because on this night they has some splendid, mesmerising, soulful and classy entertainment which just made the whole visit exceptional in my view.  I appreciate that not everyone may like this sort of music, but for me, this was very special.

There were three amazingly talented music artists that were playing fusion music together, there was a mix of Persian and Sufi music intertwined with aspects of Chinese music…after the day I had, there was very little battery left in the I Pad so I could not capture more than what I did below (and the sound quality may not give the credit that is due, but gives you an idea) which is a great shame as there were so many incredibly moving pieces that were being innovated as they played along…wow!


Downtown Vancouver: Gastown (part 7)

(My solo road trip of western Canada – Wednesday 30th September)

A short walk from Downtown Vancouver, there is a place that really makes you feel you are in a different era, it is called ‘Gastown’, I really liked this place, it was tremendously cosmopolitan, it has so much character and independence about it and as you walk around, you can feel the historic charm and spirit.

The types of shops in and around this area are like nothing I have seen before, some shops are totally unique in the way they are presented and the things they sell.  Some shops are too expensive to even look at like ‘Versace Home’!  Impeccable boutiques are dotted around, one-of-a-kind galleries and an evident and thriving fashion scene.  The Victorian architecture I really admired, lots of colours and designs to take in.

One place that attracted the most amount of people while I was in a particular area was the ‘The Gastown Steam Clock’, the world`s first ever steam powered clock, amazing to see it work on the hour, if you have time, read what its about (there are videos you can see of this working and there is a link of the refit below earlier this year).


Vancouver: Granville Island, Railspur District (part 6)

(My solo road trip of western Canada – Wednesday 30th September)

After my visit to the Public Market on Granville Island, I saw a very interesting building with a sign saying “this way to handmade local goods by Artists & Artisans” based in Railspur District on Granville Island, although this was not part of my plan, I was attracted to see what was there.  It is such a cool, creative, happening place to be.

Some of the items on display were incredible, clearly some very talented people here and full credit to them for being part of such a wonderful and inspiring district.  The fact that you can observe people working in the workshops and creating what you see on display for sale is very heart warming as you see how much effort and skill goes into some of these products.  Have you seen rice plants by the way?  The photo of me inside a ladies boutique may cause some concern, but I promise I was there to buy some gifts!  This was a boutique that sold ladies scarfs that were created in a studio just outside, they are unique as you can only buy them from this one store, you cannot even buy them online.

By far, my favourite place in Railspur District was ‘The Hang Out Place’ that specialised in hammocks, the guy working (maybe not the correct word to be honest) looks very comfortable, wouldn’t you agree?



Vancouver: Granville Island (part 5)

(My solo road trip of western Canada – Wednesday 30th September)

After my refreshing Seawall bike ride, I was energised to take on the next part of the day.  I had read that a very nice place to visit if time allowed was a shopping district called ‘Granville Island’.  This was about a 30 minute bus ride from Downtown Vancouver and is located near the Granville Street bridge.

The Public Market is known as the jewel in the island’s crown.  It is an absolutely fantastic place to visit, away from the hustle and bustle of Downtown Vancouver, the buzz here is quite different, much more welcoming, a little more laid back and some of the people were the nicest people I have met. The variety and the assortment of different foods that you can choose from is mind-blowing in this place, even when you have eaten, you will salivate when you walk past the next place…it is actually that good, I hope that the photos below do justice to what I am saying here (be prepared if you have a sweet tooth like me).

Again, the weather was just amazing, so blissful, it was just like being in some Mediterranean country, which just made the whole experience even richer and more enjoyable.  The feel to this place was something quite special, so much so that when I close my eyes, I can actually feel the sun shining down on me, smell the aromatic fragrances from global foods everywhere I went and sense all the pleasure I did when I was physically there.

The variety of breads reminds me that I can never participate in a low carb diet, never mind a carb free diet!  The selection of fruit was great, I particularly liked the unusually shaped grapes.  I wonder if anyone can guess what the man is whisking in the bowl?  The cakes were very inviting, ample variety of vinaigrette’s, I had never seen so many in one place, the assortment of honey looked very sticky and tasty, the Granville Island Tea Company reminded me of the UK and the Eccles Cakes were an interesting take on the ones I had when I was younger.

The final photo is of a man who was so full of energy that he basically oozed positive energy,  he displayed so many skills by playing a selection of instruments while he performed.  I captured one video before I was on my way, I thought he and his assistant did a very good job of it, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.






Downtown Vancouver, Seawall (part 4)

(My solo road trip of western Canada – Wednesday 30th September)

If you visit Vancouver, a really smart way of seeing a lot of sights in a short amount of time is to hire a bike and cycle around the Seawall.  It’s basically a stone wall that was constructed around the perimeter of the famous Stanley Park to prevent the erosion of the park’s foreshore.  It’s about 9km in length around Stanley Park and I believe is part of a much longer (28km) path, apparently, the worlds longest uninterrupted waterfront path.  The path is divided into two: one for joggers and walkers, and the other for cyclists and skaters.   At your own leisure, you can cycle and see some really wonderful parts of this buzzing city.  You can obviously also walk, jog or rollerblade too if you prefer.

I decided to rent a bike that had the electric feature and a really cool ‘boost’ sort of button when you need that extra speed as you buzz around the Seawall.  I was told that there are some places where you can actually rent a bike for free, however, I did not have the time to explore this option.

I managed to bike around the Seawall and see the following things in 59 minutes, I did my trip quickly because there was so much I wanted to see, the extra rates you pay after the hour are very reasonable and won’t break the bank, I would recommend to take a little more time if you have.

After the breakfast I had at Tree Organic, this was a welcome workout, I saw some very expensive boats, lovely accommodation, amazing colourful ‘changing’ trees, seaplanes, very cool horse carriages, hundreds of geese, more local talent, magnificent bridges, the famous Stanley Park, a woman who looked like a mermaid and a bird impersonating her, log formations on a beach, fantastic views of Downtown Vancouver and a laughing tree!  What else might I see during the rest of my day in Downtown Vancouver?






Downtown Vancouver, breakfast (part 3)

(My solo road trip of western Canada – Wednesday 30th September)

So far, I have travelled on the Sky Train, the SeaBus, I have been delighted by some local talent, but now, and I know this sounds like I have the Canadian bug of coffee, but I really need some coffee!  I wanted something different, no disrespect but I was a little fed up of Tim Horton’s.

I walked past a few places and then came across ‘Trees Organic Coffee and Roasting House’.  Very nice set up, incredibly happy and polite staff, the coffee was near perfect but the treats I had, well, I had by far the best almond croissant I have ever had, big, crispy, fresh, plenty of filling and just the right balance of sweetness.

Sorry, it did not stop there my friends, as I had just walked into a place that claimed to have the best Cheesecake in Vancouver it would be foolish, maybe even disrespectful not to try some, right?  So I got some cheesecake too…

I had experienced heaven while eating this  because it was truly bliss, I know this sounds far fetched, but if you believe (as I do) that you can actually experience aspects of heaven and hell here on this temporal earth, then you will know exactly what I mean.   I think I did ‘transcend all time and space’…please do make a special visit and come here if you visit Vancouver, if you would like excellent quality coffee, if almond croissants are one of your favourites or if you simply want to enter another existence for a short time while eating the most delectable cheesecake, then this is the place to come…my mouth is watering as I write this so I will stop now!


Downtown Vancouver (part 2)

(My solo road trip of western Canada – Wednesday 30th September)

Unfortunately, I have had a technical issue and as a result this blog will not have any photos or videos attached to it.

For the sake of brevity and for the convenience of people who may visit this amazing city one day, some interesting bits of information for your own knowledge:

  • Vancouver is consistently named as one of the top five worldwide cities for livability and quality of life, and the Economist Intelligence Unit acknowledged it as the first city to rank among the top-ten of the world’s most liveable cities for five consecutive years.
  • Vancouver has hosted many international conferences and events, including the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games, UN Habitat I, Expo 86, the World Police and Fire Games in 1989 and 2009; and the 2010 Winter Olympics and 2010 Winter Paralympics which were held in Vancouver and Whistler
  • In 2014, following thirty years in California, the annual TED conference made Vancouver its indefinite home.
  • Several matches of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup were played in Vancouver, including the final at BC Place Stadium.

Downtown Vancouver (part 1)

(My solo road trip of western Canada – Wednesday 30th September)

After my whale watching adventure, my next two days were planned to spend and see as much as possible of Vancouver.  I was so excited to be in Vancouver, I heard so much about this place and was keen to experience a little of why some people believe this to be one of the best places to live, and if that is not possible, to at least visit.  Vancouver officially the City of Vancouver, is a coastal seaport city on the mainland of British Columbia, Canada.

It was interesting to find out that Vancouver is one of the most ethnically and linguistically diverse cities in Canada; 52% of its residents have a first language other than English, in addition to this, Vancouver is the most densely populated Canadian municipality.  Another interesting fact was that major film production studios in Vancouver and Burnaby have turned Greater Vancouver and nearby areas into one of the largest film production centres in North America, earning it the film industry nickname, Hollywood North.

There were so many brilliant things about Vancouver, and that is why I will be posting 8 parts to my 2 day visit to Vancouver and the surrounding areas.  When I think about it now, I don’t know how I did it, but I covered a lot of ground in the time I had and saw some truly wonderful sights, sounds and tastes.

Below are some photos of the very cool Sky Train which I found very effective and convenient to get around, I strongly recommend this if you want to be cost effective and get from A to B pretty quickly.  I took the SeaBus to North Vancouver, to be honest, I did this simply to come back towards Downtown Vancouver and capture the splendid city form afar and be able to approach it from the water, I thought the skyline was really something to take in early in the morning.   The last bit of this post was this wonderfully talented man who I thought was incredibly innovative with his bagpipes and beat boxing fusion (and later with his steel drum)…I had never seen anything like it before…I suppose its a bit like Marmite, you will either love it or hate it (I am not sure what the North American equivalent would be, maybe peanut butter and jelly?).




Vancouver Island, Downtown Victoria, Rogers’ Chocolates

(My solo road trip of western Canada – Tuesday 29th September)

I suppose any trip you take in life should involve some sort of sweets, particularly I would say chocolate, after all, chocolate comes from cocoa, cocoa comes from a tree, and that technically makes it a salad (well, that’s how I like to rationalise it anyway).

I was so west of Canada, I had travelled so far during this road trip, I wanted to get some chocolates for Nour (I know this is a sweet thing to do, but I don’t think I would hear the end of it if I did not bring home some chocolates).  I was after some good, and if possible, locally made chocolate with a bit of history.  I came across Rogers’ Chocolates, very good, rich and prestigious chocolates from what I believe is the oldest chocolatier in British Colombia, I am pretty sure that I came to the original store too. The way the store was furnished and decorated takes you back in time, it was a very nice experience.

Rogers’ Chocolates are renowned for their excellent chocolate quality and their specialty being chocolate creams which are very nice if you like that sort of thing…not cheap I have to say, but very yummy and very delicious!  Time for another hike I think to work off the calories?


Ontario Science Centre

Since being in Canada, this is one of the best things we have invested in for the kids.  We bought a family membership at the Ontario Science Centre. We have been weekly since we bought the membership, there is so much to do and although we have been several times now, we have still not had the time to see every part of it.  This wonderful educational experience (for both young and old alike I must stress) is a place I strongly recommend to anyone wanting to be inspired to think about this mind blowing universe we live in.  It is certainly well worth the visit, learning and acquiring knowledge is something that continues with our journey of life, this place is amazing at enthusing and encouraging this in every part…if you are receptive to it.

At the moment, there is the Red Bull Stratos exhibition focussing on Felix Baumgartner’s stupendous feats and accomplishments, namely his supersonic free fall.  It is brilliant, it reminds you how a human, when they totally focus and set their heart on something, can achieve something that most people on the planet will never, ever experience.  A truly formidable and awe inspiring achievement this man achieved, I totally admire and respect what he has done.

Other than this, the photos below show just ‘some’ of the fantastic areas on offer, as I stated, I certainly recommend to anyone interested in igniting that spark we all have within us to make time for a visit…or more.

Fatimah describes this place as “Fascinating, interesting, lots of fun and really awesome!”, and it really was on this crisp, clear and fresh day.