First of all I want to say that I have officially decided I hate flying. I don’t dislike it, I hate it. I love to travel, but turbulence freaks me out. Even just a little bit that seems to alarm no one else around but me, I really really don’t like it. After almost having a panic attack on the flight from Denver to Austin it is official that I either have to visit the doctor for a prescription when flying or have a cocktail on the flight. I sat up last night ringing my hands thinking of all the flights I have to do for the rest of the year and if there was any way to get out of them. I don’t really have to go that wedding in Maine, flea market in Massachusetts, artist retreat in Phoenix or photo shoot in Cincinnati do I? The answer is yes so I need to figure something out. Actually my trip there was perfect there were just storms to contend with on the way home.
So besides my every growing phobia of flying Vancouver was wonderful.
TUESDAY: As mentioned my flight to Vancouver was smooth sailing, I don’t think I white knuckle gripped anything once. Customs went fine and dandy although I was a little paranoid about it since Jenny had mentioned when she went to Canada to film the same TV show and she was practically put into quarantine. Since I was not getting paid to be on the show I swept right through customs no problems.
She’s Crafty put me up in the luxurious Pacific Palisades Hotel. This place is pricey and I was in a corner suite on the 12th floor with a view of the city. This was awesome because I really got to see downtown Vancouver this way, plus I could see the water. I was exhausted from waking up at like 6am to catch my flight so I did not feel like doing too much this day. I did make my way down Robson Street for a little window shopping. The first thing I noticed was all the amazing street style in Vancouver. I had always heard that fashion wise Canada was fairly subdued but the ladies here rivaled Austin in the eclectic and bright areas. I could have sat on a street corner and taken pictures of all the cute outfits for hours. I have been in NYC, London, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco in the last year-ish and I am telling you the girls in Vancouver have their own thing going. You could put out a Vancouver edition of Fruits or Hel Looks and it would work. Unfortunately I was too tired to take too much in and went back to the room for a nap. I met up with the adorable host of She’s Crafty Wendy Russell in the evening for a little “how do you do” meeting. Wendy is not only the host of She’s Crafty (soon to be seen on HGTV Canada) she is also a member of the Vancouver Craft Mafia. Wendy and I chatted over my first pot of peppermint tea at the hotel restaurant Zin.
WEDNESDAY: Today was the day Chris was to arrive to meet me in Vancouver. He did not have the smooth sailing flight I had. Remember hearing on the news last week about how all of the computers at United Airlines went down? Well of course he flew United and was stranded in Denver for almost 5 hours. Instead of arriving at 1pm it was more like 10pm, but more about that later.
First thing in the morning I was whisked off to the She’s Crafty set which was an adorable loft like setting in East Vancouver. They had the set made up to look like an apartment and everything was so cute and perfect. They shot the show in High Def with very tight close ups. The lighting was gorgeous, but the close ups scare me. Of course I was having one of the worst breakouts ever. On a side note does anyone use Pro Active? I’m to the point of believing P Diddy and Jessica Simpson. ANYWHOO on the show I made a set of TV trays. Well the trays were already trays but they were barfy brown wood ones I found at the thrift store. Wendy and I transformed them into a set of 4 mini chrome mid century modern tables. I was quite pleased with how they turned out and I think the people on the show were too. Wendy was an amazing and gracious host and made my life really easy. We chatted about Naughty Secretary Club and the Austin Craft Mafia as we poured resin and glittered polka dots. I have never been a guest on another show, I am used to being the host so it was nice to get to be the person that makes the craft. Gives you something to do, it reminds me of when we filmed Stylelicious.
So I was done in the early afternoon and headed back to my hotel. From here I did a little more walking around Robson. One of the women on the set had mentioned a store called Winners that I wanted to investigate. Well I am here to tell you Winners is Ross with a different name. Given much cleaner and better things, but you can tell it is the same company that owns Ross. They did have an amazing selection of Wedge shoes, but I used restraint. I hit shops like Zara that we don’t have here and some other more boutique like places. I also noticed that yoga is big in Canada. There was an all yoga all the time channel on the TV, lots of shops selling yoga wear and lots of people wearing yoga pants. Hmmmm.
Back at the hotel I waited for Chris who finally showed as mentioned around 9. He and I sat on the patio of my hotel room and took in the view and ordered room service. Needless to say after his travel mishaps and my standing for hours filming the show we were pooped.
THURSDAY: Life of luxury at the Pacific Palisades was over. I was only scheduled to stay two days in Vancouver to film the TV show, but Chris decided to come up so we could have a little mini vacation. Needless to say we could not afford to stay at the fancy hotel so we promptly moved further west to the Buchan. I liked the picture of Chris carrying my painted suitcase and new lap top bag. The Buchan was stark and plain, but clean. It is the kind of hotel room where you pay a little extra to have a private bathroom and there was no phone or clock in the room let along wireless internet. Fine by me, it was cheap and I wasn’t doing anything more there than sleeping there. We were a bit early to check into our hotel so we dropped off our luggage and headed out for some lunch. With our trusty time out guide in hand we walked down Denman Street and into the wee Kintaro Ramen. Here we were lucky to get a table since there seemed to be a constant line of hungry people. We had the Ramen, but this is not exactly like the kind you heat in the microwave in its Styrofoam cup.
After lunch we were just a hop skip and a jump from Stanley Park so that seemed like the next logical move. We walked around the park for a bit and then I caught wind of a free trolley that would take you around the park and point out the sites. Hooray I love free guided tours. Chris and I saw the Totem Poles, Empress of Japan, lots of trees, a small boy hand feeding a raccoon, boats and more. We could have walked the park, but it is long and I’m out of shape.
After the park we officially checked into our hotel and set out for a full day of adventures. I took Chris up Robson where I made another observation, there are a lot of Starbucks in Vancouver. There are a lot of Starbucks everywhere, but seems like there were a ton here. People get all upset at Wal Mart for being big and everywhere, seems to me like Starbucks in taking over the world little by little. We made our way to Granville Street where we stopped in at the Speakeasy on Granville for a few drinks on the patio. The weather was lovely here with the sun out and temperatures mild.
After our rest we continued shopping around Granville and decided to walk over to Gastown. This was quite the walk and honestly not worth it since I later realized this is the tourist area of Vancouver. The Jazz Fest was also happening while we were there so that made this part of town especially packed. The best part of Gastown was seeing this big faux dinosaur being loaded onto a truck. Chris and I decided to head back to the west end of town and walked up Denman and back. We eventually made our way to a Malaysian Restaurant called The Banana Leaf.
FRIDAY: Rumor had it that I would enjoy the shopping on Main St so that was my main destination for the day. We rode the bus over to Main and started with breakfast at Slickity Jim’s Chat and Chew. I have to say the service here is not that awesome. Seemed like one of those small dive restaurants where the staff gets confused that this is not an elite bar with a VIP room, it’s a greasy spoon restaurant. The food was very similar to Kerby Lane or Magnolia (yummy hearty breakfast treats), the walls were adorned with awesome bric-a-brac, and when eventually a male waiter came on staff and took over everything got better.
After breakfast we headed up Main where we shopped, shopped and shopped some more. I think the only place where I actually made a purchase was a store called ARK. Here I found an awesome metal necklace with a turntable that said “Mafia” and a reproduction souvenir jacket. Remember the 75 times I blogged about the loss of my jacket and how I tried to make up for it last year with a track jacket substitute? My new hot pink and black satin jacket is way more rad.
There were lot’s of other rad shops up and down the strip. Smoking Lily had been recommended and the clothing at Eugene Choo was pricey but amazing. We walked up one side of the street and down the other until we had seen it all. At this point my appetite was wet for shopping so we took the bus to commercial drive. I met up here with Wendy and her sister Toby so I could sign my tables I made on the show. They are having a charity auction after the show films. Not sure that my autograph will help sell the tables any, but it is always nice to be asked. There were more fun shops here, my favorite being Mintage and not just because they were familiar with Naughty Secretary Club and liked my jewelry. One girl at the counter said “It’s like Tarina Tarantino, but better”. Wow that’s a compliment since I just been drooling over her wares over at Blue Ruby on Robson.
While we were in the neighborhood we decided to take the bus over to Chinatown. Apparently there is an amazing night market on the weekends that we were interested in. I have to say for being the second largest China Town in North America I was not that impressed. The shopping is better in San Francisco. Sure I managed to score a few treasures but nothing I was freaking out over. The worst part is the weather had turned to poop and it was cold and raining. Chris and I decided not to wait for the sun to go down and head back towards our hotel.
By the time the bus took us back to our neck of the woods the sun had come back out so we stopped in a coffee shop on Denman called Bo jangles. We had a few drinks and enjoyed the sun and patio where I kept singing “Mr. Bo jangles” compulsively. Eventually hunger set in and we wandered over to Norboo’s on Robson for our first experience with Korean food. Mommy like. I love that with Korean food you get all the ban-chan, AKA free all you can eat appetizers. We had some spicy goodness and even made friends with the two guys sitting at the table next to us.
SATURDAY: At this point we were staring to feel like we had seen most of Vancouver. We had been to most of the major areas and were grasping at straws a bit as to what to do on our last day. We thought of going to Grosse Point and the suspension bridge outside of town but those are both expensive tourist traps. Chris randomly whipped us up a day of fun at Granville Island. We took the bus over and walked around the market which was a bit touristy but also full of yummy looking produce. The farmers market portion reminded me a trip to Whole Foods on a Saturday the same yummy looking fresh food and the same crowds. I did get an ice cream cone and Chris and I got to see some otters frolicking so it was worth the trip.
After the market we walked our way around the island stopping often at places like Kitsilano Beach and Vanier Park. Vancouver actually reminds me a lot of Austin with the laid backness of it, mix of hippies and hipsters and all the lush trees and water. After our walk around the park we headed up Yew street and stopped into the King’s Head Inn to enjoy their patio and take a load off.
Chris is not a sushi fan and I on the other hand love it. I’m not saying I am a sushi connoisseur and I openly admit that I order things like California Rolls, but I do love it. For dinner Chris took me out for a double whammy seafood/sushi dinner at Okada Sushi. Our waitress was so sweet and accommodating and helped us make some good menu choices. We had a nice mix of rolls, sashimi and sushi. Even Chris walked away licking his lips talking about how delicious it was. Probably the best sushi I have ever had. Uchi here in Austin is good, but when you are thinking of fresh seafood Vancouver is going to kick the ass of anywhere in Texas. After our dinner when we thought everything was said and done our waitress brought us out the fried heads of our shrimp that she explained had just been alive moments before. When in Rome, we both popped them in our mouth and gobbled them up (followed of course by hearty swigs of Kirin to rinse the taste out of our mouths).
Since this was our last night here we opted for one last hooray and headed back to the Gastown area in search of a bar called The Cambie. Turns out The Cambie is more like a youth hostel and is a bit rough around the edges. We shared a bench on the patio with a couple of dudes from Montreal and then later moved on to chatting up some older hippie gentlemen sitting next to us. They even asked us if we would like to participate in some of the local culture such as marijuana and nude beaches, we politely declined both.
So that ladies and gentlemen was Vancouver. The long and short of it. Lovely city, but there is no place like home and I am glad to be back!