Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Oh, Canada! (cont.)

View of Lions Gate Bridge from Prospect Point
The next morning, after coffee and pastries at the apartment, my in-laws took pity on me and drove us back to Stanley Park. There was so much we didn't see the day before! They knew I was itching to get out, so they drove me up to Prospect Point for amazing views! We got an up-close look at Lions Gate Bridge, took in the sweeping bay, and counted ships on the water. We stayed here for a while, taking in the air and doing a little shopping in the gift shop at Prospect Point. (Hubs got a T-shirt that I absolutely covet! Soooo soft!!) We also stopped by the hollow tree for photos, as we'd heard it was a Vancouver tradition. Clay thought it was a HOOT!

Wares for sale at Granville Island public Market
Then, we got back in the car and headed for Granville Island. I'd heard this place was worth a stop, both for the delicious food and the Kids Market. (Clay had gotten some shopping money from my dad, and it was burning a hole in his pocket! The Kids Market, a two-story building full of toy shops, was just the place to pick up some souvenirs.) We drove over, parked, and found the big public market. It's a large food market that reminded me a lot of Chelsea Market in New York City - towers of cherries, artfully displayed; gorgeous cases of cheese; meats and seafood; plus arts and crafts! We spent an hour or so browsing before our rumbling stomachs told us it was time for lunch.

We all got something different: pizzas, Asian food, hot dogs, and more. It was delicious! On our way out, we gave Clay about 45 minutes at the Kids Market to play and choose a few goodies.

Museum of Anthropology
Then came our last stop of the day - Vancouver's Museum of Anthropology. I'd heard wonderful things about this museum, which is located on the University of British Columbia campus, but honestly, no words I can write here will truly do it justice. Suffice it to say - this collection is vast and amazing. So many beautiful examples of First Nations art, and then a stirring space called the Multiversity Gallery which made my jaw hit the floor. Think big glass cases everywhere with beautiful artifacts from all of the world in them. Then, you notice the cases are sitting on cabinet-like pieces of furniture with big, full drawers in them. Then, you realize these huge drawers OPEN, and there are tons more artifacts under glass, stacked under each giant display case. Mind-boggling. We spent a couple of hours here, but we could have easily whiled away half the day.

After dropping us off back at the apartment, my in-laws returned to White Rock, and our little band of three was on it sown for dinner. We were only a couple of blocks away from Guu Original, on
The Bradshaws conquer Capilano Suspension Bridge!
Thurlow Street, and it had some really good online reviews, so off we went. We joined the LINE of people waiting for the restaurant to open at 5:30 p.m. When the door opened, we were seated, and then it was time to sample several of the many small plates. I love tapas-style dining! We tried the fried eggplant (not battered - think soft with crunchy garlic chips on top), the fried chicken with garlic mayo (OMG. I would have eaten this all myself if I hadn't had to share!!), the kabocha croquette (a boiled egg wrapped in pumpkin puree, then breaded and fried; the waiter recommended this, and I reeeeeally hesitated, but we tried it. GOOD!), some prawns, and an evening salmon special.

This place is small, but the staff is young and energetic (and loud!), and the food is delicious! Prices are also very reasonable. Recommended! Then, it was off to bed. We had another busy day planned in the morning.

I so loved TreeTops Adventure.
We awoke, enjoyed another quick breakfast at the apartment, and headed for the first Capilano Suspension Bridge shuttle of the day. The attraction offers two free shuttles - a red line and a blue line - both with many stops convenient to downtown Vancouver. It was cloudy, but not rainy, and we wanted to get there and enjoy the attraction before the predicted rain in the afternoon. (Plus, many, many years of travel have taught me that if you're going to a major tourist attraction, GO EARLY. Be there when they open the door. Be the first people there. That way, you avoid the lines and crowds. But the time all the other tourists show up, you'll probably be close to leaving.)

We got there early, showed our pre-purchased tickets at the turnstiles, and headed straight for the bridge. What a rush! It sways a good bit, but it feels very stable, and views from the center are amazing - a deep ravine, with rushing water at the base. After enjoying our fill of the bridge, we headed for TreeTops Adventure, a magical set of small suspension bridges connecting platforms situated up in the trees, high above the forest floor. The kindly park attendant gave Clay a scavenger hunt to complete, and we enjoyed looking for the related clipboards and learning about the rainforest. Particularly because it was nearly deserted when we traversed it, I found TreeTops Adventure to be magical. Clay mentioned that he felt like an Ewok!

After that, we continued exploring the far side of the park, taking the Nature's Edge trail, exclaiming
CliffWalk at Capilano Suspension Bridge
over the 400-800 year old Douglas fir, and just enjoying a day in the woods. By this time, this side of the park was beginning to fill up. We crossed back over the bridge to try the CliffWalk. This open-air path is built into the side of the ravine. It's 700 feet long, and it's mostly transparent, maximizing views. (Think Willis Tower, but above a forest. And as a long path.) Beautiful.

With lunch time approaching, we headed for Loggers' Grill. It's an outdoor cafe. You order at the counter, pick up your food, and eat outside. I had a delicious salmon sandwich, hubs got the maple bacon burger and Clay had a fancy hot dog. The food was delicious, if a bit overpriced (park prices). As we ate, the band started up nearby, so we had a serenade! Upon finishing our meal, it had started to sprinkle a bit. We decided we'd take the opportunity to enjoy all of the exhibits on the way out, which we did before catching the free shuttle back to downtown. We so enjoyed this attraction1 It's touristy, but if you get there early (We went on a week day. I think that helped, too.), you really can commune with nature here.

Jellyfish at the Vancouver Aquarium
After a short rest back at the apartment, we caught a cab to the Vancouver Aquarium. We had a little over two hours to explore! Our first stop? The beluga whales! They were so beautiful and graceful in the water. You can see them from the top of the tank, and you can also go into a roomy underwater viewing area. Just gorgeous. Then, we made time for the sea otters, the fur seals (very playful - they reminded me of the river otters in our local zoo. Plus, they'd named them after some of the Harry Potter characters!), and the penguins. After that, we discovered lots of jellyfish (one of Clay's favorites), tropical fish, the Amazon area (gorgeous scarlet ibis in there), a SUPER COOL bat cave, and a very busy sea turtle. We finished up with a couple of very vocal sea lions who cracked us up! Such performers!

For dinner, we tried Stepho's, a great little Greek place a few blocks from the apartment. Hubs had
Calamari at Stepho's. First we see the fish,
and then we EAT THEM.
the roasted lamb, I chose the fried calamari dinner, and Clay ordered lasagna. WOW. First of all, the service is amazing. Secondly, the food is delicious! Portions are HUGE. Each of our dinners could have easily fed two people. And lastly, prices were insanely reasonable. This was a great stop.

We positively rolled back to the apartment and snuggled into our pillows!

More to come . . .

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