Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Vancouver 2016 Day 1: Guu out and get it

Vancouver 2016 Day 1: Guu out and get it

For whatever reason the news was totally freaking out about a massive winter rainstorm. I worried my flight might not even leave SFO, but it seemed like it would be OK. Washington State and Victoria seemed to be getting hit pretty hard, but Vancouver was coming out pretty much unscathed.

I arrived there and was like, "what rain?!"

And... we're in Canada.
Sweet first hotel room
I dropped my stuff at my first hotel, where I was staying for a few days before moving to the one closer to our Canadian office (where I was helping with some training for a week). This first hotel was the Pinnacle Hotel Waterfront, and I got it on Hotel Tonight the week before. Worked out super well and was in a nice location in Coal's Harbour, and close to all the action downtown.

Not already drenched due to the rainstorm that never showed up, I grabbed my jacked and headed right out. First stop on the list was "Guu" -- a Japanese tapas/grill-style joint called an izakaya. I hadn't been in one of these since I was in Japan, and it ROCKED. It was truly just like stepping back into Japan! I sat down there at the far end of the bar, and made instant friends with an old Japanese man at the bar (he told me stories of staying with famous people in Beverly Hills!), and he has apparently been a regular there for many years. Nice guy. This was the "Guu Original" Thurlow St. location, and he told me what I had suspected -- "This is the original, and the best". I ate some great Oden (soup with steamed vegetables/tofu etc) and Chili Chicken... the location was everything you want an Izakaya: loud, raucous and fantastic.

Tasty oden soup, with diakon and tofu, plus hot mustard. So good!

Chili Chicken was great too.
This whole experience was awesome and also crazy cheap -- I think my bill came to like $8 US. WOW. Great times and super enjoyed it. What a start to the trip!

I headed after this for some dessert at the 24 hr. Breka Bakery & Cafe. Since it's 24 hrs., it was packed to the nines with students working hard, studying, and cramming in some sugar and carbs. I joined them! (Not in the studying, of course -- just the sugar and carbs).

Yeah, that was glorious. Then wandered all over the place. The weather was holding up and I really wanted to explore, so I wandered like crazy. Shops were closed early (except for the Roots store there which was STILL open late, past 10pm -- a special sale that week), but otherwise I just wanted to get a feel for the place. It was great.

Ha, "Latt-eh" :)
A necessary Tim Hortons stop and quick chat with Michal on Facetime, and warmed up a bit inside before continuing on further to check out even more stuff.

I kept wandering, keen to continue checking stuff off my epic Vancouver TODO list. After wandering the downtown streets a bit (and seeing a lot of people in line for concerts and clubs -- it was weird, as I feel like you never see this sort of vibe in SF, but it felt sooo much like the old days wandering through Toronto at night and seeing well/overly-dressed people waiting in long lines for clubs at any time of the year). Anyway that was cool and the next stop was the Steamworks Pub closer to the waterfront.

I got some poutine there and a beer and chatted with my overly-friendly neighbours at the bar. The one fellow was form Ontario and his... girlfriend? was a hilarious, upbeat, and stereotypically extroverted Irish girl. He went to the bathroom at one point and she (in between grabbing several fries from my bowl with her fingers -- I had obliged to her initial request to take it, and subsequently offered her a fork to properly share it, which she declined) said she wanted to know if they looked like a couple. I told her "Of course!" as I just assumed. Turned out this was a blind date their friend had set up for them! Haha! I asked her how it was going so far and she said "OK". Poor bugger! Ha, he seemed like a decent fellow, so I told her so and she agreed. An absolutely hilarious and amazing conversation, and when he came back we all talked about the fact that I had no idea this was their first date. I apologized (Canadian!) for inadvertently third-wheeling their date, but they didn't seem worried about it AT ALL, in fact I think maybe I helped de-stress the first meeting for them a bit. Very funny. At the end of a good chat (and the girl eating a good amount of my massive bowl of fries -- still with her hands, by the way), the dude said they were going to meet his brother at another bar and there was some live music there and pool... AND THEN THEY BOTH INVITED ME TO COME ALONG, TOO. Oh man, Canada is so predictable. I saw that coming a mile away. I politely said thank you very much and I wished them a good time, but said I had an early morning (I did -- lots of Vancouver plans!) and also, maybe just a wee bit odd to come along and hang out with all the rest of their friends and officially become a third wheel on their first date -- whether totally invited to, or not! Haha. Oh, friendly and crazy Canadians. A hilarious and awesome start to this trip.

A nice wander back along the waterfront to my hotel, and wandered past the fancy Fairmont there too before heading in for the night.

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