It is important to dress well while traveling. I realize that this is stating the obvious, but without a wool overcoat and warm hat and long underwear and big umbrella, the day would have been spent in relative misery. Either we’d have stayed in, napping and drinking tea—not so miserable but beside the point of being in Vancouver—or we’d have been chilled through. We were not deterred by the mixed snow and rain; no sir, we headed right out into it.
First stop, Granville Market for that second cup of coffee and a snack. Granville is protected from the weather so when we sat down for lattes at the Blue Parrot, I could take off my coat, even. I love a market, the way the folks that work there shout across the aisles to chat about the family, the immaculately stacked produce, the tourists and the noise and the food counters … we ogled the salmon, available in jerky, vacuum packed as lox, candy sized nuggets, steaks, fillets, and whole fish in ice. We converted the price of olives in our heads (kilos to pounds, dollars to dollars). We negotiated the carbs—bagels, bread, muffins, cinnamon rolls, cake by the slice. Outside it continued to pour. “Wow,” I repeated, “It is epically filthy out!”
Around noon, full of carbs and caffeine, we splashed across town to Stanley Park to visit the Vancouver Aquarium. I was immediately suckered in watching the beluga whales, lumpy white smiling oddities, swimming in circles in their tank. The rain hammered on the surface of the water; we watched it from below while the whales circled and smiled.
Then, to the tropics for Picasso face trigger fish and clownfish and angelfish and humuhumunukunukuapua’a. Further south, in the Amazon, the biggest freshwater fish, an endangered Arapaima, swam slowly. “He looks like he has a backache,” said the husband, referring to this fish’s awkward body. “Or like she’s zipped in to a party dress that’s too tight.” I said. We oohed and ahhed over backlit jellyfish, watched Spinnaker the dolphin and his friend Lenore do fancy jumps and leaps, and sat outside under a leaky awning eating aquarium fries and burgers. It was, I say again, filthy out, but we had a dry indoors refuge full of swirly underwater critters.
After a cup of tea and a short nap, we hooked up with friends for dinner at Rime on Commercial. The menu was Turkish and the place was packed with almost all women. It was Grrls with Guitars night, but we were early enough to dine before the entertainment kicked in. Not that it was bad, but we were there for the conversation as much as anything—and the noise in the place was more memorable than what was on my plate. We skipped out as soon as we were done and walked a few doors down to a cute coffee house named Turk’s. We need to return to Commercial, maybe for lunch and a bit more wandering on a day when the weather is a little less aggressive.
It rained again the following morning as we navigated South Vancouver for a few shopping stops on our way out of town. “I need a red Mahalo ukulele,” said a guy behind the counter at Long and MacQuade music, making me smile big at his customer. “Yes, you do!” I thought. I picked up a music stand, then we stopped to check out some electronics prices a little further up Broadway. (Not a bargain for the shopping Yankee, FYI.) We made one last stop for coffee to unload the last of our Canadian change and, thus fortified, pointed the car south in to the wet toward Seattle.