Tues. Aug. 25, 2015:
I woke up at 7:30am and decided to stay awake, we had a long day ahead of us. I grabbed a coffee, bar and yogurt from downstairs. The Vector cereal bar I grabbed was disgusting. I took so long getting read that we did not leave until almost an hour later. Our first stop was Granville Island where the shops did not open until 9am so it worked out in the end. The walk to the island was along the marina, the whole time we searched the nearby trees and masts of sailboats, desperate to spot a bald eagle. We had read that they often sit atop masts. We did see a heron hunting down some breakfast. On Granville Island there were a bunch of storefronts and a community centre. The main attraction was the farmer’s market building. This was what I had expected when we went to Pike Place: a giant building, full of stalls, not too busy. Brent ordered a chicken sandwich, but it was too early in the morning for me to eat a giant sandwich. Plus our lunch plans were sandwiches. I opted for a donut and pepperoni sticks with an iced coffee from JJ Bean. We tried to eat outside but a wasp kept bugging us.
We walked to Kitsilano Beach after breakfast. We saw a rocky beach, which at first we mistook for Kitsilano. However Brent pulled up the map and it turned out we were just walking along the shoreline during low-tide. Kistilano was the next one over. Looking back we had gorgeous views of Vancouver with the mountains in the background, all across the river. We could also see Stanley Park across the way. It was our next destination, we were so close, we could see it, yet we had to backtrack to the bridge to get back across. This added about 30 minutes to our trek.
Stanley Park was our best chance of getting to see a bald eagle, so said the internet. We Googled the best spot to see them and got a very precise location of where an eagle nest had been spotted this year. The park was huge and a real gem. Once you were in the heart of it you forgot that you were near downtown. It was only when a road cut through the park and we had to go over a bridge that I remembered- that and the occasional distant siren. But in the thick of it you would think you were out in the deep wilderness. The whole time we walked, we kept our necks craned upwards, desperately searching the tree tops. Nothing, not even any false hopes.
We got to the outdoor theatre, the nest was in a tree somewhere nearby. We stood near the theatre, looking up and turning in circles. I am sure passersby thought we were nuts. Brent spotted what could possibly be a nest, I took a photo and zoomed in as much as I could (which is not much, as my lens only goes to 55mm). We circled the theatre to get closer to the tree. As we walked we would periodically lose sight of the nest. Finally we had a good vantage spot. And so we stood there looking and discussing. Was it? Wasn’t it? It defineintly looked like a nest and it was high up. But what if it was old and had been abandoned? What if it was just a pile of dead branches? What if it was another bird nest? That last one we ruled out quickly, the potential nest was enormous and very high up- no way it was anything but an eagle nest. I suggested looking at the ground around the tree. And so we started circling the tree hunched over and examining the ground. I noticed a few pigeon feathers and some white fluffy ones. Brent noticed a few bones. I saw a bird wing. He saw two bird skulls. I saw a severed gooseleg that was bright red at the joint where it was torn. We looked at each other, our little CSI episode was a success! We had discovered and confirmed an active eagle nest!! Now all we had to do was look up and there were would see the eagles. Right? We stared and stared. There was something up there, something white and small. Turns out it was a feather stuck in the nest. Why were they not home?! We were so close!!! After 10 minutes of nothing we left. We checked out the aquarium but it was too big and we would have had to rush. I did stop at their snack bar for some soft serve and a rocky road brownie (for later). We went back to the nest for one last look, maybe, just maybe, they were back? Alas, there was still no sign of them.
I decided against a third cup of coffee on the way to lunch, I was way too hungry to delay. On the way we passed by the Olympic torch and decided to take a small detour. It was a good detour, we also found an orca made of LEGO bricks and we got to watch seaplanes take off and land. There had been a sign about a bathroom, but the sign lied. Until then we had been having a good run of public bathrooms.
The main reason we were lunching at Meat & Bread was so that Brent could recreate a photo of Josh, who had been eating a sandwich there last week. That, and when we Googled it the menu sounded amazing. At 1:45pm it was incredibly busy, you would think that by then the lunch rush would have died down. Brent ordered the porchetta sandwich, I went with the daily special which was soy ginger beef. While Brent waited for our sandwiches I managed to snag a table near the front. It was one table over from where Josh was sitting, and it would have to do. Before we could dig in, we had to take the photo. It took some adjusting but finally we got as close as possible. The sandwich was delicious. My only complaint was that it had not been cut in half, so having to bite into it crust first was less than pleasant. It was also rather messy with all the sauce running everywhere. I was covered in it by the end. Now that my hunger had been satiated, my caffeine craving came back. We walked back one block so I could get a nitro-cold-brew coffee from Timber Train Coffee. It was a novelty, poured from a tap like beer. It poured so creamy that I forgot to put milk, it seriously looked like milk had already been added. Only as it started to warm did it regain its true dark colour. It was a little too winey to be had black and it was tough on the stomach.
My hanger taken care of, we headed off to Dr. Sun Yat Sen’s Chinese Garden. The problem was that we had to walk along E Hastings St. Now, were not at the bad part yet, but the parts leading to it gave us a glimpse of what to expect. It was not nice and I can only imagine what the infamously bad part is like. We passed through one intersection of Chinatown and it was not at all what I had expected, partly because the road was under construction and partly because we did not continue exploring Chinatown. (As a point of reference, I am used to Spadina Ave. in Toronto).
The garden itself was very peaceful and pretty. It was nice to walking around, sipping on a cup of green tea. We had managed to just miss the tour, alas we kept getting stuck behind them. We resorted to going out of order. Afterwards we went to the Chinese public park that partly surrounds the Gardens. It was not as pretty but we did get to see a turtle and a koi pond.
Dr. Sun Yat Sen’s Chinese Garden
It was a long, slow, very tired walk back to the hotel. Minus the 20 minutes of sitting at lunch and 10 minutes at breakfast, we had been walking for about 7 hours. We stopped at the liquor store next to our hotel for beer. When we got to our hotel room it was being cleaned and it was awkward. I changed into my flip-flops and we headed back out. We went to Shoppers Drug Mart to get snacks for the next day. We also went back to the liquor store, Brent had his beer list with him this time. It felt so good to rest back at the hotel. I plotzed and watched Under The Dome.
It was a 30 minute walk to Tojo’s, and it was east, therefore we were walking into the sun. We were dressed up fancy, and my sunglasses case doesn’t fit in my fancy purse. The whole while I wished for my sunglasses to make the walk a little more tolerable. As it turned out, we did not need to dress up fancy at all. There was a guy in shorts and a t-shirt. The only fancily dressed people were a bunch of guy in suits near the bar. We had really high hopes and Tojo’s delivered, and then some. We ordered the two dishes the chef was known for: marinated tuna and the BC salmon sushi roll. Both dishes were outstanding, amazing and beyond delicious. All we could do was look at each other wide-eyed in disbelief, as in: can you believe how amazing this is?! We also ordered a plate of assorted sushi so we could try a wide range. It was difficult to split as there was one piece of each type. It got messy at times. Some of them fell apart and I had to take it in two bites:rice and then the fish. The sushi platter only further confirmed my love affair with eel. It’s the best sushi. After all this we were still a little bit hungry. We ordered the Pacific West roll (i.e.: the original California roll). Turns out what we thought were good California rolls in the past were only subpar. It had the added bonus of a scallop adhered to the top of the sushi with wasabi and then sprinkled with roe!!! This was easily the best sushi I had ever had, and one of the best restaurant experiences ever. (Both at home and on vacation). The waitress was really nice. She even complimented us on not using soy sauce (why destroy something so beautiful?)
We had ordered the perfect amount of food- although I was tempted by Marble Slab on our way back. I managed to resist, I still had the rocky road brownie back at the hotel. It went perfectly with a cup of tea and Netflix to round out the evening.