Happy Thanksgiving + a long weekend in Vancouver

November 27, 2014

This Holiday season, there is a lot I have to be thankful for, but my thoughts keep going back to this amazing long weekend I just spent in Vancouver with a great friend. Last week, my friend Leonie flew across the country to meet me for 4 days, and we had a blast. We stayed in a nice hotel, strolled around downtown, shopped 'til we dropped, went out for meals and ate pizza in bed. We caught up with each other and with some of cable TV's best, pretending that we no longer live at opposite ends of now two countries.

Without saying a word, she carried snacks in her purse, to meet my strange need to eat every 2 to 3 hours. She put up with my dramatic shopping indecisions, and agreed to try barre classes instead of doing yoga. Unfortunately, this studio did not meet our expectations (other than for Michael's fabulous class and music selection), with the instructors never asking if it was anyone's first class, and saying things like "If you don't understand what I'm saying, just don't do it", all the while not offering alternatives. We at least moved a little, stretched some, and weren't sore despite 3 classes in 4 days.

I have always had amazing food experiences in Vancouver, and was salivating the whole bus ride up. Unfortunately, without the guidance of my local friend Michelle, meals proved to be an unexpected experience. Our first night, we had some good Thai food, but the waitress never made eye contact, and at some point started only addressing me, which made me feel strangely masculine and uncomfortable. The following day, after hours of walking in the rain, we decided to have a nice dinner at the hotel's restaurant, Prestons, which had really good reviews online. I have to say, my food was quite good, but unfortunately Leonie's was just ordinary. The service, on the other hand, was shocking. We ordered starters, and when the waiter came with her soup and my poutine, he paused, realizing that he brought her the wrong soup, left with both plates, not coming back for a solid 10 minutes. At that time, he warned me that my bowl was extremely hot. It was delicious, but I'm sure it would have been even better before sitting on the hot plate waiting for... soup to be poured? Our main courses arrived, and my salad was the perfect balanced dish after a filling starter. Half way through my salad, he came by with another serving, informing me that it was my "lucky day", because I had been given the smaller size but ordered the full, and placing both plates in front of me, telling me that I now had two. I was so shocked I could only stare for a minute, which seemed to make him realize that maybe he should go back to the kitchen and wrap it up for me. When he came back, I had gotten back to my senses, and explained that the hotel room did not have a refrigerator, so I couldn't take the extra meal. It was his turn to look very confused. What an experience. 

The next morning, we decided to go back to a brunch place we found and loved on a previous trip. The food was still delicious, but seeing the waiter bring a plate to the table behind us, put it down and walk away only to come back running loudly warning "don't touch it!" was kind of unsettling. He picked up the plate, and just brought it straight to the table in front of us, where the lady started to eat it. Our food was still as good as we remembered, but the experience was definitely altered. 

Thanks to Michelle, we still had two amazing and simply perfect gastronomical experiences on this trip, one at Meat & Bread, an upscale sandwich shop with a delicious vegetarian option, and by far one of the best brunches I've had at the Twisted Fork Bistro, where the bennies were simply perfect. Overall, we ate well and the singular service experiences actually made for pretty good stories.

On the Saturday, the rain stopped and we had a perfectly sunny and warm fall day, which we mostly spent walking around Stanley Park, where a lovely lady pointed to a family of otters we were walking by unaware in the lost lagoon.

Travelling, whether it's to a new and exotic place or to a nearby city I've already been to, always makes me happy. Having a friend I rarely get to see make the trip to meet me makes this experience even more enjoyable, and I'm very thankful for the good times, the memories, and the anticipation of our next get together. Love you, Leonie.

To all of my American family, friends and readers, a very Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you'll get to spend it with loved ones, and, of course, feasting on delicious food. 

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