Today we hop on a plane and head back home to Ontario from the beautiful, mostly sunny shores of British Columbia.
We've spent the last five days here taking stock, relaxing, and trying to get a feel for the city, and the results have been good! We've spent our time with the cute little Moda Hotel as our home base, and barring some crazy loud bus traffic, it's super cute (and super-affordable, too!).
Our first night here we hooked up with friends Andrea, Mel, and Kevin for dinner at Plan B, and had a great time (and some delish eats). Friday we spent loads of time over at Granville Island, home of Emily Carr University, and I gushed over the beautiful stuff at Maiwa Supply, the delicious food at Granville Market, and the adorable and convenient aquabus that ferried us from Yaletown to Granville and back. We also checked out the west end of the city - sort of a Centretown meets Rue St. Catherine a la Robson/Denman/Davie St..
Saturday we were out and about - we hopped into our snazzy red mini from Zipcar, and drove on up into the mountains - Grouse Mountain, Capilano Forest, and up to Squamish on the sea-to-sky highway. I had no idea how pretty the mountains would be, or how easily I'd fall back in love with being by the water all the time. Vancouver is just so ... pretty. All the time! Even when it's raining and grey and makes your teeth chatter.
We've walked through South Granville, SoMa, driven halfway into Kitsilano until our zipcar got a flat, we've sat on Sunset Beach to watch the sunset, hung out on English Bay after dark, tried BC Spot Prawns (yum!), eaten the best Caribbean food (jerk tofu!) at The Reef, and ran out of fingers to count the local coffeeshops on. We've seen cruiseships in port, watched captive grizzly bears chase each other around pens, stood in summer shoes and sleeveless shirts in ten feet of snow, and generally had a fantastic time.
My favourite souvenier is a hand-carved printing block from Maiwa that I'm bringing home. Handcarved by printmakers in India, this block is going to have a prized spot amid my screens and paint and bolts of fabric. I can't wait to try it out!
There has, of course, been a ton of other stuff, but this covers the basics. In a lot of ways, Vancouver reminds me of home - salty air, boats, bridges - but in lots of others it's totally foreign. I can't wait to get back and explore again!
oh I cannot wait to get back to amsterdam. Just under two weeks to go!
In addition to a grueling work schedule, I can also happily look forward to Modest Mouse, the Van Gogh museum, Lapjesmarkt and the Noordermarkt, Maoz, and heavenly heavenly freshly made stroopwaffels. I have been biding my time before the trip going slowly insane waiting for everything to be finished, for everything to show up, and my flight to be upgradeable.....come on upgrades!
Last year I had my work cut out for me. This year is more of the same, but I'm getting smarter. I'm renting apartments and ordering groceries in dutch through albert. (Can I just say how much I LOVE this system? Ottawa needs an albert. Only in english so I can tell if I just signed my neighbours or myself up for 100 euros in groceries). Dutch and I so far are not doing so well in the interpretation department, dear friends. Thank goodness albert. has photos.
"Sinaasappel?" "...." "...." "oh - orange juice!"
i kid. I am not in china. But that's where I was a year ago today. It's hard to believe that it's actually been a year. In some ways, I miss the chaos of it, the complete confusion, the "special deals for you", the beautiful sandy desert, the scorpions on sticks (ok, I don't really miss that part, but it was ok to watch), the funny menus. But I don't actually miss it. China was dirty. DIRTY. And what was not beautiful was very bleak.
A year ago today, I was walking on the streets in Xi'an, laughing hysterically at the grocery store girls on headsets trying to sell us oranges (you have never seen *anyone* so excited about oranges), saying no to boys trying to sell me baby chicks (dyed pink and blue, no less!), walking through the warehouses that house the terra cotta warriors, and attending a taing dynasty dinner show (not my idea, but actually kind of interesting - good photo ops!). And this year I am at home, sorting through thread, setting up a new online shop, and getting ready for the first vacation *ever* where I am not going anywhere.
I think it's safe to say I have a bit of a travel bug.
Also, you know how I know I am a design nerd? These are how. I need these. Next weeks show had better go well!