Anniversary Trip to Vancouver
Happy almost-New Year! I was lucky enough to have both last week and this week off from work, which has been so relaxing. I don't think I've had a 2-week-long break since college! We spent last week visiting my mom and Patrick's family in California, and now we're back in Portland (just in time to catch the surprise snowstorm on Tuesday!), and I have been hanging around the house, doing some cooking and being lazy. A great way to end the year :)
Anyway, this seems like a good time to catch up on a few of the posts I've been meaning to write. First up: our anniversary trip to Vancouver!
A few months ago, we decided to go on a quick vacation to celebrate our fourth wedding anniversary. The original plan was to rent a cabin in Montana in early October (it seemed like a good place to get away and enjoy nature), but I had a huge project going on at work, so we decided to put off our trip until mid-November. And since Montana in mid-November sounded like it might be a little chilly, we decided to take a trip to Canada instead. Based on this article in Sunset, we ended up spending three nights at Rockwater Secret Cove Resort (on the Sunshine Coast) and had some time to check out Vancouver as well. Patrick planned the whole trip, and it was great!
We drove up to Vancouver from Portland on a rainy Thursday, and apart from a long wait to cross the border, it was a nice drive. This was the first time either of us had been to Canada, so it was exciting crossing the border!
We had decided to spend a night in Vancouver before going to Rockwater Secret Cove, and Patrick found us a very nice hotel downtown--L'Hermitage. After checking in, we walked down Robson Street (Vancouver's big shopping street) and had dinner at Kintaro Ramen, one of three ramen places that we wanted to try while we were in town (we ended up making it to all three, and the ramen at Kintaro was my favorite--really nice noodles).
The next morning, we needed Canadian coins for our parking meter, so we headed to a Starbucks near the hotel. Although Vancouver felt a lot like Portland, there were some small differences that reminded us we were in Canada--like when Patrick asked for his change in singles (so he could pay the meter), the barista looked confused and then asked if he wanted loonies or toonies. Anyway, we got it all sorted out, paid the meter, and headed to breakfast.
My small contribution to our vacation was finding a good place for breakfast while in Vancouver, and I chose Medina--they serve tiny waffles with all sorts of awesome sauces! We were tempted to have an all-waffle breakfast, but instead we got one waffle apiece and supplemented with healthier fare (yogurt, fruit, and granola). It was a good breakfast, and the waffles didn't disappoint. I had the milk chocolate lavender sauce with my waffle, and Patrick had the fig orange marmalade. Yum!
Before I forget--at a couple cafes in Vancouver, I noticed a drink called the London Fog--earl grey tea, steamed milk, and vanilla syrup. I didn't have a chance to try one while we were there, but it sounds like just my kind of drink! I'll have to see if I can get a coffee shop in Portland to make one.
After breakfast, we explored Stanley Park for a few hours. It was a chilly day, but it was still a nice way to spend a few hours. Vancouver is a pretty city!
For lunch, we had ramen once again, this time at Benkei Noodle Shop (Portland is ramen-deficient; we had to eat our fill while we had the chance!). This turned out to be Patrick's favorite ramen of the trip.
Bellies full, we headed across the Lions Gate Bridge and drove to Horseshoe Bay (enjoying the beautiful scenery along the way), to catch the ferry to the Sunshine Coast. This was our first time taking our car on a ferry, and it was pretty cool! The ferry was well-outfitted with a full cafeteria, and the 40-minute ride was just long enough to enjoy the scenery without getting bored.
The ferry disembarked at Langdale, and we drove along the coast to Sechelt, the town nearest to Rockwater Secret Cove. We had a fine dinner at The Old Boot and then continued on to the resort.
The Rockwater tenthouses had all sorts of great amenities--heated floors, super comfy beds, cute little fireplaces, and huge tubs with jets and light shows and stuff. All that luxury plunked down in the middle of beautiful natural scenery (one of the days we even saw a deer hanging out right next to the boardwalk!). It turned out to be a great place to just get away from everything and relax.
The one problem we ran into was the weather. The first night we got there, it was pretty calm, but the second night it was stormy, and the tent walls flapped around noisily all night, making it really hard to sleep. I was kind of afraid the tent would blow away, it was so loud. Since it was supposed to be stormy the next night as well, Patrick asked if they could move us to a more sheltered tent, and luckily they were able to help us out. So we moved from Tent #60 (which I'm sure would be awesome in the summertime but is a little dicey during stormy weather) to Tent #53, which had a less awesome view but was way more peaceful. Phew!
We mostly just sat around our tent and knitted/read. One of the days, we drove into Sechelt and explored a little. We managed to catch a holiday craft fair, and we visited a cute little store specializing in items made by local artists (of course I can't remember its name now, but it was on Mermaid Street next to a small European market). It turned out to be a nice little town to explore.
The restaurant at the resort was nice. We had breakfast there every morning, and we went there for a fancy dinner the second night we were there. In retrospect, it would have been good to bring some food to keep in the little in-room fridge, since the resort restaurant wasn't cheap, and our only other option was driving into Sechelt for every meal.
I'd definitely recommend Rockwater Secret Cove Resort if you want to splurge on a relaxing vacation in a beautiful setting. They also offer spa services and activities like horseback riding, but we didn't do any of that. Three days was a good length of time for us to stay--by the last day, I was feeling ready to get back into the real world!
On our way back to Portland, we stopped in Vancouver for lunch at the third ramen restaurant of interest--Motomachi Shokudo. The first two ramen restaurants we went to seemed pretty traditional; Motomachi was much hipper and experimental. It was good ramen, just not our favorite of the three. Also, Patrick lost his hat there, which was unfortunate :(
So, that was our trip to Canada! I'd like to go back to Vancouver at some point (maybe on the train) and explore downtown more. It seemed like a fun place to visit.