Vancouver, BC

“Vancouver?  Like in Canada?”

 
I remember one of our first conversations going something like that.  Dave’s father’s entire family is from Vancouver, and yes, the Vancouver in Canada.  At first, it sounded so foreign, I couldn’t believe he was actually CANADIAN?!  Weird.  I pretty much didn’t know anything about Vancouver either… what the weather’s like, what type of people live there, what they eat, what the scenery is… I had no clue.  
Just 2 months before our 2-Year Anniversary, Dave and I went on a vacation to Vancouver.  We had a couple of things on our agenda:  
 
1.  Visit Family & Grandpa Harry 
2.  See Vancouver  
3.  White Water Rafting 
4.  Peak 2 Peak Gondola at Whistler
5.  See Olympic Stuff 
6.  Eat Chinese Food
7.  Eat Fish & Chips
 
1.  Visit Family and Grandpa Harry.  
Dave’s Grandpa Harry sadly has passed away since we visited.  He was a truly amazing man who literally went from having nothing and living in a foreign country… to owning his own business, serving in WW2, and raising a wonderful family.  I am so happy and lucky to have met him and be able to spend time with him.  Dave’s two aunts are still living in Vancouver along with one of his cousins who have four kids.  We spent much of our time in Vancouver visiting with them.  We even got to have a Shabbat Dinner with them, which was really special.

Here’s Grandpa Harry on the left, and then a few pictures we took with Dave’s Aunt Sylvia and Uncle Ken

  2.  Vancouver.  I can’t believe I didn’t know about this place in my pre-Dave life.  It is honestly the most beautiful city I’ve ever seen.  Vancouver is surrounded by the beach to one side and mountains to the other.  It is so gorgeous.  Most of the year, it is rainy… almost similar to the reputation of Seattle.  However, in the summer or when the sun is out, it is just amazing!  We had almost perfect weather the entire time we visited.  

What a gorgeous city! … laughing at an actual Canadian Goose!

 
3.  White Water Rafting.  I had never been before and had no idea what to expect… but I was SCARED.  OMG!  About halfway through our trip, we rented a car and drove North up the Sea-to-Sky Highway towards Whistler.  The trip down the Elaho River was so much fun.  I remember the BEST part about it was the part i FEARED the most… being out of the boat and in the river!  Our guide let us jump out during a class 1 rapid and float along with the boat.  The water was SO cold it literally took my breath away.  The most surprising part (besides the fact that I didn’t die during this and that I loved it) was the water:  it was the most amazing, fresh water I’ve ever had in my life.  The water looked just like “Glacier Freeze” Gaterade flavor… and I could not stop keeping my mouth wide open and drinking some.  

Such a beautiful drive!

We got to see some gorgeous viewpoints

We found these train tracks just before the meeting spot for rafting…

 

Look at that water!!

Along the way to rafting, there were tons of “Viewpoint” signs and little stop offs for photo ops.  We had left super early so we were able to stop at EVERY one to take some pretty pictures and explore.  
 
4.  Peak-to-Peak Gondola Ride in Whistler.  From our rafting excursion, Dave and I drove up to Whistler.  We stopped by one of the sites of the Olympic events then checked into our hotel, the Crystal Lodge.  The whole area of Whistler is adorable, with tons of cute ski shops and hotels.  We ate a pretty fancy dinner that night then went out to a bar.  The next day we took the Peak-to-Peak Gondola Ride from Blackcomb Mountain to Whistler Mountain.  We then took a ski lift up even higher, to then climb up more to reach the most unbelievable view ever.  I am a little bit afraid of heights, so it was really scary but so worth it!

… we though that this was as high as we were gonna go!

… this was alllll the way on the top!

5.  See Olympic Stuff.  Not only were we able to see some of the Olympic areas in Whistler, but we got to visit so many of the Olympic Statue signs and also the monument from the Opening Lighting Ceremony (you remember it… the with Steve Nash’s side not working?).  It was really awesome though, and it was only a few months after so we were still in the Olympic spirit!
 
6.  One of the most talked-about parts of Vancouver (from Dave’s stories) is how they have the best Chinese food ever.  Vancouver’s population is ONE-FIFTH Asian (thank you BBC) so I had some pretty high expectations for the Chinese food.  The area of town we were staying in, where Grandpa Harry lives (Oakridge, directly South of the center city) didn’t have anything open late.  Every time we tried to get some Chinese take-out… they were all closed!  One of the nights, we went on a mission to find one.  We found a place that looked open and walked in…  We walked in on a Chinese Wedding… during the beginning of a toast!!!!!!!!!!!!  We were mortified but ran out laughing hysterically.  Everyone turned around and looked at us.  Just like what would happen in a movie.
Dave’s Aunt Sylvia and Uncle Ken solved our problem and took us to a pretty delicious Chinese place the night after.  Of course, this was all pre-blogging so I didn’t snap a picture of every piece of food we ate. 😦  However, it was really tasty and  a much higher quality than the stuff we eat here.
 
7.  Eat Fish & Chips.  I had been hearing about how amazing the Fish and Chips were in Vancouver since I met Dave’s Dad.  On one of our walks, we discovered what we believe (and every top fish/chips list believe too) to be the BEST Fish and Chips in Vancouver, and what is totally on our “Best Thing I Ever Ate” list:  Go Fish.  Go Fish is a really tiny little shack of a place where you order, then eat your food outside along the water on picnic tables.  I could seriously rave about this place and what we ate for hours.

First Fish and Chips…

… the BEST Fish and Chips @ Go Fish! YUMMMM

Dave is actually in Vancouver right now (FYI in case you haven’t been paying attention!) and he happened to JUST call me about five minutes ago to tell me he ate lunch at Go Fish.  He said, “Don’t mind me but I have to GLOAT for a minute because you’re going to be SO JEALOUS.  I just had the best meal EVER”.  I am super jealous.  YUMMMMMMM!

 
We could have ended our trip at this point… with these 7 points accomplished.  What a great trip would that have been?  Now, of course I don’t have to tell you that vacations, adventures, and well… life… isn’t just about what you have planned.  It’s all about the surprises that come up along the way… 
 
 
So, besides the huge surprise of Vancouver being the BEST city ever… the first surprise I came across during our trip was Kernel’s Popcorn.  We discovered Kernel’s walking through the mall in Oakridge on our first day there.  It’s just a little popcorn stand in the middle of the mall, but it’s the best!  They start with low-fat popcorn instead of regular buttery stuff most places use.  They toss it with some amazing seasonings!  We went back at least twice during the time we were there, and even bought a seasoning for home.  A few of the nights we spent in our room reading books and eating Kernel’s Popcorn.  MMM!
 
How could I almost forget to tell you about JapaDog?  JapaDog is exactly what it sounds like:  Japanese influenced hot dogs.  Dave and I came across this place not too long after we ate lunch, and we still had to try it out.  Check out the menu, how could we resist?  I think we got the Terimayo which is their signature dog.  It was REALLY good.  They also have a few different types of asian-inspired sauces to top the dog.  YUM!  For those of you who are dying to try this, they just opened up their first location out of Canada, right next to NYU.

Japadog, I wish there was one in Philly!

Granville Island was probably my favorite section of Vancouver.  It is a small part of town where the Granville Market (farmers market), artists, and shopping are.  The Market was one of my favorite stops on our trip.  Duh.  

gorgeous berries

A totally different area that I loved was Steveston.  Steveston is a fishing town in Richmond, southwest of Vancouver.  We got to visit Steveston as apart of our day with Dave’s Aunt Sharon and Uncle Sol who (at the time) lived in Richmond.  Steveston was pretty amazing.  We had some really really good food on the pier, and walked around to all of the boats who sell FRESH fish right off of the boat.  I have never experienced anything like this before, it is really cool.  We also got to take a tour of the Cannery, where they used to can salmon.  I really liked this part too!  We took a gorgeous walk from Steveston to Sharon and Sol’s house who made us an awesome dinner:  the FRESHEST salmon I’ve had in my life, bought that day from Steveston.  YUM!

Get ‘cha fresh fish!!!

Hangin’ out at the cannery

Scenes from our walk from Steveston to Sharon’s house… gorgeous trail along the beach! (my dream house too!)

One of the “things to do” in Vancouver is to go on the Capilano Suspension Bridge.  Here’s the trick:  it would have cost us $50 to cross the bridge, so we went to the Lynn Valley Suspension Bridge instead.  Lynn Valley’s bridge isn’t as long, or maybe isn’t as breathtaking as Capilano, but it’s FREE!  We spent a few hours in this area and took an awesome hike through the forest and the river.  I highly recommend this hike to anyone visiting Vancouver!

Another surprise activity was our trip to Horseshoe Bay.  Horseshoe Bay wasn’t very far from Lynn Valley so we made the trek out there after our hike.  We ate these amazing salmon wraps at a restaurant with seating overlooking the bay, and rented a boat! I was too nervous to drive the boat, so I made Dave do it for most of the time.  It was so beautiful and peaceful out there.  We even saw seals sunbathing on one of the rocks in the middle.  

had to represent PSU!

Seals!

 
TWICE during our trip, I let Dave take me to see the Canucks (Vancouver’s hockey team) practice.  Of course, this wasn’t the best part of my trip, but it was really cool to be there.  We also got to meet a few of the players when they were done!
Wreck Beach was one of our last stops on the tour of Vancouver.  Located west of the city and right in the middle of everything UBC (University of British Columbia), Wreck Beach is a “clothing-optional” park.  Now I’m reminded we’re in Canada, not the US! We of course… chose to wear our clothes.  You’d think this was a relaxing part of our trip, but you have to climb down (and then up!) 450 stairs just to get there!  OMG!
 
If the fabulous fresh fish and amazing food wasn’t enough to convince you to go visit here sometime, I’m sure the pictures did!  I love love love Vancouver, and hope that I’ll be able to visit there again someday soon!  
 
 
 
 

“Down the Shore” Week 2

The shore was EMPTY this weekend.  I’m so glad we made the decision to go to the shore this weekend despite the weather report.  It ended up being beautiful!  No one was down, the streets were empty, there was parking everywhere, and the wait at Smitty’s Clam Bar was only 1.5 Hours.  Perfect.

Here’s what you missed this weekend via Instagram & PicMonkey Collage

1.  Sat at the pool with Dave & Adam… 18% done new book Rob Lowe’s “Stories I Only Tell My Friends“.   It’s fab, he’s the Forrest Gump of Hollywood.
2.  Shopped for my first bike!  EEE!
3.  Drank some Corona Lights @ Maynard’s in Margate, a great outdoor bar for people watching.
4.  Found my dream shore house in Longport.  It’s beautiful… ahhhh!

Beautiful Beach Weekend

You can’t lick our clams! Smitty’s Clam Bar post to come soon!

5.  Saturday night dinner @ Smitty’s Clam Bar in Somer’s Point.  Smittys sits right on the bay… what a gorgeous view.
6.  Adam joined us for family dinner & Dave wore his new shirt only to get sauce on it (we got it out, don’t worry!)
7.  The 1.5 hour wait is perfect to join everyone else in the waiting-line tailgate.  Everyone brings their own booze… Smitty’s provides ice and cups… and you just hang out and drink until you’re called!  So fun.
8.  Thanks to my Mom & Dad for the best seafood dinner!  They’re the best 🙂

Love my “big girl” Dani!

9.  Dani was cold after jumping in the ocean with Dave… she came to me to warm her up!  OH, and yes that is a seagull flying over us at the exact moment the picture was taken… ahhh!
10.  Dani was really into hanging out with Dave this weekend… how precious is this picture?

“Down the Shore” Week 1

So it’s Friday of Memorial Day Weekend and I’m stuck in traffic on the way “down the shore” (what all good Philadelphian’s call the Jersey Shore).  Every year I forget that I promise never to drive down this Friday!

Despite being stuck in traffic for over an hour, Dave and I finally made it down for our first official weekend at the shore this Summer.

Some “shore” geography:

Point A:  Seaside Heights.  Jersey Shore crew.  NOT my Jersey Shore.  Definitely Not.

Point B:  Ventnor City, NJ… my beach.  We are the beach sandwiched in between Atlantic City to the North, and Margate to the South.

We are about a half hour North of Ocean City, famous for their “family-fun” boardwalk of rides, hermit crabs, mini-golf, and fried food.

My grandparents have owned their Ventnor beach house 3 blocks away from the beach since before I was born.  I grew up vacationing here in Ventnor, and remember even writing a short story or poem in middle school about how the porch swing at the house is my “happy place”… it still is!

This long Memorial Day Weekend at the house was the best!  We had the most beautiful weather I can remember for MDW.  We spent all 3 days- Sat, Sun, & Mon on the beach.

Beautiful beach day!

My cousin Aidan getting ready for the beach

Besides my family & my Aunt Lyn’s family, we spent our time with one of our closest family friends (“Aunt” Cindy, “Uncle” Sammy, Becky, and Josh).  We had such a great time.

Dani and I are silly 🙂

Friday night, Dave and I went to a small little dive bar in Ventnor.  This is about as close to a dive bar as you’ll get in this town, but I love it!  The restaurant is really small, the menu is really small, but the drinks are delish and we can walk home if we wanted!  We devoured a bowl of mussels in red and a fresh made bloody mary.  MMM…

fresh blood(ies) !

Saturday, Dave and I took a 5-mile run on the Boardwalk, reaching the first casino of Atlantic City.  Although I made us stop a few times to walk a block or two, we did really well!  It isn’t easy for me but I’m trying to teach myself how to run.

Later on, we watched the Phillies game and had some drinks at our friends’ house.  We ordered a BBQ feast from the Back Bay BBQ on the way to Somers Point (south of us… if you’re still paying attention to your Geography lesson).  Before I tell you about how delicious it all was, which it was of course… I have to tell you that all FIVE Chicken halves that we ordered were NOT COOKED.  EW!  I’m so glad we checked instead of just digging in.  We had to cook them in the oven for at least 20 minutes longer… they were really not finished!

Once they were cooked though, the chickens were my favorite part of our meal.  They were seasoned really well and the BBQ sauce on the side was so tasty.  We think there is cinnamon somewhere in the sauce, which added to the unique flavor.

Sunday night we made the trek to the end of the Atlantic City boardwalk to the new casino, Revel.  It’s really a must-see.  It’s beautiful.  We had Margarita’s at Distrito & ate an unbelievable dinner at Village Whiskey (both Jose Garces’ places!).  More on that later.  Trust me, you’ll want the juicy details.  

Mom & Mel sipping on Distrito Margaritas

Becky & Josh excited to be at Revel. Yes, there was a DJ in the lobby.

Fishy faces @ Village Whiskey

Mel (my sister), Becky, and I at Village Whiskey

Foggy night driving home from AC

Monday was a more relaxing day, with a long walk on the beach.  We tried a new hoagie place, took a nap, and drove home at 10pm to avoid traffic.  Great move.  

My little cousin Dani loves her Ice Cream Sandwich from John the Ice Cream Man!

Keep your eyes open for the Village Whiskey post – you won’t be sorry! (or if you’re like me, maybe you will because that will mean you’re going to have to go gain 5lbs next weekend and go yourself. )