Sunday, August 15, 2010

Vancouver--Miscellaneous Fun

This is my last post about our wonderful week in Vancouver BC with my sister and her family. We had a fantastic time hanging out together, staying in the same house and viewing Vancouver's sights. The house was perfectly sized for our crew: Nadine & David had the much-cooler basement, which suited David well because he's used to air conditioning (and it was quite warm the week we were there!). Mike and I slept on the main floor, with Nick in the other bedroom (and Kieran the last few nights). Chris was upstairs (and Kieran part of the time).

The house was perfectly situated, not too far from downtown and near a park and mass transit, with off-street parking. It was not cheap, as nothing in Vancouver is. In fact, it cost over three times the amount of the unit in Orlando! (It was bigger, but not THAT much bigger.) Fortunately, we were able to split it between two families, but still...not cheap!

The house was a beautiful older home--the living room and dining room especially were lovely. It had an enclosed porch, a back deck with a gas barbecue, and a little backyard. Our only two quibbles were (1) the house did not have any smoke alarms, and (2) it was not really that clean. The kitchen had a butcher block island, and the area around the butcher block was filthy (with crumbs, etc.). Apparently the downstairs was full of Daddy Long Legs, and the shower curtains had mildew on them. Not really what you would expect for a high-priced house rental. We cleaned the house thoroughly before we left so we could get our cleaning deposit back, and it was far cleaner than it was when we arrived! We met the owner on the last day, and she was very nice...but it was clear she is not experienced in the house rental business. We never even signed a rental contract (much to my dismay). When we suggested she install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, she looked at us as if we were crazy (even though she is a physician). Still, in spite of the smoke alarm and cleanliness issues, we might have considered renting it again because of the perfect size and location. However, she is putting the house on the market soon.

The neighborhood (Douglas Park) was fairly upscale--most of the houses were selling for over $1 million! On our walk home from the SkyTrain station, we passed this great little hobbit house (or the house of the seven dwarfs, according to Nick):

Mike and I got to have a date night on Friday evening--the boys had a movie night while we were gone:

We continued our southeast Asian culinary adventure by going to Banana Leaf Malaysian restaurant in Kitsilano--lovely! Mike started out with a lychee mojito, while I had a hard cider (lots of that available in Canada). For dessert, we had my very favorite: mango with sticky rice!

Afterwards we checked out a great children's bookstore--Kidsbooks--down the street (where I sat and read the original Huckleberry Finn while Mike browsed), and then drove to the beach...unfortunately we missed the sunset, but it was still pretty!

Throughout the week, the boys entertained us in the backyard with plays. This one was Peter Rabbit (Kieran was a highly dramatic Peter):

Having Indonesian food takeout--yum!

Nick and Daniel goofing off on the stairwell:

David showing off some of the various guitar-themed gifts we've bought him over the "Uncle David Rocks" t-shirt, the sunglasses, and a "Guitar Players for Obama" button:

One day our wonderful husbands took all the boys to the science museum (free for all of us because of reciprocal memberships with OMSI and the Pacific Science Center), so Nadine and I could have a "sister day." We walked all the way to Granville Island, which took us only 30 minutes. Then we had a lovely adult day of perusing art galleries and shops, and having lunch at the Agro Cafe.
I had to laugh at the name, because in
British English slang, "aggro" is short for "aggravation." It's always great to have sister time, and I deeply appreciate our husbands' support and willingness to watch the boys so we could do that.

The last full day in Vancouver we returned to the science museum, as we were finally beset by rain. The best thing about this museum are its constant "shows" (fun demonstrations). The first time the men and kids went, Daniel got to be an audience volunteer:

Nick enjoyed the pirate exhibit and the puppets:

They had a little kids section, but I found it to be lacking in comparison to OMSI's. It was new to Nick, though, so he enjoyed exploring.

Late that afternoon Nadine discovered that her wallet had been stolen at the science museum. This was a highly unfortunate and stressful end to a fun week (although another unfortunate thing happened earlier in the week, when a woman trying to parallel park scratched their van). The guy who had stolen it sat down next to Ryan before one of the science demonstrations and was overly friendly to him. He was there without kids and he left before the show began, both of which were suspicious. When Nadine called the science museum to report it, she learned that another woman had been burgled there that day as well. Fortunately she didn't have her driver's license or most of her credit cards in her wallet, but she lost some of them, her health insurance card, and $50. And most of all, it felt like an awful violation.
The evening before we left, we had a visit from a friend from Japan whom I hadn't seen for about 22 years. She worked as one of the secretaries in the English school I worked at in Osaka; in fact, she was my favorite of all of them. While we were still in Japan, Maki-san left for Canada, and she's never returned to Japan. (Although when I asked her about it, she said that she initially planned to leave for only 6 months!) She lived for many years in Toronto and has been in Vancouver for about 5 years. I recently rediscovered Maki-san on Facebook, and was delighted to find her again. She brought a beautiful chocolate cake to share. It was so great to see her!
The next day it took us much longer to get through the border than on our northward journey. We drove straight home to Portland all in one go, with only a stop at Taco Bell in Bellingham for lunch. It was great to be home in our own beds, but the time with Nadine, David, and the boys passed all too quickly! After visiting Vancouver Island (Sooke), Toronto, and Vancouver BC in the space of a year and a half, where in Canada shall we go next? Wherever we go, we hope the U.S. dollar gets stronger again before we return!


  1. What a lovely family. The hobbit's house is inspiring