Friday, September 25, 2015

Last day on land

Today is the last day on solid land as we dock our cruise ship, Radiance of the Sea! We checked out of our AirBnB and of course, spent our last meal eating Vancouver sushi! We went to Miku, which is a sister restaurant of Minami and we were told that the sushi is the best in the city. We went there early and had a good spot on the patio, where we were able to see our cruise ship. Though people were raving about the sushi at Miku, we ordered the same “Premium Sushi Lunch” and felt that the food at Minami was better (though still very good). We then went to a renowned gelato place called Bella Gelateria, where it won several international competitions for best gelato in the world. I had an affogato with Matcha vanilla cookie dough gelato and Mandy had a cone with a massive scoop of lavendar and earl grey gelato. Though I am far from a gelato-afficianado, I thought it was decent and Mandy enjoyed her dessert very much. We were so impressed about the food that we recommended Mandy’s family do the exact same thing.

They even scoop it differently in the cone

From then, we boarded the ship. Of course, boarding 2400 people in a cruise ship does take quite a while and we were standing in line for several hours before we were able to board. Looking ahead, we are at sea for 6 days, followed by 4 port days, finally ending off at Honolulu. Fannie’s wedding will be on the 5th sea day and we are eagerly awaiting it!

Good sushi with a great view

Nom nom nom

The Yu's arrive...

Today is the day that Mandy’s family finally arrives in Vancouver from Toronto! To start the morning, we went to a very popular brunch place called Café Medina. We went there earlier to avoid the crazy lineups that we heard about. This restaurant is well known for its waffles and its brunch fuses typical brunch food with a middle eastern flair. We had a waffle, a paella and beef short-rib skillet. I also had the lavender coffee (decent, but not really aligned to my personal palette) and Mandy had a recent healthy apple smoothie. Overall, this place was quite delicious and we were very full afterwards. (Mandy: It was also entertaining sitting beside a couple that was trying to quietly argue but eventually made up at the end of their meal.)

Norm inspecting the food very carefully

Cafe Medina!

From then, we did some light shopping and walked through Chinatown. Mandy’s friend Tina recommended we check out the Nordic clothing brand called Fjallraven. They were actually having very good sales and I picked up two rain jackets (one orange and one blue) and Mandy picked up an army green rain jackets. The cool thing about Fjallraven is that they wax the jackets so that they are waterproof, and it comes with a lifetime service of waxing. However, they currently don’t have a location in Toronto, so we waited a few hours to get them waxed before we picked them up. To kill the time, we followed Tina’s suggestion of checking out 33 Acres Brewery and have a drink. Shortly after, Mandy’s family joined us at the bar and we headed back to Fjallraven to pick up our jackets.

Vancouver's Chinatown

Apple cider beer (not very good) and some amber beer (good)

 We then went in search of food. Originally, we wanted to return to Yaletown and eat delicious sushi at Minami again as well, but we realized that they were only serving their “Bar Eats” menu during the afternoon, so we decided opted to eat elsewhere. We eventually ate a pre-dinner at a Korean BBQ restaurant called Gyu near our AirBnB. We just had some light snacks and Rony and I had a massive Sapporo again. From then, we went back home and changed and headed back to our actual dinner at 8pm.

At least we saw the farmer's market in Yaletown

My mom downing some beer too



Cook for me!

We ate at Stanley Park Teahouse Café with Mandy’s and Rony’s family. It was good to see Charles’s kids again and food there was quite good. I had to the Sablefish and Mandy had the seafood pasta. The view at the restaurant was breathtaking and we were there just in time for sunset. Tomorrow will be the docking day. I haven’t been on a cruise since I was 18, so I am looking forward to the experience! Hawaii, here we come!

Amazing view by the restaurant

Family dinner

Almost married!

Victoria Day Trip

Today is our day trip to Vancouver Island and Victoria! Doug, being such a gracious host, took us on a day trip to Victoria so we can check out another different lifestyle than in Vancouver. We started the day off early and Doug (along with his friend Steph) picked us from our place and started driving to the port. It was a good thing we reserved a spot on the boat, as the line-up to Victoria was sizeable. After stopping by for a quick Starbucks coffee, we drove onto the ship and got ready for a 1.5 hour journey to Vancouver island. As the boat was leaving, we had some pretty amazing views of Vancouver as we were leaving. Plus, we chose a great sunny day for us to go to Victoria.

Wooo Canada!

Quick coffee break

We're in the VIP line ;)

The crew

Perfect weather :)

We had lunch on the boat at Whitespot, which is apparently a BC-staple serving up burgers and sandwiches. After killing some time, we eagerly began our trip to Victoria. We originally considered going to Butchard Gardens, but it was $30 dollars per person, so we opted not to. We continued on our journey to Victoria and ended up at the beautiful downtown, right by the ocean. We quickly checked out the Victoria parliament and the popular Empress Hotel before settling in at a restaurant right on the water called “the Flying Otter”. The mussels there were massive and the calamari was quite good. And of course, being by the ocean, Norm had to order the fish and chips.

In front of the parliament building

Doug: Let's go that way!

Scenic Victoria stroll

Chilling out

The Empress Hotel

Flying Otter seafood lunch

Our amazing tour guides

After a long lunch, we went to hang out at a fancy neighbourhood with a quiet residential beach. There, we truly see how the Victorian lifestyle was. The vibe there was very chill and there were several beach  bummers and their families just chilling out. Seems like an amazing place to retire.

Playing with a stick

Cool hangout spot

Our contribution to the smashed bottle cap stump

From then, we grabbed a quick dinner at a pub downtown and then had a long journey back to Vancouver. We caught the 9pm ferry back to Vancouver and we didn’t get back home until after 11. This was the last day that we saw Doug and we were very happy to see him again. Until next time!

Rain, rain, go away?

We anticipated a lot of rain for the day so we planned a day of staying indoors. We started off the day by going to Minami for lunch in Yaletown which reminded us of the Distillery District. Minami is a sister restaurant of Miku which is also opening a restaurant in Toronto soon! Minami and Miku are known for aburi sushi so of course that’s what we ordered! Lunch was amazingggg! We decided to order one premium lunch which had a couple of aburi sushi paired with a couple or regular sushi and an order of a regular maki roll which was not as good. Of course the best piece of sushi was the scallop sushi… mmmmMMMmmm…. It was definitely the best sushi we had during our entire stay in Vancouver J

Nom nom nom


Quick pic stop

After lunch we decided to take the Skytrain to Aberdeen Centre which is Vancouver’s equivalent of Pacific Mall. I decided to take charge of giving the directions and I accidentally took the wrong train and ended up at the airport L With some assistance we made it to the biggest Chinese shopping mall in Richmond! Aberdeen Centre is much more modern, cleaner, and the shops are much bigger than the ones in Pacific Mall. We went straight to the food court and everything looked yummy! I got the house special mango smoothie from 8 Juice, green tea gai danh jai, and curry fish balls J We walked around the mall and spent the majority of our time in Daiso ($2 store) where I bought lots of Japanese candy and chips. I wish we had one in Toronto!

Aberdeen food court > Pacific Mall food court

Aberdeen Centre

We made our way back to downtown Vancouver in time for happy hour at Joe Fortes. Our friend Doug recommended we catch the buck-a-shuck oysters, but because of some bacterial infection affecting west coast oysters, the restaurant didn’t have that special. However, the other happy hours were specials were especially delicious. We had the deep fried oysters (lightly battered with mayonnaise reminiscent of McDonalds Fillet-o-Fish), the lobster/shrimp sandwich (buttery and delicious) and  the creamy steamed clams (clams were actually quite large). Joe Fortes also won several awards for its wine and, as drinks were $5 each, even Mandy enjoyed her glass of white wine. I enjoyed the alcohol quite a bit more, with several vodka sodas and two glasses of wine (white and red).

Deep fried oysters

Steamed clams

Lobster/shrimp rolls

From then, we took a brief shopping trip down Thurlow street, but we didn’t end up buying anything. From then, we went to dinner with Rimoun and Tina (Mandy’s high school friend). We went to eat dinner at a very popular restaurant called “Phnom Penh”, which served very high quality Cambodian and Vietnamese food. We had the butter beef, the chicken wings (a table favourite) and the beef luc lac (Norm’s personal favourite). From then, we went out to a couple of nearby bars and got slightly tipsy before we headed home. Tomorrow will be a day trip to Victoria! 

Butter beef... so goood

Reunited after ~6 years

Rimoun is in all our travel pics

Beef luclac

Chicken wings + special sauce

Rimoun get out of our photos! =P

Dim summing it up

On the docket for the day was to have dim sum with Norm's cousin Flora's family. She has two kids; an older daughter and a son who are just a few years older than Addy and Reid. Eunice and Isaac are two very bright kids who were asking us who we thought were going to win the upcoming Canadian federal election. They picked us up from our airbnb and took us to a suburban Chinese restaurant for some yummy dim sum. We heard Kirin is the best dim sum in town but ours was pretty good too!

They're our kids now!
After dim sum we went to North Vancouver to Lynn Canyon for a hike. It was labour day so the park was pretty busy but like everything in Van, not as busy as Toronto. Nonetheless, the park was amazing! The air was so fresh and it was a fantastic day to hike; not too warm and not too cold. Around the hike were big rocks and waterfalls so we jumped from rock to rock to get away from the normal trail for a bit. We also walked to a waterfall that is infamous for taking several lives a year because people keep jumping off into the water not knowing that the water is shallow with lots of sharp rocks. Despite this, we saw some teenagers getting ready to jump (with a lot of hesitation).

Suspension bridge by the waterfall

Don't fall off Normmmm

We're so taaaaall

Norman = sloth

Rock hopping

High school kids doing their thing

Beautiful Lynn Canyon
After the scenic hike we did a quick pit stop at the salmon farming facility and then off to Granville Island. Granville Island is similar to St. Lawrence market in Toronto but much cleaner and with more street performers. We parted ways with Norm's family and explored the island ourselves. We had some really yummy ham and cheese croissant from a local organic bakery, raspberries and crab apples (yucky), and pepperoni sticks. I also got some colorful lollipops for Addy and Reid (and one for me!)

Fam pic



Ham and cheese croissant from A Bread Affair

Pepperoni stickssss

Granville Island > St. Lawrence Market ?

After our bellies were semi-full, we made our way back home via seabus and met up with our Toronto friend, Rimoun and Vancouver friend, Doug for dinner. We took the skytrain to Burnaby to find suburban sushi. Unfortunately it was Labour Day and a lot of restos were closed :( We did eventually found a Korean owned sushi resto that was busy. The aburi was cheap and yummy but the sashimi was meh compared to the other restaurants in Van. While we were in Burnaby, Doug's hometown, we went to a local lookout point and visited Doug's family's house/mansion.


Secret lookout point

Vancouver house = Toronto Mansion

Bro session by the koi pond