Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Vancouver Adventures (2)

We had two days in Vancouver and as luck would have it, our hotel was within walking distance of the Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden, and Chinatown.  (When I say walking distance, I mean walking distance for me)  It would have been a bit far for Xingxing. So we took the stroller, and set off into the bright, blissfully cool Vancouver morning,
Although many cities have what they call "Chinese" gardens,  this one is the only truly classical Chinese garden that exists outside of China. During the Ming Dynasty, scholars constructed these gardens as a refuge from worldly tribulations, exquisite, private retreats to soothe the soul and nourish the spirit.  
It was magical.  It was like being whisked away on a flying carpet to another country and another time. Somehow the Chinese craftsmen who had constructed the walkways and pavilions and peaceful, reflecting pools had managed to obliterate modern Vancouver -- we were in the middle of a city, but the city had vanished.  We made our way over bridges and along corridors, each vista more breathtaking than the last.  The garden was small -- most of these gardens are -- but gave the illusion of endless space.
I was particularly intrigued by the color of the water in the pond -- it was jade green. Outside of Suzhou, I'd never seen anything like it, Later I learned that the pond was lined with a special clay, brought all the way from China for the purpose. The amazing rocks had come from China, as well. 
Another longish walk the next day brought us to Yaletown and the cute little ferry to Granville Island. There were several "gourmet" tours to Granville Island -- which is really just a very up-market meat, fish and vegetable market with a few souvenir stores thrown in for the tourists -- but I thought it would be fun to do it myself.  Actually, the ferry ride was the best part of the whole thing.  It was a beautiful, sunny morning and the sky and water sparkled.  It was also Xingxing's first boat trip. He was interested, but unfazed.
We walked around the market and bought some fudge, and two bottles of some rather expensive Canadian red wine.  There were quite a few fast food places, but nothing that looked like a "nice" restaurant -- and I was in the mood for a nice lunch at a nice restaurant. 
So we took the ferry back to where we'd started, and headed for the Granville Street Mall. This was disappointing. The shops seemed to cater to back-packers, and there were no restaurants at all, nice or otherwise. By now, I was getting tired, and hungry, and wondering if there was some way I could teach Xingxing to push me in the stroller!  We turned up Robson Street, towards the luxury hotels, and found ourselves outside Joe Fortes Restaurant.
The guy at the door was snippy about Xingxing and if I hadn't been so tired and so hungry, I'd have just kept walking.  We were finally seated in a distant corner, and I admired the soaring ceilings and spectacular fittings while waiting for the menu.  Joe Fortes is an older restaurant, and apparently very well-known and this was one of the most outstanding meals of the entire trip.  I dined on Oysters Rockefeller, which you wouldn't think would be enough for lunch -- but these oysters were enormous.  And delicious. The glass of Canadian merlot I ordered was so good I had a second glass, and then I thought What the heck? and finished off with a sinfully divine slice of Chocolate Love Cake.  Ah, bliss!
Then back to the hotel for a postprandial (and much needed) nap. 

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