Robb surprised me with a trip to Vancouver 2 years ago for our 10th wedding anniversary. Five glorious days away from the kids. Vancouver has everything we love. The big city vibe with that outdoorsy lifestyle we want to live. One minute you’re navigating the streets in between sky scrapers, and the next you are walking through an old forest, or climbing a mountain.
We Keep Going Back
Robb decided we should go there again this year for our 12th anniversary. Last time we went it was so much fun and we wanted to experience that again. It’s a great little getaway for us. The flight is only an hour long so we have more time to spend there. We stayed at the Loden hotel two years ago and we loved it so much we decided to stay there again. The Loden is a small boutique hotel with a very luxurious feel (I’m a bit of a hotel snob) and they make you feel really special there!
Our anniversary is in the middle of October so we were a bit concerned about the weather. Last time we went the weather was pretty good. Luckily the forecast was looking pretty good so we hoped it would stay that way. We flew out of our city and had a quick layover in Calgary (long enough to have a quick glass of free wine in the lounge though!) We landed in Vancouver around 4:00.
One thing we’ve never done is take public transit. We always take cabs from the airport, which is super expensive. We live in a small city so we have never really had the need to use public transport at home. Honestly, as ridiculous as it sounds, it makes me nervous, and I have no idea why! How do you pay? I don’t carry change! Stupid little anxieties like that, blame the farm girl in me, I guess.
This time, we decided to be “adventurous” and take the train from the airport. Robb thought this was good practice for us before we go to Europe. I don’t know why I was nervous before. It was so easy! All we had to do was tap our credit cards and that was it! No buying tickets or looking for change, haha.
I hate travelling, I always find it so stressful, even without kids! Airports make me super nervous for some reason. Once we got to the hotel, though, I finally relaxed. We were upgraded to one of the Loden’s better rooms. It was beautiful and had an amazing view.
It was an hour past our usual afternoon coffee time and were both sporting a caffeine headache so we found a Starbucks close by (shocking!) and went for a little walk. It was such a nice day and not a cloud in the sky. We walked along the coal harbor waterfront and then back to the hotel.
We realized we were starving so we decide to go and get something to eat. Of course we chose Cactus Club Cafe. It’s sort of become a tradition of ours to eat there whenever we travel since we don’t have one at home. The Tuna Stack is the best!
There was a bit of a wait so we walked around the harbour and checked out the Olympic Caldron and the digital orca.
Finally they texted us to tell us our table was ready. I had a Tuna Stack and a crispy Tofu bowl which was amazing. We were both pretty tired (I’d been up since 5) so we walked back to the hotel.
A Day of Mountain Climbing
The next day we really wanted to do the Grouse Grind which is a hike up Grouse Mountain. We didn’t do it the last time we visited, so we really wanted to give it a try. Last time we had gone to the Capilano Bridge instead, which was really cool, just full of tourists! We had breakfast included with our hotel stay so we ate at the hotel’s restaurant, Tableau. It was a fancy continental breakfast which made it easy to stick to my dietary restrictions.
We did some shopping at the mall after that. I really needed a new dressy coat and I found one at Aritzia and it’s my new favourite thing to wear.
After shopping we went back to the hotel and got changed into some workout wear. We decided to try public transit again (gasp!) and we would need to take the sea bus to North Vancouver and then take the bus to Grouse Mountain.
We stopped at Tap & Barrell for some lunch (and wine), and I was really excited to see one of my favourite wines from The Hatch there! Then we headed for the Sea Bus. It was sunny again that day so there were tons of people out and the sea bus was packed! After a long boat and bus ride we made it to grouse mountain.
The trail is free to go on, but the catch is you cannot walk down the mountain, you must take the gondola down which is $15 each (eyeroll). We started hiking up the trail. This was seriously hard work. I had been warned by others that this would be a tough hike, but I brushed it off and thought to myself “um, I’m a distance runner? I will have no issue with this” I was quickly humbled by this trail. After we got to the ¼ trail marker the sign said “Now is the hard, steep part” I let out a string of F-Bombs and we kept going.
I wanted to die. I remember thinking I would rather be running a marathon. It didn’t help that I had run a bunch of inclines at Orange Theory the morning before. My ass was killing me. They don’t call it nature’s stair master for nothing.
Eventually we made it to the top in 1 hour and 5 minutes. We passed a lot of people and were only passed ourselves by 2 very sweaty guys (they were crazy). The view from the top was unbelievable!
We ate our protein bars and walked around a bit. Then we saw bears! There are two grizzlies in an enclosure at the top of the mountain. They were HUGE!
Once we had enough exploring we decided to take the gondola down the mountain. This wasn’t exactly what I expected. It was crowded and moved a lot slower than I thought it would. At the bottom we waited for the bus and took it back to the sea bus terminal which we took back to downtown Vancouver.
We were super hungry so we showered and got a little dressed up to go out for dinner. Robb chose a restaurant called Rogue Kitchen which was all the way back at the waterfront station (a 15 minute walk). We ate poke bowls and drank wine. I got a craving for dessert so we needed to try this dessert place called Breka Bakery that was open really late.
This was a 20 minute walk. Not too much for poor dairy free me but they did have some tasty granola cookies. Robb had some chocolate mousse, and I ate half of it (oops). To be fair, chocolate mousse is my most favourite dessert ever, and when I get into wine, I don’t always have the best self control over what I eat. So yes. I ate some dairy that night! (This was a huge mistake, thinking I could cheat and be totally fine, but I’ll do another post on that later). After that we took our full, drunk (and incredibly sore) asses back to the hotel and to bed.
Running and Rewards
The next day was bright and sunny again. We could not believe the luck we were having with the weather! It usually rains a ton in October in Vancouver. It was a good day to run the sea wall. Last time we were here we ran it and it’s actually what made Robb fall in love with running and realize he could do a 10k no problem. We had breakfast at Tableau again and headed for Stanley Park.
The Seawall was pretty packed because of the nice weather. But we ran a nice 10km before we headed back home. It felt good to run off our hangovers!
We got back to the hotel and were starving of course so Robb ordered room service (charcuterie and rose!) and we got ready to go out for a late lunch. A friend told us to try this great sushi place called Miku, so we walked about 15 minutes to the restaurant. It was a bit of a wait for our sushi but totally worth it. Then we went to explore Gastown. After a while we stopped at a pub called Local that had an extremely busy patio. We had a couple drinks and ate some wings and fried (don’t judge, we just ran 10k and then walked all over the downtown).
I had heard about a café called Purebread that had dairy-free baking so we stopped there to grab a coffee and buy a delicious vegan chocolate loaf. We got back to the hotel and got fancy so we could go to an upscale lounge called Prohibition. It was a bit hard to find but once we did we were super excited. It was a very interesting, dark lounge in the basement of the Rosewood Hotel. I decided to try something a bit different (I normally only drink wine) and ordered a cocktail called “Hotel Georgia”. Our server told us the recipe was from the 50’s. It was so good! Really different from any sort of cocktail I’d tried before.
After we finished our (extremely expensive) drinks, we decided to go out for dinner after to Chambar which wasn’t too far away. It’s a good thing we left when we did. All they had left was bar seating, and just after we got there, the hockey game had just let out so there were tons of people looking to eat. We had some fantastic appys there and some wine. Then we walked home (another 20 minutes, ugh). I immediately got into bed and ate my chocolate loaf. Like, almost the whole thing, oops. Needless to say I didn’t sleep very well that night.
Time to Go Home
The next morning we packed up and went down for a quick breakfast, then got our suitcases and walked to the train station. Woo hoo we made it all trip with only taking public transit! A couple of flights later, we were back home, just in time to tuck the girls into bed. My parents had brought them home for us and got them ready, which we are SO thankful for (especially since it was a school night).
It was such a great trip and I can’t wait to go back again. Even though we have done lots the last two times we went, there is so much more to see and do. This was a quick long weekend trip but it was so needed.
Sometimes as parents we get so caught up in our kids lives and schedules that we forget to make time for each other. This was a great opportunity to reconnect and not worry about anyone but ourselves, and there is nothing wrong with that!