I rose earlier than CK and wrote some blog entries. I was happy to see the sun shining warmly after the chill and damp the day before. I sat on the sofa in the flat and wrote while CK continued to rest. Just as she was coming down the hall a small, gray & black stripped tabby nosed around our patio. I felt a pang of homesickness, missing our respective cats being cared for at home.
Friday was our official "down" day before the long trip home on Saturday. I had picked a neighborhood that was vibrant, full of little shops and lots of good food for us to stay in. We had determined that we would spend our last full day in Vancouver exploring our own neighborhood more.
We had already discovered that there were several good markets featuring good produce, bulk foods, vegetarian/vegan items, nut & seed butters -- all things we cook with and had searched for during the week to make dinner, breakfast, etc. We also had poked our heads into Womyn's Ware and were visiting Sweet Cherubim regularly. Friday would be the day for buying gifts and a night market later.
We started at Paranada, a store featuring hemp goods, trinkets, jewelry, t-shirts, etc. I picked up some shirts, a great recycled silk hat (too warm for summer, but good for hikes in the autumn), some earrings, and CK found some excellent hand-made incense. Many things were on sale, which made for economical purchases, and everyone in the store was attentive & friendly without being pushing at all.
We poked our heads in a few more shops, making our way down to Cafe deux Soliels. We found that it suffered from the trait of being very heavy on egg and dairy for the menu choices -- something we've seen in a lot of vegetarian places. We settled on a chai for CK, a latte for me
, and chatted while enjoying the artwork. The cafe boasts a stage, used for open mikes, speakers, and music, that is entirely done with chalkboard paint. The step up, the entire floor surface, and to about waist high along the back wall is chalkboard. During the daytime the stage is filled with energetic, dusty children enjoying the space. Each time we passed Cafe deux Soliels in the evening people would be spilling out onto the sidewalk.
We made our way through some more shops and then onto Harambe for lunch. For the past 8 years or so I've enjoyed Ethiopian food on Commercial Drive. Usually each time I'm in the city I, or my fellow travelers, will "re-find" the restaurant again. I believe, given the location, that it is Harambe although it might actually be Addis Cafe a couple of blocks up the street. Either way CK & enjoyed a very good, quick, reasonable lunch at Harambe. We settled on the vegetarian combo and were quickly brought a plate of spicy lentils, savory lentils, mild split peas, cabbage, green beans, carrots, spinach, and salad on injera with another plate of injera as well. CK ordered a Stella to offset the impending spice level and I ordered some fresh mango juice (really a delicious smoothie of fresh mango pureed with ice). Everything was delicious, the atmosphere was nice, and we enjoyed it throughly.
By the time we'd looped around the north end of The Drive we were a bit worn out from looking at exotic imports, lovely textiles, eco-conscious products, etc. We made a point to pop into Dutch Girl Chocolates which had been recommended in the Lonely Planet guide. It smelled wonderful in the shop and we were immediately impressed with the beautiful detail on the obviously handmade confections. The proprietor pointed out the dairy-free chocolates to us; I chose a pistachio creme in a dark chocolate cup and CK asked for a piece of the almond bark. Each of us found our respective treats to be very tasty.
We then went back to the flat and rested for a while. We had read about the night market in nearby Richmond, however, on public transportation it would take us quite a while to get there. The Richmond market has gone through some owner changes recently but still boasts thousands of people in attendance. That figure and the long transit time led us to decide to visit the much smaller, closer night market in Chinatown instead.
When we headed out from the flat to the transit center on Broadway we observed several bikes out. The number of bicyclists, accompanied by motorcycle police, quickly identified this as Vancouver's Critical Mass rides. As we strolled south down Commercial we eventually hit the full mass of riders waiting at Commercial and Broadway. We stood on the sidewalk and watched them all ride past before boarding the train into downtown. Later we'd see the same group ride past the night market.
We got off at the Stadium-Chinatown station and walked over to the market. It was a great evening for a walk and we generally followed the steady stream of people all headed in the same direction. The Chinatown night market is small but still manages to boast numerous vendors selling clothing, knock-off sneakers, handbags, toys, jewelry, knives, bamboo, art work, rugs, etc. We wandered up and down checking out all of the stalls. CK found a ring and picked out some bracelets. We also eventually settled on a jacket for me and a robe for her.
There were also several food vendors -- CK & I even found a vendor who was selling among other very non-vegan things fried tofu and roasted corn. The tofu was tasty although it was served with a sauce that seemed to be a fermented black bean base that was a little strange. The roasted corn was delicious of course, we even picked the ear we wanted right off of the hibachi grill!
After that snack I purchased a coconut for us. So refreshing -- just the top cracked open and a couple of straws inside. These coconuts are very young and mostly filled with water. I had been surprised at just how much we got to drink out of one coconut. Inside the flesh is thin and watery, not at all like the thick, hard fruit that comes from a more brown fruit. We tucked it in a plastic back and brought it back to the flat with us later. We got out spoons and enjoyed every last bit of this treat before heading to bed for the last night in Vancouver.
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