In mid-July I headed out west with my friend Rach and her boyfriend to visit with our friend John who has been living out in Nanaimo for the summer. I’d been to Vancouver before, and frankly found it a teensy bit boring (except for that time when I met Robert Pattinson and made a complete ass of myself), buy I was very much looking forward to exploring other parts of the beautiful province of British Columbia.
We flew Toronto to Kelowna (where a West Jet gate agent maybe thought I was 14 – guys sometimes looking way younger than my age isn’t funny) and made our way to this nearby bed and breakfast we’d booked using airbnb. I highly recommend this place if you’re looking to stay in the Kelowna area. Rach and her boyfriend had a room upstairs with an ensuite bathroom, mini fridge and a lovely balcony with amazing views. I stayed in a room downstairs off the kitchen with my own bathroom and equally spectacular views along with easy access to a quiet patio area. We sat out there that first night to relax and have some wine and deer literally pranced five feet away from where we were sitting. Amazing. We awoke the next morning and met up with Rach’s sister and her family who live nearby. We spent the day at Gyro beach (and Sweet Fancy Moses it was hot in Kelowna that week – in the high 30s) and later that evening we had drinks by the marina. By this point, John had joined us in Kelowna and we all made our way back to our B&B for a much needed night of sleep!
The B&B we stayed at was run by a lovely woman named Lisa who lives in the house, and she had a friend with her that week (Genevieve) who was hysterical and equally as lovely. They made our stay really special! On our first morning we were treated to amazing freshly-baked scones and jam and yogurt, and our second morning there Lisa made us eggs benedict. Below are some photos of where we stayed. I made a point of waking up super early on our first morning so that I could drink my (delicious) coffee in total peace and quiet while reading The Goldfinch. These views were truly extraordinary.
As sad as we were to leave Kelowna, it was time to make the 90 minute drive to Penticton and wine country! We happened to be visiting during some pretty serious forest fires in the area, and driving to Penticton all we heard on the news was about people being evacuated in the area. At one point while we were swimming that evening we could actually see the fires burning in the mountains! Upon arriving in Penticton we checked into the Days Inn (hey, it had a pool and it was cheap!) and strolled through the town. Eventually we made our way to Hillside Estate Winery and had a wine tasting and then went up to their rooftop restaurant to enjoy the beautiful views. I brought home a bottle of their Reserve Viognier that I’m surprised I haven’t opened yet! That evening we strolled the boardwalk (thanks god it had finally cooled down a bit by then – have I mentioned how intensely HOT it was in that area???).
The next morning we were up at the ass crack of dawn for the long drive to Vancouver. We could’ve slept in a bit and taken a more direct route, but the group agreed that it was worth the extra hour or two to take the scenic route. We even stopped at Manning Provincial Park on the way and drove up-up-up to a vista to take in the spectacular views. That chipmunk in the photo below? I named him Buddy and wanted to take him in the car with us to Vancouver but Rach wouldn’t let me because she’s kind of a monster 🙂
We arrived in Vancouver and made our way to the condo we were staying at (other than the airbnb the rest of our accommodations in BC were free thanks to friends/friends-of-friends being out of town and offering up their beautiful homes – lucky ducks, right?). After power naps, showers, and restorative beers (it’s a thing) we ventured out to meet up with our friend Graham who had just arrived from Toronto and was joining us on the rest of our trip. The main theme of our first evening in Vancouver? Patio beers are always a good idea and we’re really good at drinking them!
The next day the five of us were TOTALLY NOT HUNGOVER MOM!! *cough*. After a fantastic brunch at Lucy’s Eastside Diner (we liked it so much we ate there again before heading to the airport on our last day), we boarded the ferry and in just under two hours we had arrived in picturesque Nanaimo where we would spend the next three days relaxing and eating EVERYTHING.
We returned to Vancouver rested and refreshed and spent our last two days exploring the city more. I was thrilled to go back to Granville Island and we also went out for the most amazing sushi dinner at Zipang Provisions in the east end. Friends of John and Graham’s were nice enough to have us over for dinner on our last night. The food, company, and jaw-dropping city views had us all wondering why we were even bothering returning to Toronto.
It’s just that BC is so beautiful. And everyone we met was so nice. Don’t get me wrong: I love Toronto. I’ve lived in or near this wonderful city for over 25 years and I do love it. I truly can’t imagine living anywhere else (most of the time). But Vancouver has all the perks of a big city while also being really pretty and significantly more relaxed and laid back than Toronto. And I didn’t find it to be as boring this time. Maybe the night life has perked up a bit, or maybe it was the company, or maybe now that I’m 32 I don’t mind the fact that everything sort of shuts down around midnight. That used to be the time where I would typically leave my apartment to go out!!
After a wonderful 10 days travelling across BC with great friends it was time to head back to Toronto with heavy hearts, great tans, and a vow to bring more ‘Namaste’ and BC ‘tude into our lives*. I miss you BC!
*That feeling of calm and peace lasted precisely 12 hours and evaporated the second I was re-acquainted with Toronto’s notoriously brutal transit system. Oh well, at least I still have that bottle of wine and some great memories!