August 11-15, 2016 - Vancouver, BC Canada
Alright folks! I spoke of redemption after last year's trip and I got it (sort of) this year PLUS I brought along Wynsor to make it more fun. :)
Thursday dawned early as once again I was flying out of Charlotte so up and out the door to make it on time. I only hit a bit of traffic and got to my gate with about 30 mins to spare. I was supposed to be flying to Toronto and then on to Vancouver... but well other things decided to happen. We boarded with no issue and it looks like it would be a pretty easy flight but as we were speeding up to take off the plane suddenly stopped and we forfeighted our takeoff. :( Apparently there was an issue with the plane. Of course there are only 2 flights a day through Air Canada from Charlotte so I was super concerned with how I was getting to Vancouver now. They kept telling us they were working on the plane and we would be back on in no time. LIES. Then I received a cancellation notice from my second flight (that I wasn't going to make anyway) and directly after that the first flight was cancelled. So I booked it back to the front thinking surely there would be an attendant to help. NO. Again because they only have 2 flights a day they only staff the desk around those times. SO FRUSTRATED. I called their helpline and thankfully got a very nice lady on the phone who was able to get me on a different airline (United) and flew me through Denver with a 20 min layover. Crazy but my gates were next to each other so I made it with no problem. And then finally finally I got to Vancouver. I was about 4 hours later than originally planned but at least I got there that day! Wynsor had been able to check in so I basically dropped my stuff and passed out as Friday morning was the store!
We basically kept an east coast time schedule in order to make it all the events and not be too tired. So Friday morning was early but we got to the store line around 6:15am and of course it was already all around the building. We did a lot of catching up in line as we got in around 9am to the store. Plus it was absolutely beautiful outside so there was that. We were also able to take turns grabbing our packets once that was open. One less line to wait in later on. When we were finally inside I was able to peruse pretty quickly what I was interested in: tanks, hoodie, shorts. I didn't want to spend a ton but still wanted to get something cute. After much decisions I decided on the hoodie and two tanks. Phew. After we were finished in the store we wandered outside to the 'expo'. We had some tasty samples from some of the weekend's sponsors: Nuun and Sage- two of my faves. And we got some fancy yogurt. Yay.
We had just enough time to run back to the hotel to drop off our goodies and grab our yoga stuff for nooner yoga. Last year I wasn't able to participate in the Friday yogas so I really wanted to do them this time around. Of course by this time it was SO SUNNY and crowded that we ended up along the edge of the crowd and by some plants for shade for Wynsor. We got free yoga kits from Sage (LOVE) as well as Kind Bars and popsicles. We opted to get our nails done as it was free and then got the airbrush tattoos. Thanks to all the snacks we opted to forgo real lunch and eat an early dinner (east coast time remember!). But before grubbing we walked up to the Lululemon flagship store. I only purchase their stuff in Canada because of the exchange rate. It helps me justify it on some level. I love their leggings. I wear them basically all week (who has time for real pants?!) So I walked away with a few pairs for winter (not too much damage) and then we walked up the block to Basil Pasta. It was where I ate the year prior and so tasty for the price. Once again it did not disappoint. We each got a pasta dish and split a salad. Perfect pre-game for the next morning's race. Then it was time to head back to the hotel, get our flatrunners ready for the next morning, and get some sleep!
Race morning! Wahoo- you can read all about that here. After the race was the magnificent brunch! This is probably the best race brunch I've ever had. And again this year it did not disappoint. They switched out a couple of items but the breakfast sandwich was amazing. We finally stretched out our legs after stuffing our faces and headed back to the hotel. Some showers and clean clothes later we decided to walk around Gastown. It's a cute neighborhood a few blocks from the hotel with really cute restaurants and a steam clock. We watched it go off at the hour and then stumbled upon a fancy chocolate shop. Some artisan chocolates and hot chocolate later we continued on our walk to Chinatown. Very interesting area complete with a festival. That had Krispy Kreme donuts- so authentic. Ha.
We decided we should probably eat a decent sized meal at this point so headed back to the Flying Pig (recommendation!) for lunching. I had a tasty beer (celebrations right?!) and some really yummy food. We finally pried ourselves off the benches to stop back by the hotel to change for the sunset festival. Right- because this weekend is THE BEST. A shuttle bus ride later and we arrived. First we wandered the local markets (we had already spent enough at this point) so no more spending but I did try their race beer before finding a spot for sunset yoga. And we made it to the WeRunSocial meetup. All the instarunners I follow online. It was nice to meet everyone and feel less of a stalker when I like their online photos.
It was time for sunset yoga after the meetup. I did take part in this last year and it was so fun that it spawned me to do as many yoga events this year as possible. Plus stretching out after a half marathon is always clutch. After yoga we were treated to three bands: Youngblood, Dear Rouge, and Chromeo. I had heard of the first one from Alt Nation but the others were a nice surprise. A lot of dance music- and by the end in the dark we were up on our feet dancing along. We didn't stay til the end- we still had another day of exploring to take on!
Last day in town. We got up still pretty early so we could catch the first shuttle to Grouse Mountain. Now- I had heard about the 'Grouse Grind' but had never done it. And hey- bucketlist right?! So since Wynsor was game we headed to the bottom of the mountain to take on the grind. 2800 steps. 2800 feet of elevation gain. And you can't come back down once you start. Needless to say this is where I struggled over the weekend. Half marathon? Piece of cake. Giant stair walk up a mountain? Kill me now. Wynsor beat me by a landslide but I still made it to the top! The view did not disappoint. And once it was over I was so glad we had made the effort to 'grind it out' despite running a half marathon the day before. The gondola ride to the bottom was also a nice perk. :)
After showers to wash the slime and dirt off we headed over to Granville Island. I had been here the year before and walked there (dumb) whereas this year we took the water taxi (genius). First stop was to the markets to find some yummy foods- IE- cheeses, bread, and grapes. YESSSS. All that climbing had worked up my appetite. We got a nice spot overlooking the water and the city. Vancouver- you so pretty. After grubbing hard we wandered the shops and market. I picked up some fancy chocolates- yum! and then we found a brewery. I know- so typical. Graville Island Brewing FTW. I got their sampler set- Wynsor tasted a few and had a cider. :) Then we walked a bit more before water taxing back across to think about dinner. We both had ridiculously early flights in the morning and had to repack with all our new goodies. So we went to one of my faves from last trip- Steamworks. SO good. I had a delightful giant beer while Wynsor had tiny samples until finding one she liked. And of course- POUTINE!!! Not sure if I made Wynsor a convert, but she didn't hate it so I'll take that as a win. Our final stop was to one of the world's best gelaterias. Or so they claimed. The line was ridiculous but hey you only live once she we waited and got a superbly tasty treat. A great way to cap off our race-cation!! Here's to many more!