Year Two

June 30th, 2008

Snow-capped mountains and urban skylines. Golf resorts and ocean access. First Nation roots and cultural diversity. All this and much much more are readily available in the city of Vancouver, which was the area where this travelogue used to focus on.

That was last year, however.

This year Yours Truly invites all the readers and contributors back to the travelogue. It is about time, since starting tomorrow Scandinavian R takes off and begins a journey towards a fresh new destination.

Let’s see what is to be found in there.

Testing In-transit Text Input

December 11th, 2007

Please be informed that this is a test measuring the uses of a mobile connection.

Crowns of the Holiday

June 30th, 2007

Friday, with its cloudy and rainy weather set the initial mood for Scandinavian R. Soon the skies cleared, if not physically then at least metaphorically. Evolving from its humble beginnings Friday rises to share the place as the best day in town with Sunday.

After a walk on the 4th West Avenue, my path took me to Kitsilano once again. There, amid the culturally colorful surroundings a pre-determined jewel-of-a-restaurant was found: The Naam.

The all-vegetarian restaurant has been available for three decades and is open 24/7 closing only on Christmas day. Naam has outright great down-to-earth service and the vegetable-only food is plentiful and tasty. In addition, Naam serves the best pie of the blueberry-apple calibre. To preserve some sense of reality Scandinavian R declines to test the apple-only version.

Naam manages to leave a good feeling and receives 5/5 for the combination of athmoshere, people (staff and customers alike), and general easy going mood.

The rest of the evening is spent in a nearby record store browsing and purchasing some missing gemstones of several genres, from industrial through electroclash and all the way up to mainstream artists.

Five days into the journey the primary objective of the whole vacation - full relaxation - is completely achieved.

Due to the approaching Canada Day the local internet cafe is closed and Scandinavian R resorts to backup locations and input equipment.

Delays in blogging are not only probable but also expected.

Guns of Vancouver

June 29th, 2007

Having lost a lengthy post due to the obscurities of the digital world, Scandinavian R isn’t too pleased.

Thursday was spent in the Vancouver Museum studying local history. The museum experience is further enriched by additional exhibits, such as one telling the story of a Vancouver-based all-Asian baseball team and another which gives insight to the daily life of the Cree of west central Saskatchewan through the art of one of their own, Allen Sapp.

The original plan was that after lessons in local history it would be the ideal time to re-visit Bessborough Armory for a tour in the 15th Field Artillery Regiment’s museum. Before that there was the issue of dinner, however.

The restaurant, Moxie’s, was chosen mostly for its trendy outlook and led Scandinavian R right on time for the restaurant’s Customer Appreciation Day. This event, complete with a live band and drinks on discount, was celebrated ”because its fun”, as a young servantess explained.

The rest of the night was spent first with some ale exclusive to Moxie’s, then with a New York -style beef accompanied by glass or two of Pinot Noir and ended with surprisingly cost-efficient 10 year-old Glenmorangie.

So much for the artillery museum.

The vacation soon reaches its midpoint, but Scandinavian R shows no signs of boredom - instead the scale between visitations to must-see locations and enjoyment via night-time activities is re-balancing.

Wednesday with its glorius weather gave an opportunity to make an excursion to the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Center (also known as Vanaqua).

Vanaqua is Canada’s largest aquarium and houses over 300 species of fish and adds several hundred more creatures. The tanks inhabiting otters, dolphins and whales can be viewed from below the ground as well. It is simply marvelous to see a Beluga whale - of the size and mass of a large car - swimming past with only a few centimeters separating the two white beasts of different worlds.

Vanaqua is located in the depths of the Stanley Park, which is another cause of visit. Especially the views over Lion’s Gate bridge and the scenery opening around Prospect Point are spectacular. They can be reached by foot or with a free-of-charge bus - often driven by surprisingly enthusiastic guides.

Later, on the same evening I scan my guidebook for a suitable place to dine in. I reach the destination half-an-hour later only to find that the guidebook is slightly off-key. By chance I enter a nearby restaurant which according to the service personnel is a place favored by the local community. Local here meaning Kitsilano, I decide to accept Earl’s as a suitable replacement for the original selection, which I’m told “Used to be over there”.

The service in Earl’s is very positive, as it is all-around Vancouver. The athmosphere is relaxed as well - something one could expect form a community restaurant. Food is good and there’s plenty of it for a relatively good price. As an additional feature the restaurant sells it’s own ale, Albino Rhino, in three varieties. Naturally I go for the dark one.

Later I learn that Earl’s has been voted as the best casual restaurant every year since 1993 by two magazines and has received some additional awards as well.

After traveling over 10 000 kilometers Scandinavian R decides to explore European art. Tuesday was the perfect day to visit Vancouver Art Gallery. The current exhibition, Monet to Dalí: Modern Masters from the Cleveland Museum of Art, focuses on several European masters and displays works of impressionists, cubists and modernists.

Afterwards, chance led me inside Caffe Artigiano, located just opposite the gallery. This cafeteria made a lasting impression with a somewhat unique coffee experience. I ordered a standard caffe latte, but received a piece of art - the man behind the counter had conjured a plant-shaped section on tope of the bewerage. Upon accepting the unorthodox, but surprisingly tasty drink it was possible to inspect the cafeteria’s walls which are filled with photographs of coffee cups with liquid decorations. All photos include a name and a year and every piece is unique - like a signature.

Back at the hotel I search from the travel guidebook to find out that Caffee Artigiano is an award-winning cafeteria and home to the Canadian Barista Champion 2003 - 2006.

Marche à pied

June 26th, 2007

Monday was the perfect day for an unguided tour in the city. I selected the two armouries, shown on my map but not introduced in the guidebooks, as my waypoints. I expected to find selection of local history, perhaps even a collection of arms. Instead the armouries, Bessborough and Seaforth, are actively used by the Canadian Forces. The journey between the armouries was much more productive, however. I walked through and around the residential areas of Kitsilano - a former hippie neighborhood.

Observations

- The houses and apartment buildings are of varying designs but nearly every piece of real estate is very well upkept. Especially the gardens.

- There is almost no trash on the streets

- There were only two pieces of graffiti and of them one was most likely a part of the adjacent shop’s design concept. It was a surprise to see that the frustrated youths have expressed their angst by carving the symbols in the pavement stones. At least some anti-religious and pro-black metal band carvings could be seen. Very strange indeed.

Woke Up this Morning

June 25th, 2007

I woke up this morning at 9:00 pm with a relaxed mindset. The morning went by with a visit to the City Square - a shopping mall in the opposite of the hotel. After some breakfast I dropped by the local minimarket and set out to the streets.

Observations Buses have special trays in front of them, which can carry bicycles; There are trees everywhere; The small aircraft seen in the skies just outside the city limits have been recognized as single-engine float planes (that is planes with water landing capacity).

Jet lag No signs of jet lag as of yet. A 12-hour sleep was enought to soften the impact of extended travel on my bodychemistry. Nonetheless a curious sensation resides deep inside. It is like the subconsious mind is trying to hint the physical body that something suspicious is going on - which, with a ten-hour time difference is true to the core.

V Day: First Impressions

June 24th, 2007

The long voyage is over and was made in good company of alike-midned travelers. As the Boeing 747 makes its final approach towards the airport all one can see below are the snow-capped mountains, then a body of water and finally the urban areas of an international airport.

With that Scandinavian R has arrived to Vancouver, located in Canada’s British Columbia.

First impressions are confusing - the airport combines futuristic interiors and natural decorations. Take, for instance the small river running down the departure area. Or the massive indoor waterfall with a circular piece of First Nation art in the front.

The first tree seen is rooted right outside the airport’s main doors and it is not alone. Even in an environment of an airport, the Canadians (or more correctly Vancouverites) have chosen to honor their connection to the nature.

After a 20-minute drive to the hotel Scandinavian R decides to worry about the jet lag later and goes on to get some sleep.