Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Doorbells and Sleighbells and Schnitzel with Noodles

...These are a few of The Baroness' favorite things. That, and dressing up all Amish-ey, like an prim Austrian nanny and spinning until I'm dizzy on a flower-festooned mountaintop.

I was asked recently by the Good Countess AG over at "Is My Cape Fluttering?" to talk about some of my favorite local places. I'm assuming here that she did not mean the local Winners store (our equivalent of TJ Maxx), or Home Depot (I'm a huge fan).

I'm guessing that she would like for me to take you on a small tour-o-rama of my fair principality. So, Tourism Bureau be damned, here is where I would squire you around to, should you ever come to visit Beautiful British Columbia.

Keep in mind here, a lot of it is about the kitsch and the food. Sometimes separate, sometimes together.

The B von B Tourist Stop 1: Gleneagles Golf Course
I say, Phineus, care to chase a little white ball around for 4 hours? Grab your plus-fours and let's hit it!

Golf courses abound here, as our climate is temperate enough for the sport, almost year-round. One of my favorites in on the North Shore :
Yeah, ok, it looks like any other course. The thing is, though - it's one of the most beautiful courses around. And it is a workout. Holes go up and down the mountainside, and old growth trees abound. It's no St. Andrews, but it sure has that oldy-time brae golf thing goin' on.

The B von B Tourist Stop 2: Capilano Suspension Bridge
While we're still on the North Shore, we'll stop over here:
It's high up, it rocks back and forth, it freaks me out. But teens and kids love it, and as it's nestled in amongst the tropical rain forest we call home, it is a cool reprieve on a hot summer's day. A bit touristy, but the beauty of it all kind of supercedes that.

Once you've had that surge of adrenaline, it's time to eat. Let's go over to

B Von B Tourist Spot 3: The Tomahawk BBQ
for one of their famously huge breakfasts:
This family business, around since the mid-20's, is a treasure trove of North Shore and West Coast Indian (First Nations) artifacts. The food is merely a bonus - rib-stickin', honest, reasonably priced. A must-see. For dinner, try the organic-beef Chief Matthias Joe Burger - I hear the meatloaf is pretty bitchin', too. Make sure that you ask for a complimentary cardboard headdress on your way out. Fun.

As BC has been home to a large First Nation population, there is an abundance of artifacts, totems, etc. that illustrate and illuminate as to what life was like before we came in and screwed it all up. The best place to get an overall view of life in the early days is at:

B von B Tourist Spot 4: UBC's Museum of Anthropology
World-famous West Coast carver Bill Reid's sculpture, The Raven and The First Men
(illustrating part of a Haida Gwai creation myth)

This location also houses a full-scale long house, and the view of the mountains on a clear day is truly breathtaking.

This also gives you an opportunity to stroll through the University grounds a little - they're really pretty.

B von B Tourist Stop 5: 4th Avenue (from Vine to Burrard)
Lots of little boutiques and shops - not touristy.

Plus, were you aware that the Baroness and her #2 Labour Coach, the lovely Dame Moira, spent an afternoon strolling this stretch while waiting for the arrival of Duke #1? I can attest to the fact that if you're going to have some significant contractions, here is a perfect spot to distract yourself from the brain-numbing pain. Lots of shiny.

And having lived for a time on 4th Avenue, I can happily endorse another kitsch/food establishment:

B von B's Tourist Stop 6: Sophie's Cosmic Cafe:

Beware the brunch lineups - be an early bird, or go for lu-pper instead...

Duke #1 has been a regular since he was 3 months old. The decor looks a bit wacky(which is SO why it is near and dear to me) - but the food is extraordinary, and any meal - brekkie, lunch or dinner - is faboo. Plus you get placemats to color on. Sweet.

So, maybe regular fare isn't your thing, man. Maybe you want a taste of all the food culture that the Pacific Rim has to offer. How about sushi? Trust me on this - as one who's had sushi in Tokyo, I think we're better. We get all the rogue, thinking out-of-the-box sushi chefs who don't want to apprentice for 30 years. Our choices are these:

B von B Tourist Spot 7: Tojo's

Hidekazu Tojo is a great guy. Very personable. His food? Wow.

If you're feeling posh, go off-menu and ask for the chef's meal. Prepared to have your mind blown.

B von B Tourist Spot 8: The Eatery
Takes the whole Japanese vibe seriously - lots of Anime doo-dads, very fun.
This is one of the Baroness' faves. I remember it when it was a crunchy-granola, tofu and sprouts establishment. It's changed hands - a move for the better, to my mind.

Go for the Andy Warhol roll - a little seaweed chunk of heaven.

Word of advice - crazy busy for dinner - make reservations.

Then there's Kits Beach (at the foot of Arbutus), where ocean meets mountains. So very beautiful. I'm sure there's a zillion places I've missed, but where I've mentioned are my go-to places when guests come to town. Most of the other tourist spots, meh. You've seen one, you've pretty much seen them all.

Our city has its beauty to offer. And we're extremely nice people. Did I mention this?

There's also the Gulf Islands, which are a ferry-ride away. I would recommend kayaking on Galiano (at Montague Bay), and Saltspring is an artisan paradise.

Have any other questions? Need city myths de-mystified? Ask.

I'm listening.


iPost said...

Wow, that bridge would be a big, fat, NO for me. But the Tomahawk BBQ? I am there, baby!

Baroness von Bloggenschtern said...

Countess iPost: I am SO in agreement. I prefer my food going in a downwards direction through my gullet, not inching its way up and out. Blech.

David said...

You never brought up Wreck Beach?

Baroness von Bloggenschtern said...

Count David: Uh, no.

And may I just add - ick.

Lisa said...

My parents visited your neck of the woods a few years ago and said it was just byootiful. Reading your post reminded me of their trip and makes me think I should put an excursion in that direction on my "in the near future list." A trip (or 2 or 3) to the sushi places would be a must-do.


Mental P Mama said...

Oh I so want to visit. Have wanted to get to NW Canada for half my life...get the guest room ready. Should I bring my clubs?

Baroness von Bloggenschtern said...

Countess Lisa: Put it on your list, hon - PLEASE!! It would be my honor. Just give me fair warning - I'll need to rest up beforehand, because I think you will wear me out, with all that laughing and shopping and all. The two sushi places I mentioned? That's only 2 of THOUSANDS - here, there's about a 6:1 ratio of sushi to Starbucks.

Countess MPM: The guest room is yours by the end of August - definitely bring your clubs - I'll make you look like a star!! A star!!

And just like with the sushi places, there is a plethora of excellent greens around. Check out the website for Furry Creek...

Not Afraid to Use It said...

I don't know that we could ever come to visit. My husband would take one look at that golf course, and I would never see him for the rest of the vacation! LOL Great post! I feel like I learned a lot!

Baroness von Bloggenschtern said...

Countess NATUI: Come anyways. The hubsters can golf and whatnot, and there's plenty of kid-friendly stuff to do as well. Hell, I'll even throw in a door or two for you to paint!!

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