Every time I visit a new city, I try to study the city’s locals. I strive for a scientific approach, first sorting out the true locals from newcomers and visitors; then trying to figure out what they like – which cafés they go to, what special activities they like to do on weekends and most importantly, what their everyday life is like. Inevitably after a couple of days, sometimes just a couple of hours, I find myself daydreaming about what it would be like to become one of the locals, what it would be like to move to this new city. I have been doing this ever since I can remember. I was daydreaming about moving to Bombay as a 12 year old as I was eating a masala dosa with my parents; I imagined what it would be like to live in Mexico City as I sat in a scary traffic jam with my host family during a school exchange trip when I was 17; I have been thinking about what it would be like to become a Berliner for 6 summer trips in a row… Sometimes it is just an entertaining fantasy but other times it feels like it could actually happen one day.
Vancouver is one of the cities, where I started daydreaming about moving to immediately. My first trip to Vancouver was about a year ago, I came for a business trip. It was early spring and in that time in Toronto it was deep polar vortex meanwhile in Vancouver it was sunny, the cherry trees were in blossom and people were running around the city in shorts. I arrived early on a Sunday morning, I had brunch and Nelson and Seagull, I went for a run in the Stanley Park and I immediately fell in love with the city. I had only spent 4 days there but I have been thinking about coming back ever since.
This time I came to Vancouver with Jerry, we only spent two days in the city and then we continued to Vancouver Island. We had the best time, we ate a lot of amazing food, drank a lot of coffee and spent most of our time just walking around, talking and daydreaming about maybe moving there one day. This trip was a spontaneous one, we only booked our flight two weeks beforehand but it was very easy to find things to do, most of my travel research was done on other travel blogs – these are the blog posts I have found most helpful for Vancouver:
Field & Forrest – I am obsessed with this blog now and I highly recommend following them on Instagram, their photos are so beautiful and they have many great suggestions for mostly outdoor adventures.
Local Wanderer – great neighborhood guides!
12 hrs – good shortlist of places if you only have limited time!
After going through these we had a pretty ambitious list of what we wanted to do, see and eat, here is the list of our favorite places, split by neighborhood
Birds and the beets – the first place where we ate after our 6:30 am flight from Toronto, I tried their house-made filmjolk yoghurt with granola and fruit, Jerry had a breakfast bowl with pork-belly, we both loved our breakfast and enjoyed the ambience, it is both a coffee shop and a flower shop and if I lived in Vancouver, it would definitely be on my regular rotation
Meat & Bread – nice lunch spot with a very simple menu of sandwiches, one soup and one salad, with changing specials every day, we tried their meatball and beef satay sandwiches, both on their house-made ciabatta, both delicious
Revolver – according to many bloggers, the best café in the city, the café itself reminded me of Monmouth in London and they served beans from many of the best coffee roasteries around the world (even Barn, one of my favorite places in Berlin!), the coffee was very good!
Nelson the Seagull – I loved this place when I was in Vancouver last year, we didn’t get a chance to go this time but next time I will make sure not to miss it, I remember them for their amazing flat white and their house-made sourdough bread
West side / English Bay
This is the neighborhood where we ended up staying at. The city’s west side beaches are the best place for sunset and people-watching. I also enjoyed the eclectic mix of architecture, high rise residential buildings, which reminded me of Buenos Aires, Roman inspired mansions, small town houses that looked like my favorite part of San Francisco – Outer Sunset and more…
Greenhorn café – cozy café and brunch place, we stayed there for hours on Sunday afternoon when it was raining outside, we only had coffee and tea but their food menu looked pretty good
Sushi Itoga – one of the places that I was really impressed with during my first trip to Vancouver and decided to come back to, it is a small “self service” sushi place that is pretty cheap, not fancy at all but has amazing fresh fish. My favorite was their sockeye salmon sashimi. They work with Ocean Wise and only serve sustainably caught wild fish.
I fell in love with the neighborhood, it reminded me of Outer Sunset in San Francisco but with amazing views of the Grousse Mountain, cherry tree-lined streets, cozy cafes and hippie juice bars
BE FRESH – small local grocery store / general store/ café, it doesn’t sound that interesting but I have to admit that both me and Jerry wanted to buy everything in this little shop! Jerry enjoyed beef jerky from Jerkey Baron!, we bought their boxed salads and meals for both the ferry ride to Vancouver Island and for our flight back home and everything was very, very good! Also – they have a matcha latte!
Farmer’s apprentice – we stopped there for lunch / brunch on Sunday and it was the best meal I have had this year. Their menu is very simple and filled with veggies and an original take on brunch foods. We shared their small vegetable plates and I have to say these were my favorite – simple roasted carrots with a zesty green chili sauce, Jerusalem artichokes with a tapenade and burdock root with Szechuan pepper! Jerry really liked his Caesar and rice with grilled octopus. I have to say it was a very special restaurant experience, every single component of every dish was amazing on its own. Next time I am in Vancouver I would love to go there for a dinner