Kendall and I celebrated the holidays with our families in the Pacific Northwest. From a bird’s-eye view, our trajectories surely would have looked like a tornado’s course, as we drove from our home in Lake Tahoe, Nevada up to Portland, Oregon then Bainbridge Island, Seattle, and Poulsbo in Washington. Post-twister, we drove north to the fairytale city of Vancouver, Canada. After crossing the border and locating our Airbnb’s neighborhood in Mount Pleasant (just outside downtown Vancouver), we ran through rain to settle into our apartment.
As if especially prepared for the spirit of New Year’s, motivational sayings covered the walls, a rooftop patio overlooked all of sparkling downtown, and nearby shops awaited our exploration. We found dinner at a small hole-in-the-wall, hidden gem of a sushi restaurant called Carp. Bodies full of deliciously fresh food (a tuna poke bowl and veggie roll of dreams) and some beer to-go in hand, we returned to our apartment to catch up over drinks and card games with our friends, Rory, Carl, Kylie, and Emily, late into the night.
Our friend, Fernanda, joined us, and, fatigued from travel and immune systems in the winter, we all decided to lean into an easy-going first, full day in Vancouver. We walked to a breakfast bagel shop called Rosemary Rock Salt, named after their signature rosemary and rock salt infused bagels. Boutiques (for Fernanda), skate shops (for Kendall), and bookstores (for me) gracefully scattered the main streets. As our pocket of sun disappeared midday, tea-drinking and movie-watching tucked us cozily into our evening.
The next morning, we met up with Rory and Fernanda’s family at Stanley Park: a green, lush oasis of a park just a short bridge away from downtown. Our route took us to the outer edges of the forest. We admired the mesmerizing, crystal clear reflections of boats in the harbor, discovered the Brockton Point Lighthouse along the seawall, and eventually, veered away from the world's longest uninterrupted waterfront path (truly!) in search for more fresh sushi.
The group split, and we zigzagged under willowing trees hanging over thin streets of the downtown neighborhoods. We aimed for Momo Sushi, a coveted favorite restaurant of ours. Just in time for the next drizzle of rain, warm bowls of miso soup and sushi rolls topped with the best varieties of crab, salmon, avocado, and homemade sauces arrived at our table. For some live music and drinks after, a hotel bar with a view of Coal Harbour was our next treat. For dinner later, we ended up at an Italian restaurant called Centro Restaurante. I highly recommend the rosemary potato spread with red pepper aioli, garlic kale, and calamari.
New Year’s Eve, we rented bikes and completed the whole course around Stanley Park. We biked along a beach with a stunning view of the city skyline fading into rolling mountains and paused only to warm up our cold hands from the sharp winter wind.
Back at our apartment, we gathered our bottles of bubbly and glasses to toast, and enjoyed the rooftop patio. We watched birds swoop in abstract figurations in-between skyscrapers, and the sunset’s flush faded into a starry sky, mirrored by the sprinkled city lights. Later, a friend, Emily, joined us, and we played more card games as we eagerly awaited midnight. Ten minutes before 2019’s debut, we raced back up towards the rooftop. Crazed with urgency to see the fireworks, we were stunned to discover the elevator didn’t allow entry to the top floor, and the door at the top of the stairs was locked too. We sprinted back to the apartment to hastily toast on our small balcony instead. A destination’s beauty sometimes flourishes best when you are open to unexpected turns along the way.