Friday, February 12, 2010

Victoria: Just a hop across the pond

Distance from Vancouver to the capital of British Columbia (Victoria) - 100 kilometers. Time to get to the airport - 20 mins by car. Time to check in - 20 mins. Time to have a cup of coffee with Jan at the airport - 15 mins. Time to go through security and watch Vancouverites glued to the television watching the Olympic torch relay before getting on the plane - 20 mins. Total flight time to Victoria - 15 mins. That's right 15 mins. Victoria is a bit of a strange duck because it is the only Canadian provincial capital that is off the mainland. It is at the southernmost tip of Vancouver Island, across the Georgia Straight from the Mainland. Not physically far away, but no easy task to get to.

The flight takes you over the Gulf Islands, which are the Canadian version of the San Juan Islands in Washington. Sarah and I have spent quite a bit of time vacationing on these islands, particularly Salt Spring Island, which has a decidedly artsy feel to it. Lots of galleries, used book stores, and funky cafes. And a great cheese company where you can go and visit the goats. The picture below is of the pack of clouds hanging like a snow bank of the top of the tall peaks on the island.
The short flight broke through the lower layer of clouds for a bit, revealing a textured contures of the top of the cloud layer. There was a higher, darker grey layer of clouds above and the rising sun lit the space between the two layers with a golden light. It looked like a completely exotic landscape - a strange cloud world. 
It was a long day of meetings at the Ministry of Health so I didn't get a chance to explore the city much, but I did notice these beautiful live trees in the middle of the concourse in the airport. They are all 15 or so feet tall, and grow out of the ground in the terminal. There are open grates around the trunk so you can see the ground below, and it gives the impression that the trees were part of an orderly forest that was there before the floors were laid for the airport. They look like the vestiges of forest that has been swallowed up by modernity.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Pyrohies in Vancouverovsk

Sometimes it takes visiting another country to truly get a taste for its local cuisine...and sometimes it just takes moving to a new neighborhood. In this case, Steve and I and our downstairs nabes, Amanda and Drew, set off one block down the street to the Ukrainian Orthodox Centre for their monthly perogy (pyrohy) dinner and though none of us have ever been to the Ukraine to compare, we were not disappointed. I'd first heard about this evening from a volunteer I work with who, upon hearing that we were moving to the Main area of the 'Couv insisted that we check out this neighbourhood gem.

With lines running
down the block that continues, quite deceivingly, inside the building, hundreds of hipsters, Ukrainian immigrants, local families, and visitors-in-the-know fill the fluorescent-lit church function hall the first Friday of every month. To say they have it down to a science is an understatement - upon first entering, we thought to take our perogies to go (as we do only live a block away), but couldn't resist taking in the experience by allowing one of the several volunteers find us a seat in and amongst the communal eating areas. But first, one must wait. And wait. And wait. At the door you're given slips of paper with the various dinners one could have, though it's generally understand that while you guard your place in line (which could easily take 1 hour from start to finish), members of your party can duck out to grab a pen and a glance at what's on the "Super Dinner" or "Regular Dinner." All dinners include, of course, perogies - but the variations come with your choice of cabbage rolls, borscht, Ukrainian sausages, and what Ukrainian spread would be complete without the option of salad or sauerkraut? I opted for the Vegetarian Dinner and when it was finally my turn to approach the still-smiling volunteers (soothing my aching-from-hunger belly), I was told I was "clearly a first-timer" because I offered to grab the tray. We learned quickly that we've already done the work by standing in line for 45 minutes, now all we needed to do was be patient as the eastern European good stuff was piled high on our plates.

This is not an east side Vancouver event to be missed (as you can see from the filled and happy mouths to the right).
I've already got the next three "first Fridays" written on my calendar. So hurry up and transport yourself over to the Ukraine on 10th Avenue between Quebec and Main Street, but hurry, as they've been known to run out before the evening is up!


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Lights up Portland, It's Rollaway!

Steve here, and yes ladies and gentlemen, one half of this travelin' duo comes packing a pair of black, flame-embroidered cowboy boots. I'm gonna let you go ahead and guess which one (not me).

The travelin' to Portland (or Stumptown as we hear it is called) was unlike any traveling we've done before as our journey had another purpose beyond just seeing the sights - bringing one red-haired, black-booted singer to her gig with Rollaway at Mississippi Pizza Pub. I had to admit it was alot of fun to watch the band do their thing from my position as bouncer by the door.

The gig was arraigned by Will Layng, a friend of band member Adam Jones, who lives and performs in the Portland area. He brought quite the crowd out to see him and Rollaway must have been doing some things right cause most of them stuck around until the lights came up at the end of the night. I put together a little compilation of clips from the evening, and I'm going to try embedding some video for the first time. Hope it works and I hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Soup's up


Matzoh ball soup on a cold and grey day.  Is it strange to post/imagine traveling into the future and an impending season change (which brings fun holidays and soupy goodness) on a travel blog?  

(Psst.  Hey Steve - does time travel count?  You're the sci-fi-inclined half of his blog.)

Back to dribbling soup down my chin.