Beer Across Vancouver
Travel Stories: Jeff Kaczmarczyk got a little lost in the British Columbia city. But maybe that wasn't such a bad thing.
02.23.10 | 2:19 PM ET
Im a terrible judge of distance. When I say “Julia’s Empanadas is right by the Metro,” it often translates to, “We’re going to walk half a mile.” Granted, I can navigate a city I’ve never been to fairly well, but I have no concept of how long it will take to get somewhere. This became apparent in Vancouver, where I got to know my way around downtown with ease. At least I thought I did.
On the last day of my trip, I decided to treat myself to a sampler of local brews at the Granville Island Brewery. The beers were nothing short of spectacular—the seasonal Lions Winter Ale with a vanilla finish, the English Bay Pale Ale with delightful notes of caramel. I picked up a sampler six-pack for a friend back home. The cashier at the brewery put my six beers in a custom case decorated with the labels of each beer, and placed that in a large plastic bag.
I wasn’t going back to the U.S. immediately though. I had dinner reservations at one of Vancouver’s best restaurants, Raincity Grill. I had it in my head that the restaurant was just across False Creek, over the Granville Bridge. Since the restaurant was apparently so close, I decided I would just take my six-pack to the restaurant and forget about heading back to the hotel to drop it off. I hopped on the AquaBus and headed back downtown to the beginning of Beach Avenue. I walked around a few of the buildings, but for the life of me I could not find the restaurant.
I stopped a woman who was walking her dog.
“Excuse me, ma’am. Do you know where Raincity Grill is?” I asked.
“Oh yeah,” she said. “You have to go past the public toilets that are just down the road there, and then take a right when you get to Denman.”
“Thank you! That isn’t too far out of the way, is it?”
“Nope. It’s just down there a little ways.”
Needless to say, this woman didn’t have good judgment of distance either. I walked along Sunset Beach with my bagged six-pack. I passed marinas with dozens of boats that were covered up for the winter months. I passed some apartment and office buildings, with the blue and green tinted windows reflecting the flag of the city. I passed a basketball court that was being used for street hockey.
The more I carried on, the more the palm of my hand began to redden. The beer was making my arm very tired. How much farther did I have to go?
After about 15 minutes, I made it to the public toilets mentioned by the dog-walking woman. I looked around. I saw no sign for Denman Avenue.
I stopped another woman walking her dog.
“Excuse me, ma’am. Do you happen to know where Raincity Grill is?”
“Yes. You have to walk a little ways to Denman and take a right.”
The sun was setting, coloring the sky with a deep purple; lights from passing boats also lit up the sky. I had to stop for a moment to take in the sight.
I switched the hand I carried my beer with a couple of times; I was really starting to get tired. As I continued walking along the beach, I noticed a sign warning of coyotes. At that point, if I had been attacked by a coyote, I probably would have offered it a beer to take the pressure off my arms.
Then I saw something that I had been looking for since I’d arrived in Vancouver. For the longest time before my trip, I couldn’t figure out where the stone-slabbed symbol for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics came from, or what it meant. On a small inlet on the English Bay Beach, stood a large inukshuk made of stone, about twice as tall as a basketball hoop. This landmark that’s found in arctic regions is the basis for the Games’ logo, and I was glad I got to finally see where the inspiration came from.
I made my way off English Bay Beach and walked a couple of blocks until, finally, I found the restaurant. My arms were just about ready to fall off. I must have lugged this six-pack for miles.
Looking back, could I have easily hopped in a taxi? Sure. But I wouldn’t have ended up exploring this part of the city; I would have just blown past it. I wouldn’t have discovered that coyotes roam around Vancouver, and I wouldn’t have seen the inukshuk. I also wouldn’t have been able to view the incredible sunset over English Bay.
I guess it isn’t so bad to have a terrible gauge of distance. Sometimes not knowing your way around can lead to some amazing discoveries.
I just hope my friend really enjoyed those beers.