Since it is the end of the school year, my time is being divided among a million things. Even as I work on this draft, I’ve been interrupted by students, emails and the need to make copies for vocab quizzes. However I still want to make sure these posts get done before I take off for Italy since once I am there I will have even less time. I am reverting back to the travelogue goal of my blog so that anyone who follows my foreign adventures can keep up with what I’ve been done.
Over spring break this year, I did a little abroad traveling (lite) and headed north to the land of maple syrup and moose polo: Canada! I was visiting Vancouver with my girlfriend Sara who was presenting a poster at the Society for Applied Anthropology. She presented a poster about the theory behind her dissertation work. This has been the first time I have been the partner at a conference and it was awesome! I love traveling to different archaeology conferences to visit new places, but I also balancing going to sessions and catching up with friends. Here I was totally free and it was amazing! So I spent a lot of time walking around the city.
Vancouver has a great public transit system and one staffed by very stereotypically nice Canadians. We only had cash instead of coins to pay for one of our fares and the guy just let us on and said they would get us next time. We used the public transit to get from the airport to our AirBnB, beyond that we spent most of our time walking around the area. As a side note, I am super happy that AirBnB exists and I have mostly had positive experiences with it so I really hope that people stop abusing it and cities don’t drive it away with over regulations.
I spent most of my time outside while in Vancouver. The West End is really close to Stanley Park, Devonian Harbour Park, and English Bay Beach. If I wasn’t eating or supporting Sara I was outside. Vancouver is such a great city to be young and outdoorsy (I mean so is Denver but it isn’t like there can be only one outdoorsy city). Sara and I spent a lot of time walking in Stanley park, it was such a nice sanctuary from the bustle of the city. There is an aquarium there but unfortunately it was closed for a memorial of someone who must have give a ton of money to the aquarium. But again, the Canadians were so nice, for our incovenice they gave us a free coffee and small muffin! I feel like in the states they would have just said closed and sent us on our way. Also Stanley Park is home to a group of gray squirrels that have a unique genetic make up which turns their fur black, super cute and like any city creature really use to humans being around so we were able to get close to them.
We also didn’t limit ourselves to land but took a ferry over to Granville Island and rented a kayak to go out into the bay. It was really windy that day but we braved the cold and kayaked around English Bay and up into False Creek as well. We mostly saw birds (the one seal we saw was when we were standing on the beach). We also paddled up to this giant barge owned by a cement company (we saw 2 and 3 but never found barge number 1). Afterwards we worked up quite a hunger and enjoyed lunch at Granville Island Market (it is just like Reading Station in Philly or Pikes Place in Seattle).
We also spent a lot of time eating, I mean who doesn’t when you are away. I won’t recall every dining establishment but just a few ones that stuck out in my mind. On the day we walked the water front down to Gastown and the Steam Clock, we enjoyed lunch and libations at Steamworks Brewery. We also spent two nights stuffing our face with good and cheap sushi at Kitaya Japanese. The beer in Vancouver is amazing and most places had local brews on tap but if you want to visit any of the breweries you will need to stay on the other side of Gastown, away from West End and Stanley Park (we decided that outdoors trumped the beer this time).
It was also during this trip that I got to hear Dr. Paul Farmer speak. I had just read a biography about him and it was fortuitous that he was the main award recipient at the SfAA Conference. Actually as I was waiting for Sara in the lobby, Dr. Farmer sat down next to me working on what I assume was his lecture, of course I couldn’t work up a single sentence that didn’t make me sound like a fool so I just quietly sat in awe. He gave a stupendously inspiring lecture on the systematic violence done to the poorest of our world. It was a true call for people to act on social justice issues and I wish I could do it justice here or that my students at school could have heard it but alas the best i can say is I was deeply moved by it.
So there you have it a brief summary of my trip to Vancouver. These are just some recommendations of what is a lot of fun to do. I ate lots of great Asian food, spent lots of time in the woods despite being in a city, drank pints of good beer, and had a wonderful time with my girlfriend. Thanks for reading, soon I’ll have my trip to Ireland up and some other archaeology based post (that is if I can get my finals written).