before we knew it, thursday was upon us, and the 2nd to last day of the conference! stephanie had to get back to utah in time for her brother's wedding on friday, so we knew thursday would be our last day with her on our vancouver excursion. therefore, we did what we know best - went sight-seeing like crazy!
but just a note to start - aren't canadian post boxes way cuter than u.s. ones? i thought so, too.
okay. so we were so so excited to get off to our exploring that we snuck away from the conference (which, by thursday, was just continuing to be absolutely amazing as it had been the whole rest of the week so far, don't you worry) for our lunch break to this positively adorable tea + coffee house called "finch's" that was rumored to be the best in all the land. just look at all the cute interior decor!
i think i was the only one who didn't get lunch here (i had already made the decision to brown-bag it the night before), but everyone else's looked (+ tasted) absolutely delicious!
no tea or coffee was purchased though, don't worry. just yummy sandwiches. (:
cute little bookshelf above the doorway! SO cute.
katie posing as alluringly as possible:
on the way out of finch's, imagine my joy when we pass right by (practically right next door) a thrift store called "lady madonna"! remember that one time i maybe kinda sorta have this thing for the beatles? made me feel right at home...(:
"clothing with a past life." that's creative advertising, if you ask me.
also on the way back to the conference for the afternoon, we passed by what turned into taryn's favorite little taco shop: la taqueria. she was seriously OBSESSED with the cute little (slightly expensive) tacos she got here...apparently they were quite delish. i think she went there 2-3 times within the last 2 days we were there. they were just that fab!
also, fun fact: alleyways in vancouver are pretty much all over the place. we were going to walk through one, but decided we'd rather still be able to return back to the US of A with stories to tell first-hand, instead of having stories told about us...if you know what i mean. they were just that creepy (but beautiful!) looking.
before the afternoon portion of the conference was to get started back up, we headed back to gastown (briefly!) to explore what our options were in terms of souvenirs. we found quite the plethora of gifts - photos of which will have to suffice, since i didn't have room in my suitcase/enough money in my pocket to buy most of them. they included (but were not limited to):
overstuffed moose (meese? mooses? meeses? someone help me out here),
creature critter beanie/winter hats,
poopoopaper (yes, you're reading that right: "recycled and odorless paper products made from moose poo." yummy.),
and babushka lip gloss! i almost got one of these for micaela, but ended up resisting the urge to buy $6 canadian lip gloss she'd probably never even use. oh well.
once we had our souvenirs in hand, we made a brief pit stop inside silvestre: gusto latino. they had theeeeee most yummy-looking gelato/other desserts/goodies that you ever did see.
(told you so). we didn't get any (this day), but ended up just window-shopping around gas town for a little while longer, walking right by the water st. cafe - the place we had our delicious pasta at our first night (monday) in vancouver!
but we headed out of gas town mighty quick after this photo was taken because, you see, we had to get back to the conference for the afternoon. because had to make it to one more workshop before we skipped our final one to get on to some more sight-seeing...
that's right boys and girls, we headed off to the ever-famous vancouver aquarium! we decided to go all-out for our last full day with stephanie (and a car for long-distance transportation purposes). we got to the aquarium just in time for about an hour of high-intensity aquatic exploration! they had a few other animals as well, but mostly marine-related ones. like these pretty red/orange crane animals!
and...me. in a bubble.
and finding nemo characters! like gil.
(intermission for some dancing water snakes)
and dory! and nemo(s) in the distance!
AND THE BEST PART: SEAHORSE(s)! meaning there's only one in this photo (you can probably only see it if you make the photo bigger, they looooove to be little chameleons and camouflage their pretty little figures), but there were plenty more in the tank, i'm sure. i've always wanted one as a pet, but did you know they have to be kept in a saltwater tank?? talk about $$$pricey$$$. the sole reason that i will be marrying rich: so i can buy a saltwater tank + at least a baker's dozen worth of seahorses.
posing with some fishies.
SO. MANY. STARFISH. i just about died. second favorite marine creatures! SO cool looking.
fishies love kissies. this is proof.
okay, and probably the coolest LOOKING underwater critters there: THE JELLIES. seriously, all these photos were just taken on my iphone. and are all on here with no added editing/filters on them. these jellyfish photos just turned out so, SO well. for your own sake, click on these next few to make them bigger - you won't regret it! they look SO cool. it was mega neat to watch a bunch of them just float around each other in little circles. man oh man. love these guys. gorgeous, sure, but deadly.
lots of coral reefs were abound in these here aquatic tanks. my question: it's probably (somewhat) easy to transport fish across the country/countries to get to aquariums and zoos. but how do you transport something like a CORAL REEF? aren't they like trees? don't they have roots + stuff deep in the ocean floor? clearly my theatre degree from byu won't be sufficient to answer all my life questions.
posing with the corals.
katie with her coralz.
once our hour was up (we got there an hour before close...so it was our own fault), our aquatic adventure came to a close, i said goodbye to some dear life-sized friends of mine, and we were off on our next adventure...
...taking a trip up that mountain you see in the distance in the photos below!:
we jumped back in the car + headed on our way over the river + through(?) the bridge, to the side that the famous grouse mountain was on.
this bridge was seriously so pretty. i don't think you understand.
+ the view from it! darned guardrails blocking the views...
before we knew it, we had arrived at our destination, parked the car, paid for our ticket, and jumped on the next available tram car to head up this mountain on "North America's largest aerial tramway system" (source).
my ($40) ticket to see the sights (on the way to, and) atop this grand mountain!
once we were all boarded on this little tram car, we hit lift-off and were up in the air in no time at all! here are some professional views (professional= i stole them from google images, but i promise you they are 100% legitimate, un-doctored photos), to give you an idea of what kinda ride we were on (and what the sight was like at the top):
the skyride tram car:
the view about halfway up:
a view from the other side:
so, yes. moral of the story: it was VERY high up. in a teeny-tiny little glass room of a tram car. slightly terrifying only if you got a little too close to the edge and leaned on your side of the car. overall, it was just a breathtaking (in a good way) and beautiful 4-minute trip up this majestic mountain, as we took in the sight of pretty much all of vancouver!
now for my personal (iphone!) photos from the trip up:
views from the top:
also from [source] from earlier above, a brief fun fact about grouse mountain:
On December 15, 1966, the 45 passenger Grouse Mountain Skyride was opened and dedicated by Premiere W.A.C. Bennett. A new mountain station with two restaurants, gift shops and other facilities accompanied the opening of the Skyride, as did a new valley station complete with 1,000 paved parking spots. Other accomplishments included building Canada's largest snowmaking system, completed in 1973.
so, basically awesome. they had this really neat patio right at the top, right outside of one of the restaurants.
we spent a good amount of time exploring the statues/carvings/other woodland-ish type things at the top of the mountain. and taking photos (as proof).
ah! SO gorgeous!
the only disappointment that was seriously ridiculous once we got to the very top was the fact that there were literally a hundred million mosquitoes trying to eat your face off. like...you don't understand. just imagine you have a hairnet pulled over your face and up your nose. but instead of it being a hairnet, it's a mask of mosquitoes. seriously.
okay...maybe it wasn't that horrible. but it was bothersome enough that we (taryn + i) took some photos and walked around for a bit (with our hoods pulled up over our faces - i bet that was quite the sight for the natives to witness) before we headed into the bistro to eat + chat. taylor, katie + steph braved the crazy mosquito-infested air and ended up seeing some wildlife that they told us about later on when we were all joined together once more.
posing with my alien eyes (thanks, iphone camera flash) in front of the beautiful vancouver sunset from the patio of the restaurant) (yes, i did brave the mosquito-infested outdoors without my hood over my face for just a few more photos):
as the sun started to set (and our tummies started rumbling), we all were reunited once more inside the restaurant to witness the incredible sunset (from inside) and eat lots, and i mean LOTS of poutine - a canadian delicacy!
what exactly is poutine, you ask? why, wiki can tell you:
[it] is a Quebec dish, made with french fries, topped with brown gravy and curd cheese. Sometimes additional ingredients are added.
[see photo below for more clarification]
basically what that description means = it was delicious. and tasted just like super-fatty-carbohydrate-lovin'. aka DELICIOUS. gotta make that combo land on some fast-food menus over here in the usa, asap!
once our stomachs were full and happy (and we had chatted quite a good deal), the restaurant was closing and we realized it was getting pretty dark outside. we headed back to our lovely skytram car and boarded to take our return flight back to the base of the mountain.
just in case you were wondering: yes, (even though this photo really doesn't do it justice), vancouver is just as gorgeous of a city when it is all lit up at night.
once we got back down the mountain, we headed back to the car, buckled up, stashed our lift tickets in our pockets and were off back to the hotel for the night. thanks, vancouver (+ the aquarium + grouse mountain), for making our last real night out exploring such a gorgeous adventure!