I spent this past weekend in Vancouver with six of my college girlfriends, mostly all former roommates, for a girl’s weekend in Vancouver. We had all sorts of reasons for the trip – Jackie’s birthday, Jackie’s still a bachelorette party (celebrating her single life), to celebrate our friendship, and to have an excuse to all be in the same place and spend time with one another without husbands, babies, or other distractions. And it was the perfect weekend.
On Friday morning, Tasha and I started our journey to Vancouver from Portland. We loaded up the car and got on the road, hoping to beat everyone else to the house so we could decorate. Our five hour drive turned into an eight hour drive because of the monstrous traffic we hit just about everywhere. And while the drive was unnecessarily long, it was beautiful and having the time to catch up with one another was really nice. We arrived at our Airbnb in Kitsilano, an adorable neighborhood in Vancouver, just after 6 pm and decorated the house.
Once our decorating tasks were completed, we went out for a quick run to shake out our tired, heavy travel legs. And we ended up running 4 miles along the water which was nothing short of amazing.
After our run, we got back to the house and found that two more of the girls had arrived, Jackie and Yelena. We spent some time catching up and showering and waited for the next car to arrive. Alyse and Nikki were stuck in traffic coming in from Seattle and didn’t arrive until after 9 pm. Given how late it already was and how hungry everyone was, we decided to walk to the nearest open restaurant. We ended up at a bar, Yager’s that was open and close by. I ordered a veggie burger and basically scarfed it down. I’m not sure if I even spoke at all once the food arrived. The food was nothing to write home about but the service was amazing.
After Yager’s, three of us, including myself (those who couldn’t stop yawning) walked back to the house and went to bed and the other three went out to the local bars for a few more late night hours of fun.
Saturday morning, I woke up around quarter to 6 and spent some quiet time in the house catching up on work from Friday. Around 7, I took a walk down to Artistry Cafe, the nearest coffee shop to us for a banana and a cappuccino. The cappuccino was fine, not special, but the service was just meh. It wasn’t the cutest place but it worked well for a quick, early caffeine fix. After coffee, I ventured over to the Safeway to get groceries for the house and then made my way back. A few more girls had started to emerge and we decided to walk to Beyond Bread, a local bakery for breakfast.
If you’re in search of a delicious breakfast sando, head to Beyond Bread. Their veggie breakast sando is incredible – it comes with organic egg, mushrooms, emmental, greens, red onion, sauerkraut, and dijon. And OMG. OMG.
We took our sandos to go and ate them down by the water. They also serve good coffee – from local, Western Canadian roasters.
After breakfast, we got the troops ready for a day exploring the Seawall and Stanley Park. And of course, getting ready for our big adventure involved some pink power tools and bike seat and handlebar adjustments for our very mini friend, Yelena. Ha.
The Seawall and Stanley Park
With 5 girls (one had decided to sleep in instead) and 2 bikes, we set out for the Seawall with 3 on foot and 2 on bikes. It was about 2.5 miles from our place to the start of the trail and we all ran and rode easily there. The weather was seriously perfect.
We made our way around the wall and then over the bridge towards Stanley Park. Once in the park, we made a quick stop to check directions (we had already taken a few wrong turns) and check on the crew. The two cyclists were more than ready to be done and one of the runners was nearing her limit as well. We were about 7 miles in to our adventure and decided the only option was to keep heading towards Granville Island where Nikki would be meeting us for lunch and driving some people back to the house. Everyone was just going to have to keep moving.
To give Tasha a break from running, we put Yelena on the back of Alyse’s bike and had her ride a few of the miles towards Granville. Watching Alyse riding around with Yelena perched on the back of the bike was probably the highlight of my trip. I did my best to keep pace with them so I could help them in the event that they ran into any problems or needed to get started again. And also just to fully witness what was taking place.
A couple of miles from Granville Island, Tasha decided she would get back on her feet and run it in with us and Yelena was back on her own bike. It was fun while it lasted. At 10.3 miles, we finally arrived at the bike ferry that would take us across for the final leg to Granville Island.
By the time we arrived, everyone was hungry and tired, and also very happy to see Nikki. After making a lap around all of the different food vendors, I easily decided on Chau VeggiExpress.
Quite possibly one of my favorite meals and not just because I was starving. They serve plant based Vietnamese inspired foods – veggie rich rice bowls with delicious sauces and even organic, free range eggs.
I also ordered their signature coconut “milkshake” which is actually coconut juice, coconut cream, and coconut pieces served on ice. And it’s basically magic. It was like if coconuts met horchata….
After lunch, we explored the market a bit and ended up purchasing some cookies, and cheese for the house and I got some mustard to bring back for Casey. After walking around a bit, it was time to head back. Since Nikki had driven over, she took 3 of the girls back with her and Jackie and I rode the bikes back. It was an easy, fun ride – probably no more than 3 miles.
Since Ariana would be arriving later that evening – our last and final arrival – we showered and hung out, enjoying our Granville Island cheese purchases and playing Jackie’s new, What do You Meme game which was seriously too much fun. After Ariana arrived, just shy of 9 pm, we decided it was time to make some moves and I drove everyone down to Gastown to explore the bar scene.
We tried to go into a few places – including the Revel Room – and it felt like that scene out of Knocked Up. You know the one – you old, she pregnant.
The bouncer was super rude to us and made us just stand in the doorway for awhile. Other people were walking past us and going right in so finally, we just walked in. Once we had made our way towards the bar, he came over in a huff and rudely reminded us that he had told us to wait. He was hipster, douche bag extraordinaire and I am pretty sure I just laughed in his face. We didn’t want to spend our money there, anyway, thanks.
We eventually found ourselves at a bar with music – playing mostly 90’s jams – and danced for awhile which was fun.
I left the girls on their way to the second bar of the night and drove home to crash into bed.
On Sunday, I woke up with the sun again and decided to try a new coffee spot and go on a walk down by the water.
This is a cute, spacious coffee shop in Kitsilano that also serves food – like not just pastries – but actual food. I ordered the avocado toast, naturally, but after trying one of the veggie sandos, realized I had ordered wrong. The avo toast was good but definitely not on the same level as the sando.
The coffee was just alright but the service made up for it. The baristas and servers were all seriously so sweet that I was willing to go back again when the girls woke up.
On my walk after coffee, I found a cute little beach to explore, down some stairs from one of the parks.
And when I got back to the house and people were awake, we did two coffee stops. We went to Cafe Lokal once again and also to The Only Cafe (which sadly doesn’t open until 10 am on Sundays or Mondays).
This place is the definition of cute. And hipster…..I mean, puffy white cloud lights, people.
And the coffee is VERY good. Probably the best I had in Vancouver.
After food and coffee, we got the troops together – all 7 this time – for Grouse Mountain. I had done the Grouse Grind before – I actually ran it with Casey two days after running the Squamish 50 miler and told everyone they would be fine. It wasn’t that bad.
Took us about an hour to get to Grouse Mountain – it probably took 20 minutes just to park and have everyone use the bathroom. Once out on the trail, we navigated our way through all the people and slowly I started to break off from the rest of the group.
My legs were feeling good for the climbing and I just kept hustling my way to the top. With 2,830 steps to the top, 2,473 feet of elevation gain in just over a mile, it’s a steep and challenging climb. I run / walked most of the way up, passing tired hikers and groups of people all the way up.
When I finally saw the top, I was pleasantly surprised. I had made pretty good time. 36:51, to be exact.
I perched on a rock and waited for the rest of the group to arrive. Tasha came next, followed by Ariana about an hour after I had arrived. Next came Jackie, Alyse and Yelena (Nikki had taken the gondola up, instead).
We were all starving so decided to have a snack at the beautiful mountain top bar. The views are seriously unbeatable. After snacks, we decided to get on the gondola and head down. We were originally going to get snowcones (or maybe it was shaved ice?) somewhere along the way home but given how late it already was, we decided we’d just head back and start the shower train instead. Around 9pm everyone was ready and we headed out for a nice dinner at a highly recommended vegetarian restaurant.
When we first called for a reservation, our chances of eating here were not looking good. They kept telling us that they probably would not have a table for our group and we waffled on whether or not we should even go. We decided just to make our way down there and if we weren’t able to get seated, we’d find somewhere else nearby as a backup plan. Luckily, we walked right in and got seated. The menu is really fun and different. We tried a bunch of different appetizers- the king mushrooms being my all time favorite. We had a squash appetizer than came with a little puff pastry and also a kale salad. For main dishes, most of us ordered the halloumi – because, well, cheese, and split with someone else who had ordered the green pea pasta. Both were delicious choices. I really liked this place but was almost too tired to even really enjoy it. By the time we left, I was basically a zombie and went straight to bed.
On Monday morning, I woke up and went straight out for a run along the water as I knew I had a long day in the car ahead of me. The weather was perfect. The sun was shining and it was still early enough that it was relatively cool. Plus the sun was on point.
I did 5 miles and then headed back to the house to get packed up and ready to depart. Once packed, Alyse, Tasha and I headed out for a coffee run. We had wanted to go to The Only Cafe but it wasn’t yet open so we tried another spot, Nusa Cafe.
This one was by far my least favorite of all of the coffee shops we tried in our area. The coffee was just ok and the actual space was pretty blah. But it was caffeine and sometimes, that’s all that matters.
After coffee, we said our goodbyes and the groups all made their way to their respective airports and / or roadtrips. Tasha and I were both hungry and decided we should stop and grab lunch before we were on the road so we wouldn’t have to eat gas station snacks all day long.
We ended up at Glory Juice on 4th as it had everything we were looking for – healthy, fast, and casual lunch options. We both ordered bowls that were packed full of quinoa, lentils, squash, kale, carrots, beets, and pumpkin seeds and topped it off with a juice (because, when in Rome….).
The bowl was amazing. It was exactly what I wanted – healthy, full of flavor and nutrient dense. And the juice – of course the coffee variety for me – was also really good.
Of course, expect to pay for your meal here. If the shiny branding is any indication, your bowl and juice here will not be budget friendly.
After lunch, we hit the road and prayed for the best in terms of traffic. But just like on the drive up on Friday, we literally hit traffic in EVERY SINGLE place imaginable and our would be five hour drive once again, turned into an eight hour drive. We arrived back in Portland around 8pm on Monday night and it was pretty much an eat dinner and go straight to bed kind of night. I was exhausted.
And while I’m glad to be home again, it was seriously the BEST weekend. Vancouver is such a great city for an active, fit weekend adventure and I’m so glad I’ll be going back at the end of September for our EMPOWER Vancouver Retreat with Lorna Jane. If you haven’t yet signed up for this magical weekend….. seriously….WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!?!?
More info in the Facebook event here!
See you all in Vancouver for another amazing fitcation September 29-Oct 1.
As always, stay sweaty friends!