I was able to track Ed’s every move through WhatsApp upon his arrival in Vancouver. His first bite of Canadian food came from Tim Horton’s which is a chain fast food/coffee shop that many Canadians are somehow proud of. Their donuts are mediocre, and their employees are always poorly trained and often are entirely befuddled when it comes to serving deaf customers.
But, a donut is still a donut. When Yann and I find ourselves at Tim Hortons, he already knows my order. When I order myself, though, the cashier usually passes out from the complexity of having to read an order off the screen of a smartphone and requires medical attention. It’s a lot to tolerate just for a glazed chocolate donut.
Over Ed’s two weeks in BC, I made sure he tried a variety of deep-fried rings of dough from fancy donuteries such as Cartems, Lucky’s, and Yonni’s, all of which are four times better than anything from a certain place which I’ve already mentioned once too often. Yes, these donuts are also four times more expensive, but they make me four times happier!
Ed also contemplated buying some maple syrup while he was bored at the airport waiting for the buses to be back in operation. Maple syrup, I had to explain, was not a BC thing. All the maple syrup in British Columbia have been imported from 3,500km away, almost the same distance between London and all the sugar shacks in Québec. If you insist on purchasing maple syrup on the west coast, go for the canned stuff sold at grocery stores.
Similarly, don’t try sampling the Nanaimo Bars in Montréal. Victoria is just 110km from Nanaimo and therefore is an acceptable city to try the multi-layered delicacy.
Smoked salmon nuggets are another must-eat BC Coastal fare as well as halibut and burritos from Bandidas Taqueria. To wash all that down, Yann and I introduced Ed to the marvel that is the West Coast IPA. In the end, Ed was the most enthusiastic about… Skittles.
I’m no Skittles fanatic. I only just learned from Ed that American Skittles were different from UK Skittles. Further online research tells me that British Skittles lack the luscious gelatin found in American Skittles. Also, the black currant flavoured British Skittle has been swapped out for grape in the American variation. I fail to see how this is an improvement.
Skittles aren’t even Canadian! If my poorly researched information is correct, they were invented by Britons. Nevertheless, Ed found Ameri-Skittles be to be superior enough to warrant hauling more than a kilogram of the confectionery back to England.
Now to move onto something impressive: Botanical Beach.
We considered driving up to Port Renfrew with our bikes to set up camp, but rain was in the forecast for the following day. Instead, we left the bikes in Victoria and spent the day leaping over tide pools before entering a forest of some gnarly giants.
I acknowledge that the very thing I keep complaining about, the rainy weather, is also the reason for the resplendence of BC’s coast.
What followed our trip to Botanical Beach was an extremely poorly-timed cold for yours truly. I’m a borderline germaphobe: I cannot put unwashed produce in my mouth, and I hate it when people hand me a drink by the rim. Yet, people who are unbothered by that sort of stuff are the ones who do not get colds. Ed and Yann probably grew up eating worms and it paid off.
While I slept in excess and cultivated nasal glaze, Yann was able to take Ed out for bike rides. After a few days, my efficiency had been restored, allowing me to enjoy the Royal BC Museum with Ed, Yann, and Kristina. Later in the week, upon Kristina’s suggestion, we were transported to the 80s when we descended the stairs to Quazar’s Arcade.
I was impressively terrible at pinball, but my Street Fighting (II) skills from the third grade were awakened. I kicked so much ass as Blanka that I was half-expecting the other patrons to flock around the arcade machine to root me on like they do in the movies.
On the 23rd, we had run out of things to do and see in Victoria and my health had improved. It was time to head to the mainland, where the finest donuts are fried. For Yann, it was his first visit to the mainland since our cross-country move at the end of March. Yann has no idea how public transit works there other than that it’s acceptable for Vancouver bus drivers to merge into cyclists
Of all the cities I’ve lived in, I have the most extensive knowledge of Vancouver. I can tell you how to reach the clothing-optional beach by bus from anywhere in the city, or where you can buy a skincare mask that makes you look like an otter. I also know of a place where otter sightings are guaranteed: Vancouver Aquarium.
Vancouver Aquarium is one of those tourist attractions where you are forced to exit through the gift shop and a very enticing one at that. Who doesn’t want a $100 giant squid plushie? Or otter stuff? Somehow Ed escaped without as much as a starfish fridge magnet tucked into his fanny pack. (Side note: Yann revealed to us that for the longest time he thought fanny packs were called funny packs and I find this funny.)
The rain and my sickness had impacted our original plan of multi-day cycling trips, but we still had five days left, and we had brought our bikes over to the mainland.
More to come…