Vancouver, Rain-couver…

I’ve been hiding out from you guys this past weekend….in Vancouver! And guess which totally lovely lady blogger I got to meet while I was there?

Vancouver Trip 1--050414

Yep, Nancy from Gotta Get Baked! <3

Have you all met Nance before? I just assumed you all have–I found her blog only a month ago and instantly fell in love with her free-flowing, sharp, sassy writing voice. In some ways (and I hope she’ll back me up on this), I felt like I’d found a kindred blogging spirit. I left a comment on her blog–she moseyed on over to mine and left a comment on my blog–professions of instant (er, platonic) love were exchanged, and before we knew it I was on my way to Vancouver and we were chatting like two old dog ladies over dinner. Except sadly, I don’t own a dog (but Nance’s is cute enough for the both of us!)

She’s as articulate and funny in real life as she is in the blogosphere, so you’d better go read her blog right now. Maybe even before you {gasp} finish this post! Did you click over? Good! Let’s move on.

Vancouver Trip 4--050414

I will be honest: I have never met a fellow food blogger in the flesh before. If this dinner date was any indication, though, I think meetings in the future will be absolutely frickin’ awesome.

Vancouver Trip 6--050414

Nancy and I got dinner at a restaurant whose name totally escapes my mind at this fatigued, post-conference moment…but it was a stylish, low-key and incredibly wonderful spot in the BC area with great butternut squash soup, fabulous ambience, and just the friendliest waiters ever.

We ended up chatting for 3 hours and connecting over the randomest topics, which included but were definitely not limited to: movie theater rage, the best Disney prince (we decided on bland but reliable Eric from The Little Mermaid), and our mutual fear of setting up blind meetings with folks who will probably turn out to be featured on America’s/Canada’s next Top Serial Killer broadcast. (If you read either of our blogs, you’ll know that these are totally normal, in no way psychologically concerning, topics for serious discussion.)

We talked about this last topic as I climbed into her tinted window SUV and she threw the rotting corpse from the back seat into the trunk. (Okay, I hope you all know I’m totally kidding. Love ya, Nance!) Anyway, it was a fantastic meeting, and I’m looking forward to hosting next time she comes down to the southerly climes! Which I’m sure will be soon….

Vancouver Trip 2--050414

Vancouver Trip 3--050414

Now I don’t know if it’s a stereotyping balance or something, but Canadians like Nance are seriously some of the most delightful creatures on Earth, right up there alongside baby penguins and Holland Lop bunnies.

Vancouver is one of the most beautiful places imaginable. The moment I stepped off the plane, the first thing I wanted to do was explore on foot. Of course, considering how I missed the bus earlier that morning and had basically called up my (very awesome friend N) at the ungodly hour of 6 AM to catch a ride to the airport, I ended up stumbling around downtown like a stoned vagabond wearing garishly sequined leggings I’d bought in Hong Kong last month.

Vancouver Trip 5--050414

After dozens of blocks of teetering around with all of my belongings, I finally tripped into Starbucks, where I checked a few things on Wifi and then turned around to ask one of the guys sitting alone at a table for a restaurant recommendation, since my tummy was growling little lion cub growls at my face.

He stood up and–get this–took his Starbucks porcelain cup, told me he’d come back to return it…and proceeded to accompany me seven blocks down to a Chinese restaurant called Peaceful Restaurant, which has apparently been featured in Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, and had the best dan dan noodles. Ever.

The best part was how congenial the entire exchange was without feeling at all creepy (see Nancy’s and my discussion about stranger paranoia, above). Alex and I chatted the whole time strolling there, and after he’d made sure I was situated comfortably, I thanked him and we waved and he wished me an awesome day and left to return his cup like a good citizen.

I’m easily impressed by people in general (i.e. as a cooperative species), but at this point I was just like, I loooove Vancouverians already! The front desk lady even arranged for two sack breakfasts in my room since I wouldn’t have hot breakfast on the weekend…

Vancouver Trip 7--050414

Ohmigawd, so many warm fuzzies were felt when I saw these labels!

On Saturday morning, I got down to the real purpose of my trip: a very exciting, one-day conference for children’s literature at the University of British Columbia.

I spent an entire morning and afternoon listening to some really swell papers about current topics in and the future of children’s literature as a discipline. And it really is an interdisciplinary conference: folks from Information Studies, Creative Writing, Education, and Librarian Sciences (just to name a few) gave some interesting talks, though my favorite was (unsurprisingly) given by a girl from the University of Alberta’s English department. There’s still something about solid, theoretically framed research on the Harry Potter books that makes my heart thump just a little bit faster.


My own presentation went over just fine, though for various reasons I don’t feel like I communicated my message effectively to my audience, which consisted of many education, library science, and children’s lit folks. (Sadly, none of the English department folks stuck around long enough to attend.) Though I felt mildly disappointed with myself, I was immensely grateful for the experience: it’s probably a good sign that I need to distance myself from my research and really write for the audience at hand. Perhaps talking about teleological conclusivity and generic instability in relationship to Stuart Little wasn’t the best way to communicate to this particular group, although all in all, I think conferences are great places for gauging and reevaluating the types of readership we want to reach as academics, so I’m glad I did it anyway.

We did end up having a fruitful, 30-minute discussion about the novel (one of the panelists just flat out didn’t show up so we had extra time to kill). And while lots of the questions and suggestions were content-based or dealt with issues outside my paper’s topic, I found it helpful to return to some of the basic questions I hadn’t asked myself in writing the paper.

All in all, a positive event! And now at least I get to unwind for a day or two before kicking into research gear again.

<end me me me pity party shpeil #academiaproblems>

Vancouver Trip 13--050414

I did, however, have a fantastic time during and after the conference meeting folks. I met up with my friend Nathaniel who, coincidentally, I had met at the children’s lit conference two years earlier, and we joined up with Calley (the other presenter on my panel who read a wonderful, sassy poetic rewriting of the Snow White story) and her friend for dinner at Sweet Banana, a great Malaysian restaurant in Kits.

Beers, children’s lit, high school cliques, and the all-important differences between Americans and Canadians were among some of the topics of our dazzling conversation. Afterwards, Nathaniel and I swung by the campus cafe and chatted for the better part of 3 hours about his film job, my writing aspirations, and all sorts of in between things. He took me back to my place at around 11 and-pooped as I was–I still managed to squeeze out the last drops of my writing juices for the night before turning in at 1 AM. Phew!


Let’s talk a second about Rain-couver, though. Can you spy the rain on the right-hand side of the picture above? I kid you not that I was the only damn person (read, sore thumb sticking tourist) to stop and gawk because the sky was both sunny and pouring down wet droplets on my head at the same. Freakin’. Time.

Because it’s weird and apparently I was the only person north of the U.S. to think that the end of the world was coming.

Oh, Canada, you strange, peculiar, wonderful land….

Vancouver Trip 15--050414

Traveling alone is such a foreign concept to me, but I loved every minute of it on this trip, including the freedom it gave me to spring around campus photographing whatever my heart pleased (including at least a dozen creepy panning photos of people biking around campus–see above…).

If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you’ll recognize my dessert waffle brunch from a cute little Japanese cafe called Marililu’s in downtown Vancouver–I just moseyed in on my final day in the city and Instagrammed and people-watched the other restaurant patrons like a total lurker while enjoying a sweet respite from the rain pouring outside. I even pulled out my copy of Ella Enchanted and read a few chapters before heading out…another checkmark for my bucket list of nerdy things to do before I shrivel into an infirm little old cat lady.

Vancouver Trip 11--050414

Alas, though, all good things come to an end, and I’m back home now after a really long journey (though definitely not missing the rain!). For a ‘school-related weekend,’ this was by far one of the best getaways I’ve had in a really long time. I’ll miss the Canadian hospitality and gorgeous landscapes for now, but as the French-Canadians say…

A bientot, Vancouver!

Vancouver Trip 14--050414



Where would you love to go travel right now?



20 Replies to “Vancouver, Rain-couver…”

  1. Vancouver is one of my favourite places in Canada! So beautiful -minus the rain 😉 Great photos!

    1. That seems to be the consensus among Canadians, and I can see why! Does it rain in your parts often, too, or are you in the snowy regions, Allison?

  2. I’ve been to Vancouver only once, but loved it! Would like to visit again. What fun to visit with Nancy — sounds like you had a great time. Really fun read — thanks.

    1. Yes, you definitely should–it’s changed so much every time I’ve gone, John! Hope you have a lovely week.

  3. Okay adding Vancouver to just one more place in the world I’ve gotta see. It sounds like you had a wonderful trip and a lot of fun.

    1. Yes, T.R., you most definitely need to! It’s such a gorgeous, welcoming city with oodles to see. I’d be interested in hearing what else is on your list 🙂 thanks for reading again!

  4. Ala, awesome post, girl! Great recap of our dinner (bland but reliable Prince Eric <— bwahahahaha!) Truth. I'm so glad you weren't assaulted or robbed during this trip to my beloved home town (I was tempted but after hearing your previous tales of woe, I decided to spare you). The restaurant we were at is called Burgoo and they've got three locations. Pretty solid comfort food. I had SO much fun meeting you. I wish we could've hung out longer but that would've rendered you too tired to function during your long conference day. Your photos of Vancouver are gorgeous. It looks better through your lens than it does through my own eyes! I can't wait to meet up again (maybe next time in your hood, be it LA or the Bay). cheers, Nance

    1. Oh, and p.s. we are totally kindred spirits! Except I feel way old after you had no idea who Doogie Howser was.

  5. Oh my goshhhh I’m so jeals you got to meet up with Nancy!!!! Both of your posts made it sound like the most fun time. Your conference sounds totally awesome!! I can’t believe there are degrees where you get to study children’s lit and talk about it and write about it!!! So cool. Also, you should go check out the Oh My Veggies blog if you haven’t already–Kiersten got a Masters in library sciences I think and I feel like you might have stuff in common?!

    1. Ahh it was really fun, Erika! We’ll have to schedule our meetings sometime too 😉 I just popped over to Oh My Veggies and oh. My. Gosh. This is fantastic!! I am seriously head over heels in love and will hopefully be connecting with the lovely folks there soon. Thank you, gal, and I hope pre-trip prep is going amazingly!

  6. Hi Ala, we have a mutual friend in Nancy. Her post explaining your positive experience with a giveaway winner introduced me. It’s nice to make your acquaintance. I’ve been blogging for two years with my current site and over the course of that time, I’ve met food bloggers twice in person, both times have been a positive experiences. I hope you have many more in the future.

    1. DB! Yes, I totally remember your blog from that time Nancy guest posted, I’m so glad we’re connected again! That’s so great to hear about your experience meeting other bloggers. What did you guys end up doing–a meal, cooking, some other activity? I’d love to hear about it!

      1. Hi Ala, Both times I met in restaurants. Probably the safest place for all parties is in public. You can read about the first one here (when I still had hair on my head) and here (after I shaved it). It’s funny because both events were organized because one of the participants was visiting from out of town. I’d also love to host a dinner party and cook for a bunch of food bloggers but first I need to clean house first. 🙂

        1. I love it! I am definitely looking forward to reading about your meetings, it’s always mind-blowing when two virtual friends get to meet IRL. And yes, I totally agree about meeting in public, though I thought maybe you guys had a chance to nip elsewhere 😉 I’ve seen the food blogger get-togethers before, you most definitely should–I think that’d be such a swell idea!

  7. […] and I met up a few weeks ago when I visited Vancouver and we chatted for hours: about stranger danger (unmarked cars are generally an unadvised way to […]

  8. I’ve never been there! Pretty sad since I live right next door! Thinkingggg road trip for the future now! Amazing photos. You just did a little tourist selling for Vancouver. 😉 I also concur regarding Disney princes, I say its between Eric or John Smith (Probably shouldn’t admit on here I still have a Disney cd in my car) LOL

    1. Okay first off–DISNEY = AUTOMATIC BFF CONSIDERATION in my book, soooo….Lindsay, you’d better be sticking around! hahaha this is a total Disney safe space–if you get to know me, you’ll know I am pretty ridonkulously obsessed. I may or may not have visited the theme park twice last week…..anyway, welcome! Whoo! If you ever need a Disney buddy, I’m your gal.

      In other news: Girl, you must go to Vancouver. Pronto! How close is close? (If you’re in Seattle or closer, there are no ifs, ands, or buts.) It’s so funny you mentioned the Vancouver advertisement because the moment I published this post, about 5 different official city of Vancouver social media accounts and folks started reposting and favoriting it, so that’s how I became aware of its sales potential…should have sold it, darn 😛

      1. If it’s a Disney safe space here, I’ll be sticking around 🙂 LOL I MIGHT know all the words to the Little Mermaid soundtrack.. It’s a possibility…hehe. Sadly Disney world is far from Michigan and I haven’t been there since I was 6 🙁 Would LOVE to go there again, I have a friend I know who works there and posts the coolest photos.

        Which, I guess I did NOT know the geography of Canada, I thought Vancouver was on the EAST side of the country. Needless to say when I Googled how far of a drive it would be I was sadly disappointed to find it is actually on the far WEST side of the country. 36 hours HA! 🙁 Think I still need to add it to my bucket though.. I’ve oddly enough never been the the west side of America. I’m not surprised by the way Vancouver social media picked up this story. It’s captivating. 🙂

        1. HOORAY–this makes me so happy, Lindsay! And I’m looking forward to the awesome creations on your blog, too. I always feel like there are so many closet Disney folks lurking in the blogosphere just waiting to be found, like Hidden Mickeys. It gets me so excited. You definitely need to go to Disney World–or better yet, come to the west coast and visit DL! haha and it’s okay, geography is confusing. I think you folks are close to Windsor; well, you’re definitely close to Canada! Vancouver is hands down beautiful (your last comment about the social media folks almost made me blush–daw! It’s really the natural beauty and vibrance of the whole city, really.) Do you have time for road trips? You should road trip it! Because after all, if you wanna be where the people are, you wanna see, wanna see them dancing… 😉

          1. Hahaha is it ok if I started singing that last line instead of actually reading it? 🙂 And yes Windsor is REALLY close, we can go across a bridge into Canada from Michigan. Been meaning to take a road trip to Canada for the longest time.

Leave a Reply