Yesterday was a lesson in the bliss of aimless wanderings. Usually I have a clear plan in my head of where I am going, what I am seeing. Not on this trip!
I have taken my niece on a sojourn to Vancouver, British Columbia as a graduation gift. After checking in to our hostel, we set off without a plan towards English Bay, the body of water that divides downtown Vancouver from the greater city. Sometimes the best way to experience a new city is to let your feet and senses guide you. We strolled along the beach, picking up shells, relishing the salty wind in our faces. The people-watching here is superb. The weather was gorgeous and the entire city was out to play. Beach volleyball, gulls screaming, families with tiny children wading in the waves, guys kicking around the soccer ball.
Suddenly we found ourselves within the lush gardens of Stanley Park. Pleasant, cool, and an absolutely gigantic plant I cannot even identify. Looks like a huge zucchini plant, large enough to hide my niece among the foliage!
The evening was another lesson in wandering. We meandered along Robson Street, the flashy upscale shopping street. Sure, it’s the typical high-end name-brand clothing stores and flashy see-and-be-seen scene. But leave it to my niece to find the quirky side of Robson. A small Japanese market with an assortment of fascinating foods and candy. An athletic store selling retro World Cup team uniforms. (I am almost seduced by the geometric 70’s style German warm-up jacket.) A bubble tea cafe, serving a wide-ranging assortment of Japanese bubble teas, which delights my niece. These are strange, but refreshing concoctions. A tea mixture (in this case green tea and lychee) with “bubbles”, a sort of jelly-like round substance small enough to suck up the straw.
I have never experienced Vancouver this way before – through the wide-open eyes of a teenager and the delights of unknown surprises around every corner. My niece has taught me the value of just strapping on my shoes, throwing a sightseeing plan out the window, and exploring. The bubble tea would never have surfaced otherwise.