Friendly cannabis attitudes and shopping we can’t get in Seattle, pack a passport and see how we roll.
First of all make sure you tell them at the border you are going to Canada to spend money. We remember a day when getting into Canada wasn’t like being granted a visitor badge at the Pentagon, but we’re not sure which side to blame on that one. Vancouver is another 30 minutes, and some number of kilometres, past the crossing. There are some nice waterfront towns on the way into the metropolis but a bed & breakfast isn’t really 4E’s scene…
Sheraton Wall Centre is always the hotel of choice, and Starwood preferred hot rates are easier to get than you think. Everyone knows some friend or family member that works for the Starwood chain. Japadog is right down the street and its can’t miss street food. The 4E way is to simply pass up the fancy meals with expensive bar tabs and eat cheap, save money to shop and buy libations from the liquor store. Our favorite hot dogs from the iconic vending cart are the “Spicy Cheese Terimayo” with seaweed and the “UME” with sliced onions and plum sauce. Don’t knock the ingredients until you see how they work together.
A foreigner’s first real task in unfamiliar territory is to acquire some medication, and we used the back channels to find a mutual friend who can design his ass off and had $30 eighths at a comfortable loft in Chinatown. It was four grams and stinking to high heaven too. We joined our civilized comrades at the “New Amsterdam” on W. Hastings and experienced the slice of European life we all miss – smoking in a well-lit coffee bar without fear of police intervention. Another favorite past time for the 4E Art Dept. is gathering references so we spent a good hour digging through cannabis merchandise going back decades at the Marc Emery store next door.
The neighborhood we all hold close to our hearts is a short walk towards the water, they call it Gastown. This is where the menswear lurks, and women’s fashion is more than your rent. Now we couldn’t make up street names like this but 4E’s favorite spot “Haven” is inside Gaoler’s Mews just off Blood Alley. Apparently it was the butchers and criminal’s playground several centuries ago. Right inside Haven has copies of SNEEZE Magazine for $5 and we all grab one. This large format periodical sells out everywhere, we just got lucky. It felt a lot like home with all the Maiden Noir gear they carry, Seattle’s most accomplished fashion brand was as well represented as any Japanese or French counterpart. The Mt. St. Helens Climbing Club series with Porter looked hard to keep in stock.
Most of Haven’s business is online but 4E likes to visit the shop and pick Jeremy, the proprietor’s, brain. He doesn’t object as long as we have a good looking PR staff member of the female persuasion along for the visit. The Junya Watanabe collection is always fun to finger, Mark McNairy’s shoes were even better in person and the Stone Island sweatshirts had folks checking their online bank statements from their mobile phones. Shadow Project from Stone Island, White Mountaineering Coats and Post O’Alls Engineer Jackets were some of our favorite “out of our league” items. This is the store you could spend $10,000 in without batting an eyelash.
After a brief visit to some friends at creative shop “Idea Rebel,” the digital agency that blows minds daily, we head to the Waldorf Hotel which actually isn’t a hotel at all. This 63-year old relic was renovated making way for two restaurants, a tiki bar with analog soundsystem that is a trip to experience, hair salon, gift shop, live music venue, nightclub and multi-media projection space. They call it a “creative compound.” The ice cream social every Monday is a smooth move, and our favorite parties going off are the “Love Dancing” and “YOLO” nights. Vancouver has a real appreciation for promoters and almost everything is a recurring weekly or monthly party.
A quick stop at Hudson Bay Company to see the “Stripes Collection,” the most debonair products from the outfit that once traded in beaver pelts and their own homemade currency. They’re that old. No trip to Van City would be complete without some “poutine,” the Quebecois food that is French in origin. “La Belle Patate” on Davie St. is our last stop on the way out of town, they have 30 different kinds of poutine and we like the “Poutine Extreme” the best with beef, bacon, mushrooms and onions to go with the classic french fries, gravy and cheese curds. Montrealer Pascal Cormier serves the squeakiest plate in town at LBP, and apparently poutine is judged by how squeaky the curds are and how little they melt when the other warm ingredients are mixed together.
But the gravy is vegetarian however. Canada is weird, and we’ll be back.