One of the hardest things about living in Montreal is the fact that all of my immediate family still lives in Vancouver. When Rick and I got married we made a deal to at least try to alternate where we spend Christmas each year, which we’ve more or less stuck to when our budget allows. But I won’t lie, it’s hard sometimes. It galls me how much it costs to travel within Canada, I mean, I know it’s a big country but there’s also no competition with only two airlines so ticket prices are more or less stagnant. And this year we had the added cost of accommodations since my brother is back living with my parents and my sister was hosting her husband’s family this year.
Luckily we found an incredible Airbnb just off of Commercial Drive right next to the Skytrain station and more or less half-way between my parents and my sister. Jen was a great host and the room was huge and airy. She even had two cats that we could play with whenever we started to miss Gatsby and Kala too much.
It was also very near to JJ Bean so I could get my morning soy latte fix. Commercial (or The Drive as it is better know) is renowned for its great food and general funkiness. I think Rick was a little spooked at first because of the prevalence of the homeless, but he settled into a rhythm with it quickly enough.
We had grand plans this year to finally eat at all the legendary restaurants I’d been telling Rick about since we started dating or to do touristy things like go to the Capilano Suspension Bridge, but Rick got SUPER sick the day after Boxing Day, which would have been our tourist time. We did manage to sneak in a dinner date with the marvelous Margot Meanie and some nephew time, but sadly not nearly as much as I would have liked.
One of the high points of this visit was definitely finally getting a chance to check out The Storm Crow Tavern, Vancouver’s very first nerd bar. Featuring a full menu and “shots of destiny” that are determined by rolling a D20, the Storm Crow is the perfect place to hole up with some friends, play a board game and totally nerd out.
The restaurant itself is covered in nerdy memorabilia, with certain walls taking on certain themes like video games, horror, or Game of Thrones. There were several large TVs playing Doctor Who the first time I went in and they have a respectable selection of board games (although Randolph it is not). The food was also surprisingly good, although apparently it had gotten a lot better since it opened.
I managed to drag Rick there with me in one of his few non-barfy moments and we got to play a little Star Wars heads up game. I loved that they have a lot of vegan options and I could get Daiya added to whatever I wanted! The coffee was also quite good, but considering the coffee culture on The Drive I would have expected nothing less.
Speaking of coffee, we also got a chance to check out 49th Parallel on Main Street as I couldn’t resist trying out Lucky’s Doughnuts. I got a HUGE mango and passionfruit doughnut with mango glaze and mango-passionfruit filling. Let me tell you, there is no cool way to eat this doughnut. The filling is going to get EVERYWHERE. It was a mango massacre. I had to use the left-over doughnut parts to mop up all the filling on my plate, much to Rick’s total disgust. That said, it was delicious. Dense, but not heavy, and the filling wasn’t overly sweet. More like a compote than a coulis.
The other great highlight was playing with Amy Lee and Stampy Cat, my nephews’ new kittens. My oldest nephew, James, is obsessed with video games and YouTube and named the cats after his favourite YouTubers. They were so cute and playful, alternating between sleeping for twenty hours and running around like total nuts for the remaining four hours. It was also beyond adorable watching my three year old nephew Owen try to chastise the cats for jumping on the table and such. Quite the disciplinarian for a barely verbal guy.
This trip also saw me knocking something off of my bucket list by FINALLY getting my Bubble Bobble tattoo with my sister Kat. In the works for nearly five years, I’d been wanting to get a tattoo with my sister for ages and since Bubble Bobble was the game we played most together as kids it seemed fitting that it would be the subject of our tats. It’s also my first video game tattoo, which is kinda crazy, but I’m super happy with it.
A huge thank you to Jeremy Riley over at Tattoo Union for fitting us in on such short notice and doing such a stellar job. Jeremy also did the hanafuda piece on my right arm a million years ago and I’ve been itching to get more work by him for a while but it’s been hard living on the other side of the country. I’m so happy it all worked out this time.