Sunday, October 30, 2011

Festival Island

One of the best parts of the Vancouver International Writers Festival, besides the fact I got to hang with some great writers, is that everything takes place on Granville Island. Located in the middle of the City of Vancouver, Granville Island is a hip and happening place, full of shops, restaurants and wondrous views of Vancouver. Just seeing the lights of the city reflected off the water at night is worth the trip on its own.

But having everything you need within walking distance is fantastic. Instead of jumping in a van to travel to another part of the city for your events, you only have to walk a few minutes. Writer Central of the VIWF is the Granville Island Hotel. On the eastern corner of this triangle shaped island, the Granville Island Hotel is one of those little boutique hotels, only about 3 stories tall, with a brew pub in the middle. The restaurant is called Dockside and as it names suggests, it had a fantastic view of the dockside. There's also a uptown style lounge with the same view. But most of the writers didn't hang out much at these restaurants. Literary festivals always have a hospitality suite with free booze and snacks. Open after 8 pm, it was the place to hang with writers of all kinds. The beer was from the Sea Dog Microbrewery and while the Amber Ale was excellent, I fell in love with the Dark Lager. I'll look for both at my local beer store, which has over 800 varieties of beer.

During the day, there were plenty of other restaurants and lounges, all, as I said, within walking distance of the hotel. We ate a couple of times at Bridges, an upscale place that mostly served seafood. And since this is Vancouver, the seafood was excellent. Bridges also served beer from the Granville Island Brewery. The IPA went perfect with some rock fish. For the rest of the time, we headed to the Public Market. Plenty of food options there from fresh veggies and fruit to hot meal. My fave was Al A Mode, which had pies of all kinds, savoury and sweet; and the salmon burger. Can't visit the Public Market without having the salmon burger.

When I was at events and hanging with writers during the day, my family hung out at the Kids' Market, a open air building full of shops with toys, puppets, clothes, etc. for kids. You can spend loads of money there if you want, but just window shopping is fine. And if you want to get off the island, grab one of the bathtub ferries and either walk downtown or along the seawall. Stanley Park is about a half hour away.

Hope I'm invited back to VIWF cause I had a great time.

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