Exploring Vancouver with Di

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Exploring Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | Em Then Now When

I figured while I'm curled up on the couch sick (again, for like the twelve thousandth time this year) I should dig through some of the (very few) photos that Diana and I took on our trip to Vancouver this past weekend.

When Di found out she and her boyfriend Robbert would be heading to Canada this winter she excitedly told me and we started planning a long weekend together before they continued their trip across the country. I was able to take a couple of days off work and landed a sweet flight out of Orange County just a couple of weeks before takeoff. (Again, I cannot get over how cheap it is to fly on this coast!) I dusted off my passport, packed my carry-on, and took off to British Columbia last Thursday afternoon.

Vancouver was an interesting city that we repeatedly tried to define during our visit. There were three times as many tall buildings as in Downtown LA, but the feeling was that of a small city like Charlotte, North Carolina, or maybe even Salt Lake City. Everything seemed modern, clean, and trendy, from the local eateries to the public transit. True to the stereotype of the Pacific Northwest, it rained the entire time we were there and a thick fog hid the tops of buildings and obscured our views of everything across the bay.

A truly international city, every sort of language and accent could be heard in crowded areas. A favorite feature of mine was the sneaky slip of a British-accented word into seemingly accent-less sentences by the locals. I also loved that French was a second language there and was included on everything.

Another thing I loved was the exchange rate! The Canadian dollar was equal to between $0.80 and $0.81 USD while we were there, which was an immediate 20% discount on everything. My favorite (and most necessary) purchase were a pair of Aldo rainboots, which were worth every cent after sloshing around through puddles in my ankle booties for an entire morning.

Our hotel in Coal Harbor, The Pennacle, was conveniently located within walking distance of everything we wanted to explore. We wandered a few blocks south to Robson Street, and a few blocks east to Gastown several times. A short bus trip dropped us off on Granville Island, a peninsula across the river full of farmers markets and other little shops owned by local artisans, and a tiny ferry took us back across to Yaletown where we were able to catch the train back to the waterfront.





Exploring Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | Em Then Now When



Exploring Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | Em Then Now When
Di... is this blurry pic the only one we took together, really!? We have to do better next time! ha!

Exploring Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | Em Then Now When

Exploring Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | Em Then Now When

We did a lot of walking and ate a lot of great food. Here are some of the places we visited that I highly suggest should you make it to Vancouver:
  • Cafe Medina: (780 Richards St) A trendy little breakfast spot with fresh fare, tasty waffels, and a great vanilla latte.
  • Catch 122 Cafe Bistro (122 W Hastings St) Another great breakfast place with hearty house-cured bacon and everything else a southerner would want to start their day... plus beans, because England.
  • Tap & Barrel (1055 Canada Place) Tasty burgers and brews... or in my case, a crisp hard cider with grilled cheese and tomato bisque... yum!
  • Bella Gelateria (1001 W Cordova St) A local Canadian gelato place that even beat Italian gelato in Florentine competitions... the hazelnut was incredible!
  • Lee's Donuts of Granville Island (1689 Johnston St) Need I say more?
  • The Mill Marine Bistro (1199 W Cordova St) A waterfront eatery with a really good pulled pork sandwich.
I would definitely like to revisit Vancouver, especially during a time of year when the weather is better. I've heard September is really nice. I'd really like to visit Stanley Park and take in some of those gorgeous Northwestern views I've heard so much about!

Unfortunately, we only took photos with our phones because of the weight of our actual cameras and because of the weather. Time for a new (smaller) DSLR!

A video posted by EmS (@embusyliving) on

Portraits by Samantha Polanco Photography

Thursday, January 15, 2015


Towards the end of 2014 Daniel and I had some pictures taken by a local (Oceanside) photographer. We hadn't had any professional photos taken since 2011, and I really wanted to have a few to commemorate our time in California. I found Samantha through seeing photos she had taken of a friend of mine who lives in San Diego County and soon messaged her to arrange a session.

The beaches in Laguna are my favorite and I was hoping for a session on some rocky beach similar, but Samantha actually offered to drive up! We met her at Crescent Bay Beach, one I hadn't discovered yet, and we did our shoot as the sun set.

I just love the light in these, and I love the fact that someone is able to get a few pictures of me not looking totally awkward! Ha! I turn into the strangest person when a camera is pointed at me, and while I can't help but to criticize myself and every awkward face I make, I'm definitely going to be printing a bunch of these.




The Last Bookstore, Downtown LA

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Last Bookstore in downtown Los Angeles is worth a visit! We wandered in yesterday and were surprised at how spacious and and fun it was. My favorite parts were the small art installations and random decor perfectly scattered throughout, peeking out of little hiding spaces or even dictating parts of the room. Upstairs is the Labyrinth, a literal maze of discount used books that one could spend hours combing through, as well as a few small artisan shops lining the back hallway. I need to go back and just spend hours looking through shelves, vinyl albums, and the Labyrinth.

The Last Bookstore and the Spring Arts Collective in Downtown Los Angeles, California | Em Then Now When
The Last Bookstore and the Spring Arts Collective in Downtown Los Angeles, California | Em Then Now When

The Last Bookstore and the Spring Arts Collective in Downtown Los Angeles, California | Em Then Now When
The Last Bookstore and the Spring Arts Collective in Downtown Los Angeles, California | Em Then Now When

The Last Bookstore and the Spring Arts Collective in Downtown Los Angeles, California | Em Then Now When