Gastown, Vancouver

Traveling from North Van to Gastown through the Seabus is really fun! 

Traveling from North Van to Gastown through the Seabus is really fun! 

The  Paperhound  Bookstore

The Paperhound Bookstore

Purebread  has amazing everything! Try the crack bars and the giant meringues (right).

Purebread has amazing everything! Try the crack bars and the giant meringues (right).

Nelson the Seagull has amazing bread, lemon custard marzipan croissants and delicious Flat White Coffee (and Avo toast for $9 too... but that's another story... don't get me started on Avo toast...).

Nelson the Seagull has amazing bread, lemon custard marzipan croissants and delicious Flat White Coffee (and Avo toast for $9 too... but that's another story... don't get me started on Avo toast...).

And a walk through the Chinatown, of course. Lizard popsicle, anyone? The funniest thing was that amidst all these Chinese stores was a really cool vegan store that totally clashed with its surrounding. There is also a really funky store called  Space Lab  (with a totally hipster barber shop at the back) worth a visit.

And a walk through the Chinatown, of course. Lizard popsicle, anyone? The funniest thing was that amidst all these Chinese stores was a really cool vegan store that totally clashed with its surrounding. There is also a really funky store called Space Lab (with a totally hipster barber shop at the back) worth a visit.

Edgemont Liquor  is one of the best places to find specialty spirits, beer and wines in North Van (not Gastown). I was so excited to find the Mia Amata Amaro from Odd Society Spirits, the Kina Tonic and that Sour Wheat Gose was amazing (still haven't taste the Kaffee one).

Edgemont Liquor is one of the best places to find specialty spirits, beer and wines in North Van (not Gastown). I was so excited to find the Mia Amata Amaro from Odd Society Spirits, the Kina Tonic and that Sour Wheat Gose was amazing (still haven't taste the Kaffee one).

And last, but not least, a little hole-in-the-wall pizzeria called  Emilio FInatti  in Langley that has one of the best pizzas I have eaten in my life (and I LIVED in Italy for a year). Seriously. I am still dreaming about it. Not all their pizzas a great, but this one is AMAZING. It's the Capo Piquante with calabrese, chorizo, curried butternut squash, goat cheese, jalapeno, arugula and mushrooms. Oh, and a great selection of board games to play while you wait (it's mostly a take out place and there is a lot of action!).

And last, but not least, a little hole-in-the-wall pizzeria called Emilio FInatti in Langley that has one of the best pizzas I have eaten in my life (and I LIVED in Italy for a year). Seriously. I am still dreaming about it. Not all their pizzas a great, but this one is AMAZING. It's the Capo Piquante with calabrese, chorizo, curried butternut squash, goat cheese, jalapeno, arugula and mushrooms. Oh, and a great selection of board games to play while you wait (it's mostly a take out place and there is a lot of action!).

Other locations that are not depicted and that are worth mentionning:
The Modern Bar Tender, where they sell a huge variety of bitters and syrups, but even better of herbs to make your own bitters for a fraction of the price. The great thing is that they have testers of every bitter for the clients to taste. 

A really cute consignment store called Hunter and Hare.

As for camping in the Great Vancouver Area, it is very limited. The only legit place to camp for free is in North Van by the Walmart in the street (not the parking lot). It's not the greatest neighborhood and it's not leveled, but it's free and only 2 km from the Seabus to Vancouver (Gastown). In Vancouver per se, forget it. We asked at the Costco in Langley if we could spend the night after shopping there and the manager said yes (always make sure to write down his/her name), but when we came back to the bus after less than an hour in the store, there had been an attempt to steal Mara's bike (a grab 'n go thing, but the thief didn't notice the big Shwab chain and the bike was hanging from it). So, we moved to an industrial area in Langley in front of the garage where we had an appointment for the Westfalia the next morning. It wasn't a great neighborhood, but JF had the good idea to switch the bike rack onto the bus, so the bikes would sit just behind our head as we slept. Late that night, as we had just fallen asleep, JF heard voices and opened the curtain to see 2 guys who literally had their faces in the bikes. That's when Stout heard them too and barked his powerful bark. It was pretty funny to see them scamper away like little boys!

So, like any big city, Vancouver is not camper friendly. The closest RV park is in Burnaby and charges over $50 per night. There is also this RV park that looks nice in North Van that would be closer to the Seabus to go visit Gastown. It's still probably your best bet for a safe quiet location to visit Vancouver.
 

Lynn Canyon, North Vancouver, BC

As Yukoners, Vancouver is our medical hub, the place we go to see any kind of specialists. Since JF was having an eye surgery done on both eyes for a visual dysfunction, we decided to bring the girls to see a specialized optometrist. We found out some pretty interesting things about all of our eyes, namely that Mathilde has some moderate binocular dysfunction that explains a lot of things (reading difficulties, focus problems, letters and numbers inversion still frequent, etc.). In her case, all 6 of her eyes muscles are weak, making it really hard to track objects, focus clearly, etc. whereas in the case of strabismus, for instance, it's only one muscle that is weak. The treatment for this type of dysfunction is vision therapy, which is pretty much physiotherapy for the eyes. The problem is that usually, you have to be in one place for a whole year and come to weekly appointement (the whole treatment costs roughly $4500 and is not covered by most insurance plans). This amazing clinic understood our situation and got us to meet with a therapist that explained all the exercises to do in the next 6 months by ourselves!  

On the first day, while I helped Mathilde for her peripheral vision exercise, I realized I did even more poorly than her.... and decided to book an appointement for the twins and I... We found out  that both twins eyes muscles are in good shape, but that they are both near-sighted!! I was pretty surprised to find out about that since both JF and I have myopia... When I hopped on the optometrist chair, I understood. She told me that I had much more severe binocular dysfunction than Mathilde (weak eye muscles that make convergence, peripheral vision and depth perception - in my case - very hard). Ah!!! And I thought all my life that I was simply a poor basketball, volleyball, tennis and badminton player (and well, any other sport that included a ball or anything moving really...!) and that I was a bad driver. Now, I at least have a good excuse for my clumsiness!!... and numerous bike falls!

The doctor explained that there should be 3 components to an eye exam: eye health, vision and eye muscles, but that almost all optometrists only check the first 2. I actually had one optometrist told me I had peripheral and depth problems about 15 years ago, but never told me I could actually *do* something about it! She told us that she was flabbergasted by how healthy our eyes were! She told the girls: you are sure eating your greens, are you? I was pretty surprised to hear that our eyes reflected our green juice intake! She told Mathilde that our eyes don't care about meat, dairies or grains, that they are all about fruits and veggies! She went on to draw a very interesting parallel by telling her a story. She talked about farmers working the field that needed strong muscles. She said if one has weaker muscles, he gets tired more quickly than the other ones and will want to move on to another task or take a break. The others will think that he is lazy or that he lacks focus, but it is because his muscles are not as strong as theirs... Mathilde sighed and spontaneously said: I knew it wasn't all my fault!! Sweet girl of mine... I wonder how many children diagnosed with learning disabilities and ADHD actually have a visual dysfunction... Too bad it's not more known... and too bad most optometrists do not screen everybody for this type of problem. There is a great Ted Talk about this here.

Anyways, we didn't go to Vancouver for nothing! We also took advantage of our time there to spend some time with our Yukon friends who are spending the year in North Vancouver. We shared a few good meals and bottles of wine, and went for a short hike in beautiful Lynn Canyon together.

And now, as I write this, we are driving into Washington State for the next leg of our adventures!