Stretching along the coastline of the Pacific Ocean and tucked along the edges of centuries-old rainforest, Vancouver is a young city defined by its natural geography in ways unlike any other. It’s known by many names: Lotusland in reference to Homer’s Odyssey, the City of Glass from a Douglas Coupland novel, and Hollywood North thanks to a few seasons of the X-files and oodles of films.
Vancouver is a port city that came of age in the prohibition era and grew up into a diverse urban center with much to offer, including a burgeoning culinary scene and wine culture. Destination or layover, Vancouver is where you want to spend a few hours or days to eat and drink your fill.
Dear North America: We need to get over ourselves. Stat. Our perspective is not everyone else’s perspective. Recent travels have reminded me of this, and I’m grateful.
Not everyone can travel. I know that. I’ve known what it means to not have any cash – and I’m not talking about needing to visit a bank machine, either. I admit to carrying on my shoulder the chip of those who have lived through poverty, and as much as I’d like to shrug it off there’s something that won’t let me. For now, at least.
It’s that chip – the at times big, hulking boulder – that tilts my head just enough to see things from beyond the perspective of privileged middle class. Because that’s where I am, despite the shudder I feel at acknowledging it – in a place of privilege. Not as much as some, yet heads above others.
I recently visited London, England and Paris, France. It was a 10-day getaway; a solo journey to remind me of who I am at my core without a prefix (Mrs.) or qualifier (woman/writer/wife/whatever). I received much advice before my trip – like where to eat and what to see. And I was cautioned about the size of things: Europe would have smaller everything, I was told. Bathrooms. Streets. Elevators.
Sure, my hotel room in Paris was tiny. But compared to what? Large North American facilities, where we’ve known nothing but sprawl because we have room for it. My 5’9″ frame fit (barely) in the shower, which was added to the room well after the building was constructed hundreds of years ago – but I had more than enough space for my single being to exist.
Maybe it’s our North American perspective that’s skewed. I was overwhelmed by the magnitude of the Louvre, and managed to spend seven hours in there without visiting every aspect of it. I got lost three times. (disclaimer: I have an incredibly bad sense of direction)
I think it might be more fitting to say that many of our consumer-culture items are bigger in North America. Not the macarons – I ate a delectable chocolate macaron in Paris that was the size of a giant North American hamburger (it took three sessions to consume). But many things are. From my limited new perspective I’d say we live in larger domiciles, eat bigger portions, and purchase items in larger quantities than do our European friends. I saw no 24-roll packs of toilet tissue in London – a good thing, because you’d have no place to store 24 rolls in your flat.
The chip on my shoulder forms part of the horizon against which I measure experiences, and it always will. I gain new angles to my perspective with every adventure. The trick is remembering why they came to me, and honouring their contribution.
So, my fellow North Americans. I ask that you please be mindful of how you approach those bigger-than or smaller-than observations. They speak of your own shoulder chips more loudly than you know.
There’s this killer conference all about wine. It takes place in a different region each year (voted on by attendees), and shines a light on that area. By light I mean spotlight with serious social media influence.
The Wine Bloggers Conference (North American version) just finished its 4th annual shindig, this year in Portland, OR. With more than 350 attendees, and I-have-no-idea-how-many wines, the scope of this invasion has yet to be tallied, measured, and converted into advertising dollars equivalent. One thing is certain: the event was a trendsetter on social media channels, including Twitter, where it reached worldwide trend status – it even eclipsed the The Biebs. True story.
Although I’m writing about this event for EAT magazine and won’t dish the full dirt here, I thought I’d give you a visual sample of the four day extravaganza. I managed to take a few photos – when I remembered to a) bring my camera, and b) actually use it.
Outstanding work by the conference organizers, Oregon Wine Country, Zephyr Adventures, The Doubletree Hotel in Portland (who might spend weeks locating glasses throughout the hotel, sorry), and all of the sponsors, speakers, and participating wineries. We felt the love.
Oh, and one other thing. This conference that provides millions (and I mean millions) of dollars in “free” advertising while it’s in town and for years after? It’s heading to PENTICTON, British Columbia. Mark your calendars June 6-8 2013. And be there. Or hear about it at every opportunity by those who went, and be jealous. Very jealous.