Cortexiphan

Yesterday was a travel day, so I'll just summarise it briefly. I had to clear out my room by 12 noon, but the flight wasn't until 5pm, so I stowed my bag and went out to have an early lunch and kill some time. I wandered up to Snakes and Lattes, an eatery with a great name and even better concept: board game cafe. It's got a huge library of board games, and once you pay $5 entry you can stay as long as you like and play games. People normally come in groups and have lunch and a game.

Sadly, the place - not insubstantially sized - was booked out, and had two thirty person groups occupying large swathes of the store. Bridal parties, explained the hostess, or perhaps baby showers. Would be cool to visit with a group of friends next time we're in Toronto. After lunch, I wandered back to the hostel, picked up my bag, made it back to the airport in good time and then sat around waiting to board. The flight was running late because the plane had arrived from overseas late, but without too much hassle I was soon on board and picking from the significant in-seat entertainment options.

An easy SkyTrain ride after that, and I was in Vancouver city. It was late - nearly 8:30pm by the time I found our guesthouse, the lovely Urban Hideaway. More like a home than a hostel, I was greeted by the friendly Janine and shown around. The property is in the heart of downtown and yet is homely and serene in its warmly decorated rooms. A fully-equipped kitchen, free Wi-Fi, breakfast included, beds with nice linen: it will be a nice place to spend a week.

Today, after said breakfast, I read up on some of the filming locations for Fringe and integrated them into my normal lap of the city to get my bearings. I found a lot of cool places thanks to a fan-created guide of where scenes had been shot, including the alt-universe Fringe division headquarters, Orpheum theatre and site of Charlie's death. I was also stunned to discover the bar and grill I'd innocently grabbed a bite to eat at last night had been used to film a rather awesome scene, and I hadn't even recognised it! There are a few places further afield that I might visit in the coming days as I explore the greater Vancouver area. The guesthouse is in a great location too.

I returned with the intention of doing laundry, but since the owner wasn't about I gave it a miss and will do some tomorrow instead. I headed out to dinner and found a really cool pub. There wasn't a table free so I pulled up a stool at the bar and ordered a meal there. It was a warm, almost British atmosphere, with wooden fittings and staff in berets making cocktails. As if it couldn't get any cooler, a live jazz band set up in the corner and started jamming. After a couple of beers and a nice chat to a Canadian couple beside me, I headed back to the room.

Now that I am in the area, I am unintentionally alert in case I happen o walk past any number of film or TV stars that are walking down the street. An entire block was wired up with cables on my exploration today, which I later gleaned might be for Metallica's movie. We'll see what comes of it. Tomorrow I think I will get a metro ticket and head into the outer suburbs a bit more. Stanley Park is meant to be great, but the southern region beckons too.