As I sit in the hotel room, sipping my Tim Horton’s medium original coffee (with cream), it quickly dawns on me how I’ve so successfully adapted to my current Canadian surroundings. Dinner was poutine with a twist, courtesy of Smoke’s Poutine on Granville, where I enjoyed the ‘Italian’ – a mix of deliciously herby Italian sauce and sausage, that proudly topped the Canadian delicacy that is poutine; and now I sit here reflecting on the events of Saturday the 14th, reminding myself that this holiday bubble will, unfortunately, burst sooner rather than later. BUT, that is later. And I am still in Vancouver, in my hotel room, at a writing desk, drinking Tim Horton’s coffee, full of poutine, and reflecting on one of the more Canadian-y days we’ve had so far, because this was the day we went to our first NHL Hockey game.
Saturday was easily broken down into two main portions:
- BBQ at a joint called Peckinpah’s, recommended to us by a Store Leader from the Pacific Centre Apple Store.
- Vancouver Canucks vs Toronto Maple Leafs
Yupp, our day revolved simply around food and hockey, and it couldn’t have been more awesome because of it.
Knowing full well that we would eat our weight in meat for linner (lunch/dinner, natch), we were determined to kick start our day right with a healthier option for breakfast. Having done a bit of research online, which extended as far as opening Safari and a five minute Google session, we settled on a restaurant called Medina; the owner of many high ratings on TripAdvisor, which is normally enough for me to give something a go.
We went early in order to enjoy our pre selected healthy options (CAD $8 Granola), only to be told that it would be a 45 minute wait for a table. After quickly taking a knee, Thea and I decided to go for it, waiting out the majority of the 45 in a Tim Horton’s down the street that did delicious coffee and, from what I could see, what looked to be some pretty good fucking breakfast. Sitting there, drinking coffee, salivating over the doughnuts/muffins and savoury breakfast options for 40ish minutes, counting down the clock to enjoy my healthy granola was tough, and, if anything, was a true test of character. A test we passed.
Having waited 45 minutes for Medina’s, I was no longer prepared to simply have $8 granola, and so paid a little more for a waffle with salted caramel sauce (Medina’s is apparently quite well known for their quality waffles). Not quite so healthy in the end, but worth every penny. Fruit and organic yoghurt never tasted so good as that granola bowl that morning, with every healthy bite I took I imagined earning myself the right to a bite of the BBQ later on. My mind works in odd ways to justify the plethora of poor choices I make.
If you’re ever in Vancouver, then do check out Peckinpah’s. I had the ‘Bit of Pork and Beef’, which comes with a friendly serving suggestion (Serves 1 or 2 – ha!) Although a little pricey at $24.95, you, without a doubt, get your money’s worth. With a plate the size of a small trash can lid, I proceeded to kill myself slowly by over packing my stomach with the following deliciousness:
- Pulled Pork
- Pork Ribs
- Beef Brisket (which were out of this world good)
- Two sides (I chose french fries and hush puppies)
- A piece of cornbread
I also treated myself to my first beer whilst on holiday, choosing to enjoy some beer with the BBQ, all before the main event of the evening: hockey.
Truth be told: I was worried.
I was worried that we wouldn’t be allowed entry into Rogers Arena, or that we would be escorted out, or that we would (worst of all) have to have an awkward conversation with a couple of people who were already in our seats – part of the reason I wanted to rock up early, just in case any one else did turn up, at least we’d already be there in the seats. Why? Because I had bought the tickets from StubHub. I hadn’t had any experience purchasing through StubHub before and, although I knew they were reputable, was still concerned at what COULD happen. Thankfully my fears were quickly to put to rest as the tickets scanned without issue and we swaggered into the Arena. Well, I swaggered at least, Thea just kind’ve walked in behind me looking embarrassed for some unconnected reason.
The atmosphere, the arena, the production value, the entertainment, everything about the Canucks game was gold. We had a blast, with Thea enjoying the hockey more than she ever thought she would. We’ve tried to become hockey fans in the past, watching the odd LA Kings game that we were able to find, but being an NHL fan in the UK isn’t as easy as it could, or should, be, especially in comparison to other sports getting massively promoted right now, chiefly the NFL. I would love to see a similar promotional furore for ice hockey, given how much fucking fun it is to watch.
I asked Thea why she enjoyed it so much live, but wasn’t able to sit through an entire game at home with me. Her answer was a simple: “I can actually see the puck.”
We were sat in between a family of Canuck’s fans and some Maple Leaf supporters, which made for an interesting balancing act of supporting the Canuck’s offence, and being sure to not offend the seething Maple Leaf fans as their team went on to lose 4-1 to the hometown heroes.
One takeaway from the game? Canadians are awesome.
Even though they supported different teams, everyone was still courteous, polite, and friendly with one another. I’m pretty sure the harshest, vitriolic, venom yelled out at the Maple Leafs, by a supporter no less, was “You’re horrible!” Another good piece of advice was, “Skate around in circles; confuse them!”
The game was a great success. Thea and I had had a great time, surrounded by great fans, in an Arena that saw the hometown boys win decisively against their Toronto rivals. I’ve never considered myself to really be a ‘Sports’ guy. Perhaps you know the type? The guy/girl that is ALL about sports and nothing but sports. Hardcore sports fan guy; full of stats, player information and opinion? That’s been changing over the years, my interest in sports having evolved from my life long love for professional wrestling (which extends past, but naturally includes, the WWE) into MMA, which was the catalyst for me discovering a relatively new passion in BJJ.
Because of this, I was thrilled to pull off another feat of incredible ingenuity by Googling the following: “UFC Sports Bar Vancouver”. Turns out that there was a Sports Bar LITERALLY around the corner and down the street from our hotel that was showing UFC 185. All we needed was a $10 cover charge and we were good to go. There must have been a mere 20 seconds before entering the hotel room, jumping on the wi-fi, searching, and telling Thea to get her stuff, we’re leaving.
G Sports Bar down Granville was a great sports bar with wonderfully attentive staff. Filled with fight fans and continuing to be fuelled by beer, the night was only just beginning after the excitement that was the hockey game. I’d never experienced a UFC in a sports bar before, let alone live, surrounded by other fight fans, all merry and enjoying the octagon action.
The collective ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ created a sense of unspoken unity. We may not have anything else in common with each other, but on this night we were brought together by our love of all things MMA; or, to simplify it even further: our love of watching controlled, skilled, violence.
Even my overly enthusiastic offer of “Don’t get caught in the GUILLOTINE!” to Jonny Hendricks as he lifted Matt Brown into the air, his neck seemingly slightly exposed, wasn’t enough to dampen the mood, yelled out perhaps more loudly than needed as it escaped my lips.
Excessive amounts of BBQ (is that truly a thing? Nope), Canucks vs Maple Leafs, and UFC 185. Without much hyperbole, it was pretty much a perfect day in Canada. So much so that we went out and obtained tickets for the Canucks vs Philadelphia Flyers game on Tuesday, once again courtesy of our friends at StubHub. Oops.