It's been a week since I returned from a work-related excursion to Vancouver. A week doing Cisco training isn't what I usually envision as a great way to spend time in the city, but I did attempt to make the best of it. Substituting beer for meals in brewpubs turned out to be a great way to spend afternoons. I went with four coworkers, but I spent most of the time visiting with friends and recovering from a cold the last evening of the week, so I really only joined them on two evenings after training.
I was happy to spend Tuesday and Wednesday evening meeting up with a couple of friends that I knew in high school, but hadn't seen in 13 and 15 years. It's fascinating the way our personalities have stayed relatively static, but horizons and viewpoints (not to mention waistlines) for all three of us have widened a lot since those days when all three of us shared very religious teen years.
Subjects of discussion ranged from what each of us has been doing since we last met up, to how our religious views have changed (for the record: one of us is now an atheist, one is now a quasi-Christian that doesn't believe in religion, and the last is still very religious, but much more of a Liberal Christian), our work histories during that time, and of course, what we know or have heard about the fates of other friends or church fellows from those days. It was surprising how easy it was to spend three to four hours on both evenings just chatting away and catching up. I also found it curious how quickly each of us seemed to re-establish our friendship, almost as though we'd been together only a month or so previously, rather than up to fifteen years ago. Of course, lubricating ourselves with Leffe and Granville Island Pale Ale certainly didn't hurt the discussion!
The second best part of being in Van, after catching up with old friends, was trying out different pubs. The first night we arrived at the hotel on Granville, my coworkers and I located Johnnie Fox's Irish Snug only a block away. We pretty much went there every afternoon after work, where I would down a couple of pints of Guinness, while my coworkers would order Guinness & blacks. When we first walked in, I wondered just how authentically Irish the pub was, but after a couple of glasses, while taking in the live Celtic music, we realized that almost everyone in the place had an Irish accent, except us! I'll take that as a pretty good sign that our Guinness was being poured properly, and that the Irish stew I ordered was as Irish as it could be!
I also got the chance to head down to the Irish Heather to try out their cask aged ale, and to marvel at their selection of over 250 whiskies. The absolute topper, however, was the Alibi Room, and their twenty-five taps of microbrewed ales, plus three cask aged ales to choose from. There wasn't a single Molson, Labatt, or Budweiser in sight! Coupled with an excellent, and relatively reasonably priced menu, the Alibi Room was a little slice of beer snob heaven!
All in all, it was a fun trip, and a coworker let slip that I might wind up heading back for some more Cisco training in Vancouver before the end of March. Now that I have a few haunts to choose from, I'm actually looking forward for my next chance to head down to Van!