I just returned home from four days in Vancouver, BC.  I went up in order to meet with the tech lead on my project at work, and get some face time working on the design and development tasks for the next phase of the project.

First I want to say that it is weird, but I intentionally left out mentioning my trip on here before I left due to the ease of stalking/robbery/etc…

Anyhow, we took the Amtrak Cascades train from Seattle to Vancouver.  The train left early, but was really great.  The track ran right along the ocean pretty much the whole way up, so the view was spectacular.  I didn’t have to drive or worry about traffic, I could sit back, stretch out my legs, relax.  I was able to walk around, buy snacks at the snack car, read, work on my laptop, etc…  Train travel sure beats flying (except for the speed I guess).  The train ride is a little longer than the drive (counting distance only) at 3.5 hours up, and 4 hours back, but you don’t get stuck for hours and hours at the border crossing, like you do in a car.

We arrived and took a five minute cab ride to our hotel, The Opus, check-in was at three, and we arrived around one PM, but I was hoping they could get us in anyway.  As it turned out, none of the class of room that we had booked were available, so they upgraded us to a Deluxe Garden Terrace room, which gave us access to the courtyard, for free.  We got settled in our room.  You can see a few pictures of our room here.

I got my hair cut and we did a little shopping before we went to dinner.

I want to dive into a matter of cost and quality and service for a moment.

The Opus clearly cost more than a Holiday Inn, or a Motel 6.  When shopping, I bought my first pair of designer jeans (Seven for all Mankind).  Why spend so much more on a hotel and why buy jeans that cost so much more than Levi’s or Express?  Two reasons:  quality and service.

The Opus Hotel room is large, the bathroom is luxurious with heated floors, and a huge soaking tub.  The bed was amazing.  We had a private courtyard which we ate lunch in a few times, a nice LCD TV, an award winning restaurant and bar downstairs, etc…. That’s all the quality part.  It just made the whole experience nicer and more like a vacation.

The service part is reflected when I wanted to get my hair cut.  I was feeling very scruffy.  My wife wanted to get her hair straightened before dinner.  This was on Sunday at 3:30 PM.  Not knowing the area, I could have gotten a phone book, looked up hair salons, called around, trying to find one that was open nearby, and trying to find one that could get me in for a hair cut, and my wife in for a straightening, ideally at the same time.  All on a Sunday afternoon with no notice.  Instead I called the concierge, explained what I wanted, and hopped in the shower to clean off the travel dust.

When I got out of the shower, we had appointments at the same time, at an excellent salon, just a block up the street, within easy walking distance.   That’s the type of service that stands out, and saved me a ton of time and hassle.  The hair cut was great.

The jeans are partially me spoiling myself for loosing so much weight.  Before I bought them I had only one pair of jeans that fit my waist.  All the rest were 2″ too big, and I just cinched down my belt and made do.  They didn’t look good though, being far to baggy and clearly not fitting me well.  So I wanted to get another pair that fit.  The jeans are super soft, well made, and fit me very very well.  The quality of the fabric and the construction is clearly better than the run of the mill department store jeans.   Then the service part:  the jeans that fit me the best, and looked the best, happened to only be available in the store in a Long, which was too long for me.  So, they marked them, had a tailer hem them to fit my leg length and shoe height perfectly, and delivered them to the hotel.  With no additional cost.  Personally tailored and hand delivered to my room?  I’ve never had that happen.

I think rich people must enjoy these types of services and perks all the time.  It sure is nice.

I worked during the day, and in the late afternoon or evenings we shopped, ate out at fun restaurants,  went to the Chinese Garden, which was cool, but smaller than we’d expected, and the Vancouver Aquarium, which was really cool, but we only made it there about 30 minutes before they closed, so we only saw a few things like the Sea Otters, Dolphins, Belugas, etc…  I want to go back and spend several hours there.  It’s a really nice aquarium.

I took a ton of pictures with my new camera.  I really like it.  Some of the pictures at the aquarium aren’t the best, but those animals won’t stop moving:)  I think the huge buffer and rapid shooting will get me in trouble taking too many pictures, but hey, that’s okay.

The people in Vancouver, or at least the area we spent most of our time in, Yaletown, are all very fit, very attractive, very well dressed, and in sharp contrast to most of the people I see around Seattle.  The city seemed really nice, the air was clean and fresh.  I sort of want to move up there for a few months.  We’ll see.

Working from there, in the hotel, and a local coffee house with free wi-fi (and the best little chicken tikka masala wrap things I’ve ever had), really made me realize how free I am location wise.  I can work from anywhere with phone service and a net connection.  This is talked about in the Four Hour Work Week book, but this was my first time really doing it.  I have good discipline, so I am able to really WORK when I should, and play later.  I could have done the same thing there, or in Brazil, or NYC, or anywhere.  Being in a new place, and being able to spend the evenings walking around a new city, exploring, seeing new sights, etc… was all amazing.

Anyhow, that’s what I’ve been up to!  Check out all the pictures, and let me know if you’ve been to Vancouver and what you think of it.