Read the rest of Ton-Ton's Journey: Vancouver 2007.)
The morning after our eventful drive from Seattle to Richmond, Cat and I woke up with a hunger to explore. We decided to start with our hotel, the River Rock Casino Resort in Richmond, BC.
The largest casino in British Columbia, River Rock has been a source of controversy and speculation since it first opened in 2004. Although it generates millions annually in tax and tourism revenue for the province, it has also been linked with increased crime, such as loan sharking and murder.
(Checking out the infamous balcony.)
The River Rock is also frequently host to production crews shooting films in the Vancouver area. This has led to a number of celebrity sightings, including an encounter between Denise Richards and some paparazzi, which led to the sexy actress tossing a laptop belonging to one of the paparazzi over a second floor balcony. Cat thought it was hilarious when she read about it. She and Ton-Ton just had to go up to the balcony to look around.
Photography and minors weren't allowed in the casino, so Ton-Ton couldn't get any photo ops. However, I let him play around with some of the Harley-Davidson motorcycles on display in the lobby.
He also found some familiar-looking dummies fundraising for the BC Children's Hospital. Two Canadian dollars got you a red clown nose and all of the proceeds went to the hospital.
The result was inevitable. Ton-Ton spent all of his allowance.
The hotel sits right on the bank of the Fraser River, and has its own dock. Much of the Vancouver area is bordered by rivers, mountains, and the ocean, making it one of the loveliest cities in the world.
(Riverbank next to the dock.)
There's a crisp ruggedness to the city that invigorates me every time I go. It exists in harmony with nature.
(A tug boat hauling logs up the river for processing.)
Everywhere you look, you see a juxtaposition of pastoral and industrial. It's a welcome change from some of the other cities I've visited, where the only greenery to be found are scrubby trees desperately clinging to life on some of the sidewalks.
Vancouverites are very environmentally conscious. I think it's hard not to be when you're surrounded by so much beauty and it's so easy to see the effects man can have on it.
All that exploring had made us hungry. Since Cat needed to pick up gifts for a few of her relatives, we decided to head back to Aberdeen Centre, where we'd had dinner with Ben and Suanne from Chow Times the night before. Directly across from Tropika, we found Saint Germain Bakery.
Named "Saint Germain" in honor of a French baker from that town who helped train the bakery's staff, Saint Germain is a small, Vancouver based chain of Hong Kong style bakeries. It boasted the usual assortment of Chinese baked tasties, including hot dog buns, BBQ pork buns, and almond cookies.
We picked up a few things and had a picnic on a planter while we waited for the rest of the shops to open. Cat's Chicken Pasty flaky and rich, but sweeter than she expected. My Curry Chicken Bun was also a bit sweet, but I'd grown up with that flavor. Ton-Ton had a steamed sponge cupcake that Cat and I both thought was a little dry. Not a bad breakfast and easy on the pocketbook.
Saint Germain Bakery - Not bad, but nothing special.
Saint Germain Bakery
1070 Aberdeen Centre
4151 Hazelbridge Way
Richmond, B.C. V6X 3L7
Unit 140, Oakridge Centre
650 West 41st Ave.
Vancouver, B.C. V5Z 2M9
1144 Eaton Centre Metrotown
Burnbaby, B.C. V5H 4M1
1184 Denman Street