Yesterday I packed my bag, headed to the airport, and drank a flight.
Of wiiiine! I tried out Vino Volo, the newest addition to YVR’s huge restaurant fleet. It’s located in the main arrivals hall, so you can sip a local Chardonnay and watch a steady stream of happy reunions.
We all know flying isn’t usually associated with fine cuisine; I don’t know about Business Class, but most of the airplane food I’ve consumed has been less than extraordinary. That’s not to say I don’t really look forward to receiving my tray of tiny-portioned food, however. It’s a form of entertainment.
If you’d rather bring your own meal on board or enjoy something before you fly, the good news is that YVR has plenty of options.
There are dozens of restaurants and kiosks, all serving meals that can be taken through security – aka, “Food on the Fly” – including breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.
If you want fast food, you can have it. If you want a big healthy salad, you can have that, too.
The Fairmont Hotel’s Globe @YVR accommodates travellers, too. To help relieve people’s confused, jetlagged appetites, they’ll make guests dinner in the morning, or breakfast in the evening, and can accommodate many different diets. They also offer a healthy Food for Flight menu, which guests can order through room service the night before or the morning of their flight.
Yesterday, I tried their West Coast lunch ($26), which included a bagel filled with smoked salmon, cream cheese, capers, red onion, lettuce, and a tomato, a mandarin orange, house-made granola bar, and a bottle of water. The sandwich was filling, fresh, and yes, a mighty fine alternative to an inflight meal. The granola bar was excellent, too!
I had a second meal at Vino Volo, which just opened two locations in YVR (one before security and one after) about a month ago. Their international arrivals location is the perfect place to wait for family or friends; you can order a glass (or flight) of wine, and share a snack with them once they’ve arrived.
Vino Volo has a small, tapas-style menu, and an impressive range of local and international wines. I chose the “BC Nights” wine flight, which included three wines from the Okanagan Valley: a Cabernet Franc by Church and State, a Cabernet Sauvignon by Nk’ Mip Cellars, and a Bordeaux Blend by Laughing Stock Vineyards.
The cheese plate ($10) included pieces of pecorino (sheep’s milk), asiago, and blue cheese, and was served with slices of bread, dried cranberries, and fig jam. By a long shot, my favourite combination was the bread + fig jam + blue cheese, and had I only eaten that and the almonds for the day, I would have been satisfied.
The one hot dish we tried was the braised pork tacos ($11), which were “South American” style. The meat inside them was richly-flavoured, however the corn tortillas needed to be served warmer, as they were inflexible and crumbly.
Airports are extraordinary places; they’re home to dozens of borders, change by the second, and are witness to thousands of teary goodbyes and reunions each day. I’ve been through many by now, and think YVR is a particularly remarkable one. After a long flight, the arrivals hall is awe-inspiring (there are waterfalls! And gardens!), and there’s First Nations art everywhere you look. The most famous piece is Bill Reid’s Spirit of Haida Gwaii: Jade Canoe, located in the International Terminal, Departures Level III.
Another extraordinary thing about YVR is its Green Coat Program, which consists of 400 members who provide directions and information to visitors. Combined, the volunteers speak 28 different languages, and as many as 50 Green Coat Volunteers assist passengers each day.
A third bonus at YVR? The free Wifi. I once experienced a flight delay of 12 hours, and that free wifi saved me. SAVED ME I tell you.
While it’s not unique to the Vancouver Airport, let’s not forget about Duty Free, which I think might be some people’s reason for travelling. While I’ve never been too excited about tariff-free goods, I did once buy a kilogram bag of peanut M&Ms on my way out of Europe. It was equally the best and most stupid purchase I’ve ever made.
YVR’s duty free stock includes 10 bottles of this 70-year old Glenlivet. It costs $35,888 per bottle, which is approximately $35,878 more than my bag of peanut M&Ms.
It was strange spending half my day in an airport without getting on a flight at the end, but I enjoyed my time at YVR yesterday. I was able to reflect on the travel experience in general, and the things – big and small – that an airport can do to make a journey more enjoyable.
It also reminded me of when I arrived at YVR after my exchange year in England. I was 21, had never spent so much time away from home, and nearly wept as the customs agent greeted me. I collected my luggage, found a Green Coat volunteer, and asked where I could find the things I’d craved most while abroad: Timbits.
Seeing as there are six Tim Hortons in YVR, it didn’t take long to get my travel-weary paws on some. I sat down and ate a dozen before even considering where I needed to go next.
Yesterday, in honour YVR and travel itself, I bought myself some sour cream-glazed timbits for dessert. They tasted like adventure.
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