Hello from Vancouver! I thought it would be dreamy to see the Pacific Northwest by train and so that's what I'm up to at the moment. I arrived yesterday by plane, so I haven't yet officially begun, but the idea is to travel from here to Seattle and then Portland in the next few days. Right now I'm feeling fairly bullish on Vancouver-- my time here has been somewhat brief thus far, but it's possibly my favorite city since Antwerp (and longtime readers know that's saying a lot). Much of my enthusiasm is owed to the Vancouver Club, where I am staying, the kind of place where, when you ask to take the warm roasted nuts from the table up to your room after dinner, and then ask for a glass of milk for tea, not only do they happily oblige but insist on carrying it up on a silver tray. Needless to say, I am ready to move in! The one caveat about staying at any private club is that one must be mindful of the dress code. Because pants or sneakers rarely suit me, I am more or less overdressed everywhere I go. However, I recently bought jeans in Chicago (my first in years) and thought I'd mostly wear those on my little sojourn. When I arrived here I realized I wouldn't be permitted to dinner (no "denim of any colour" allowed). The only sensible thing to do last night was to jump in a cab and go across town to Lark, a store I knew only because I ordered a pair of repurposed fur earmuffs from them last winter after seeing them online. Between that and encountering Ouno Design (creators of "what may be the ultimate Windowlicker"), I got the impression that Vancouver is a stylish place where intriguing things are happening. And I was totally right. Anyway, I popped into Lark where I chatted with Veronika who I had emailed with in the past, and they are so soigne that they have their own branded candy bars. Dark chocolate, of course. I picked up the perfect black cocktail dress by a local designer (I'd love to tell you who, but I'm wearing it right now), and resisted picking up an armload of the artfully selected wares in the shop, including those striped sailor-y French tops that I've been so enamored of lately. I'm packing light though, and I was on a mission, so I got what I needed for the evening and nothing else (except a candy bar). Although, if I ever suffer from total fashion ennui in New York, I will just call Veronika and ask her to throw something in a box for me and mail it; Lark is that good. Dinner was divine and I was so grateful that I had thrown those $6 vintage Walter Steiger snakeskin pumps with a heel like an upside down shark fin into my bag, just in case. Afterwards, I retired to my room early to watch insanely deadpan Canadian television, such as Corner Gas, for a while. There was also an amazing local public access show hosted by two true music buffs who were discussing the 13th Floor Elevators (I still remember hearing Brody Dalle cover their "You're Gonna Miss Me" at a Distillers show a few years ago). The two best lines from that episode are equally brilliant: "They were pretty obscure in Canada" and "Did you see High Fidelity?" vie in my heart for equal affection. A local band I'll have to check out is Black Mountain, up for the Polaris Prize, according to The Vancouver Sun. I would have gone for a stroll last night but it never would have occurred to me that twilight isn't until ten o'clock! I only caught a glimpse of the mountains surrounding the city as we landed, and plan to spend more time outdoors today as it is uncommonly beautiful here. I also really like the mellow vibe, which I'll attribute to better gun control and a national health care system. Canadians are more or less exactly like Americans only not so amped up. It's a charming mien. Next stop: Kitsilano Beach.