Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Candy counters for travellers, travel writers

About a week ago, I was involved in a cool discussion on Facebook about the types of stores women and men typically frequent; a friend of mine, Nicole Yamanaka, co-owner of Le Physique, commented in a post that she much preferred to go to a place like Home Depot or RONA as opposed to a women's shoe store or clothing store.

It's really neat to see the way people like Nik (and many of the others who participated in the discussion) do not let gender stereotyping dictate or limit who they are as people.

Me? I'm not very handy, so building/home repair stores are not exactly my cup of tea. Now, I love to go to kitchen/cookware stores like Sonoma-Williams, certainly not something high on the list of "male" things to do, at least not up there with watching sports, tinkering with old cars or being able to belch out the national anthem, but since I do most of the cooking at home, it makes a certain amount of sense.

(I also like to go to spas for massage and other types of body pampering, although I do draw the line at waxing as a means of body hair removal - or any other type of hair removal that is not restricted to the head or facial area, or involves anything other than scissors or a razor.) 

More in line with the so-called "masculine" side, I also love outdoor stores that sell camping supplies - tents, backpacks, canoes, paddles, cool outdoor kitchen gadgets (which gives me the best of both worlds - camping and cooking... and yeah, I have a campfire cappuccino maker!) 

Anyone for a campfire espresso?

A distant cousin to outdoor stores are travel stores. As a travel writer (and obviously an avid traveller), I love these stores.

Letting me loose in these kinds of stores is tantamount to turning a six-year-old loose in a candy store. Hide the plastic! Don't let me go in with more than $20 in my pocket! I might end up paying for the owner's kids college fund!

Two of my favorites in Vancouver are The Travel Bug and Wanderlust.

Both of these stores are located in Vancouver's west end. The Travel Bug is right on Broadway, a couple of blocks past MacDonald Street. Very close to the Banana Leaf, a Malaysian restaurant I've eaten at more than a few times (but that's another story...)

Travel books galore
 The Travel Bug offers a wide assortment of travel guides and books, including some really good (and sometimes esoteric - which is even better) travel literature books. They also sell Putamayo world music CD's, and assorted travel paraphernalia like electrical outlet converters, airplane sleep masks, passport wallets, and so on.

They also host events from time to time. For example, a few years ago I attended a slide show there, put on by Leslie Nevison of Mama Tembo Tours in Africa. I also saw a presentation there about Myanmar.

Wanderlust is located on West 4th Ave. between Cypress and Maple, and just a stone's throw from Las Margaritas Mexican Restaurant (eaten there a few times, too!)

It's a larger store, with a larger selection of books and a huge room full of luggage of all kinds. Like the Travel Bug, is also has a host of accessories like travel journals, travel clocks, money belts and so on.

Cool stickers
It also used to sell these cool vintage travel labels - the kind you used to see plastered on people's steamer trunks and suitcases. I have a bunch of 'em myself. You still might be able to get them there, not certain, though.

I haven't spent as much time in Wanderlust as at the Travel Bug (guess I like Malaysian better than Mexican!). I have bought books from both stores, as well as accessories.

There are other travel stores in Vancouver. But I love these ones so much, I've just never explored any of the others.

Now, where did I put that credit card ...?

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