Canada 1August 28, 2018 in Canada ⋅ 🌙 11 °C
Guess I will give this blog thing a go - peer pressured myself into it…
Day 1 - Saturday 25th August 2018
Flight was pretty horrific but survived so can’t really complain. Had turbulence pretty much the whole way and the plane wasn’t really designed to be a long haul plane and the flight attendants didn’t seem particularly prepared for the crazy turbulence (although comments after I arrived led me to believe it’s fairly common to be very turbulent from Australia to Canada and they were just intact rude/used to getting away with poor customer service). There weren’t any shutter on the windows so sun came straight in for the first 7 hours and then it was freezing for the rest of the trip. The TV screens weren’t the privacy screens you usually get on long haul flights so if you were trying to sleep and didn’t have an eye mask you just got flashing lights from everyones screens around you. And then because of the turbulence the cabin crew never brought the drinks tray around - your options were water, water, or more water. No hot drinks (which I was pretty desperate for once the temperature dropped) or anything. Food was a bit sparse too, had one meal right after take off, a small sandwich about 7 hours in, and breakfast an hour before landing, no other snacks or meals throughout. Also, I swapped seats with someone because they were a family of four (two adults, two kids) and they hadn’t been able to get seats together and they wanted to split the parenting duties over the flight and preferred to sit together. Anyway, didn’t matter how many flight attendants we both told they still sent all my vegetarian meals to the family instead of me (they kindly brought it up to me every time). Anyway it’s over and it could always have been worse. I watched a lot of movies - kept waiting for the turbulence to drop off so I could sleep but never happened. Gave me a chance to catch up on things I meant to see back when they were in the cinema but never got around to. Landed in Vancouver, absolutely breezed through everything. No more landing cards - just insert your passport to be scanned and on you go - and had to show it all to someone to confirm I hadn’t lied about anything but she was more interested in my holiday plans from a ‘have a chat’ sense than a security sense. Collected my bag, handed someone my piece of paper saying I had nothing to declare - she didn’t even look at the paper before waving me through. I got through so quickly I had about an hour to wait before Lily arrived to pick me up.
Lily picked me up no dramas, made our way to Pete and Mitch’s place. Was probably partly thanks to the jet lag but really struggled getting my head around being on the right side (both inside the car and on the road) even though I was expecting it. Gave up trying to look the right way pretty quickly and just trusted Lily to do it all (thanks Lily). Arrived pretty easily and Pete and Mitch got us set up before they were off to help Mitch’s mum prepare some things because she is moving soon (I didn’t catch the full story). We got set up a little bit and then got on our way quickly (Lily hadn’t had breakfast yet because she had been dropping a friend off at the ferry and then picking me up straight after at 8:30amish). Caught a bus into downtown Vancouver. Lily warned me that I would probably be a bit surprised by some things. Marijuana is going to be made legal in Vancouver as of October but apparently it’s pretty much treated as if it’s legal anyway and making it actually legal is just a formality, so there were heaps of “Medicinal Cannabis” shops under varying names around. Also, the number of homeless people was horrific. Which is apparently fine because it’s “not illegal to be homeless in Vancouver so that’s where a lot of the homeless end up” - because legality is a sure fire indicator of whether or not it’s good or right. Most of the locals are pretty numb to it - Mitch and Pete both said it was awful and a lot more should be done about it but agreed they were just so used to it that they only really thought about it when they had friends or family come and stay with them from out of town. Which is fair - plenty of awful things happen in Brisbane that I don’t even think about. Got some food, managed to buy myself a rain jacket (highly necessary as it had rained all morning and was predicted to continue raining the next day), and then just had a walk around downtown. Was a very miserable day because it was raining and also very smokey from all the fires going on over here, but was nice to walk around and see things and start to get used to how things are done around Vancouver. Had to catch a bus back around 12-12:30 because I was getting head spins after not having slept for so long. Ended up having a 2 and a half hour nap before getting up and trying to work through some trip planning with Lily. I was useless at it because I kept dozing off so Lily did the bulk of it. Mitch and Pete came home around 4pmish and turns out Mitch’s mum had given up on packing and they’d gone to a brewery tour, so they both opened some beers and sat having a chat with us. Ended up ordering thai for dinner and having a few glasses of wine and learning a bit more about Vancouver from a locals perspective (was also nice because they obviously know and love Australia too so it felt like proper insiders look because they understood it from our perspective too). Pete works for Apple and Mitch works in marketing (maybe for google? I think, just based on her comments?) so Pete had the home set up like a smart home (without having to have it professionally set up) so he would just casually turn the TV on with his phone and pull up pictures on the TV from his phone about what we were talking about or provide background information whilst we were talking. It was a really fun night, and I’m grateful we got to stay with them.
Day 2 - Sunday 26th August 2018
Slept really well (10 hours! More than I sleep at home) but woke up exhausted. Another miserable day. We walked up to a cafe (about a 20 minute walk away) to have breakfast and then had a bit of a shop around and got groceries and what-not. Eventually walked back to Mitch and Pete’s and got back home around midday. Was chucking it down and cold the whole time we were out so spent a solid chunk of the afternoon just doing some trip planning (at this point we had only booked one night in America the rest was just loosely planned). Was still feeling really tired, so to avoid having an afternoon nap we ended up going for a walk about 4pm (was still overcast but rain had stopped). Went for a good long walk around the area and discovered there were some nice little parks that overlooked the harbour. Got home around 6pm and cooked dinner. Mitch and Pete were both at work (apparently if you’re not a workaholic in Vancouver then you’re not going anywhere worth going). Did some more trip planning and I tried to fight off the jet lag as much as I could.
Day 3 - Monday 27th August 2018
Slept rubbish - woke up a lot thinking it was morning and struggled to get back to sleep. Lily didn’t sleep much better - adjusting to having someone else around so almost every time I woke up, she woke up. Was a bit of a slow start as a result. Managed to get going eventually and stepped outside around 10:15-10:30. Was an absolutely gorgeous day. Caught a bus into the city and then went and hired bikes. Made our way to “Canada Place” and rode along the water front until we made it to Stanley Park. Had a few stops. There were Totem Poles which were the British Columbian Indian’s (a word I thought we weren’t supposed to use anymore but it was what they had written on the plaque) coat of arms that are created to represent either a real or a mythical event - eg one of the totem poles was dedicated to an ancestor who survived the great flood and gave the people the first canoe. It was pretty interesting but there was so many tourists (I know I know - us being there was contributing to the problem) that it was almost impossible to read any of the signs or get any good pictures. We didn’t stop too long there, got on our bikes and rode on. We had to ditch our bikes for the next stop and walk up through a bit of a first path to see ‘Beavers Lake’. It was pretty - but no beavers (nocturnal so guess we can’t complain). Apparently they think within a couple of decades Beavers Lake won’t exist. Water Lilies had been introduced to the lake in 1937 (apparently there were both native and introduced species of water lilies in the lake but there wasn’t any signs to indicate which was which) to beautify it (it was very beautiful, so I guess mission accomplished) but the waterlilies were contributing to the lakes rapid decline (my understanding of it was that because the lake was cut off from the ocean and any water sources it would naturally begin to shallow and then eventually the forest would reclaim the land, but the huge population of water lilies were increasing the speed of this shallowing). We stopped and had a snack around Beaver Lake as we could find somewhere in the shade. Wasn’t hot per se but the sun had a bite to it. Was cold when we were riding but definitely didn’t want to sit in the sun. It was only about 23º - made it a really lovely day. Rode on till we reached the “beach” side of Stanley Island and stopped for lunch. Managed to find somewhere that actually knew the difference between a cappuccino and a latte AND had vegetarian food. Was pretty tasty and nice to get off the bikes. Coffee tasted full of sugar even though I didn’t ask for any, but honestly was decent - better than what I’d had so far. Managed to get a seat in the shade that overlooked the water. Finished the rest of the park with a few more stops (at a lighthouse, once or twice to take a few pics of Lions Gate Bridge etc etc) by which time it was almost 4pm (Stanley Park is supposedly 10km if you stick to the seawall, which we had done minus a few detours and stops) so we headed back to the bike stop. Was started to feel really tired now - and sore - but was glad we had got through the whole park. Dropped off bikes and went and did some shopping/looking around in Vancouver. Eventually made our way back to the bus and headed home. Got home and did a lot more trip planning (the last of it), then had a later dinner around 9pm, packed up backs etc and went to bed.
Day 4 - Tuesday 28th August 2018
Another awful sleep but assume I will eventually adjust. Up at a good time as we had to be at Granville Island by 10:30am and needed to get all our stuff packed up and in the car. Took a bit of time getting everything sorted but then had a goodbye with Pete (Mitch was already at work) and on our way. Had to stop in and get ice as Lily doesn’t have a fridge but does have an esky. Just stopped in at a servo - sorry gas station - and then were on our way pretty quickly. We ended up a little bit like (3-5 minutes - nothing significant) as it’s difficult to find a park. We lucked out in the end and managed to get one in a 3 hour zone - which meant we didn’t have to pay. Met up with a group tour we were doing - I forget the actual name of the tour itself but it was a Foodie Tour (we walked around Granville Island eating food basically). We did a typical ice breaker introduce yourself, who you are and where you’re from and what your favourite food is. Everyone was from America except for one couple who was from Newcastle, Aus. Can’t escape Australian’s anywhere. First stop was a restaurant that served us surgeon fish, roast veggies and a sweet potato pate (keep in mind sweet potato’s in America/Canada are typically white, not orange), paired with a “breakfast wine” of pinot grigio. There was one women who laughed for about five minutes straight when the tour guide referred to it as a breakfast wine - apparently it’s easy to get your head around having donuts for breakfast but completely hilarious to think about having any kind of wine at breakfast time. Anyway wine and fish and veg was delicious (and just a sample size so enough to really enjoy it but not so much to be full (or tipsy) from it). Next was coffee. Shop was called JJ’s or something like that (because the owners name is Jonathon Jr). It wasn’t too bad but it definitely wasn’t regular coffee. The blend of the day was an ethiopian blend that had lemon and something else in it. Personally could really taste the lemon (Lily couldn’t get past the coffee taste but she doesn’t like coffee so not really surprising), and lemon isn’t something I’d necessarily want in my coffee every day. Still, was interesting and nice to try. Next was a bread place (A Bread Affair) where we had a cashew and flaxseed bread, and a cranberry and ….something bread. Both were delicious but the cranberry one paired with some cheese (the place we went next was a cheese and meat board tasting) was amazing and we were really tempted to go back and get some (ended up not - not sure what we can take over the border). Next place after bread we had a meat board. I obviously didn’t have any of this but Lily said it was all really good. There was a truffle salami on the board that she said was her favourite thing that we had on the whole tour so it must have been good. After the meat we had a cheese board - wasn’t anything to write home about but was still better than what you could find in the supermarkets here (nothing was dyed orange and nothing looked plastic!). Next we went in and had some fresh cherries. They were amazing. Tour guide told a story about how she now warns all her tour groups that cherries have seeds in them because she once had someone from America ask what the crunchy bits were (the seeds). Possibly made the story up to get a laugh but either way it’s easy to forget that fresh produce and a variety in your produce really is something we take for granted. After the cherries we had iced white tea lemonade, and then on to some honey glazed donuts (so delicious an dry favourite on the tour). After the donuts we went and tasted some traditional maple syrup which was incredible. Finished off with some almond dark chocolate snap (that’s probably not what it’s called by all I can remember about it was that it was delicious and the tour guide says they all refer to it as crack).
After the tour ended we went and bought a few things (more donuts, some of the bread that we thought we could eat before the border corssing, some more of the tea) and then headed to the library. Printed out everything relevant for our trip to the USA (took a couple of hours to sort it out) and then headed on to our AirBnB in White Rock (just outside Vancouver). Met Gerry, got settled in, and then headed out to the beach to have dinner and watch the sunset. We were trying to finish off food before border crossing so just had egg sandwiches with avocado. Lily also had some alcohol she wanted to use up that we couldn’t take across the border so we had some red wine with our egg sandwiches. Bit of a step down from the food and drinks we’d had this morning but was enjoyable all the same. Got to enjoy being by the sea (no beach to speak of) and Lily and I had a good chat and catch up (that wasn’t focused on making plans etc). Went for a bit of a walk after dinner and then back to AirBnB just as it was getting dark. Gerry came and sat with us for a good half hour once we had gotten back. She’s a lovely older lady who had a lot to say and a lot of very strong opinions but she was never rude and luckily none of her opinions were too offensive (she had a bit to say about how bullying and “people killing eachother” can be tied back to the fact they no longer teach religion in schools but redeemed herself by saying “mind you that Trump isn’t helping”). She used to be a nurse, and her husband is an incredibly keen sailor. She says they used to sail from Canada to Australia once a year (or once every two years) and she really loves Australia and she wishes the people were more passionate about things (like the environment and recycling) because we have a near perfect situation to completely change the world (I’m putting words in her mouth but she kept coming back to how good it was that our country was made up from convicts and we could basically write our own rules because we “weren’t really a colony because we were outcasts” and we do a lot of things right but it’s crazy that we are so laid back about really important issues). She was really fun to talk to, to be honest, and she had some good tips and advice for our trip into Oregon.
Will leave this here - will have to work on keeping these shorter. I feel like I haven’t said anything but also said too much so these will probably get shorter the further into the trip I get (when I run out of energy for them).Read more