New Beginnings, Winter Weather & Finding my Feet ...
17.11.2012 - 21.11.2012 5 °C
So I have finally arrived in British Columbia and the city of Vancouver.
British Columbia is also referred to as BC by the locals and the French Canadians refer to it: la Colombie-Britannique, C.-B.
It is the westernmost province of Canada.
BC is bordered by the Pacific Ocean on the west, by the U.S. state of Alaska on the northwest as well as parts of the west, on the north by the Yukon and the Northwest Territories, on the east by the province of Alberta, and on the south by the U.S. states of Washington, Idaho, and Montana.
Vancouver is seen as a coastal sea-port town and the largest city in BC bordering the Pacific Ocean.
The air smells so fresh and everything looks so clean and new.
The winter chill was definitely in the air and the temps a little bit of a shock to the system.
I was surprised by how many Asians there are residing in Canada. Particularly the Japanese who must make up 1 in 4 and it feels very much like Australia in this regard. The Asian influence is everywhere with so many Asian restaurants and food shops. Something I am looking forward too. I don’t think I have seen a person of colour in days though, which feels bizarre, other than Indians.
The transport system is pretty simple and down town is all rather walkable and easy to get too using the Sky Train. I am temporarily staying at a hostel near Gas Town and the lower downtown area. Hoping to find room at one on the West Side of Downtown which is a more viby area. Not great but bearable until I sort myself out. I later found out that this was a slightly seedier part of town.
The streets are all littered with leaves of all colours and maple leaves and this eventually forms mulch that you land up walking on, so the constant squelching beneath your feet is something to get used to. Everything is very damp and wet. The weather is definitely going to take some getting used to. It is very frigid and when the wind blows off the ocean you really feel it. There are so many water inlets and bays, so you constantly feel the chill. The weather has been overcast, rainy and drizzly and I am told that it’s going to be like that for a while.
It is such a pain trying to dress appropriately without walking out their looking like a snowman. I already have to wear thermals, double socks, vest, long top, jacket, beanie and scarf and there isn’t even snow yet. You constantly have to take clothes on and off as you enter a mall or a restaurant as all these places have heating on.
Eventually I will get used to this.
The city is made up of so many high rise condominium apartment buildings which are all glass and similar in design. These buildings seem to engulf the small island land mass they sit on. The city is well organised into a grid type system. There are parts that are problematic and are known for having heavy drug problems and users but other than that I have not felt unsafe at all.
As I mentioned a friend from back home who I have worked with has her family here and put me in touch with her sister. It was Emma’s birthday yesterday which she invited me to. After 4 days of flying and being jet lagged, I decided to go anyway, as it was better than spending Saturday night alone. Emma and her boyfriend picked me up at the hostel and we headed to Nobu a Lebanese restaurant, where she had about 20 people for dinner. It was a 6 course dinner which was very good. Such a fun bunch of people. Afterwards they dropped me back at the Hostel and slept like a baby until 10H30 Sunday morning which is just what I needed.
I feel like I am always tired here. The weather really messes with one’s internal clock and body rhythms and the overcast weather makes you just want to sleep and stay in bed. I did end up going for a walk into the city centre to do some exploring and then took the promenade wall walk right around Stanley Park which is a massive park at the top of Downtown Vancouver. It took around 2 hours to walk around the perimeter from English Bay to Coal Harbour. Along the way you pass sand and pebbled beaches filled with bird life; loads of ducks, geese, seagulls and herons and pass thick green forest trees in the park. The air is so fresh and clean. Across from the park side you look across the bay and waters to what is called the North Shore (West & North Vancouver) which you need to access by bridge from Downtown Vancouver. Really a beautiful city and like something out of the movies with never ending ocean, fishing trawlers and container vessels, tall mountains in the distance covered with thick clouds and mist, sea planes that fly over and land in the bay.
I have picked up a mobile phone number and tomorrow my mission is to sort out my social security number and find a bank to open an account. Then I can start trying to focus on the job thing a little more. It is not going to be the easiest thing but we will see what happens. I need to find out where I am working – Vancouver or at one of the resorts or towns like Whistler. Then I can start working out a better means for accommodation and take out something longer term but for the time being my hands are tied.
An American friend of mine who I studied with in Australia and lives in Vermont has worked at Ski resorts in Canada over the past few years and has said I can crash at his place until I source some work at the mountain, so that may be an option too.
One feels a little disoriented and silly having to learn a whole bunch of new things again (just like in Australia) and things we don’t generally deal with i.e. How the transport system works and what options there are for transport servicing different areas in a large metropolis, getting used to the money, how the cell phone plans and contracts work, where to buy toiletries and groceries etc.
Then to add confusion, the Canadians use Fahrenheit & miles here which also gets confusing apart from other local things.
Today at Tim Horton’s (coffee/sandwich shop) the lady asks me if I want “double double” and I just stared at her like I am supposed to know what that means. Well it means double milk, double sugar. It’s all those small things and local nuances which will take some getting used to. All part of the travel experience though.
All in all though, it seems like a great country with nice people and a place i am bound to enjoy.
Now, I need to focus my efforts to finding a job, to make some money, to spend it and go see more of this enormous country.