First Day I Wore A Fleece!

Trip Start Nov 02, 2011
Trip End May 31, 2012

Flag of Canada  , British Columbia,
Sunday, August 5, 2012

A long flight but worth it. Vancouver, BC, Canada, home to Andrea who we met in Cuba and Gareth who I met in Jamaica.

Downtown was not as high rise as some of it US counterparts and it has a slightly smaller town feel about.  Nearly everyone had a smile on their faces as summer is short here and everyone was enjoying the hot bright sunshine.  Me I had my fleece on.

The hotter climates of the Caribbean had made me soft and I have lost my hardy English edge.  Out of the sun the chill could be found.  It was a feeling I have not experienced in a little while and one I very much enjoyed.  Do you know how nice it is not to be hot and sweaty ALL the time?!

The hostel (St Clair Hostel) was on the edge of Downtown near Gastown.  It was a quaint building, maintaining many of its original features and the owners had enhanced it so it was a little like living in an old steamer ship.  The bear wood floors creaked a little as you walked.  The over head piping ran along the corridors, lined with pictures of boats and posters advertising the Cunard Line.  The newest things in there I think were the typical hostel dorm bunkbeds.

After work I met up with Gareth and we hired some bikes and went for a cruise around Sanley Park.  Where we found otters playing under a bridge and with the sun settling you would have found us sitting on the beach, drinking beer and watching the sun go down.  The park was lovely and the run a refreshing change, it was nice tobe in the 'countryside', well as near as I could get in about 10 minutes.

The view was spectacular too. Apparently I was privileged, most of the year the majestic mountains to the north of Vancouver (and towards Whistler) are shrouded in cloud.  But today they were immense and green.

It was great to catch up with Gareth too, who is the entire reason Ispent a whole day in Jamaice getting drunk on a beach at the edge of a cricket ground, watching New Zealand and Jamaica play.  The consummate host, we did lunch, had a few beers in the evening and watched the rather awe inspiring fireworks together over the next few days.

One afternoon I took a stroll down through Gastown.  This was where the Vancouver started as a few house town way back when men were men and sheep were scared.  The land must have been pretty unforgiving back then, but settle people did.  After a short walk saw me on the infamous Hastings Road, home to hardcore addiction and prostitution.  I was blind to the prostitutes but the smell of human self abuse and drugs hung heavy in the air.  I decided on a short two block walk and witnessed stoned people staggering in drugged up hazes; beer cans thrown through shop doorways; people hawking (stolen) goods on blankets on the sides of the pavement and I’ve been offered a lot of stuff during this trip but it was my first time ever to be offered Metadone and Heorine!  One block away and life was all normal again...  Not something I expected to see so easily in a first world country...

On Saturday I met up with Andrea at Granville Island markets, where we stuffed our faces on delicious food and drink.  The market was heaving with people and no wonder I could have stayed there until you had to roll me out!  We spent a lovely few hours enjoying the sunshine and the food lounging on benches around the market.

Vancouver is a really cool place but I am told I was very fortunate with the weather, but I would definitely visit again and three days wasn’t quite long enough for my whirlwind visit and before I knew it was humping my backpack off to the bus stop to head back south to the US and Seattle.

- JJ
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