Hello Vancouver! I’ve arrived in paradise. The sun is shining and the blissful sound of running water from an indoor waterfall fills the airport. Interestingly, this was one of the main things I remembered about the airport from my childhood trip – the waterfall! It’s amazing the things that stick in your mind, yet it had almost the same impact on me this time round, as it did the last.
The Canadians surely have their priorities in check, instilling a sense of serenity and calm on arriving to a country which fills you with exactly the same, naturally. A far cry from the onslaught of noise, people and stress of Gatwick! This is bliss and I love it already. Such a warm welcome from an airport building – how is that even possible?
British Colombia is known globally for their warm and friendly attitude and, without fail they lived up to their name. On arriving on Cambie Street and on trailing down Broadwalk, lugging a heavy suitcases in tow, I was surprised by the numerous smiles and conversations from the many passers-by. Perhaps this was due to my general expression of confusion and numerous failed attempts of working the grid system. It turns out, although simple, it largely depends on knowing which way is north. I guess I had to find out the hard way, and walking blocks in the wrong direction certainly did that! Sadly, the years of reading orienteering maps on Duke of Edinburgh expeditions didn’t help me here.
I was initially taken off guard by the overwhelming friendliness of ‘Vancouverites’, falling victim to typical English suspicion, where merely making eye contact with a stranger is an absolute no-no. This annoyed me about myself – ‘why was I questioning strangers being polite and helpful?!’ It soon became something that I absolutely adored about the Canadians. They are such open, friendly and more importantly HAPPY human beings. But then again, how can you be downcast, living in a place surrounded by picturesque mountains, with the bounty of the sea right on your doorstep?
Arriving on Broadway Street was a great introduction to Vancouver. It had a cosmopolitan air, yet still bestowing the older qualities of Vancouver. Residential areas held a mixture of modern and traditional homes and the streets were lined with established maple trees, offering a speckled light as the sun shone through their leafy canopy. Having walked most of Broadway (or, at least it felt like we did) and breaching Kitsilano still with suitcases in tow and having shed layers of clothing, we stumbled upon False Creek. A beautiful place to watch boats and yachts slowly come and go and paddle-boarders mend their way through the creek’s traffic, with the occasional person falling victim to a boats bow wave and toppling into the crisp, yet seemingly inviting water.
Bikes appear to be the main method of transport and a vibrancy and health effervesced from passers-by. Friends, family, work colleagues (and probably complete strangers) engaged in conversation about their daily events. I love people watching. It is amazing how much you can learn from simply sitting back and observing. From how people walk, talk and act towards each other to how we learn and interact with nature and our natural surroundings.
Jet lag was starting to creep up on me. After dinner at the Cactus Club Café – a rather tasty British Colombia food chain – and finding a new fondness for Bellini’s, I decided, for the good of us all, I would take part in my very own Bellini tour in British Colombia. Now that’s something I can get on board with! A fantastic fruity end to my first day in sunny BC. On admitting defeat to overwhelming tiredness, I am ashamed to say I was in bed by 9pm – a 24 year old aging before my time! But as the old saying goes; ‘early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise’. Heading to bed early only meant tomorrow would come that little bit sooner, bringing with it my next adventure.