Thursday, 6 April 2017

Travel Diaries #1 - Vancouver Alone

This is part one of some travel diaries I wrote while in Canada and USA recently and didn't publish at the time...

Today has been one of those days where a poignant combination of jetlag, gratitude and awareness of privilege have rendered me particularly introspective and reflective. 

Firstly, my Sunday has been 35 hours long so far and is starting to feel a tad Groundhog Day-ish. I mean Sunday is a weird old day to start with, even when it is in its usual 24 hour format. I usually treat it with a mixture of derision and passive aggression. A need to "DO SOMETHING" with the day so that I can claim to have had a weekend, tempered with an inherent desire to DO NOTHING and stick the middle finger up to the world. 

Today, I got up at 5am Adelaide time, my amazing husband drove me to the airport, I flew to Brisbane on a Qantas flight which managed to irritate me by not providing a toastie for breakfast (I know, #firstworldproblems and all that but it is mindfuckery when the last 6 Qantas morning flights I have been on all had a toastie and this morning, the offering was FUCKING CORNFLAKES). 

A very disappointing breakfast.

I transferred to the International terminal at Brisbane and boarded a 13 hour flight to Vancouver, which was absolutely chock full and where I had the delightful experience of sitting in an aisle seat with a 6'5" dude in the middle seat who could not help but man-spread into my seat because he was far too tall and wide to stay within the acceptable boundaries of his own. Helpfully he fell asleep within 20 minutes of take off and therefore relaxed further into my space thus rendering any hope of snoozing myself completely untenable. 

I therefore did the only rational thing I could in the circumstances. I selected a wine from the trolley and started watching films. I watched (Oscar nominee) Manchester-By-The-Sea, Bridget Jones' Baby and Deepwater Horizon back to back. All three had me in tears at some point. Also, I can confirm for you right now that the best bit of Bridget Jones' Baby occurs during the opening titles when she mimes to House of Pain 'Jump Around' whilst pissed and in pyjamas and spilling wine everywhere. I experienced a strange sense of attachment to this scene. I also unconsciously found myself miming along with impressive accuracy and I am sure my nearest fellow passengers enjoyed this display of hip hop skillz before I realised and came to an abrupt halt.

Anyway, 13 hours later I was in Canada (ACTUAL CANADIA!) and ready to mingle with Mr Trudeau and his band of singing Mounties. Sadly, they were not in arrivals to meet me and I had to wrangle my suitcase on my own and other annoying shiz because of an annoying lack of amazeballs husband. Between getting off the plane and exiting the airport I checked that I had my passport at least 15 times. Such has it been drilled in to me not to lose the damn thing. 

Bizarrely, when we landed it was 7am. On the same day I had left Australia. I had actually done a Marty McFly and gone back in time. My brain could not deal. This also meant that I was VERY early for check in at my hotel. As my room was still a few hours off being ready I headed over the road to a Tim Horton's (Canadian coffee chain) and got a latte and free wifi #winning 

Vancouver city view

Thank goodness for my kindle, I managed to while away 3 hours before heading back over to see if a room was ready. The team at my hotel had awesomely found me a room on the back of the building and let me have it super early. I was relieved that it overlooks the back because the road out front is very busy, this room is relatively quiet. I fell into bed and slept for 3 hours but managed to then drag myself out to explore.

Wow. The air here is so crisp and cold and clean. Every lungful feels like it is almost burning with purity and it makes me nostalgic for the European winters I grew up with and chilly blue see-your-own-breath days. Vancouver is a pretty stunning city with proper snow capped mountains ringing the city centre. I walked along the edge of the water to a Craft beer place I had read about and just enjoyed the Sunday afternoon pace of the city, people out with their dogs and kids, all wrapped up in many layers. 

Cool beer house in Olympic Village, Vancouver

Beer offerings - so much choice!

There is something quite liberating and empowering about being alone in an unknown city and I am so lucky to get the chance to do this for work. Sure, I miss Stu and would love him to be here and sharing this with me, but being here alone will not stop me getting out and seeing things. 

Years ago I might have felt a bit intimidated by walking into a heaving, vibrant bar on my own and sitting on my own, amusing myself. These days, it actually feels like a rare privilege and opportunity to legitimately people watch and the fact that I am alone bothers me not one jot. I think one of the best things about getting older is feeling far more confident in ones own skin and giving far fewer fucks what anyone thinks. 

Anyway, I passed a wonderful few hours and chatted on and off to a barman and sampled a few ales. All very civilised. Then I wandered back to my hotel and collapsed into the kind of sleep that can only happen when you have been travelling; un-moving, deep and restorative - ready for the crazy schedule I would be on for the next few days.

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