Published: September 24th 2010August 17th 2010
Hey, remember us? Its the travelling travellers. You may recall our adventures through southern India, rocking out in Glastonbury, the UK and France, traipsing ALL around South America - from mountain high to snorkel low - eating, drinking and chicken-busing our way through Central America... And you may have been lucky enough to catch up with us when we popped back into Sydney for a cup of tea and scones, before shooting off to the other side of the world again!
If your memory serves you well you may recall that our plan of action was to fly into Vancouver, Canada, settle into a house, find some friends, walk into high-paying jobs, etc, etc... Well the flight went well (with the exception of the woman in front of me losing consciousness midway over the Pacific, her husband freaking out, me about to start emergency first aid, then remembering the first rule of first aid- "IS THERE A DOCTOR ON THE PLANE!?" Thankfully there were two and the woman 'came to' and was alright after that), then there was the seven hour layover in LA...ok ok, maybe the flight didn't go so well. But we did arrive in sunny Vancouver,
the view from our backyard
well, if we were to walk 10 mins up the hill to the gorgeous Queen Elizabeth Park
made our way to our friend Sarah's place and slept. It was great to have a friendly face welcome us to a new country, and show us the ropes (e.g. 'use the word restroom, they give you funny looks if you ask for the toilet...'; 'oh and a car will always stop for you if you walk out onto the street...unless its at a zebra crossing, then you have to wait for them), but unfortunately Sarah was at the end of her time in Canada and so would be leaving a week later. The upside for us - a furnished room to take over and friends to steal! If only she had a job ...
So at Sarah and Crystal (our new housemate who was also about to go overseas) farewell party / art exhibition / karaoke night Jen and I were absolutely on the prowl, for new friends that is. The scribbled down email addresses, phone numbers and hangover we found the next morning suggested that it all went very well. Just as we had expected, Canadians are friendly folks. More socialising was done on a near weekly routine at Crystal's softball games. Played on Wednesday nights at
Jen, small flag and big whale
a nearby park, few other teams in their comp received the number of vocal and sociable fans as they, 'The Bulls' did. Perhaps it had something to do that one of the Bulls works for a brewery and so each week a keg or two of the brewery's latest experiment was let loose on us brave guinea pigs. Even though the players often partook in the taste testing during game time (and most definitely after a match), the Bulls somehow managed to win all their games. Not that anyone was really watching!...
The Canada Day holiday took place a week or two after we arrived. Unfortunately it was a pretty chilly day for the middle of Summer, so activities seemed a bit subdued during the day. We were lucky enough to run into Kayleigh, who we had met at the aforementioned softball, and her husband Matt, and hung out with them for the rest of the day celebrating our newfound national day, including a pretty impressive fireworks display down at the harbour. It turns out Vancouverans don't mind the odd fireworks display, as over the next few weeks we were lucky enough to catch an awesome display by the
Jeff accidentally burns the Canadian flag on the Olympic flame
Mexican team in the annual Festival of Light. This is basically a contest between the best pyrotechnic teams in the world taking place over clear Summer nights down at the beautiful English Bay, all set to music playing over the big speakers and peoples radios.
So what else have we done in our 3 months in Vancouver?? Well, surprisingly not that much. Jen had a whole lot of uni work to do, and we were both on the lookout for jobs, and then the sun came out and it actually became Summer for about 3 weeks so we gave up on the job hunting and explored the beaches and parks. I fixed up a cool old bike that we bought from Crystal for 20 bucks, and played a lot of tennis and compared vinyl records with our new friend Waylon, and spent a fair amount of time recording our own music - specifically a 4 song CD for our friend Josh's upcoming birthday (entitled 'It Ain't Dirty, To Turn Thirty'). Lots of fun! We also managed to get across to the gorgeous Vancouver Island for a few days, but there will be a separate blog for that.
we're talking softball...
Jen with our Australian friend Sarah (middle) and a blow-in
the midst of our time in Van, we were able to offer our couch to a fellow traveller, our friend Kaylee from the Newtown days, who was just at the start of an international adventure. We had some good times, scored some vegemite, watched some burlesque and karaoke, and danced around the loungeroom until the wee hours. Hopefully our paths will cross once more in vast old Canada.
Despite all of the above fun, after a while we both began to feel a bit listless and useless. We were stuck in the situation of not wanting to spend too much money whilst we were waiting for all those jobs not to be offered to us, which consequently limited the exploring and guilt-free socialising we could do. So Jen started applying for hospitality jobs and a couple of days later she was earning a whopping $8 an hour in a Thai restaurant! Sounds ridiculous but its true, that's the going rate for hospitality work, meaning you really rely on tips to get by. Not that I was complaining, after all, I now had myself a sugar mumma!!
In an effort to maintain my sanity, and to familiarise myself with
the CBC rocks
free bands every weekday at noon - The Gertrudes have been top of the heap so far!
all the bizarre plants and animals of this northern country I started up a volunteer project in Stanley Park. Working for the park's Ecological Society my task became to inventory the flora and fauna in Beaver Lake, the park's most important lake habitat. My timing was lucky as there was another volunteer, Roberto, looking to get involved in such a project. So we teamed up and spent sunny and ocassionaly rainy afternoons wading out into the lake, helping each other learn how to identify all the different species. Good dirty fun all round.
Somewhere in the middle of all this I also managed to become a house painter for a few days. Jen and I had been celebrating her first pay cheque with a nightout on funky Commercial Drive. Here we came across a slam poetry night, made friends with the main act (the comedian/poet Rob from England) and his ex-pat mate Ivan. After complaining to them how we couldn't get jobs Ivan said he'd need a hand for a, few days in his painting job. So I took it up, and it turned out to be quite fun, using lots of sandy, grindy type tools to do the
prep work and occassionally being allowed to grab a brush and roller.
Now with some cash in our pockets we could afford to go out and do the things we like to do - go see bands, occasionally eat out, by the 2nd cheapest beer at the bottle shop, etc, etc... And then before we knew it, it was September.
We had been told about this fabled month of September, and the speed with which it rushed up upon the unsuspecting citizens of Vancouver. July and August are really nice and sunny, the locals would tell us, and at first September seems nice as well, but then one day it starts raining, and then it keeps raining, until next July. Well folks, it seems that day in September has come today. And that was enough for Jen and I to finally make the concrete decision which we had been flirting with for a couple of weeks now....We're moving to Toronto!!! The rationale for this move is that they actually have sunshine during winter in Toronto (sure, it's minus 30, but it's still sunshine!), there seems to be a few more jobs there that we are interested in, and
Vancouver Folk Festival
strange tree lady watches predominantly bearded folk band
it will be the beginning of a whole new adventure... Will we have any friends there?? Nope, but hey we came to Vancouver in pretty much the same position and managed to make some very good friends here. And yes, it will be sad to leave them all behind, not to mention all the Main St hipsters with their beards, neat flannos and fast bikes, and the hordes of homeless and mentally ill struggling their way through life down on East Hastings, and all the free outdoor concerts, and the record stores, and the snow-capped mountains, and the raccoons and skunks wandering out street at night, and the grumpy owner of our favourite cafe...
But we've still got a couple more weeks before we move, so hopefully we'll have a chance to give each of them a kiss and a hug before we go, skunk excepted!
See you on the Atlantic side, or perhaps a Vancouver Island and Vegas blog before then...
Jeff and Jen
There are more photos below