I've had the most exciting 10 days of my life, well ovr 100 hours travelling on planes, buses and cable cars. If I could sit still for a few days I''d be over the moon. Made it down to San Francisco. Up to Toronto in a week. Have a look on a map of North America. Don't think there's 2 large cities that are further apart. Ah well, 72 hours of Meat Loaf, Lord Of The Rings and Sudoku plus occasional gorgeous scenery to gawp at when eyes going funny. What more could you ask.
Don't usually mention airports but this one deserves a special mention as I got a full 27 hours there. When changing my flights to Vancouver, (was going to Toronto a week later) the dozey woman from Americn Airlines not only gave me a pointless 27 hour wait in Miami, she also neglected to tell me she hadn't actually changed the flight. Sat around in Miami airport for the day, (would have gone into Miami but by he time I'd got to the hostel and slept off the jet lag, it would be time to go to sleep again for a 4am wake up call and early transfer to the airport) brought Lonely planet guide for USA and Canada and worked out where to go for these 3 weeks, read a bit more Lord Of The Rings, yawned a bit, talked to myself a lot and got a few funny looks, investigated every shop, cafe and restaurant in the entire airport, watched every movie trailor in the shop... Well I did nothing for 25 hours. 5.30am, 2 hours before flight was due to leave, I tried to check in. Impossible! What! Qantas got themselves confused and thought I was still in Melbourne. Since I was flying out of sequence, American Airlines couldn't change my ticket and I could wait and go to Toronto. 6 more days at the airport. I don't think so. Failed miserably to phone Qantas to shout at them (all the Aussies still asleep) so couldn't sort out the mess and get on the flight I'd thought was booked. Opted to act like a local and get stroppy. Not in my nature but ceeky works as well. Snuck into the First Class queue and chatted up nice woman on the check in desk who along with her supervisor, fudged me a new ticket and rushed me through the check in. Faith restored in the world, huge amounts of relief later I could enjoy the flight.
Short stopover in Dallas, Texas. Only time to find food. Plenty of options. Amused myself at the size of the portions. Large and Texas Sized. Texas Size being Meat Loaf.
Saw it on the X-Files when I was a kid, looked very nice then. Always wanted to come to Canada. Kept begging parents but no success. Finally made it, considered turning back and going home. First impressions weren't great. Grotty hole. Building site with only limited views of the mountains that make the area special. They've got the Winter Olympics coming in 2010 and they're rebuilding the whole city. Even the pretty bits looked a bit rough when surrounded by scaffolding. Hostel was a dive, dirty, cold, right next to the main road so noisy. Having come from luxury in Brazil and travelled for days to get here, I wasn't impressed. To say I was a bit peeved would be putting it mildly. Still, every city has it's crappy sides. Was next door to the rockies so having planned my escape in 3 days, I resolved to enjoy myself if it killed me.
First full day the weather was a bit miserable so naturally I opt for the open top bus tour. Saw much more of the city from under coat and concluded that when it's finished, Vancouver could be ok. Hopped off bus at Granville Island, a little chunk of land dedicated to shopping. Fun market selling all sorts of food, none of which looked particularly appealing but fun to wander. Kids mnarket that was much more likely to break my bank but for the voices of common sense shouting at me. "no space in bag", "no money", "your 27". Got sniffed at in pet store. Needed pressie for a dog I'm on my way to visit. Failed to look excited enough about dog biscuits. Serious crime in that place. Came away with popcorn. Looking forward to seeing the dog spread it accross the floor. May not get invited back again. Spent rest of day and much of the next day wandering round slightly aimlessly looking for the pretty bits. Still none to be found, but Vancouver is not without it's charms. Chinatown was quite pretty in places, the Chinese garden was nice enough. Nothing compared to the one in Sydney but they tried.
The Jewel in the city is Stanley Park. Huge park on the edge of the city. Big aquarium (cheap as had sweet talked Kiwi dude selling bus ticket into giving me student discount for bus and Aquarium combo) with Beluga Whales slobbing in formation. Few too many kids in the way though. Becoming old and grumpy. Rest of the park very pleasant. Nice beaches, quiet woodland walks, pretty lakes, fantastic view over the water to the snow capped mountains I'd come all this way to see. That's better.
Last day spent with Japanese girl I met at the hostel. She was learning English from me. Daft cow. I can barely speak English myself. We walked up a main shopping streets stopping in a few clothes shops till I looked sufficiently bored, and some gothicky shops till she looked sufficiently bored. Lunch at dodgy looking indian place. She'd rejected all the hygienic places and I'd rejected anywhere that involved fish. Had tasteless chicken curry with bones in. Whopee. Checked every piece of chicken carefully but still half expected to spend the next 13 hour bus ride running to the loo and back. Great way to finish my tour of Vancouver. Will return one day when I have a driving licence. There's some stunning scenery and superb activities to be enjoyed in the area but not using public transport. Will wait till they've finished the rebuilding and return to the Vancouver I'd been dreaming about.
Woke up 11 hours into the bus ride in a place called Golden. Nothing much there but a bus station and a few trucks. Looked out of window and grin that had been stuck on my face all throughout Brazil returned. A line of Snowcapped peaks as far as the eye could see. That's better. This is the Canada I wanted. Onto Banff and it just got better. Travelling up through theRockies to this adorable, if axcessively touristy, mountain town, nestled deep in the heart of the mountains. Enormous mountains rise up in all directions, all with a crown of snow on top. Beautiful.
Spent most of the time walking up and down the valleys and up the smaller peaks. Met lots of cute ground squirrels (look like mini meercats) and chipmunks. Really cute. Sadly no bears though was warned that walking alone, I'm very quiet so have good chance af startling a bear that's come down to the river to drink. Bit disappointed that Yogi and co weren't out on the prowl, however dangerous they are.
Loved Banff, it's tiny, touristy, cheesy, but welcoming. The people there are very friendly. The hostel was fabulous. Comfy and clean with huge kitchen and power showers. Great taste in music. Virtually every shop I enter in Canada has Bryan Adams playing. Can't falut their loyalty. As before, much of the really spectacular sights can only be accessed with a car so I have to come back and try again one day. Looking forward to it.
Had 2 full days travel after Banff, down to San Fransico. Been here 2 days, loving it. Will save details for next blog. Off to visit friend by Lake Tahoe in few days. Hoping her dog like the popcorn. I will say this much, California is very wierd, the sky looks wrong, it's all blue with no clouds. Not used to it.
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