Glenfinnan Viaduct, Scottish Highlands, UK
Glenfinnan Viaduct, Scottish Highlands, UK
  • Vancouver. Stuff wot i did.
    • 22/10/2011
expoballsziplining funit rains herewhite wolf

SO actually in Vancouver, being there for two weeks there is potentially a lot to write about.
So i'll stick to a summary to prevent getting a typing related finger injury
Walked round Granville Island, market and arty community bit, cycled around Stanley Park, Vancouver's equivalent to Central Park in NYC. I accidently went the wrong way around the one way system, but it was pretty empty so not so dangerous as it must be in summer.
Went to see the university symphony orchestra play some... music, including Beethoven's 5th? on a ridiculously expensive piano which they nearly pushed off the stage by accident
Cooked toad in the hole, shepherds pie, and was taken out to tea shops to be educated further in tea drinking
Went swimming and couldn't work out how big the pool was since i haven't been to one for years. Fortunately it did turn out to be 50m so i felt less useless about 32 lengths.
Vancouver Film Festival was on, (of course! every city in Canada i've been to has been in the middle of a film festival)
The film i wanted to see about a Mexican beauty queen who gets caught up in drug cartel missions was sold out so i went to a 3hr russian film about eternal youth and good and evil.
Then friday night drinking at the Railway club, a pub with a model train set driving through it, and meeting a load of other english people who have settled down here and work in IT and accounts. dum dum dummmmmmmm
Eating a lot of bagels for late night snacks and breakfast. Now they make sense!
A little bored of art galleries and history museums, so i went to the Police Museum, which was small but interesting, including the morgue and playing with the suspect photofit maker
Followed by walking down the notorious East Hastings Street. Notorious because it is the congregation point for hundreds of crack addicts as it has a "safe injection centre"
I've never seen anything like it. In the space of one block i felt like i was walking through the zombie apocolypse, hunched over, hollow cheeked addicts who live on those streets shuffling about, a girl trying to sell crappy old tv and cd player from about 1995 to get cash, old men with straggly beards rummaging through garbage to find bottles and cans which they could claim 5c each deposit for...
A woman chased a guy out of the building in front of me, screaming and punchiing him, then ripping at his hair and clothes until he ended up shirtless in the middle of the road.
And this is at 3 in the afteroon, i wouldn't dare go down there at night!
Ziplining!!! i met up with a guy called Daniel from couchsurfing who wanted to go ziplining at nearby Grouse Mountain. So we did, and it was fun. Despite the heavy fog and hailstorms!!!
Grouse Grind! I returned to the mountain to do the Grouse Grind, a hike with 850m of climb in 2.5km total distance. I started off confident and fast, but after 30 seconds was out of breath and feeling like i was about to throw up, a feeling which didn't leave me until about 10 minutes after i finished. Which took 48 minutes. It's like climbing stairs, well literally it is. The records is 25 minutes.
Beer Festival! Vancouver has it's own CAMRA, which Brookyln and Marshall help out with, and there was an Oktoberfest/Harvestfest event on, which whilst a smaller scale to the Notts one was nonetheless most enjoyable and had far too many beers to get through in one afternoon. I can't remember feeling so ridiculously drunk at 6pm. More ridiculous because the rest of the city was only just venturing out for the evening when we were going home and falling over..
  • With Thanks to Victoria
    • 22/10/2011
what a great philosophystick insectsme and a pumpkincity hallBC Ferries

For thanksgiving i accompanied Amy to her brothers place in Victoria, a ferry ride away on Vancouver Island.
I was disappointed not to see any whales on the way but hey!
So on the saturday night i had my first ever sushi, and enjoyed it. I didn't realise how little of it was actually raw fish and tentacles, though having said that i enjoyed the raw salmon and tuna very much.
Following that we visited two pubs, one of which lived up to the hype "Big Bad John's" having every surface covered in graffiti and various artefacts, bras hanging from the cieling, and large plastic spiders that the bar staff could suddenly drop on your table via a pulley system
The other, the supposedly haunted house, would have been sued out of business for false advertising if it had in fact advertised as such! annnnnyway.....
On the sunday we visited a floating houseboat village and went beer tasting and ahem wine and cheese tasting, and then cooked Thanksgiving dinner. The grocery store gave us a free pumpkin much to my excitement, so i carved out a lantern
Finally on the monday we went to a bug & insect zoo, where i held giant stick insects and got heart palputations from proximity to large spiders. Fortunately they were not allowed out of their tanks.
So Victoria was a really nice small-ish town, though i dread to think what it's like at the height of summer when full of tourists!
And i realise that starting every paragraph with "so' is not good prose. SO WHAT!
  • Rocky Mountaineering?
    • 22/10/2011
choo chooindeed - specifically Jasperamazing lakerocky train

OK so going back to two weeks ago...
The train journey from Edmonton to Vancouver through the Rockies...
unfortunately a lot of this was at night, so i can only speculate on the spectacular scenery obscured by the dark of night.
Having said that, a lot of the scenery was obscured anyway by the trees alongside the tracks. Damn trees! ruining my view of nature!
Anyway, it was a lovely journey, justifying again the train over the bus.
I talked to a retired railway worker (long retired, in his 80's), he now spends a lot of time just riding around Canada!
He grew up on a farm with no electricity, travelling to school by horse and 25 miles from the nearest town.
Recently he drove a 2500km road trip to visit his diserpated family, camping out along the way. They thought that was crazy but he seems in fine fettle.
There were some other interesting characters on the trip, including:
- a really drunk guy who was lecturing anyone in earshot about the evils of "the man, man, you know, the man is out to get us"
- a lad on the way to meet his real dad for the first time
- a nice white haired lady of about 60 who turned out to be an ex activist and protester of civil/womens rights
Aside from that there were nice lakes and rivers, mountains obscured by clouds, and a stop in Jasper which was pretty dead and full of gift shops.
Arrived in Vancouver in the rain and spent the morning stealing WiFi in Mcdonalds...
  • Back in the US of A
    • 21/10/2011
i'm on the bus a few minutes away from the US border, which will no doubt be fun.
And by fun i mean a stressful, harrowing torture. And i'm being sarcastic when i say fun, that isn't actually my idea of fun.
My idea of fun is the last two weeks in Vancouver, drinking lots of different beers, eating lots of new foods, doing new things, sporty things, scenic things, and making new friends.
So the context is that i stayed with Amy, volunteered by her twin sister of Alison who i worked with at Rock City in Notts a few years back now. So i guess a bit of a nervy introduction for both of us, and i was only expecting to stay a couple of days.
Two weeks later and i feel like one of the family! Big big shout out thanks to Amy and her housemates Brooklyn & Marshall, who are embarking on an inspiring quest?mission?journey? to open a clothes shop. And Shanka the cat with millisecond mood swings (i've got the scratch marks to prove it)
At times i didn't action pack my days with touristing, and i forgot about going whale watching, but i think i really needed to relax and hang out after being on the road every other day for so long (soooo long like a month. pathetic!)
Vancouver is a very cool city. BC is reminiscint of England, but not yet ruined by overpopulation and council estate ghettos. But not just that, its got beaches on the doorstep, mountains on the doorstep, good transport, lots of shops bars restuarants, big mix of cultures but mainly blended together and it works.

ok i'm in the US. that was stressful although it didn't need to be.
first i hadn't got the green visa waiver form filled out in advance
then the chick is asking lots of questions, allbeit straightforward ones, and saying i'm cutting it fine cos you're only allowed 6 months in a calendar year. The cop next to her is like "so quitting your job to travel, yeah thats the way to do it before you go mental and start taking hostages..." WTF??! erm polite laugh?
Anyway, the thing is stamped till jan 18th, go and pay $6 at the cashier. What? pay $6????? since when?
i'm thinking shit, have i got any cash, they dont take cards, yes i've got a twenty. But the guy has cashed up his register for the day so they want exact change only. WTF!!!!!
So i rummage around, i've got a big pile of change..... $5.45. shit. Then eureka!! goran's beer money. Five bucks right there. So i've got six. Theres your example of US border being ridiculous, that i wouldn't get in for not having exactly $6 in change.
Bags scanned, all good, back on the bus, last one on. whoops who cares.
  • drinking tea
    • 17/10/2011
Is messing with my sleep patterns


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