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Reflections on VanCanada

Published by Runnin' The Streets
Sep 21 2012, 11:30 PM | 8221 views
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Nothing says a good time like walking past two men with a crack pipe at 8pm. <-- These are the moments I wish for a sarcasm font. 

OBVIOUSLY kidding in case anyone was confused, but that is, in fact, how our first night with Vancouver began. It was quite the welcome after our 14+ hour drive (broken up by a few hours of camping in an RV park in backwoods BC). And, no, we were not in a bad part of town, nor did Vancouver ever feel like a threatening place. Canadians actually may be the most helpful people three hungry, smelly tourists could ever encounter. To the crackheads' credit, actually, they were by no means the creepiest people we've encountered thus far (see: at least 10% of Denver Cruiser riders). It was kind of like the wildlife in Montana, we observed them in their natural habitat from a respectable distance and refrained from using the flash when taking pictures. Same went for the "band" that serenaded us during dinner. We recognized we were in their territory and tried to avoid eye contact with the girl playing the plastic flamingo and the man with the Ricola horn. All in all our first 6 hours in Vancouver set us up with some pretty high expectations for our next two days. 

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Canada has black squirrels. BLACK SQUIRRELS!
Those Canadians didn't disappoint. Vancouver is listed as one of the top cities to live in by the Bob Loblaw Law Blog or something equally as official, and it's easy to see why. We stayed in a Motel (yay! beds!) about 30 minutes outside of the city, but got into downtown and around using the skytrain. Not to sound European, but come on, America, get on the public transportation wagon. Our hat has even gotten with it. Sidenote: we've come to think of Canada as the jaunty bowler on top of America's super fat head. Apologies if any Canadians are offended, we can switch it up to be a top hat or baseball cap if that makes you more comfortable. Either way I think you come out on top. (buhdung ching!)

Anyway! We had a "local" guide, Rhys Parsons -who, at this point, is basically Maltese, but did throw in enough "eh"s to make us feel like we were getting the whole Canadian experience- show us around the harbor and Stanley Park and Gastown. We were prepared for Vancouver to not live up to the hype, but the combination of mountains, ocean, and beautiful coastal city are pretty unbeatable. In Stanley Park rollerblading is apparently socially acceptable for people over the age of twelve which is cool-ish, and the sidewalks wind around a city harbor that smells like actual ocean as opposed to city-stench (coughConeyIslandcough). Gastown is the bar district of downtown, and is not at all as stinky as the name implies. After spending the day walking around the harbor appreciating the general friendly vibe that was present pretty much everywhere in Canada, we took the chance that a Tuesday night in Gastown wouldn't be quite as lame as it can be in Knoxville and went out. 

After burgers on Rhys (again, we have the most generous friends in the world), we stumbled into a pub (Canada is way more European than American so, yes, they say pub not bar) called the Blarney Stone (nothing to say just wanted to add another confusing set of parentheses). After taking advantage -twice- of $2 off whiskey drinks, our suddenly more sociable natures led us to stumble upon a crew of couch-surfers gathering for drinks. If you've never heard of couch surfing and like traveling you should check it out here. We spent the next three hours speaking with some of the coolest, most well-traveled people we've met yet. There were guys from Australia who had couch surfed through Palestine and Iran, and, most frighteningly, Texas, and women from Britain and Germany with whom we discussed what a bitch visa applications could be and our favorite European cities. Phoebe made one particular friend who insisted he was from his dreams when asked about his country of origin. 

"Ha! No, no seriously. Where were you born?" 
"The present." 
"Ahhh, yes. Miraculous adult-hipster conceptions. I've heard of those."

We may or may not have passed him later humming Arcade Fire songs to himself in the corner.

We left Blarney Stone with friends we may meet up with later at the Hot Air Balloon festival in New Mexico and a renewed love of Couch Surfing. 
We left Vancouver the next morning with hangovers and a renewed feeling that America could learn a thing or two from the rest of the world... even our hat.

PS Happy 64th birthday to my dad, one of the better things to come out of America.

-Kat



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