So far we've had a mad dash around the UK visiting family and friends, an awesome wedding in frome and some great London food. And all this was even before we left the UK.
It's interesting to see how perspective changes when work isn't involved, I've said this before but it is really hitting home now...."work gets in the way of life". We're only on day 3 in Vancouver and already we're eating better, exercising more and spending more time building relationships than we could possibly do while doing a 9-5 or shift related job.
Day one saw us trying to overcome that huge jet lag that adding 8 hours to your day brings. Even now we're still not quite acustomed but we're working on it. In an attempt to save money and get an idea of the 'real' Canada we decided to pick up some groceries from a supermarket which proved quite difficult when everything was in Chinese and seemed to be some sort of fish dish!
Day two we decided to get a bit more guidance on the local life which proved quite eye opening. To me Vancouver is quite an eclectic mix of ethnicities, architecture and industries. Maybe I'm a little naive but I expected Canada to be a mix of white and aboriginal, but to my surprise there are a huge number of Chinese and oriental. A local tour guide explained that about 30% of the population have Chinese origins which he attributed to a dodgy tax system where the Canadian government can't keep tabs on local taxes.
Vanouver is really accessable for all, drop curbs at all crossing points and ramp access into stores and restaurants. There are multitudes of intesections due to the block set up of the buildings and crossings are so simple and effective. Its bizarre that people wait for the green man before crossing and dont bother trying to cross prematurely, such a laid back atmosphere, people stroll along and other than people actually running for execise we are yet to see someone in a rush.
We spent the morning walking along granville streat, taking in all the shops and high rises. At the end of the street we came across the harbour and canadian trail. The canadian trail is alongside a ship like building and features lots of information about why canada is awesome... From the debatable invention of the telephone (canada claims that scottish born graham bell called canada his home) to sporting achievements. Once we had taken in all we could from tohe trail we headed back to the hostel for a tour.
Arriving at the hostel spot on time for the tour we were informed the tour was leaving from the other hostel, 15 minute walk away! Fortunately they were able to contact the tour guide who agreed to wait for us to arrive! We took the ferry bus across to granville island where we had a tour of the local market and some specialist shops. The food in the market looked amazing, so fresh and colourfull but unfortunately pretty pricey. The tour guide made sure to show us the tea shop, selling all the different kinds of tea you could imagine, as being english we are of course addicted to tea! After the market we walked along the waters edge and saw somw house boats, not the usual kind that actually look like boats, these were simply extravagent houses that happened to float. We walked past a play park, kids here have it great, there was a wateslide, sand pit with diggers, water play area aswel as climbing frames. Once the tour had ended we headed back to a student canteen to grab some food.
We were pretty impressed with the portion sizes, a wrap in england would satisfy only when accompanied by crisps or something similar however in canada a wrap is more than enoug on its own, too much in fact for abi to even finish!
That evening was our first experience of Ice Hockey, a viscous sport where the referee allows opponents to punch each other as long as you are bare knuckled. We'd been warned not to expect much while waching the Vancouver Canucks, but in between trying to figure out offsides, fouls and what an Icing was it was actually a pretty good game. The Canucks one 3-0 with some great goals and tough defending and we even got to see a brawl. A bit of pool, some table ice hockey and a few drinks later we called it a night at what would be 9.30am UK time.