Vancouver, Calgary and a Lil Pano ;)
East Kootenay Regional District, British Columbia
So it has been a week since my arrival in Canada and I have finally arrived at my new home!! I am currently sitting on my bed in my staff accomodation in Panorama Mountain Village - it is amazing up here!
The morning after I last blogged Aimee and Gemma left to fly to Calgary and as I was booked in for the Greyhound bus overnight, I had a day to kill in Vancouver on my own. I had a bit of a sleep in, and then packed up my room and checked out of my room. Most of the IEP people I had met were heading out to the 'Snowboarding District' which was where I had spent one of my first days with Gemma and Aimee and so I wasn't too keen to head back out there. So instead I spent the rest of the morning Skyping Cam at home and trying to find something to do in Vancouver.. After a while I decided to try and make it to the MetroTown Mall which is the biggest mall in BC and looked like a good way to kill half a day.
On my way downstairs I bumped into one of the guys (Dave) travelling to Panorama on IEP and so we went to grab some crepes together from a shop just down the road. These were AMAZING! I had Maple flavour, and they were just absolutely incredible! The maple syrup over here is so much better than the stuff we have at home!!
The girl at reception had told me that MetroTown Mall was a short train ride away, however this turned into a disaster as she gave me entirely wrong instructions and I basically ended up on a huge loop and spent about an hour and a half just sitting on the train! Eventaully I made it back to Granville Station where I started but I still had a couple of hours left to kill before needing to get onto my bus so I headed to the Pacific Centre Mall however there was really not much to look at here and so I headed to Starbucks. I was a little dubious about the coffee here as previous experiences have told me that the milk here is horrible however I was quite pleasantly surprised with this coffee - it tasted much like it does at home!!
After this is was time to go back to the hostel and pick up my gear, and then catch a taxi to the Greyhound Bus Station. I was so nervous about missing the bus that I was there incredibly early and ended up waiting for at least 45 minutes outside for the bus to arrive. This turned out to be a really good thing though as I ended up meeting a guy who was travelling to Lake Louise on the bus and had done it many times before so he was able to give me some pointers - ie get straight to the back of the bus for the rows of three seat!. As I was so early I got first pick and had the entire three seats to myself the entire journey. I had forgotten to get some dinner for the bus and so the first stop we had (Chilliwack) I ran out to the petrol station and got dinner: Chips, chocolate bar and salami sticks - not very appetising!
Not long after this i popped my second blue pill of the trip, which quickly knocked me out. In normal circumstances this would have been awesome but about an hour after I fell asleep, the bus stopped for routine maintenance and petrol refilling, which meant that we had to get off the bus. I was so groggy and disorientated, I had no idea what was going on! Luckily my friend from earlier explained it all to me and despite my grogginess, I was able to get back on the bus without any dramas and quickly fall asleep.
I slept right through until about twenty minutes out of Calgary which was awesome, and made the bus ride go much much quicker! I arrived at the motel (which was SO huge!!!) that we were staying at just as Aimee and Gemma were waking up, so had time to shower, unpack (ie throw ALL my stuff on the floor - it felt great to finally be able to get to the bottom of my suitcase!) before we headed to the Northhill Mall to shop for all our Panorama needs.
There was a Sears in the mall which was amazing and I managed to buy my sheets, towels, facecloths and a blanket all from here, before heading to the supermarket to get bodywash, moisturiser, razor etc etc. We then decided that with all of our purchases (we had about two trolleys worth!) we needed to catch a taxi. WHAT a mish! It took us at least 45 minutes to get a taxi to actually turn up to the mall -which left us outside in the freezing cold and starving so by the time we finally got back to our motel, all we wanted was to eat!
There was a restaurant right next to us so we decided to go there for tea, and then went back to our room, ready to sleep however were all awake until really late as we were finding it a little hard to adjust to the time difference both between Canada and NZ and Vancouver and Calgary. Some time after midnight Aimee and I learnt the hard way how thin the motel walls are - and this kept us up for quite a lot longer!!
While watching the news that night we found out that there was a category three hurricane in Calgary that day and parts of the CBD had been badly damaged bacause of high winds! We didn't think it was any worse than a normal day in Wellington though!
The next day we went to the zoo, and this entailed catching a train, then transerring to a bus (the trains werent running through the city because of the hurricane) and then onto another bus, and then finally one more train. It was very complicated but I am proud to say that we managed it all perfectly and there were no issues! The locals, however, were useless and had no idea what they were doing - we would spend at least ten minutes at each bus stop while the bus driver expaplained to heaps of different people what they needed to do, and so as you can imagine, it took AGES to do anything.
The zoo was amazing, it was so absolutely gorgeous. It had snowed the night before and so there was snow everywhere which made it look so stunning. The only disappointing thing about the zoo was that there were very little Canadian animals - I really wanted to see a bear and a moose but there were either none in the enclosures or the animals were sitting really far away. The other thing was that as we were in the off season, there were very little shows etc to watch which made it a bit gay but thats just what you get I suppose!
We missioned it back through our plethora of public transport, and stopped briefly at the mall to get a jacket for Aimee, and alcohol (Canadian Club, what is more fitting huh??) before heading back to the motel and having dinner at the restaurant from the night before. We then had to pack up all of our bags which turned out to be a really difficult thing seeing the amount that we brought! We ended up with a number more bags than we started with!
The next morning we were up early for free breakfast at the motel, did our final pack up before checking out and getting into a taxi to the airport.
They have these cool people over here at airports and they are basically volunteers who are stationed around the airport to help you find things both in the airport and in the city surrounding. They are so lovely and nice! We asked one woman to take a photo of us, and all of out luggage, and then she started asking us where we were from and what we were doing. She nearly wet her pants when we told her that we were headed to Panorama, and started telling us about this guy who she had just been speaking to who was trying to get to Panorama and asked us how we were getting there. Long story short, she ran off to get this guy and brought him back so we said that we would try and get him on the staff bus, even though he wasnt staff.
When the bus arrived, I spoke to the Panorama guy who said that we had enough room and so this guy (whose name was indrick or something to that effect haha) came with us on the bus and I sat next to him the whole way there, turns out, he is a snowboarder on the Canadian Snowboard racing team and is like this insanely good snowboarder! So chatted to him the whole way there, he was from French Canada and so French was his first language which was cool. Had fun chatting to him on the bus, and was looking forward to seeing him on the slopes but havent bumped into him again sine I have been here!!
Now, onto Panorama, this place is absolutely amazing. So beautiful. None of the pictures do it justice at all, and I can't even describe how amazing it is here. We arrived at staff accommodation just as it was getting dark, so by the time I had lugged my bags up the two flights of stairs to my room, it was way too dark to have much of a look around.
My room is really cool. It is basically set up like apartments, there are four apartments on every floor, each with a kitchen, bathroom and four bedrooms. Really small but exactly what you need and in really good condition - quite new! The first night was spend unpacking and then we went for a wander to the General Store to get some bits and pieces for breakfast and then went up to the Pub for our final meal of eating out! The walk to the Village is about 15minutes uphill, which definitely gets the heart racing and means I am going to have legs of steel by the time you next see me ;)
Anyway, I have much more to say about my time here in Pano but I will have to save that for another day as I am ready for bed!! Love you all and miss you lots, take care!