Well, we’ve been in Canada since Wednesday evening, and we’re sitting in a coffee shop now, updating our diary.
Our first impressions? Canadians seems incredibly friendly, and Vancouver seems like a wonderful city – relaxed, with lots of greenery – and amazingly considerate drivers. Every time we wonder whether we’re safe to cross the road or not, we find drivers stopping to let us cross. I heard somebody yesterday complaining about how bad drivers are in Vancouver – they’ve obviously not been to London.
The hostel is everything we’d expected it to be – a small room with bunk beds, and a shared bathroom and kitchen. Everything is spotlessly clean, so sharing isn’t really a problem in those circumstances (although I was given a lesson in ‘proper’ washing up last night by a japanese lady who didn’t speak english – from the sign language I think I’d been committing the cardinal sin of ‘not rinsing suds off dishes properly’. We’ve used the kitchen quite a bit, as the girls have enjoyed 3 or 4 breakfasts every day, followed by a couple of lunches, and a small tea. If appetite is a way of telling whether your children are off colour, then ours are definitely enjoying travel.
We’ve taken a few photo’s already, and found the digital camera great, because you can see immediately if the photo is a good one or not, and delete it/retake it to make sure you’ve got the right shot. And then to be able to load it onto the web, and share it with everybody immediately – well compared to last time we were travelling, when we came home with 2,000 prints all together, it’s a world of difference.
The Internet is the other amazing thing, with the ability to keep in touch. We’ve had quite a few emails in the last 2 days, from people wishing us good luck, and we’ve been able to reply, and update information for them. Again, the comparison to last time we travelled is amazing – when we’d write home, giving 3 weeks advance notice of the next Post Restante address for people to write to, and we’d get the letters a month later. I’m sure there will be a time when we regret being so easily reachable (hmmm, taxman, bills etc) but so far it seems magical.
In Vancouver, for our two days, we’ve managed to fill the time easily – yesterday (Friday) we went to Stanley Park, which is huge and green. We didn’t really ‘do’ anything there, apart from wander around, play on the swings (kids too!), and have a barbecue lunch in a parkside cafe (hmmm, not cheap but a little treat every day will help the first few weeks). We’ve also been popping into a coffee shop each morning for a coffee, and to use their wireless connection to update our diary (as I’m doing now). It costs us about £5 for coffees, buns and a half hour Internet time.
Vancouver has been a great city to start with – the weather has been gorgeous, with hot sunny days and bright blue skies reflecting off the sea, which seems to surround us – everywhere you look, at the end of the street there’s water. And, for a city, the people seem so friendly and have time for you, compared to a city in the South East, where saying “hello” randomly on the street marks you out as a nutter! Travelling with the girls is certainly an ice breaker with people – lots of people admire their clothes – and it makes it easier to chat with people.
Today we’re leaving Vancouver for a wooden cabin on the shores of a lake on Salt Spring Island – a chance to slow the pace down and to take it easy for a bit – so we’ll update the diary when we come back to civilisation. Until then, we’ll be sunning, swimming and sleeping.