Our flight from Reykjavik landed into Vancouver airport in the late afternoon. We made our way through the terminal, and through security relatively easily, and soon enough we were breathing the fresh Canadian air. Jacqueline’s parents came by in their van to pick us up and we headed into town. I sat up the front, taking in all of my early impressions of North America. The streets were wide and square, and all of the street furniture and buildings seemed to have been taken directly from all of the North American media I had consumed over the years but never experienced. Before we headed for home on the North Shore, we stopped off for dinner at a Taiwanese restaurant close to the airport. Finally, we drove across the harbour for the first time and settled in to Jacqueline’s family home, where we would be staying. We stopped on the way to pick up some breakfast and food supplies. Then Jacqueline was keen to show off the possessions she had left behind in Vancouver.
The next day, we had a number of things to do in preparation for the week ahead. Our first stop was at a ski rental place. We were preparing to head up to the mountains next week, but first we needed to kit me up. I would be using Jacqueline’s skis, as they were roughly large enough for me, and she would use her vintage skis. I still needed to hire a pair of ski boots and ski poles though, so we went along to measure them out and get the bindings set correctly. We would come back early next week to pick them up to head north.
Jacqueline’s father then drove us across town to the University of British Columbia, Jacqueline’s alma mater. She had arranged with her old department to give a short seminar on her current work. Compared to most Australian universities, the UBC campus was huge, with lots of sports facilities, faculty buildings, union facilities, housing and more. Most of it was very modern too. Many of the high ranking Australian Universities are located in or near the centre of cities, so there isn’t land available to expand into. But UBC was founded on a large peninsula of endowment land, so it can expand as much as it needs to.
On the morning of the next day, Jacqueline had arranged for all of her annual medical appointments, leaving me at home in the morning. I went for a short walk through the nearby forest to find a bakery for lunch. The quality of the bakeries in Vancouver was much more similar to the ones back home than anything I have found in the UK. I also took the morning to recover a little more from the jet lag. Her mother then dropped us off at Park Royal, a large shopping mall, in order to pick up some new ski clothes. We wandered around several stores before finding some nice ski trousers and a helmet.
On Sunday, Jacqueline and I went out on our own, following a path through the forest all the way to the community of Deep Cove. Here was the very end of the North Shore, beyond here was only mountains and it was a very pretty view over a calm bay with sailing boats. Apparently, the local delicacy was a certain muffin from a certain cafe. We then caught a bus all the way across town to UBC, where we now had the keys to Mona’s apartment. After dropping off our bags, we headed for downtown, where we hired out a pair of bicycles. Jacqueline’s idea was to cycle around Stanley Park, a large green space on a peninsula near downtown. However, being Vancouver it started to rain, so by the time we were down on the sea wall, we were getting quite wet. Not to be dissuaded, we continued on, doing a full lap around the park and through some of the lovely forested areas. After cycling, we headed back to Point Grey to go to a comfort food restaurant with Patricia and Rafael, a couple of Jacqueline’s friends from her undergraduate years.
Our next stop was Granville Island. This was a parcel of land on a brownfield site situated underneath the Granville bridge. It has since been reclaimed by local artists and speciality stores. It was a really interesting place to explore, as it felt like a historical sanctuary facing off against the modern glass office buildings across the waters. We wandered through the shops and markets, before finally heading back across the harbour once more. There, we met up with Jacqueline’s parents, and went to pick up my rented ski boots for the snowy adventure ahead.