Seeing as I’ve spent nearly 23 years trying to escape the clutches of Reading, I’m not sure why I was surprised when 5,000 miles from home, it still clings onto me like a koala on a tree. We arrived at our hostel in Vancouver, and started chatting to the guy working at reception. He asked where I’m from, and on hearing Reading, says that his geographical knowledge of the UK is pretty limited, and everything he knows comes from watching his fave TV show – Motorway Cops. I already know where this is going, and he proudly announces that he knows all about Reading and Slough (“you spell it s-l-o-u-g-h, but it’s not pronounced ‘sluff'” he added, clearly happy to avoid the general pronunciation fail of the town).
So, after being reminded of all the things my town is known for (bad driving and boy racers, clearly), we went for a wander through the city. Sorry family and friends, but I don’t think I’ll be coming home. Vancouver is the prettiest, friendliest, buzziest (most buzzing..?) city I’ve visited, and was well worth the ten hour plane journey to get here. Strolling through downtown Vancouver, British Reminder Number Two pops up: posters advertising a Biffy Clyro gig at a fairly small venue next door to our hostel. Unluckily, we won’t be in Vancouver when they play, but it was pretty surreal seeing such a big British band playing such a nondescript venue here.
After my jetlag began to disappear, we headed to Stanley Park for a 10k walk. It’s easy to see why Canadians are always so happy and friendly: with mountains, the sea and beaches less than 10 minutes from the city centre, there’s little reason to be miserable about anything.
Stanley Park is amazing: from beaches to mountains, you’ve got scenery that you wouldn’t catch anywhere apart from on the front of a postcard. Sophie is somehow coping with my scatty-injury-prone-self (strained foot and mild concussion from bunk beds) like a pro, and I couldn’t be much more thankful to have someone who knows the ropes showing me around/how not to die.
Talking of not dying, crossing roads here is brilliant. You have to wait for the man to go green (jaywalking is a thing here), but if there’s no traffic lights, pedestrians have right of way.
As if Vancouver doesn’t get much more perfect, the available post-night-out food ranges from giant slices of pizza to tubs of ice cream in any flavour you want. Literally, perfect.
Please believe me when I say I’m not exaggerating: everyone in our hostel is Australian (I’m slightly worried that there won’t be any left in the country when I arrive…). The next two days are going to be pretty manic, celebrating Australia Day in Australian time, and then Canadian time. If we survive that, it’s off to Seattle on Monday for my birthday.