I was determined to like Vancouver, as I’ve long pinpointed it as a possible place to settle down. It ticks all the boxes: less than 2 hours drive from one of the world’s best ski resorts, always up the top of Monocle’s Quality of Life survey, and culturally pretty similar to Australia (as much as I romanticise France I fear Paris Syndrome and/or becoming the tragic outsider à la Carrie Bradshaw when she follows Baryshnikov to Paris. Definitely not adaptable enough to live somewhere super foreign long-term.)
The 2 days I spent in Vancouver didn’t disappoint. We visited Grouse Mountain which has a smattering of ski slopes, snow-shoeing trails and bear habitat (though I didn’t see any. Actually, Canada kinda failed on the wildlife front for me, though I did see a super fat rabbit almost get run over in the airport carpark.)
Next stop was Granville Island, formerly an industrial manufacturing area, now a cool arty district with cafés, cheese makers, a luthier (for all your catgut needs) and hipster microbreweries (if you’re in the mood for a pretentious tiny beer).
How awesome are these graffitied concrete silos? It’s like Dalí was commissioned to create ‘Hey Arnold!’ versions of lego man or something. They were done for the 2014 Vancouver Biennale by Brazilian artists Os Gêmeos; identical twin brothers who have done for street art what Tegan & Sara did for indie pop, and MK & Ashley did for oversized sunglasses. As Helena & Vikki of My Kitchen Rules fame would say, ‘#twinning!’
There’s also a public market with the most amazing pecan/pumpkin spice/maple/other autumnally Canadian concoctions. I was sorely tempted by the pounds of gorgeous pie-making strawberries and raspberries, but was en route to the airport and am always terrified of ending up on Border Security as the idiot who tried to smuggle a tray of overripe fruit aka disease-riddled fruit fly bombs through customs. I get stressed enough as it is rehearsing my personal details in my head like I’m a 17 year old using a fake ID (I think it’s a perverse version of Imposter Syndrome).
The homeward journey wasn’t too bad at all. I arrived super early at the airport and laboured over a Starbucks coffee for 3 hours, but I’m pretty sure there’s no such thing as arriving with just the right amount of time to spare. It’s either breeze through check-in and hang out in duty free for a few hours, or arrive just as the gates are closing and get paged over the loudspeaker (the age-old interminable slog v in-terminal jog quandary). I was pretty smug because I’d anticipated having the same movie choices as my 10 hour flight into Canada so had saved From Nothing, Something (which I definitely recommend!) and enough episodes of Canadian Masterchef (which I definitely don’t) to keep me going til London.
And now, I’m back in Oxford, and ready(ish) for a crazy 2nd term!