Although this is the first part of my story, it is actually my second try at getting into Canada. The first? Unsuccessful, and I ended up making the most of it by romping around Seattle for a week (a post will be coming soon detailing that excursion).
This time, however, I made it! I was joined by my good friend Erin, a native of Albuquerque who came to be in Ashland, Oregon thanks to the National Student Exchange Program.
We awoke pre-dawn on the Monday of spring break to get a ride in a cramped mini-cooper from a friend that we are grateful to, and caught the bus to Eugene, OR. We had time to kill, so spent time in my usual haunt there: Tailored Coffee. They were nice enough to let us spend the morning there with our giant suitcases, uncharged laptops, and bleary eyes.
After more bus rides (this time on Bolt), we stopped in Seattle, where we would spend the night.
Well, not quite Seattle, but rather slightly south of there in a burrough called Kent. it was here that my friend Dari resided. Dari is a fellow Comm major whom I met and bonded with after we collaborated on a write up on the growth of smaller crowd-funded businesses in Oregon. Anyway, she took us out to dinner at a little meat shop followed by an ice cream excursion to a specialty shop called Molly Moon’s where we dined on ice cream with wild flavors such as Thai Tea, something something, and something something. Here and now, I must make a confession: I was completely sick with allergies or some variant. Although I had been staving off sickness for awhile, it all hit here on my Spring Break trip. Fun, right? I know that the ice cream must have been good, for the shop was full and my companions made delighted faces when they tried it, but alas all I can recall was how nice and soothing it was on my throat, and not much more.
The next morning, Dari’s mum was kind enough to drive us to the bus station and send us off with coffee and pastries, and Erin and I snoozed until we hit the border, the place where I had previously been turned back.
Last time I was stopped due to some embarrassing legal things which I won’t go into now, but basically this time I was able to produce evidence that no, I’m not actually a felon, and after waiting a couple of hours a the border for the next bus, we hopped on and rode into Canada! From this point forward, it was the farthest north in the world that I had been.
We rolled into the bus station in Vancouver, and after eating nothing but the morning pastry, we were quite hungry. Vancouver, being quite renowned for being a top foodie city in the world, no doubt had much to offer, but we were so starved that our first taste of authentic Canadian cuisine was in the A&W fast food restaurant in the bust station (damn, though, it was satisfying).
Our hostel was in the Gastown District of Vancouver, a historic site with brick streets, abundant swanky coffeeshops for the mornings and mod bars for the nights, as well as numerous cramped, kitschy tourist shops that sold items that ranged from postcards to Canadian pins, gift maple syrups to moose bobbleheads. (Yes, we did get one for our boss, and the moose proudly bobbles on her desk now.) Our first Canadian act? Take a refreshing afternoon nap in our hostel.
We stayed at the Cambie Hostel, which had a bar on the first level, and our little room was on the third floor. Beautiful, creaky wooden floors and exposed pipes, and we had a great view of the brick building across the way and the morning crowds.
Our friend Tammy, whom I had met in Korea and was near and dear to my heart, met us and picked us up and we did a Vancouver-light tour. We checked out the Vancouver Art Museum, which was packed since on Tuesday’s it is by donation, and then drove around Olympic Village and then went to dinner in a Taiwanese place where Erin had her first legal alcoholic drink! It was a vase of sweet liquor, made even sweeter by the legality of it all.
That night, after a long day of travel, we passed out in our bunk beds and slept soundly. We were weary, had seen the city lights at night and met up with a dear friend, and had nearly not made it. The sleep was almost a reward, a victory in and of itself, and tomorrow, we would be ready to face the city that we would both soon fall in love with.