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Posts Tagged ‘backpacking’

Vancouver | Jinkies! It's the Parade of Lost Souls

As Velma from Scooby-Doo in Vancouver, Parade of Lost Souls

My lack of travelling coupled with an intense summer of social activity — not to mention the time invested in finding the elements for this Velma costume — has killed the energy of this site. However, it’s a new season, I’ve switched to a new theme, and I’m dedicating myself to upload all the old travel diaries (which I will direct you to in the near future).

And unless something serious happens in the next few months, I will be off on another long-term adventure early next year. Something’s in the works, my friends. I’ll let you in on the plan closer to the date, but I’m open to suggestions that will take me a little off-course… because, really, that’s always where the excitement lies.

Until then, I’ll post re: old diary and picture updates. The next few months will be an exciting, exciting time.

Jinkies!

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The one o’ clock cannon, as taken by a tourist at Edinburgh Castle

I’m in Princes Street Gardens right now, trying to relax. Trying. A family on the bench across from me is definitely not in happy land, cursing the daylights out of each other. The mother has a perma-scowl and curses her children for anything they do. “Don’t sit like that!” “Don’t walk around!” “Don’t make a noise!” “Why aren’t you talking to me?!” and on and on. The only time I saw her crack a smile was when the one o’clock gun blasted from the Castle, making the kids jump and hide. Such a sadist.

I must admit the blast scared me as well. In the two months I’ve been here, this was the first time I’d been near the Edinburgh Castle around one o’ clock. I’d forgotten about this tradition, thought it was a fatal car bomb, and nearly soiled my trousers.

Speaking of which, my coworker Luci and her friend Barry worked at the Edinburgh Tourist Office and said their favourite tourist question was: “Where does the cannonball land when the 1 o’ clock cannon strikes?” Right on your head, madam. Right on your head.

I watched the “Songwriter’s Circle Program” on BBC2 last night, a wonderful program showcasing four different artists and their best acoustic tunes. I swooned when I heard Nick Cave. The CBC back home should take some tips from the BBC – I swear, their music industry is only where it is because the national broadcasters take time to promote it.

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Innsbruck, Austria | At 8,000 feet or somethingAbout 7,000 feet up and suffering both altitude sickness and a debilitating fear of heights

It’s a right crime to be stuck indoors on a sunny day. The bright fireball in the sky rarely makes its appearance up here in Vancouver between November and February, so this is a double smack in the face for a weekend web tester.

But this is all my doing. I’m a masochist: I’m working 7 days a week to save money for an upcoming period of possible unemployment… which may be in the cards sooner than I think. And an added freelance writing gig pretty much guarantees that the contents of my brain will be as flat and lifeless as my hair on the best of days. I reckon I won’t be seeing the sunlight for another week, and that’s a tough ride for a wandering shoe. Sigh.

But the more I work, the more I want to socialize, the more I want to explore, because I can’t let one thing dominate my entire life. Besides, let’s face it: I had three months of freedom last year, so this is a small price to pay… especially when there *is* a light at the end of the tunnel.

I went to see a local travel presentation by backpacker Fiona Scott the other day, and though the Powerpoint presentation was riddled with typos and excessive exclamation marks, it did get me thinking about my old travel photos and how I should really get a move on to organize them. Enough excuses, already. It seems like every entry since the inception of this blog has bemoaned the lack of time for this project. Blah, blah, blah. Get on with it.

World, here I come.

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Amtrak Emeryville | Delayed 6 hours

I was due to arrive in Vancouver at 12:30 this morning.

Thanks to signal delays in California, a rail problem in Oregon, and a blustery winter storm in Northern Washington and Vancouver, I stumbled back into town a good 12 hours later, hair caked with grease and skin coated with the detritus of railway washrooms.

40 hours on the train. My longest train trip for one of the shortest distances travelled.

My fellow riders and I barely got any sleep, but don’t worry, Amtrak. You gave us some of the best scenery we could ever ask for. You’ve still got a fan in me.

Amtrak Oregon | Winter beautyland

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San Francisco | The Mission District
Prowling the Mission District at night, San Francisco

I think I finally found “my place” in San Fran. My exposure for the first few days were limited to the tourist scene: the crab-cracking cacophony of Fisherman’s Wharf, the brisk breezes on the Golden Gate, and the loitering lot in the Tenderloin. All of them must-sees, with an exception for the Tenderloin, but all lacking an element of the spirit that encapsulates… ME.

I read a lot of hoo-ha about the Haight-Ashbury area before I got here — it’s definitely one of those infamous neighbourhoods that once encapsulated that animal drive to live, but right now it just seems to be a lane full of punky kids, consignment shops, and vegan-friendly institutions. However, I did find a gem for the politically incorrect meat-eater in myself at the Pork Store Cafe:

San Francisco | The Pork Store Cafe, Haight-Ashbury

However, there’s something in the Mission district that inspires. Maybe it feels like Costa Rica all over again. Maybe it’s the kazillion tacquerias lining the streets (see Tacqueria Cancun for one of the best burritos in the city). Mix that with a few cool cafes, David Eggers’ flagship Valencia store, and dollar stores and maybe you’ve got something. Or perhaps it’s simply because I got a brand new carry-on suitcase for $12. Who knows. It just feels right.

I think that’s the essential thing about a lot of places in the world: there’s always a nugget out there that’s waiting to be discovered, waiting to be called your new home away from home. And on that note… I’m almost home. See you guys soon.

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Never have I been in a place where abusing transit workers seems to be de rigeur. I don’t mean to say that this place is full of disrespectful people — not at all. It’s just that in the 4 days I’ve been here, I’ve witnessed three occasions where people have attempted to cheat the system and when caught, screamed at the driver or staff on security like it was their problem.

The sad thing is, these are probably just a bunch of privileged kids who have nothing better to do than sass back.

On behalf of everyone who rides SF transit (even though it’s trying at times), here’s my big hearty “thank you” to the drivers who are just doin’ their job! [pumping fist]

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San Francisco | Golden Gate Bridge

If you’re in a physical shape anything close to mine and find yourself biking around in San Francisco, get yourself a decent bike and a set of thighs that actually work.

Biking across the Golden Gate bridge is a rite of passage for any tourist coming to the city, so no matter what your aversion is to pedaling up a hill, you just give in and do it. At least that’s what I told myself before I had to attack the first hill up to Presidio Park, and experienced the worst burning in my thighs that I’d ever experienced since my grade four 1-kilometre run. In fact, I think that was the very last time I was actually challenged physically, so my inactivity accounts for a lot of this mess. But if the numbers of people pushing their bike up moderate hills are any indication, I’m not the only one who needs to stop wolfing down those onion rings and poutine.

The professional, local bikers of city, all clad in their streamlined gear and spandex clothing, seem a little bit irate about the tourist biking collective. They zip by, sometimes a little perturbed by the whole picture-taking kafuffle on the bridge, and I totally see where they’re coming from. Us tourists can be an annoying lot. Especially when our pedaling only takes us 1 mile an hour uphill.

It’s a battle, and with me on the team, I’m afraid we lost the war.

But in retrospect, yeah, I suppose it was all worth it.

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