Monday, 14 June 2010

The Canadians are brilliant

MP3 Track of the Day - America - Razorlight

Weather: Clear blue skies with fluffy clouds ... another perfect day in North America.

Okay let's go back to yesterday evening. I left the hostel around 7:30pm and headed towards the Vancouver Harbour Tower to take some night photos. I was really looking forward to it and I had brought my tri-pod with me for the occasion. It's still light around 8pm and so I headed for something to eat before arriving at the tower.

Once in the tower I saw that there was no one at the reception and the lifts had a notice on them:

"...Harbour Tower closed due to lift maintenance. Any problems please see the security team on level two..."

Damn right there was a problem; I had spent $15.00 on a ticket earlier which I was promised of getting some views of Vancouver City under the cover of darkness. I was pretty annoyed when I reached the security team as I was really looking forward to this. It wasn't the security teams fault, I remained polite but I couldn't hide the furious tone within my own voice. I asked the security team if there was anyone around in charge of the tower so I could get a refund ... no. Is there anything I could do? One of the Security guards asked me if I had been up during the day, however I explained that I purchased the ticket because I really wanted to go up at night to take some photos.

The security guards ummed and arrred and finally one of them said that, if I came back in an hour and a half (10:00pm) they would take me up on a personal tour for 20 minutes or so ... bonus! (note: the lifts were actually working, it's just the tower management decided to close early and put the above notice on the lifts ... good customer care that).

Now, as I was carrying loads of camera equipment, I didn't fancy going onto the streets of Vancouver at night. I therefore decided that I would wait in the tower reception area ... this was a good idea. After about 15 minutes the security guard asked why I wasn't going out and I explained; he then said that if that was the case he could show me another good area to shoot photos of the city from (roof of a car park) as I waited until 10:00pm to get escorted up the tower.

We had a good chat and he was a really nice guy; he came from Alberta and had been in Vancouver for a while ... the only worrying thing was that he carried his own knife with him because he was fed up of having a knife pulled out on him.

Anyway I shot some photos from the car park roof for a while and then headed back to the tower, to then be escorted up the tower. It was amazing; I was the only guy (bar the security guard) up the tower and the views were brilliant (check my flickr account). After around 30 minutes I then went back down the tower and thanked the security guard allot (I was going to email the towers management to say what had happened, but I didn't want to get him into trouble). As I caught the skytram back to the hostel I thought about what had happened. There is no way, within the UK, a security guard would have done that for me (jobs worth) ... I love the Canadian people, they are so helpful and will go out there way to do anything for you ... also what a great way to say goodbye to Canada ... for a little while.

I got back to my hostel and checked for mice before going to bed (no sign to Toby, or his family).

The guy I had shared my dorm with was great; he didn't snore and he was tidy, however he did seem to sleep all the time ... every time I got back from a day out (9pm / 10pm) he was asleep and when I got up at 9am he was still asleep. However today was different and he got up at 6am ... which I was glad about as I woke up at the same time, which meant I had time to have a shower, check through my whole bag (before I went through US immigration) and catch the second half of the Japan vs Cameroon world cup football game (which was dull).

I then left the hostel and caught the coach to Seattle. Before getting on the coach I finished my book (the Canadian War of 1813 ... very good but a heavy read) and a Greyhound security guy asked me what was the England vs USA score; after I told him, he said that he was gutted as he wanted England to beat the USA (loads of Canadians are flying England flags at the moment ... Canada's amazing).

The bus ride was pretty uneventful. When we arrived at US border control we passed lines and lines of lorries wanting to cross the border. I tried to work out that, if there were, say, 100 trucks waiting an average of two hours each then, if each driver is earning £10.00 an hour, the cost of the border control on the North American economy would be £2,000.00 for just the trucks there at that moment. This cost would probably go onto the customer and now I can understand why some food prices might be a little expensive within Canada and why I love the European Union ... having no border controls for trade saves us, within the EU, a fortune. I'm very pro-EU and this was another example of the benefits.

I went through US customs okay (no sightseeing advice this time, but I did get my finger prints taken); back on the coach I read my Seattle guidebook (a top 10 guidebook: not really that impressed with it ... I much prefer the Rough Guides) and I decided that I needed to:

  • Purchase an Alaskan guidebook and a novel

  • Post my 'Canadian War of 1812' book home

  • Get hair cut

The good thing was that there was a book shop, in my guidebook, as an attraction and therefore I thought I could kill two birds with one stone by purchasing my books from that book shop.

I found my hostel and it's really nice, very clean and no mice, but there is an annoying Aussie with very bad language (he's sitting on the floor in front of me trying to be funny, however I think he sounds like an arse!). I put all my stuff in my locker and headed out to the book store!

A 20 minute walk later, only to find the book store went bankrupt two years ago ... oh well. So I headed back to the downtown area of Seattle to find a shopping mall with a huge book store. I purchased a Rough Gide to Alaska and then I had a choice over which novel to purchase. I could play safe and purchase 'The Kite Runner' which I know will be a good read ... or I could go for 'A Feast of Crows' by George R. R. Martin which the book store recommended and I thought, through me purchasing it, it would show my 'riskier' side. I went for the 'A Feast of Crows'; I would like to say that money had nothing to do within ... however this book was half the price and twice as thick as 'The Kite Runner'.

After all this running around it was too late to get my hair cut (and the post offices were shut), so I had something to eat. Just like in Edm0nton, I was waited on my the gayest guy ever, and so I carefully looked around to make sure I hadn't accidentally landed in a gay restaurant ... no, there were chicks here, I was okay.

I then retired to my hostel which is where I am now. Tomorrow I plan to walk around the city and, depending on how my budget is holding up, I might go on a tour around the Boeing factory the day after ... its $60.00 for the day (£40.00). Oh and apparently Microsoft is nearby so I may pay Mr Gates a quick visit and let him know exactly what I think about his 'updates'.

Toodle Pip!

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