I barely slept last night with excitement for today’s trip, I felt euphoric with anticipation. Not even the rainy taxi ride to the airport dinted my spirit, nor the usual wrangle with American Airlines which resulted in my worst seat allocation yet – a middle seat! But I didn’t care, this was my last flight with them… ever if I can help it! I didn’t even care when the inflight entertainment system didn’t work or when the flight attendant who looked like she’d been dragged through a bush backwards barked orders at the passengers – no skin off my nose! Because today, I was going ‘home’ to Vancouver!
As if to anoint the blessed trip, the people with seats assigned either side of me didn’t show up so I just moved on over to the window seat anyway and it was an emergency exit row which made it as close to first class as this god-forsaken airline is likely to have! The people did eventually show up, a couple on their way to celebrate their anniversary on a cruise to Alaska – by then I had the window and it wouldn’t have been right to sit between them anyway. Vancouver here I come!
The closer we got to touchdown, the more excited I was. By the time we were on the ground I was positively giddy. I may actually have audibly giggled when I saw the first ‘Welcome to Vancouver’ sign at the most amazing airport in the world ever (not just according to me, it’s won awards!). On the customs queue, I was just beaming. When my turn came, the customs officer must have seen my enthusiasm as he pursued quite a direct line of question about my intention to leave – no doubt they have a problem with overstaying tourists who fall in love instantly with the place and I clearly had that fevered look in my eye.
As I waited an interminably long time for my bag I couldn’t help thinking of how Sue had compared me to the dog in the movie ‘Up!’ for my excitement over squirrels which in turn reminded me of a snowy day when I lived here back in 2000 when, with my wet nose pressed up against Dawn’s office window to watch the snow falling, she compared me to her own dog. Now, as I waited I knew that if I had a tail, I’d be chasing it round and round in circles! As it was, I was getting dizzy looking for something else to chase back there! At any rate, my bag came before I caught it. I threw my bag on in one impressive move and practically ran for the exit.
I pushed through already in a state of delirium when my heart rate went up another notch at the sight of my dear friend Laura who’d come to meet me. No tears this time, just happy jumping and hugging and a weird feeling that no time had past although she looked more gorgeous than ever.
She led me, still giddy, to the brand new airport train line – one of the many new developments since my last visit in 2005, courtesy of the 2010 Winter Olympics. We made our way to her place to dump my bags and then rush out to enjoy the perfect weather which I was assured had been a long time coming. We went down to the waterfront to have lunch at the new Convention Centre and for me to reacquaint myself with the skyline of the North Shore Mountains, still snow capped, still dwarfing the skyscrapers of the downtown core. More than a sight for sore eyes, my heart almost leapt out of my chest with rejoicing to be back.
After lunch, it was time for me to check into my new pad. I had taken my time in booking accommodation for Vancouver. Although many generous offers were made, all my friends here now have young families whose routines I didn’t want to impose upon any more than I would have liked to have been awoken at 6am in the morning! So I decided to get my own place. I considered sharing through airbnb to cut costs or even getting a private room at a hostel but then I came across a monthly let in the new Olympic Village that was not only affordable, but cheaper than the other options.
The Olympic Village is a new development obviously to cater for the 2010 games but beyond that, development continued to create a whole new enclave. The complex I’m in, Kayak, has only recently been finished. The whole project however has turned out to be quite controversial when the private developers filed for bankruptcy and the Government was forced to step in and take over the project at huge expense to the taxpayers. Whilst the area is absolutely spectacular, it still hasn’t filled up due to the exorbitant price of the apartments. In order to recoup as much of the financial loss as possible, social housing allocations have also fallen by the wayside which has further soured the original enthusiasm for the development. At this stage, there is only a bank and liquor store open to service the still largely theoretical community with others holding off until numbers pick up.
All that said, my place is amazing! Brand new with all the whistles and bells you could want; the bathroom has a gigantic soaker tub, separate shower with regular and rain shower heads, double sinks (now allocated as a hand washing sink and a tooth brushing sink) and more towels and washers than my sister could shove down her bra! The open kitchen had granite work tops, top of the range appliances, a concealed fridge/freezer and dishwasher, fully stocked with anything I could need including le creuset pots and nigella lawson bowls. All the cupboards and drawers throughout are soft close so not even any pesky slamming! There’s a dining table and a lounge with a TV with full cable and of course wireless internet. The lounge opens onto a balcony overlooking the beautifully manicured central courtyard and has another table setting for 4. The bedroom has a gorgeous big sleigh bed and enough cupboard and drawer space to house another family! But wait, there’s more! The bedroom leads onto a separate enclosed sunroom with a double sun-lounge that clicks back to make another double bed if required.
My original plan was to travel around the province a bit, commune with nature and all that. One look at this place and I know I’m not going anywhere! I’m already reluctant to give it up after a month. I want to live here forever – plenty of room for visitors!
Oh, I forgot to say that after showing me the apartment, Wendy, the owner then showed me the gym and yoga room and the indoor pool with spa, sauna and steam room. This is where I live now. I’m not going anywhere…
Except with Laura to go pick up and meet her daughter, Harper, for the first time. I’m always a little nervous meeting children that I’m not related to. I don’t know what they like or how to talk to them but soon after meeting Harper, I knew it wasn’t going to be a problem – she isn’t a child at all, just a small Vancouverite and lord knows, I love Vancouverites! She just blew me away with how articulate and sophisticated she is, never mind the fact that she’s only three!
We came back to my apartment to get Harper’s approval before heading back towards their place to have dinner at Harper’s favourite restaurant, Bo Kong, a vegan chinese restaurant across the road – I love this kid! We had our fill and then went back to their place to be reunited with Matt – Laura’s partner, Harper’s dad and all around good guy. It was genuinely heart warming to watch this family interact with such love and mutual respect.
Laura walked me ‘home’ where we managed to quickly empty a bottle of wine and chat the night away before she left me to my own devices.
All alone in my apartment after such an extraordinary day, there was only one thing I couldn’t let the day pass without – a swim in that tub. I promptly fell asleep there and then, woke up in the luke warm water with just enough energy to acknowledge my joy and fall in bed with a smile on my face.