Everything appears to be happening very quickly.
Thursday afternoon I was having a drink with a few friends in “The Flying Dog” in Waterloo, Ontario — to celebrate (or mourn; depending on your point of view) my last day at work. Friday was a holiday here in Canada (“Good Friday”), so I used it to make sure everything’s in place for the North American leg of the Get Lucky tour, as well as for playing my guitars & piano, as I am going to miss them a lot.
And then Saturday early morning, 6:30am, the sound of the alarm clock signified the beginning of yet another adventure. I sprang out of bed full of energy, which lasted for just about 15 seconds when I washed my face and realized I hadn’t got much sleep. A quick (but perfect; as always) espresso and yogurt, and we (my long time friend Jonathan and myself) were in the car en route to the Toronto Airport.
While driving, I was trying to figure out whether I forgot anything. Just seemed strange to me that I was able to pack everything I need for a month inside one half of a 70 litres backpack. A few clothes, some personal accessories (toothbrush, shaving machine etc), Netbook, some adapters… that’s pretty much it. And as I am going to have a car during the North American leg, I splurged and decided to take my Baby Taylor guitar, in case I’ll have an SSTD attack (Severe Strumming Time Deficiency).
Turns out I came prepared really well. Online check‐in to Air Canada’s flight gave me the possibility to pre‐select the best seat in the house — I had enough leg‐room to play Rugby in it (but I didn’t; I’m not much into sports), and with an eye‐cover and a pair of Bose QuietComfort 15’s in my ears, the flight went by very quickly.
Vancouver Airport → Baggage Claim → and then straight to Budget, to pick‐up my car. They have this program called “FastBreak” in which you provide them with all bunch of information ahead of time, and when you arrive, you go to a designated kiosk, flash your ID and then literally go straight to your car — no line‐up. Apparently, though, someone there screwed up my order and “FastBreak” turned into “Fast? Give me a Break”.
Got my GPS installed and went straight to my good friend Kyle’s place. I rented a room at his house when I was working in Vancouver during 2006 and we kept in touch ever since — a great guy. Always good to see him. An hour or so later I was on my way to have lunch with my friend Joyti, whom I’ve known since 2004 and remained good friends with. We met in White Spot — what a surprise, as if I could kick‐start any Vancouver stay without White Spot’s fabulous Triple‐O’ burger — chatted for an hour or to, and then parted ways.
Right after, I started driving towards Seattle to meet with Hadar. We first met in high‐school (18 years ago. Why am I feeling old, all of a sudden?), and only recently reconnected. She lives in Kirkland, Washington — a stone‐throw from Seattle (well, really, you ought to have huge biceps for that kind of stone‐throw, but you know what I mean; work with me here).
Approaching the Peace Arch border crossing, signs informed me of a 1 hour delay at the crossing. Good thing that this border crossing has a dedicated NEXUS lane. Best $50 I ever spent in my life (the card is good for 5 years), and there I was cruising in a dedicated lane, bypassing hundreds of frustrated people. I crossed the border within one minute.
I am not a huge fan of procrastination, so I also used this trip to the USA to resolve one of the most problematic issues I could think of — getting a no‐contract, BlackBerry‐enabled SIM card from a USA cell‐phone provider. Two weeks of roaming in Europe last summer ended up costing me $800 (!), and a month in the USA using my Canadian SIM card would probably hurt a lot. Fortunately, it turns out that T‐Mobile sells BlackBerry‐enabled SIM cards on a no‐contract plan. $75 a month bought me unlimited nation‐wide voice & data.
Weather sucked en route to Kirkland but I made it safely to Kirkland. A dinner out, back home and I fell asleep, extremely tired.
Next day, after approximately 12 hours (!) of sleep, I made my way back to Canada, to pick Jeroen up from the Vancouver airport. Signs approaching the US/Canada border informed me of a 1 hour delay at the border. Once again the NEXUS card saved me an hour wait. Got to the airport just in time to pick Jeroen up. His first time in Canada and it’s my honour to show him around, as he showed me around Amsterdam and Delft when I was there.
Quick run to the hotel — Best Western Sands By The Sea — right in Denman & Davie. I can literally throw something through the window and hit the ocean. Went for dinner in White Spot (do you see a pattern here?); a hamburger later and we went back to the hotel.
Next day (today), I showed Jeroen around some of the best places in Vancouver and area. Lots of pictures available at my Facebook profile — you’re welcome to check it out (see link to my website at the right‐hand side; there, you should find a link to my Facebook profile). Drove to Whistler and back, taking lots of pictures along the way.
Monday 7:25pm now, back at the hotel preparing for a stroll outside — weather appears to have improved.
The Get Lucky tour kicks‐off this coming Thursday in Seattle. From there on, you should expect regular daily blog updates; until then… I think I’ll spend most of the time outside. Take a look at the photos… I’m sure you’d do the same.
Vancouver is the most beautiful city in the world. If you never made it here before, put it on your list.