First Step when Arriving in Vancouver: Crossing the Border
After a Detour by Seattle and a 4 hours train ride I finally arrived to Vancouver. But before setting foot on Canadian soil I first had to take a crucial step: crossing the border. After collecting my two suitcases I got in line to cross the border. After a few minutes I got in front of a customs officer to who I explained that I had a one year working holiday visa. He immediately told me to go to the next room to receive my visa. There was already a girl waiting there. I sat next to her and we started talking.
Her name was Indiana and she was Australian. Like me she was entering the country on a working holiday visa, but she had a 2 years visa. She already had a job as a waitress in a ski resort near Calgary. She had never seen the sea, didn’t even have a coat to her name and had of course never skied before. It was her dream to experience a cold and snowy season. I later learned that many Australians, as well as British people, came to Canada with the same dream. They take Vancouver streets by storm looking for any job that will allow them to work in a ski resort around the Vancouver area or farther, or simply spend a couple of days partying in Vancouver and then leave to look for a job directly in the ski resorts. In Whistler, the best ski resort close to Vancouver, 80% of the staff during Winter is Australian.
Talking with her allowed me to take my mind of the passing time. We waited for more than an hour to finally receive our beloved visa. The customs officers were coming in the room, asking us one question, and then left to come back 10 minutes later with another question. But after waiting all this time we received our working holiday visa.
On the 26th of October at 2PM I finally set foot on Canadian soil.
Second Step: Go to the Hostel
I took a taxi from the station to leave my suitcases. The way to the hostel already gave me a preview of the city. We passed by East Hastings, this famous Vancouver street where homeless people are stationed. Hundreds of them were on the sidewalks in various states of intoxication. Vancouver is known to be the city with the highest number of homeless people, about 1,800, which is nothing compared to the 60,000 that New York shelters, but it’s still a large number for Canada. Vancouver climate is the main reason that they come there, it’s the most temperate in Canada. Homeless people are very visible in the city because the split their time between East Hastings and Downtown, Vancouver city centre. I was confronted to the reality of Vancouver by seeing them on East Hastings. Like in Seattle it’s very impressive, even though once again people keep telling me they are not a real danger.
After this preview of the city I finally got to my hostel, the Vancouver Samesun Backpackers Lodge. It’s on Granville Street at Nelson Street, in the city centre. There I met Indiana again, who was staying there for 3 nights. My room was ready so I put them in my room. The room was a real mess, open Tupperware with food inside were laying on the floor, clothes were all over the place, beauty products as well, and open cans of beer were lying around. Needless to say the odour wasn’t bad as well. I really didn’t want to spend any time there, so I decided to go with Indiana to find her a coat for her to survive her first winter.
Third Step: Discovering the City
We went exploring the city all the while looking for a coat for Indiana. I was very lucky on my first day because the weather was nice and sunny. Vancouver combines everything: it’s a big city between land, mountains and sea. In a few minutes you can go from the excitement of the city to the beach with the mountains as background, or take a bus, leave the city and be in the nature. It’s really beautiful and pleasant.
I spent my first days in Vancouver discovering the city while looking for an apartment, buying a Canadian sim card, and taking care of all administrative procedures. I walked a lot, sometimes 15 kilometres per day. The weather wasn’t always as beautiful as my first day here, but I had some really beautiful and sunny days. Here are some pictures of my sightseeing.
Fourth step: beginning my Canadian integration
In Canada a good integration begins by discovering something typically Canadian: a hockey game. And it continues with a celebration: Halloween.
1. Going to a Hockey Game
Indiana was only staying for 3 days in Vancouver, so she asked me to come with her to a hockey game. We went there the next day, on the 27th of October. We saw the Vancouver Canucks playing against the Montreal Canadiens. This game was a wonderful experience, especially because Vancouver won 5 to 1 against Montreal. It made me want to watch more games. I know follow the Canucks on the television 3 to 4 times per week. Here is a small video of the game.
2. Celebrating Halloween
Halloween in Vancouver is crazy! For Halloween people carve a lot of pumpkins, decorate their home to transform them into haunted houses, if they have children they go trick or treating, and at night they put scary costumes on and party. Days before Halloween day I could see Superman, Batman or a Vampire walking on the street because the party begins before the 31st. It’s really fun to watch. I lived my first real Halloween and it was great! On Halloween day I also met by chance Kathrin, a friend that I had met during my stay in Seattle. We spent 3 days visiting the city together.
Here is a little video of the street on D day.
After my first days in Vancouver I have to look for an apartment. Another exciting adventure.