Tofino Road Trip!

I love road trips! I took one to Dublin once (okay, a train/ferry trip) with some mates and I loved it. It was a great time with friends. Our train went right through Wales (which is the best way to see it…) and spent a fabulous few days pub crawling in London.

My Canadian friends suggested that we take a trip to Tofino. It sounded cool. It sounded Italian.

Apparently it’s the only place in Canada with surfers.

Surfers!!

So we went to Tofino. It was a 2 hour ferry trip to a place called Nanaimo, and then a three hour car trip. This is longer than my trip to Dublin. But it was quite beautiful: the mountains and lakes were breathtaking. I think my favourite part of Canadian forestry is that you keep expecting a bear to pop out at any moment! Rawr!

So we got to Tofino, checked into the Wickaninnish Inn (click here to get discount price for it), which is a famous cabin-resort around here. It’s June, in Canada, and I’m at the ocean. What do I see?

This:

tofino cloudy

Take a good look. This is what disappointment looks like. Apparently Tofino is a special micro-climate that tends to be cold and cloudy all year long.

Yipee!!! (that was sarcasm).

We went out, in our jumpers and long pants, to the Beach. Now, when we drove here, it was a hot, cloudless day. Then we went over this mountain and suddenly: poof! There goes the heat. I felt like it was mid-winter London!

I’m sure that–at some point in the year–this is a great place to visit. But right now, it was just some kind of terrible.

Coffee!

I’m an Aberration: an English Coffee Lover…

Let me start by saying that a lot of my major life choices have been majorly influence by my addiction to caffeine.

Soooo one of the selling features of Vancouver was all the famous coffee shops: Cafe Artigiano, Trees, 49th Parallel (named after the latitudinal line separating Canada from the States), and Revolver.

I’m a fairly laid back coffee drinker: a good Starbucks is all I need to get going in the morning. But I was excited to try out all these specialty coffee shops. I’m trying to hit every cafe that the Huffington Post said were the best. Here’s my experience so far:

  1. Cafe Artigiano – It was busy, and I had some time to watch the baristas at work. Something really grossed me out, however. You know how baristas will steam milk in those little pitchers? Well, at Artigiano they were steaming the milk, setting it aside, and then one barista would collect all the old milk into one giant container…and then they started reusing it. That means the milk kept on getting reused over and over again. I got sick to my stomach and left before trying anything.
  2. Trees – Went after 5pm and they weren’t open. I’ll try another day.
  3. 49th Parallel – Tried it in Kitsilano. They had a Clover machine and had some pretty sweet drip coffee. It had me wired all day long. I liked the sleek, modern look of the cafe. I’m not a fan of the old wood furniture most cafes populate themselves with.
  4. Revolver – I have yet to visit. They have a pretty badass website, though.

Obligatory Video:

Apparently you can buy coffee with bitcoin in certain coffee shops now. I’m still not sure how bitcoin works exactly.

In the meantime, check out this website here, as well as here.

Grouse Mountain!

A Note on Canadian Pronunciation:

First off: a rant:

Dear Canadians: do you really expect me to believe that you pronounce this fine mountain “Grouse” as in “mouse”? What sense does that make? Why isn’t it pronounced like “gross”. You know how hard it is for an Englishman to pronounce it that way?
First off: the grouse is an arctic bird (seriously.) I find it easier to call it Gross Mountain. Not that there’s anything inherently gross about it. I just don’t want to have a bloody aneurysm every time I talk about the place.

Rant Over.

Alright, the rant is over. Yesterday I went up Grouse Mountain (I pronounced it Gross in my head). This was a fun place to be, but apparently the worst time to go up. These are the main attractions on Grouse Mountain:

  • Skating Rink – an outdoor rink on top of a mountain. Sounds amazing, right? It’s too warm in March for that.
  • Grouse Grind – A gruelling 2 mile trail up the mountain. It’s become so famous that Hugh Jackman and Bradley Cooper have attempted it when filming movies here. It’s closed until May, because it’s too cold.
  • Lumberjack Show – I know it’s just for the kiddies, but I want a uniquely Canadian experience, and it doesn’t get more Canadian than lumberjacks. The shows don’t start until the summer.

So here I am in Grouse Mountain purgatory. Even the cable car operators seemed surprised people are trying to go up.
grouse mountain bear
One amazing thing I did see was a real, live, bear. I’m not kidding. There was a bear up there. It’s in a small, fenced off area. Let me repeat that: all that separated me from a real live bear was a small fence.

While it was truly amazing: what are they doing putting us that close to a live bear? If he tried to attack us, that fence would do nothing! I can’t, for the life of me, figure out why they thought it was a good idea. But, here I am talking about it. I guess…I’m part of the problem.

All in all it was an amazing experience to climb a mountain like that. There are no mountains quite like that in England. I went to Mt. Blanc on a field trip back in school. Mont Blanc is bigger, but I thought it was too remote. I had trouble breathing. Grouse Mountain is high: it gives you scale, but you can still have a good time. I quite liked it.

Looks awesome, right? I didn't get to see it.

Looks awesome, right? I didn’t get to see it.

Video:

This is what a trip in the summer would look like. Maybe I’ll stick around a bit longer than I had planned?

In the meantime, I recommend this site here as well as here.

Hockey!

My first Hockey Game

I don’t care about hockey at all. I actually don’t care for most sports. Even Football and Rugby back home. Never much cared for it.

But I do remember this whole city exploding in a riot over hockey a couple years back. Now, you have to remember that these are Canadians, which are a even nicer, friendlier people than the English. And yet, something about hockey got them up in arms.

What is it about this sport?

Vancouver Canucks Game

vancouver canucks fight

Legalized Assault and Battery?

We and a few friends all went and saw the Vancouver Canucks and the Los Angeles Kingships. Now, I didn’t even know Los Angeles could have a hockey team. Isn’t it a tropical desert or something down there? I remember reading that it hadn’t snowed in thirty odd years down there. Amazing, this is.


Anyway, going in with no knowledge of hockey, these are my observations:

  • These people go fast. Really fast.
  • There’s A LOT of rules that stop play. Can’t do a hand pass? puck touched with high stick? Are these really reasons to stop a game?
  • If you want to beat people up, but don’t want to be arrested, become a hockey player. Seriously. I think I understand why hockey fans riot.

I can’t believe they still allow assault and battery in a hockey game in this day and age. And the crowd? Oh my god, the crowd started to terrify me as a fight broke out on the ice. Women were shouting for blood.

Were we in Roman times? Are they going to put some Tigers out there in skates?

If you combine a passion of fans and the brutality of this kind of fighting, I can totally see how riots would happen. I know that they only seem to happen in Canadian cities, but that’s probably because they only have the one sport to identify with. If you’re in Boston, or New York, your hockey team is only 1/4 of your sporting life. With Canadians, I can tell, it’s everything to them!

I can’t believe they allow them to bare-knuckle brawl out there. It’s…illegal everywhere except on a hard, slippery surface. Maybe because I’m English I just don’t get it. I don’t know. But man, oh man, that is some serious culture shock!

First Up: Hipster Watching!

Apparently there are two epicenters of hipsterdom: Brooklyn, NY and Portland, Oregon. I hate hipsters and couldn’t imagine visiting those places and not leaving with assault and battery charges. I’m not a violent man by any means. I mean, I have had several battles with spiders in my flat where the outcome truly was in doubt. There’s just something about hipsters that makes ordinary people eager to try out violence for the first time. You know?

weird hipsters

Hipster Watching Has Been Moved Up:

I planned on spending a couple of days trying out obscure cafes to see hipsters in their natural habitat. But once I got off the plane, I came up against an uncomfortable truth: they’re everywhere.

They were in the airport.

They were on the train from the airport.

They were in my hotel.

It’s like a zombie apocalypse where you discover that everyone is already infected. It’s not a weird minority of people here in Vancouver. There are Asians, there are hipsters, and there are Asian hipsters (inevitable overlap). But that’s all there is.

The gross part? The smug looks on their faces…or the scarves or…I don’t know. I don’t even know what it is. It’s this terrible feeling.

I think I’m in over my head.