32. Encouraging developments

Vancouver, Canada, 30.01.2017.

Time is running when you’re having fun. Or when you’re busy. 2 weeks have passed by and I haven’t written anything for the blog. Sorry for that! Well, I will try to make up for this by wrinting a longer entry now. Yes, it will be a bit longer because a lot of things have happened in the last 2 weeks. Let’s recapitulate:

In the days after the last blog entry, I continued writing applications and I did quite a bit of running. Then, on Saturday, 21st I did my first half marathon of the year in Langley, next to Vancouver. The Yeti-Set-Go Half Marathon was a very “exclusive” event with only a hand full of people doing the half marathon. Actually, we were around 15 people overall so the event was even smaller than the Coigach Half Marathon in Scotland last October. But there were really nice people and the weather was also quite good for a run. However, I was really unprepared for this run. In December, I could not train because I was sick for quite a while. Also, I was busy clearing out my apartment. And now, in January, I only ran a couple of times and none of the training sessions was anywhere near half marathon distance. So I decided not to push the matter but to go steady and without a hurry. Means that I finished in 1:51 hours, definitely not the best time ever. But hey, it was okay for my current state of training. Also, just in case I will start going even longer distances in the future, I need to start managing my power a bit better. That means I should probably rather run a 2:00- pace so that I don’t start dying after the first half of a full marathon. Anyway, these are thoughts for the future I guess. We also got really nice gloves for the run and I proudly wore them. Check them out!

hm-langley1
The start/ finish line. You don’t know it’s there….
hm-langley4
Place of the run: The Tynehead Regional Park in Langley, next to Vancouver.
hm-langley3
Soooooooo fluffy!
hm-langley2
Done after 1:51. First finish in 2017. Felt like a real Yeti in this run…. 🙂

Next weekend, there will be another half marathon right here in Vancouver. I don’t know yet if I want to take part in that one as well since my current training status hasn’t changed much in the previous days. Thus, a similar result to the Langley- run can be expected. That is why, on the one hand this run would not make much sense. But on the other hand, I could try to run a 2:00 pace and see how that feels after 20 kilometers. I don’t know yet what to do. Possibly, I will make a spontaneous decision here. When running in the “city” in the last days, I finally found the official US-Canada border crossing and also a very very interesting junction. So let me also share these pictures with you before I change the subject to my new car. Yes, my new car. 🙂

border
Official US – Canadian border crossing at Point Roberts.
crossing
England meets Germany in Canada. Good times.

Alright, let’s talk about my new car. About 10 days ago, my German bank finally told me that they wired the money to my Canadian bank. Finally! It was about time. Then, it took 2 more days until the money arrived here in Canada. Once that happened, I started looking for a car. Since I have no clue about cars or mechnical things in general, I tried to get as much information and advice as I could. Last Tuesday and Wednesday, I had two different cars inspected by professional mechanics to find out if they were any good. Turned out they were crap and I should not buy them. Which I did not do. One was a Dodge Durango, one was a Toyota 4Runner. The latter, however, was a rebuild car that must have been in a severe accident. It’s owner must have forgotten about that as he continued to claim that the car was all good. Well, I knew better and told him I wasn’t interested anymore. At that point, I had already met several different people who kept telling me that a Toyota 4Runner was a good buy. I am especially thankful for the initial advice in this direction which came from Corey&Kelly. Thanks again! So I continued looking for a Toyota 4Runner. I found a decent 4Runner in Surrey and although it was already 20 years old, it had only 94.000 kilometers on it. Japanese import, steering wheel on the right side of the car (I don’t care about that. Done it before in England!) and its japanese owner claimed it was in perfect condition. Well, as I don’t know anything about cars, I wanted to see its papers and have it inspected as well. It turned out that the guy was trying to sell the car for nearly 5 months now. A 4Runner! These usually sell very very quickly. He was asking 7200 Dollars for it which is an o.k. price if the car is as good as he claimed. Then he tried to start the engine and the car only came to live after a lot of effort. Great. Then it turned out that the radio was broken. Oh well. Then I made an appointment at a local repair shop with him standing beside me. After I phoned the shop, he told me he would need 40 Dollars as a compensation to go there. Because it would be his working time that he needed to invest for that. Great service, isn’t it? I then asked him who would pay the mechanic if it turned out that the car has more issues than he claims. He replied that this would be my problem. Now, I am a rather patient person. But when he then went on to say that he has no more time to “play games” and that he was done with the conversation, I was very close to tell him to f**k off. Anyway, I didn’t do that but I told him I would consider his offer. Then I drove off to my next appointment (see below). He later texted me that he didn’t want the 40 dollars anymore to go to the repair shop with me. In any case, the whole thing didn’t quite feel right to me. It was a gut feeling that there may be more problems waiting for me, especially when trying to get insurance for a “newly” imported vehicle with right hand drive. In any case, I then went to New Westminster to take a look at another car. Also 4Runner, built in 1998 but with 360.000 kilometers. Yep, that is a lot. But as of now, I only need that car for one year. And its price was quite low at 2600 Dollars. I had a very long chat with its owner, a very kind and helpful dealer named Ken. He told me about the car’s issues and even adviced me not to buy the car, anticipating that it would need a lot of repairs. He also said that this car was rather suited for someone who already owns a 4Runner and/or who was prepared to spend a lot of time and love trying to fix this one. We had a very good and long conversation and agreed to keep in contact about the car. Now I had a decision to make: A hopefully good car sold by a strange guy or a confirmed “problem-child” sold by a refreshingly honest and friendly dealer. Well, as I don’t know anything about cars, I felt like the presumably healthier car would be the better choice for me. So I texted the japanese guy, telling him that I would still like to have a mechanic to take a look at his car and that we should meet at the repair shop as previously planned. After a while, he answered that he had already made other plans for the afternoon since he thought I didn’t want the car anymore. For real? This was the moment when one of Bricktop’s famous quotes from the movie “Snatch” came to my mind. Anyone who knows that movie has an idea of what I thought in that moment. I won’t quote it here though. In any case, I had never told him I wasn’t interested anymore but after this event, I was sure I would not buy his car anymore. So I then organized a mechanic to take a closer look at the much more problematic 4Runner the next day. I then met with Ken and the mechanic and anxiously awaited the result of the inspection. As anticipated, the car had a lot of issues, including a lot of rust, also visible. But the rust underneath the car was only surface rust and I don’t care about the appearance of a car as long as it is safe and reliable. So the rust and the bad paint on one of the car’s sides do not bother me. The mechanic told me not to buy the car due to its obvious issues but hey, that decision is on me, right? Of course, Ken also got the result of the inspection. We talked a bit about it and made a plan how to fix the most important things right away. Ken was very helpful and very resourceful and organized a lot for me already on the same day. So on Saturday, when I showed up to buy the car, it already had a new wind shield and a new alternator. I then managed to get insurance for the car and we concluded the deal afterwards. Ken then also got me a new belt for the alternator and I had it installed at a nearby repair shop. He also called another repair shop that would then fix the damaged muffler and the brakes. This is where I went today and got these two things done for a mere 460 dollars. Call that a good deal! Overall, Ken’s performance was outstanding. An honest dealer with a great heart, a top-notch understanding of customer service and just a really really nice person overall. That is why I love Canada. Although people don’t know you, they help you and treat you like you are family. I am really really grateful for that, this is so great about this country….

Just now, the car is in another repair shop which takes care of all the other issues that need to be done. Fluids, steering, minor electric issues and other stuff. All in all, these repairs will cost another 1000 Dollars and then I should be good. The overall cost of this car will then be around 4200 Dollars which is totally fine with me. And it will have so many new parts that I won’t have to worry about much about future issues. Of course, it is always a risk to buy a used car, I am aware of that. So there is a chance that this car breaks down soon and I will have lost most of these 4200 Dollars. Then the decision was wrong to buy the car. But I am willing to take this risk. Even if the car fails me in the middle of nowhere, I am not too worried about that. When you’re trained to survive, what can possibly happen? Life’s a challenge and I am willing to take it. Besides, it just felt right to buy this car, I can’t even explain why. While I was very head- driven in the past, I started to listen to my heart a bit more in the past and up to now, I think that has benefited me quite well. In the end, my decision to come to Canada was definitely a heart- decision. Anyway, back to the subject. 🙂  I will probably be able to pick up my 4Runner after having brought back my rental car to the airport on Wednesday. Really looking forward to that! Here is my new boy:

car
1998 Toyota 4Runner. My new companion for at least a year. 🙂

So that is all about the car. What else happened in my life? I found out that Whippcream looks like an egg if she sleeps and you put half of a lemon on her. She didn’t even flinch when I did that. Did not wake up or complain about it. Can’t stop mentioning that she is a really great and friendly companion. 🙂 At some point in the future I definitely also want to have a cat again. Just now, it is not the right time for that.

Job- wise, I got a phone call from the HR manager in Banff, asking me about my working permit. I explained it to him and he said that I have a “strong application” overall. So I am happy that there is a positive reaction and people seem to consider me as a candidate. All I need now is a job interview. Let’s hope for the future. But now that I have dealt with the car- issue, I will continue to focus on the job- problem. Probably, I will write some more applications during this week. That is as much as I can do job-wise in the moment.

In the meantime, I also enjoyed my life in Vancouver. I spent 2 more nights at the YukYuk’s comedy club in Vancouver. Definitely one of my favorite places here. Great show with Tom Buehler (see picture) and Steve Gaskin roughly two weeks ago. And last Friday, I went there with Verena, a work-and-travel girl from Germany that I met online in one of Facebook’s Canadian work&travel groups. We had a great evening and also visited one of Vancouver’s clubs, the Roxy, afterwards. As Verena works in an associated restaurant, we didn’t have to pay for entry and for the (soft) drinks. Never had that before in club!!! Thanks again, Verena, we should do that again sometime!

Also, I have spent quite some time in the local Comic Store, playing all kinds of games with the lovely folks there. Feels good to be able to enjoy my hobbies here in Canada as well. No matter where I went in the world so far, I always found nice people to play with, be it Magic, board games or poker. Just amazing, I feel I am really privileged. 🙂

skytrain
Vancouver Sky train. Favorite means of transportation if you want to go quickly from A to B in Vancouver.
egg-cat
The “cat- egg”. No harm was done to any cat for this picture.
energy-empire
Energy Empire, Manhattan Project. Great board game that allows for many different strategies.
yukyuk-buehler
Tom Buehler on stage. Great show at the YukYuk’s Comedy club. Love that location!

Alright, this is about as much as I can and want to write about in the moment. Also, I just realized that I already wrote some 2400+ words. Guess I have to write more but shorter blog entries in the future. Well, whatever. 🙂 Lastly, let me conclude with the obligatory music advice. This song is rather aggressive and I don’t like it for its lyrics. However, it has a certain touch to it that stimulates my adrenalin- production. Great when you’re running uphill…

Drowning Pool – Bodies

31. Slow progress…

Vancouver, Canada, 16.01.2017.

Nearly a week has gone by since my last blog entry so I guess it is now time to write something again. Quite a few things happened in the meantime but nothing that was really spectacular. And some things take a lot longer than expected. But I will go into detail with that later…

On Wednesday, I met Jen, a good friend of Jaime and Shawn, at the local comic store that I had already visited for my first Magic- Draft in 2017 (see last blog entry). We spent a really nice evening talking to each other, talking to the people in the store, eating and drinking a bit and, of coures, playing games in the store. Playing the “Las Vegas” game in the store reminded me of one of the board game evenings in Wesseling, Germany, when our host Stephan introduced me and the others to this nice little game. I like it. 🙂

Today, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday I spent quite a bit of time outside and enjoyed running on the beach in front of the apartment or in the nearby “city”. Today, I met a very nice man who had seen me already running by a few times and thus asked me something about my running habits. We talked for quite a while and it turned out that he does Bed & Breakfast for visitors and that he just recently had a guest there from Germany. Yes, we Germans know how beautiful Canada is. 😉 I then asked him where the Canadian – US border is at the beach and why it is not marked clearly. The other day I had accidently crossed the border when running on the beach. I only realized that when I looked at my phone and Google Maps showed that I was not on Canadian soil anymore. Well, shit happens. Anyway, the man told me there had once been a clear and visible marking of the border. But today, the only thing that remained was a very small bronze plate on an otherwise nondescript rock. No normal human being would see that at first glance. However, I found it and further down below, there is picture of it. We also talked about the eagles on the beach, the weather in BC, Donald Trump (oh yeah, I could not avoid that!!!) and several other things. It was a very friendly conversation and to me it was another piece of proof why Canada stands out as a country. People are really friendly here, they are interested and it just feels good to be here. The only country I know which has a comparably friendly culture is probably Scotland. Yes, that is a great country, too!

border
The very very small plate marking the border between Canada und the U.S. on the beach.
starfish
A starfish I found on the beach. I don’t know if it was still alive or already dead so I just put it back into the sea.
ducks
A flock of birds on the beach. I am not an ornithologist so I don’t exactly know which kind of bird. 🙂 If anyone knows, please post it.

Aside from the running, I also made progress with some organizational issues. And now it is time again to compare the service levels a customer can expect in Canada and Germany. For an introduction to this topic, see blog entry number 29. When I applied for my BC driving license, the lady there told me that it would probably take around 30 days to send me the license. Well, I got it in less than 10 days. Is that good or is that good? On the other hand, I am still fighting with my German bank to get some money from my German account to my new Canadian account. After having received two completely useless E-mails from the customer service (???) department, I took the liberty to make a phone call this morning to ask them WTF is going on. Well, finally they then told me they can do nothing unless they get a proper signed form from me. So they absolutely need something in written form. And I have been waiting for this piece of information now for 11 days. And I just got it because I chased the matter continuously, not because someone would disclose that information to me. THAT is great service, isn’t it? Well, the score here is pretty obious: Canada – Germany: 1:0. Anyway, when I am done writing this blog entry, it will roughly be midnight and I will call my bank again and try to speed up the process.

Well, due to my money still beeing stuck in Germany, I could not buy any car over here yet. Hope this will both change soon. Although I wasn’t able to buy a car yet, I still did something for my future. On Sunday, I wrote a really lengthy application for the job as a Site Manager in the Banff Upper Hot Springs. Realistically, I don’t think I have a chance to get that job since they most probably prefer someone who already has experience in the tourism industry. Well, I don’t mind, maybe I am lucky. And if not, it will definitely be the application with the longest cover letter I have ever written. The job advertisement said you were not allowed to write more than 4000 words (!!!). Well, I managed to write some 2200 words and then decided to stop. I don’t think that an even longer cover letter would have increased my chances significantly. Also, if I was the HR manager, I would probably not bother reading the whoole 6-7 page long cover letter. That seems a bit ridiculous. Aside from that application, I will probably write some more this week while I am still waiting for news from the Ranger- applications in Alberta and Saskatchewan. On their government websites, it still says that they are screening the application. So there is still hope that I will be considered.

Of course, I also spent some time doing things that I like in the last days. On Friday, I attended the Aether- Revolt Prerelease of my favorite card game: Magic. It started at 12 pm and after 3 rounds the event finished at about 4 o’clock in the morning. Again, I had a great time talking to all of the nice people there and playing with them. Also, my deck was  pretty insane so I went 3 – 0 and did not lose a single game. Granted, I was also a bit lucky with that card pool and with my draws. Check out the crazy GB counter- deck with all of the synergys and multiple ways to mess things up. I already like the new set!

magic
The allstars: Ridgescale Tusker, Winding Constrictor, Cultivator of Blades, Herald of Anguish, Armorcrraft Judge.

On Saturday, I decided to spend another afternoon in downtown Vancouver. I again visited the CatFé and met the lovely Tulula (see picture below) there. She is a still relatively young lady (6 months) and I suppose that she is some kind of mix. Look at her whiskers: She is not at all going to stay as small as she is now. After this visit, I felt like eating something. So I went to Gastown (definitely my favorite quarter in downtown Vancouver) and found this really nice japanese restaurant, Guu Otokomae. I was fortunate to still get a place at the counter since the restaurant was otherwise already full. The turkish barkeeper there, Jon, was a really nice fellow. We talked quite a bit and he showed me how they prepare their house made persimmon sake. Very interesting. Of course I did not reject when he offered me a drink on the house. Really nice fellow and quite interesting drink. In addition to that, the food there was also pretty good. I had Udon noodles with beef, spring onions, mushrooms and seeweed. The portion could have been bigger but the price/value ratio was still totally okay since the dish was not that expensive. And tasted really well. Good location, I will probably go there again some time…

tulula
Tulula, a cute little girl in the CatFé. She had unbelievably soft fur.
guu
Jon, preparing a pitcher of the house made persimmon sake.
food
My own glass of persimmon sake and by tasy Udon- dish. Yum Yum. :-).

Finally, I also wanted to be at some kind of event on Saturday evening. So I decided to go to the Yuk Yuk’s Comedy Club, south of the city center. I was fortunate to still get a ticket for the show with Arden Myrin, a great stand up comedian from Rhode Island, USA. She and the three other comedians were really funny and I had to laugh a lot during the show. After the show I considered to go to some kind of club or bar but I decided against that. First of all, it is not sooo much fun to do that alone. Glenn, where are you when you are dearly needed??? 🙂 And secondly, I was still quite tired because the night before, I had played the Magic Prerelease so I didn’t get much sleep that night. That’s why I decided to stroll back to my car and enjoy the night a bit while walking through the city. On my way back, I passed the Vancouver City Hall (see picture below) and I had a great view of the city while standing on Cambie street bridge (see cover photo of this blog entry). I really like Vancouver at night, got to admit that.

yukyuk
The Yuk Yuk’s Comedy Club south of downtown Vancouver.
city-hall
Vancouver city hall. Not far away from the Yuk Yuk’s Comedy Club.

So, what are my plans for the following days? First of all, I hope I can finally start looking for a car and buy one. It is about time now. Then, I will probably write some more applications and try to get a great job in one of Canada’s parks. On Wednesday, Friday and Sunday I will probably be at the local Comic store again to play Magic and Star Realms. I don’t know the latter but there will be an introductory session on Wednesday so that I will be fine to play the tournament on Sunday. Already looking forward to that!

Time to stop writing now. Oh wait, I still need to post my music advice. Today’s song is from a really crazy German Rap band, the 257ers. They have a very distinct sense of humor and do not take themselves seriously at all. I don’t necessarily like all of their songs but this one is great. Also, the music video is pretty bonkers. Check it out by clicking on the song title below. Sorry Glenn, I had to do that. Time to book your flight to Canada!

257ers – Holland

30. Downtown Vancouver & First Aid Course

Vancouver, Canada, 10.01.2017.

A lot of different things have happened since my last blog entry on Saturday so I guess it’s time to give you an update of what’s going on in the moment.

After having finished writing the last blog entry, I drove to Vancouver downtown to enjoy the rest of the day in the city. As I had booked a place in the CatFé for 1 PM, this was the first place I went to. It was a very interesting experience and aside from the cats, I also met other friendly people who shared my love for these great animals. Most of the cats seemed to be enjoying the humans who tried to get their attention and play with them. However, there were also two cats that were really shy and they seemed to be stressed by all the action around them. I left them alone because I did not want to add to their stress. So I focused on playing with two young boys who could not get enough from chasing all kinds of different things. With their open and friendly character, I think they will soon find a new family that wishes to adopt them.

20170107_122738
CatFé in Vancouver.
20170107_131147
One of the two young boys who liked to play a lot.
20170107_135021
The other one of the two.
20170107_131449
Sleepy cat. She seemed to be a bit stressed by all the people in the café.

Generally, I think the idea of having a Cat Café is really good. It gives people the chance to get into contact with homeless cats looking for a new place to live. That makes it easier for people to decide for or against a certain cat as they can already try to judge from a cat’s behaviour if it will be a good fit for their personal situation at home (kids, other cats,…). However, I think that not every cat should be exposed to this very special environment in the Cat Café. Cats that are really shy and afraid or that simply don’t like other cats too much should not be put into this or a similar place. Judging from what I have seen, I think that most of the cats were fine with beeing in the café when I was there. But as I said earlier, I also think that two of the cats seemed to be stressed and thus I think that they should not be there. Now here comes the paradox: On the one hand, cats that have not had traumatic experiences yet and that are open-minded will easily find a new home, with or without the Cat Café. Granted, they will find a new home quicker with the help of the Cat Café. But they would most probably also find a new home without the Cat Café. Anyway, they don’t mind beeing in the Cat Café so it is a good deal for them AND the human visitors to be there. On the other hand, however, the shy or traumatized cats have problems finding new homes as they often have trouble connecting with other cats or humans. So beeing in the Cat Café may stress them and it may be another unpleasant experience adding to their trauma. Does not have to be like that but it may be the case. I would not doubt that the Cat Café also increases the chances of those cats to find a new home but it may come at the cost of the cat’s mental wellbeeing. However, I think it is still worth doing as the long-term happiness of these cats will be a lot lower if they do not find a new home at all. May sound harsh but I guess enduring a short, shocking period of time is favorable to enduring a long period of time lacking quality treatment of loving owners. Before leaving the Cat Café, I asked one of the girls working there how many cats have not found a new home while beeing in the Café. She said there was only one cat which had no luck but which then got adopted one week after it was returned to the SPCA. So overall, I think that the idea of the Cat Café is generally good and worth of supporting although going to the Café may not be the most pleasant experience for every cat in the short run.

After my visit in the Cat Café, I took a really long walk through Vancouver Downtown. I felt very relaxed and enjoyed having the time to listen to music and look at the core of the city in detail. Here are just some of the impressions of that long walk:

20170107_141106
Statue of Gassy Jack, the founder of Gastown. Gastown later became the city of Vancouver.
20170107_141811
The famous Gastown Steam Clock. Really impressive, especially the interior. The steam sound is not as loud as the one of a steam train. 🙂
20170107_144655
View on Stanley Park from behind the Convention Center.
20170107_160744
Old Sherman tank in front of the British Columbia Regiment. This was the Commander’s tank in WW II, hence the name “BOSS”.

It felt really good to be back in Vancouver although it was not the very favourite place of my roadtrip in 2016. After having strolled through the city for a bit, I felt hungry and got something to eat. While sitting there and chewing on my Veggies, I wondered what I could do for the rest of the day. I finally decided to watch a movie at the cinema and I was lucky that the movie “A Monster Calls” was about to begin shortly when I arrived at the cinema. This movie is absolutely worth watching and it tells the very touching story of a young boy who is trying to cope with his mum’s terminal sickness (cancer). Although I am definitely not the most emotional or sensitive human being, I had to shed some tears at the end of the movie. Interestingly, the movie had the same effect on everyone around me so it wasn’t only me feeling for the poor little boy.

When I left the cinema, it was already dark and I wondered what to do next. I wasn’t hungry so I did not want to go to a restaurant. Unfortunately, I had taken the car to go downtown so drinking alcohol was also out of the question. Thus, I debated with myself to go to a sports bar, watch some sports and get a coke or something. In the end I decided against that and took another walk through the city. Finally, I got a hot mocha at Tim Horton’s (my first visit to Tim Horton’s upon my return to Canada) and just relaxed a bit. At that point I did not feel like staying any longer in downtown so I drove back home. But that was totally okay for me as I still had to do some shopping for Sunday.

On Sunday, I did not do a lot of overly exciting things. I continued to set up and manage my new Facebook- account, I thoroughly looked for new job opportunities in BC (and found 2 interesting positions I will apply for in the next days) and I finally got to run a bit on the beach in front of the apartment. Also, I spent some time cooking so that I could enjoy a good meal in the evening. I really like fresh and healthy food prepared in a Wok…

On Monday and today, I went to a Standard First Aid Course in Surrey, south of Vancouver. I had already scheduled this course when I was still back in Germany and I realized that I would need a First Aid certificate to be able to do the job as a Park Ranger. And now I have this certificate and will be fine if they invite me to an interview. The course itself was very interesting, we had good instructors and the other people taking the course were also very nice and chatty. So we had a good time refreshing our knowledge of First Aid. Good thing I went there…

20170110_144806
One more qualification for the job as a Park Ranger acquired. *Ticks that box and moves on…*

Now, what are the plans for the next days? Tomorrow I will definitely check out the Board Games night in the Comic store I already visited last Friday. Also, I plan on writing at least one more application for a job that I discovered on the Parks Canada website on Sunday. Maybe I will also start looking for a car somewhere in the Vancouver region. This will be a bit difficult though since my German bank has not yet contacted me about transferring my money to the Canadian account. This definitely takes longer than I expected. And without money, there is no way I can buy a car. Not sure what I am going to to on Thursday but I guess that I will attend one or more Aether Revolt Prereleases on Friday and Saturday. That will be a lot of fun again I think. Anyway, I hope that you are all currently enjoying your life as much as I enjoy mine. Make the best of it, you only have one life to live!

Today’s music advice is a bit strange. Even for my taste. When emptying my German apartment, I found a really old CD of an English pop band. Ever heard of East 17? No? Well, I had also already forgotten about them entirely when I found the CD. But when listening to the CD again, I remembered most of the songs and now I want to share my favourite song of their album “Walthamstow” with you. It was released in 1992!!!!

East 17 – Gold

P.S.: That music video is so retro and so boy-band. Those were the days. 🙂

29. First steps Vancouver

Vancouver, Canada, 06.01.2017 and 07.01.2017.

After the first few days in Vancouver I feel like writing a new blog entry to keep you a bit up to date. Currently, it is Friday afternoon and I am sitting in a Laundromat south of Vancouver, doing my Laundry and listening to some strange German Rap music. No better opportunity to write something.

The last days were pretty exciting but also really productive. But let’s start at the beginning. After I landed at Vancouver airport, I had to wait quite a while until I passed the Customs office. No problems here. After that, I went to the Immigration office and got my working permit just after a few minutes of waiting. Really efficient, I was truly amazed. I then picked up my rental car and went to the nearest shopping mall with a TELUS- shop in it. Interestingly, there was also a branch of the HSBC bank in there. So I went in there first to ask what documents they need to open an account for me. It turned out that banks always need 2 documents of personal proof and 1 item to proof one’s address. So nothing I could do there yet. Anyway, I then went to the TELUS- shop to reactivate my Canadian SIM- card from last year. Unfortunately, that was not possible since they already deleted my number. Oh well, I then decided to get a new SIM with a new contract including sufficient data volume. This worked out well and by doing this, I got a confirmation sheet from them with my current address south of Vancouver. That was quite good since I was able to use this sheet as my proof of address one day later to open my bank account. After having done all this, it was already relatively late and I found out that the “Service Canada”- office had already closed. So there was not much more to do for me. I sat down, changed my SIM- card and started reading all the mails and messages that my friends and family had sent me while my smartphone was turned off. Later on, I met Dawn in the food court of the mall and we talked a lot while she drank a tasty protein shake. I was really glad to see her again after 7 months. Finally, we went shopping (groceries) and drove back to her apartment to settle in.

20170103_232836
Aberdeen- mall next to the airport. Reminds me of my Scottish holidays last year…

On Wednesday I wanted to box off the rest of the bureaucratic issues. But the day started with me waking up at 3 o’clock in the morning. Bad Jetlag I guess. Unfortunately, I also woke up very early on Thursday and Friday. Anyway, that will go away soon I guess. After breakfast I drove to Richmond and I managed to get literally everything I wanted: I got a Social Insurance number (took me 5 minutes), successfully applied for a BC driving license (took me roughly 60 minutes) and I also opened a bank account (took me roughly 80 minutes). Then, I bought a double- burner plate to cook and also got a stainless steel Wok for a really good price. Finally, I had to do some shopping again to be able to cook my favorite Chinese meals. Overall, that was a very good day for me and I was really satisfied with how it went. At this point I really have to compliment the Canadians on their bureaucracy. It is working, it is efficient and the waiting times are really okay. If I had to judge the three bureaucratic systems I know so far, I would rate them in this order: CANADA > GERMANY > … nothing for a long time … > ENGLAND. Sorry, my English fellows but that’s the way it is. Just a side note: A few days ago, I got a letter from the Gravesham Council Office in England prompting me to pay my council tax. Well, I had already told them a few months ago that I would leave my apartment there at the end of October. And then they had sent me a final bill which I paid promptly. Well, they must have forgotten about that. But knowing the English bureaucracy, I was not surprised about it.

20170104_145523
Lansdowne Mall in Richmond. View of Skytrain tracks.
20170104_145509
View of the mall itself.

On Thursday, I decided to chill a bit and screen the job offers in Vancouver and Canada. Also, I contacted my German bank because I want to wire some money to Canada to buy my own car. And when the sun came out in the afternoon, I decided to take a walk along the beach and also to the U.S./ Canadian border. There were no fences or walls or guards but I found one sign, see below. Maybe Mr. Trump will change this situation soon and build one of his famous walls here if the amount of Americans seeking refuge in Canada rises. Or, on the other hand, he could just leave everything as it is. The outflow of Americans going to Canada could equal the inflow of Mexicans going to America so that the net change of the population in the U.S. would be zero. Or something like that, who knows?

In the evening, Dawn’s boyfriend dropped by, brought her cat Whippcream back and picked her up for the weekend. We had a good chat and I was happy to meet him. That pretty much concluded the day and I went to bed relatively early.

20170105_155115
U.S. / Canadian border south of Vancouver.

This morning, little fuzzy Whippcream woke me up and parked on my bed, see below. I cuddled her for quite a long time until she fell asleep and I then played a bit with my smartphone. Later in the morning, I decided to set up a Facebook account and to update my profile on Indeed to maybe get some job offers. Then, I found out that BC Parks will soon start recruiting Park Rangers. As of now, they have only posted this intention on Facebook but as soon as the official job advertisement will be released, I am definitely going to apply for one of these positions. We’ll see how it goes. After having done lots of things at the computer, I decided to do three more things today: 1. Laundry, 2. Hairdresser, 3. Game Night at a local comic shop. As of now, number 1 on the list is nearly complete so I will be moving on to number 2 soon. Looks like I will have to finish this blog entry tomorrow morning. See you then!

20170106_065454
Whippcream occupying a part of my bed. 🙂

Saturday morning, time to finish the blog entry I began writing yesterday. After I had my hair cut yesterday, I went to a local Game shop to relax and play one of my favorite games: Magic. I managed to draft a really solid deck and win all three of my matches. It was really good fun and the people there were all open and friendly. As they were all still relatively young and/or unexperienced, I could give them a few hints how to improve their drafting-, deck building- and playing skills. Sometimes I feel really old when doing these things… Anyway, I will definitely return to the store and play some more in the next weeks. They also seem to have a board game evening on Wednesdays so I will take a look at that as well.

20170106_215746
My deck. Solid and flexible W/B mid range with a few ways to mess things up.
20170107_091235
Next time I can draft for free. Yeah!

As promised in the last blog entry, I finally want to share my thoughts about participating in future Marathon events with you. As of now, I have not yet decided if I want to register for the Canadian Death Race in August or not. Fortunately, I don’t have to hurry with that decision as the registration for solo runners opens no earlier than February 22nd. So I still have some time to let events unfold and then decide accordingly. In case I get a job as a Park Ranger, it is highly unlikely that I will do the Death Race. Probably too many organisational- and training-related problems to do that. However, there are two things that I definitely want to do in the next weeks: Firstly, there are several Hypothermic Half Marathons near Vancouver in the next weeks and I definitely want to run one of those. And secondly, there is this famous Grouse Grind Hike just north of Vancouver. It is said to be a challenge so I have to try it. As I don’t know where fate takes me after February, I will plan for future Marathons rather spontaneously as I go. But I am pretty sure about one thing: Although I did a very small triathlon last year, I don’t think I will continue doing these kinds of events. I think it does not make any sense to buy a proper bike for triathlons here and to be very honest: cycling has never been one of my favourite sports. So I’ll just stick with running and be fine with it.

20170104_080500
View from Dawn’s terrace. Just amazing!
20170105_121657
Clear water during low tide. Sea port Tsawwassen in the background.

Wow, I just realized this blog entry is already 1450 words long. Time to stop writing. Today I will spend some time in downtown Vancouver and visit a few locations that I missed last June. Like the CatFe.

Now, what’s today’s music advice? The song comes from Kollegah’s newest and heavily praised album “Imperator”. I think this is the best song in an otherwise rather mediocre album. His earlier albums were a lot better but that is just my opinion.

Kollegah – Assassine

28. Finally back!

Somewhere between Frankfurt and Vancouver, 03.01.2017.

Happy new year everyone! It has been quite some time since I last wrote an entry for my blog. And I am truly sorry about that. There are some excuses for this fact but none is really convincing so I won’t bother to go into detail why I didn’t write anything in the last weeks.

Anyway, now I have time and I feel like writing something again. In the moment, I am currently sitting in a Boeing 747-400 “Jumbo” and we just flew over the edge of Greenland. Thus, soon we will enter Canadian airspace and fly the last 3636 kilometers to Vancouver. Just about four and a half more hours to go, good news! By the way, this is the first time I am in this type of plane and it is truly huge. The planes that I flew regularly with between Frankfurt and London Heathrow were often a lot smaller. But that was also a much much shorter route.

20170103_212020
Our plane after we landed at Vancouver airport.

Before I start explaining what I am planning for the next days and weeks, let me first tell you what I did since I wrote the last blog entry. In the last several weeks, I focused mainly on two things: Firstly, I needed to sell, give away or throw away practically all of the stuff in my apartment and give the latter back to the landlord by end of December. And Secondly, I wanted to see as many of my friends and family as possible to say “Good- Bye” and enjoy some quality time with them. Both endeavors were quite successful.

I managed to return my apartment to my landlord on December 23rd. Just in time to enjoy Christmas and the last few days in Germany without having to worry about THAT anymore. As of now, the amount of stuff that I kept for myself in Germany is very limited: roughly 12 boxes, unevenly distributed among my mum’s and my dad’s house. It is a little bit shocking that this is everything that is now left after 35 years of life. But I don’t mind about that, really. In the end, it is more often the immaterial things that make us happy. So I don’t really care about leaving everything behind. If I really need anything in Canada that I could not bring with me, I’ll just buy or lend it. All will be fine…

20170103_113121
Today’s flight took me right past the city I last lived in: Siegen.

After having visited Berlin in November, I managed to see some more of my friends and family in the past weeks. When thinking about it, I was actually able to see a lot of those people that I really care about. I enjoyed a Cinema- and Party- Weekend with Glenn in Siegen, played a Poker tournament in my Poker club in the very same city, visited a very old friend of mine from my early army days in Koblenz, played three great board game days in varying groups in Siegen, Mannheim and Wesseling, spend New Years Eve with two good friends of mine near Cologne and finally I was also able to meet a former LIDL colleague and friend of mine with his wife on the evening of January 1st and two friends from my later army days on January 2nd. That was yesterday evening. A bit stressful, but it was absolutely worth seeing my buddies again. Sad thing one of them could not be there but we will make up for that in June or so. And then, there was a big surprise at the airport for me today. One of my buddies took the train from Cologne to Frankfurt airport to say Good Bye to me personally again and to show the airport to his two little boys that he had with him. So nice of him, I felt a bit humbled by that.

20170103_113428
The flight also took me past the towns where some of my family and friends live.

With regard to my family, I spent the last one and a half weeks at my mum’s place and managed to see Adelheid, my dad and my brother after Christmas. Also, my brother and I managed to go to our traditional December- concert. I don’t know exactly for how many years he and I managed to go to a concert in December but it must be at least 4 years in a row. Probably more. Today, my mum and I got up very early and she drove me to the airport so that I didn’t have to take the train. That was very nice of her and I was happy to say Good Bye to her in person at the airport. Then, my plane took off roughly one hour late at 11:20 AM since the flight was hopelessly overbooked and they kept looking for people who wanted to stay in Frankfurt for a day and get a 600 Euro- compensation for that. I could not wait to finally start my trip to Canada so I chose to wait if I could still get a seat on the plane which I finally did. Good thing. So I am now finally on my way, probably starting the biggest adventure of my life. I can’t say I am not excited… 🙂

20170103_201051
Rocky Mountains just south of Jasper. What a beauty!

And what are the plans for my first days in Vancouver? Well, everything is pretty much straightforward. Upon arrival, I will get my rental car first and then go straight to the next TELUS- shop to reactivate my Canadian SIM- card. Having a working phone is pretty important I guess. Then I will probably try to fulfill a few bureaucratic tasks in Vancouver: Surely, I need to apply for a Social Insurance Number and to register myself somewhere. I hope the immigration officers at the airport will tell me in detail what to do and where to go. If not, I will find it out another way, I don’t worry about that yet. If I still have time after that, I will try to open a bank account somewhere. That will probably be the biggest challenge. At least if the Canadian procedure is similar to the one in England. I remember having the most trouble with that when I arrived east of London in March last year. God, it is unbelievable that this is already so long ago. I can’t believe it…

Anyway, all the above mentioned stuff will keep me very busy today. And maybe I will have to do some of these things tomorrow if I start getting tired after the flight. Which may happen since I also didn’t sleep very well last night. Once I got all these things boxed off, I will start looking for a car of my own so that I can return my rental car as soon as possible and still stay mobile. Possibly, I will start looking for some kind of Jeep or car that can go off road. I do plan to make some trips to places that are a bit more remote so having a suitable car for that sounds like a good idea. Finally, I already booked a First Aid course in Surrey next week and of course I will attend. In case I will be able to work as a Park Ranger, I need this qualification. And if don’t get a job as a Park Ranger, it is never bad to refresh one’s knowledge what to do in case of emergency. When I was still in the army, we had to do First Aid courses every year and in hindsight I think that was a very good thing to do. Knowing what to do if someone is an emergency can’t be bad, really.

20170103_212352
Arrival at Vancouver airport. Quite the queues at the customs booths and the immigration office.

Ah, I think we just touched the “job”- topic. Probably the one topic I discussed the most with many people in the last weeks. It seems like a lot of people are more worried than me if I get a job or what I will do for a living. To be honest, currently I am not worried at all. I already applied for the job as a Park Ranger in Alberta and in Sasketchawan. And when the job openings for Park Rangers in British Columbia are published, I will also apply for one of those jobs. This is currently my plan: To spend a season as a Park Ranger in one of Canada’s beautiful parks. We’ll see if that plan becomes reality or not. If it fails, I can always drive up north into the Yukon and mine gold for a season. Like the crazy guys in the american TV Series “Gold Rush Alaska“. Honestly, I would love to do that. Gotta learn to drive the big machinery first, though. In Germany, this TV Series runs on DMAX at 6:15 PM each evening. Take a look at it, it’s really interesting and entertaining. Anyway, I will keep you updated how my search for a job goes on. And I think I will also write a few things about my future ambitions to do some Marathons here in the next blog entry.

20170103_231039
My rental car that I will use until I found and bought my own car. Good to drive, no complaints.

Finally, as usual, I’ll conclude this entry with my music advice. Today’s piece of rock is really solid and straightforward as well as fitting to my current situation. Cheers!

Linkin Park – Don’t stay