48. Assault Mount Seymour & flight back to Germany

North Vancouver, Canada, 27.06.2017.

It is 4 o’clock in the middle of the night and I can’t sleep. Usually, I am never too excited to sleep but it looks like today must be an exception. In a few hours, I will board my plane back to Germany and flying is still none of my favourite activities. So I have to admit that I am at least a little bit nervous about that in the moment. In addition to this, I am also still excited about having recently completed my application for Canadian permanent residency. Yesterday I also applied for the BC nomination program which could really help me to get the permanent residency. From what I have read in the internet, my chances to be nominated for permanent residency by the BC government are pretty good. And if that happens, it is pretty likely to also get a positive decision by the Canadian government. That would be soooooo amazing. So although nothing has been decided yet and there is no reason to celebrate yet, I am nevertheless very excited about this situation. I sincerely hope that I don’t have to wait too long for a decision since the waiting is always the most annoying part of it all. Probably, I will write a little more about this subject in my next blog entry but I won’t go into detail right now because there are other things worth reporting…

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Lower part of the trail that leads up to Mount Seymour.
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First of the three peaks at Mount Seymour. I went on to the second peak from here.
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Snow all the way up from Parking lot 4 to the three peaks of Mount Seymour.

Why do I love Canada anyway? Well, let me tell you about last Thursday and you may get an idea why I am so happy here right now. Last Thursday, I just had a single day off and I decided to do something crazy. In April, I wanted to hike up to Mount Seymour (see my blog post here) but back then, there was still a lot of snow around and I decided to come back later. Since I don’t like unfinished issues, I thought it was time to do a little trail- and uphill training and finally conquer Mount Seymour. So I put on my running shoes, and started the assault on Mount Seymour shortly after breakfast with only a bare minimum of additional gear/equipment. My primary goal was to avoid having to carry a heavy backpack like I did last time. Running up to parking lot number 4 on Mount Seymour at 1000m of elevation (I started at roughly 50m above sea level) was quite nice and doable since the trail was now completely snow-free. Then, however, it started to get ugly. Although it was quite warm (over 20 degrees celsius) and running in shorts and T-Shirt was totally fine, the snowy ground really gave me a hard time. Not really ideal to run/hike on trails covered by several feet of snow (~ 1m of snow cover) with old sport shoes. Anyway, I was not prepared to give up this time and although I also forgot a proper hat and my sunscreen, I still made my way up to peak 2, close to the highest summit of Mount Seymour. Unfortunately, the last summit of Mount Seymour was not accessible due to unfavorable snow conditions. There was no chance to do the final piece of the trail without ropes, carabiners and spike shoes. And guess what: I had none of that at hand. So I decided to stay on top of peak 2 for a little while and talk to Peter, a very well travelled and nice guy who likes to hike around BC.

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Best footwear ever to run up a snowy mountain 🙂
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On top of peak 2, I met Peter, a very friendly guy who was a lot better prepared for his hike than I was for mine.
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A nice view on the whole Vancouver Metro region.
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Final peak of Mount Seymour. Visible but not accessible today.

After having paused a little on peak 2 with Peter, it was time to run back down to Deep Cove. Naturally, it was a lot easier and quicker to run downhill than it had been to crawl all the way up. Also, it was a lot of fun to surf and slide down the steeper parts of the snow trails. 🙂 Fear of triggering an avalanche? Well, yes, I had that but what can you do? I suppose that life is too short to worry about avoiding every possible disaster however unlikely it is that it will occur. All in all, I had a fabulous day and a great experience in the mountains. And now I also learned that you should definitely put on sunscreen when hiking in the mountains if you want to avoid getting sunburn in the face and on the legs. Yes, the legs. Probably because the snow reflects the sun so that the legs are really exposed to it. Not a big deal, my skin has mostly recovered from it already…

What else did I do in the last two weeks in BC? As usual, I did my share of climbing but I also managed to hike a little with my hiking partner in Lighthouse park. Although the weather could have been better on that day, it was still a great hike and we had a good time. On July 15th, we will go on our next trip and conquer the Stawamus Chief near Squamish. Yes, I am already looking forward to that!

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Panorama view from the coast of Lighthouse Park. Burrard Inlay in the background.
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Hiking in the Canadian Rainforest. Can’t get enough of that.
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Historical information and monuments around Lighthouse Park.

Last but not least, I also registered for the Finlayson Arm 50K Trail race on Vancvouver Island in September. That race will be 13 days after the marathon in Texada Island but I guess that’s still okay. I need to push myself hard if I want to do the Canadian Death Race in 2018 and that is a goal I am willing to suffer a lot for. Always go for your dreams and never give up until the final card is played. 🙂 Also, I am really looking forward to visiting Vancouver Island again. I hope I can take a few days off as well and also see Corey & Kelly as well as a little bit more of the island (maybe Victoria, maybe the Pacific Rim National Park). But we will see about that once I start planning for that trip in detail.

Right now, it is time to get prepared for my drive to the airport so I can catch my connecting flight to Calgary at 11:20 AM. Ah, nearly forgot to post today’s music advice. Check out this Austrian Punk/Rock band with this nice song:

FAMP – Move on

47. Salt Spring Island, Part 2

Ferry between Long Harbour (Salt Spring Island) and Tsawwassen, Canada, 14.06.2017.

After five amazing days on Salt Spring Island, I am slowly making my way back to reality. It is Wednesday morning and the “Queen of Nanaimo” (again!) is already taking me back to Tsawwassen. My mood is not the best, I am still really tired (I got up at 4:15 AM) and I am looking at a long day with my late shift in the store starting at noon. Anyway, I don’t want to complain because I just had a great time on the island and I feel blessed that I have a job that allows me to do all the travelling and sightseeing that I am doing in the moment.

So, what happened on my last two days on the island? Well, first of all, I met one of my AirBnB- hosts, Roxy, on Wednesday evening. We talked quite a bit and it was really interesting to hear what is currently happening on the island and what she did so far in her life. Also, it was a great experience for me to see how an alternative way of life may look like and how different lives and ideas can develop with time. Unfortunately, I did not meet Heather since she came home when I was already asleep and she left before I got up again. Pretty tight schedule for someone who lives on an island that seems to offer such a relaxed and peaceful life. So after I got up on Monday, I drove to Reginald Hill to do some running and hiking. By accident, I missed the first turn that would have led me straight up to the hill and instead, I ended up on First Nations land with a magnificent coastline. I happily walked along the coast for several hundred meters and enjoyed the sunshine and the great view of the ocean and the small islands along the way. Finally, I decided it was time to do some exercise so I took a nearby trail that eventually led me up to Reginald Hill. The view up there was also quite nice so I enjoyed that for a little while before I descended to the parking place again. Since I felt still felt fresh after this little excursion, I decided to drive further south on the island to also do the Hope Hill trail on that day. This trail mainly led through a relatively dense forest so it did not offer any particularly great views. That’s why I took this chance to actually train some uphill running in the comforting shade of the trees.

01-Reginald
Coast line near Reginald Hill.
02-Reginald
View on several other small islands.
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View from Reginald Hill. The mountain on the right of the valley is Maxwell Mountain.
03-Reginald
View on the bay leading to Fulford Harbour.

After all the hiking and running, I felt like I wanted to do calm down a little for the rest of the day. That’s why I decided to do yet another wine tasting and to also visit the local cheese “factory” and buy some of their local produce. The wine tasting at the Garry Oaks winery was quite nice and their wines were absolutely okay but none of them really appealed to me strongly so I only bought one bottle of a crisp and fresh white wine. In contrast to that, the different flavored types of cheese at the cheese factory were just amazing. I only tasted different types of goat cheese there but they were all really nice so I bought two different packages there despite their relatively high price. I guess paying these kinds of prices is what you have to do if you want really good quality and organic produces, right?
The day ended with me sitting at a beach on the northern part of the island, reading a little in my book and enjoying the sunset.

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Garry Oaks Winery with tasting room.
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Quite a few of their wines actually won prizes!!!
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Goats and chickens roaming free nearby the cheese factory.
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The cheese factory on Salt Spring Island.
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My shoppings. Truly delicious. 🙂
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Another beach, another great view, what more can you ask for?

On Tuesday morning, I decided to finalize and post my last blog entry before heading off to new adventures. So I did that before I drove to a parking place near Baynes Park and the Andreas Vogt Nature Reserve. That morning, I felt like running again so I put on my proper shoes and headed on to the trail that led to the park and the reserve. In the end, I only made a few pictures on this trip but I had a good time and still got to see many interesting things along the route. When I was done with that exercise, it seemed like a good idea to me to drive back to Ganges and finish reading my book while sitting in the small but beautiful Centennial Park. About 70 pages later, I was done with the book (good piece of literature, see below!) and it was time to get another great lunch at the Oystercatcher restaurant. This time I ordered grilled fish and raspberry ale (wow!) and it was really good again. Also, I met a few very nice and friendly islanders, including Shawn, who had been to Germany in the 80s. We talked a lot about Cologne, the people in Bavaria, the purpose of life and a lot of other different things. Surprisingly, Shawn was still able to speak a good amount of German although he had not been able to practice this language for years. In the end, he offered me to stay at his place for the night but I had to decline because I had to get up early today to catch the ferry that I am currently on. Also, it seemed like they would continue drinking and talking for a lot longer time than I intended to stay at that restaurant. Anyway, it was a great and joyful encounter and I will make sure to contact Shawn should I ever return to this beautiful island.

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Wild flowers (I guess it is foxglove???) in the Andreas Vogt Nature Reserve.
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I admire how the Canadians maintain their heritage and sights.
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The Vape- Shop at Ganges. Symbol of a lifestyle.
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WW1 and WW2 memorial at Centennial Park, Ganges.
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A great book to read! Also, I generally like this author’s style of writing.

I guess this was everything that was worth reporting from this trip so I will conclude this blog entry, as usual, with a nice piece of music. Today’s piece is already relatively old but “rock-solid” (pun intended!) and it just came up on the playlist that I am listening to while writing this blog entry. Enjoy!

Foo Fighters – Monkey Wrench

46. Salt Spring Island, Part 1

Ganges (Salt Spring Island), Canada, 11.06.2017.

So far, I have already spent three of my five days on Salt Spring Island and I really enjoyed every single one of them. This island is quite unique in its atmosphere and although it is pretty small, there are really many beautiful spots to see and to discover. Now since I wrote quite a lot in the last two blog entries, I will try not to write as much in this one. (Spoiler: I just checked how many words the final draft of this blog entry has: Over 1400. A lot more than I wanted to write!) Instead, I will rather let this blog entry’s pictures speak for themselves to give you an impression of what it’s like on this amazing island.

On Thursday evening, I arrived at Long Harbour at about half past ten in the evening. Not the best time to find a place to park the car for the night but I nevertheless finally managed to do so. Early on Friday morning, I got up and drove to Ruckle Provincial Park to do a little running and hiking over there. There was a beautiful coastline- trail and I also got to see a heritage farm and parts of an old orchard. Also, I noticed that there is a well-maintained camping ground nearby and this may be a good place to stay if someone is looking to just do some camping. However, since I wanted to see all parts of the island, I decided not to stay in this rather remote area but to drive in the direction of the center of the island. On my way there, I made a stop at the Salt Spring Vineyard and tasted some of their wines. Their white- and red wines were really okay but the two sweet dessert wines (blackberry and apple) were really great so I got two bottles of each of those. After that, I looked for a place to stay overnight and found one at Bader’s Beach on the west coast of the island. A rather small beach but it was quiet and it offered a beautiful view on the sea so I was really happy to stay there for the night.

01-Ruckle
One of the coastal bays in Ruckle Provincial Park.
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Heritage Farm with grazing sheeps at Ruckle Provincial Park.
03-Vineyard
Salt Spring Vineyards, view from the tasting house on to the estate.
04-Wine
Really nice desert wines. A bit pricy but absolutely worth it.
06-Baders Beach
Bader’s Beach in the evening.

On Saturday, I went to the famous market in Ganges, the main village on the island. Many different things were offered on that market and almost all of them were made on the island. Also, it was clearly visible that there are many “alternative” people on the island as many shops advertised their products to be “nature-only”. I had a great time on the market and I also bought a nice piece of jewelry from Tony, one of the many craftsmen on the market. It is a silver bracelet with one cougar and six lynxes, all linked together. Did I already mention that I like crafted silverware with illustrated animals? Anyway, after the visit to the market, I got really hungry so I bought some of the local goat cheese (very good!!!) and a very good-smelling local bread. But instead of eating that right away, I decided to go for a proper lunch at one of the popular seafood restaurants, the Oystercatcher. It turned out to be a good choice because the food was really good and it was great to sit outside and eat in the sun.

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Saturday market (mostly art and food) at the Ganges village.
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My new silver bracelet: One cougar and 6 lynxes.
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A great meal at the Oystercatcher restaurant.

After having eaten so well, I decided to go to the local BC Liquor store to have a chat with its store manager. I met Robert, a very nice guy and we talked a little bit about the daily business, our upcoming transition to a new computer system and about the local beers, ciders and wine. It was a pleasure to meet him and have this really good conversation. Following up on his advice to try the ciders from the local company, I drove to their brewery and tasted all of their current ciders. And it turned out Robert was right because some of their ciders are incredibly good and tasty. Needless to say, I also bought some bottles of their most delicious ciders (elderflower, hopped apricot and pear) for later consumption in North Vancouver.

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The local BC Liquor Store on Salt Spring Island.
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A lot of good ciders to taste. I liked all of the three non- apple ones better than the ones containing apples (dry, semi-dry and ginger-apple). Strange, eh?

In the afternoon, I decided to do a little hike so I drove to Mount Erskine (448m high) to climb it. The trail to the summit was pretty steep but the magnificent view at the top of the mountain more than overcompensated me for my effort. Also, the sun was out and I just sat down at one edge of the mountain and relaxed for quite a while before hiking back to my car. Later on, I drove to Burgoyne Bay to stay there over night because I wanted to hike up to Mount Maxwell early the next day.

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Found a few Fairy doors on my way up to Mount Erskine. Never got to see the Fairies though…
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View from Mount Erskine.
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Another view from Mount Erskine.

On Sunday, I started hiking up to Mount Maxwell (602 meters) early in the morning and it did not take me too long to reach the top. On my way up, I saw several eagles circling over me and I also encountered some deer that went running as soon as they became aware of me. At the top of the mountain, once again, the panorama view was just gorgeous. It was quite fitting when I overheard a piece of conversation between an older lady and her husband that went like this: “…it is so beautiful up here, such an amazing view. We are blessed to live in a country like this, don’t you think? All the wonderful nature we have here…”. Well, I could not argue with her because that’s exactly what I think. After having climbed down from the mountain, I hiked up to Daffodil Point near Burgoyne Bay to just sit there at the beach and enjoy the sun for a little while. So relaxing if you don’t have any dates or appointments and you can just take your time to do whatever you feel like in the moment.

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View from Mount Maxwell. The boats are anchoring at Burgoyne Bay.
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View of the Valley with the vineyards and the beer brewery.
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Daffodil point. A nice and quiet spot to relax and enjoy the sun.

Later in the afternoon, I drove to the Salt Spring Island Ale Brewery to do yet another tasting over there. Yes, my job keeps me busy, even on my long weekend. 🙂 Now I am not the biggest beer fan but some of their brews were really enjoyable so I did some shopping at the brewery as well. Of course, I also bought some bottles for my staff because I want them to enjoy some of this “exotic” stuff as well. Before driving to my AirBnB- place for the night, I made a quick stop at Beddis Beach and I decided to just lie on the beach, read a little and sunbath as long as the sun was still there.

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So many beers, so different flavours. They are all organic and exclusively made with ingredients from the island.
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Beddis Beach. Canada has it all: Mountains, Beaches, Wine and Beer, you name it 🙂

Now I am currently sitting in my room at Heather’s and Roxy’s place (AirBnB), I just had a hot shower and I feel like eating a little bit. My two hosts told me they would be working late and none of them has showed up yet but that does not worry me. I will probably meet them later in the evening.

Probably, this blog entry will not go live today as I still need to upload and edit the pictures and I don’t want to do that right now. Anyway, let’s finish the writing part of the blog with the usual music advice. Today’s song has absolutely nothing to do with the content of this blog entry but it is just a nice song that I stumbled upon when playing random playlists on YouTube. Check it out:

Fangclub – Bad Words

39. New apartment

Vancouver, Canada, 02.04.2017.

After two weeks of living in an AirBnB- apartment and training at the BC Liquor Store at the Capilano Mall, I finally moved into my new apartment in North Vancouver yesterday. My landlords made me feel welcome instantly and I even got a nice welcome beer (see picture below) that is brewed in a local brewery not far away from here. I also met their little son and their friendly dog who wanted to be cuddled all the time. Aside from this dog, there also seem to be some cats in the neighborhood. This morning, a completely black cat visited me and enjoyed being cuddled for a few minutes. As far as I can judge, it looks like he/she is a a mix-breed with some kind of exotic background.

WElcome-Drink
My welcome drink at the new apartment.
Cat
A friendly cat that lives in the neighborhood.

Overall, I am glad to have my own place now that I can call my “home”. Whereas “home” is a difficult term and I find it increasingly hard to determine what my real “home” is. But this is a seperate discussion that I do not wish to start here and now. Maybe in a later blog post, we’ll see about that.

Next week I will have another week of training at a Liquor Store not far away from my apartment. However, this will be my last week of training before I will take over my designated store. I have to admit that I am already a bit excited about that and that I am looking forward to it as well. As of now, I am sure that I haven’t yet got all the knowledge that a Store Manager needs but I am not really afraid about that. I am confident that my basic knowledge is already quite solid and that I have a good grasp of the most important things I need to pay attention to. The most challenging thing will be to find out what the most pressing problems in my new store are and how to address them effectively. But I have done these kind of things before and I am fairly confident that I can do it again. So I guess there is no reason to worry at all….

And what happened in the last week? At the weekend, Verena and I went to the indoor carnival at BC Place and enjoyed the attractions there. This was the first time I visited an indoor carnival but I have to say that the idea is quite good. With the rainy weather here in Vancouver, it is definitely a good idea to make it more attractive to visitors to visit the carnival by hosting it inside a stadium. While Verena happily tried every single ride, I was a bit more selective because I didn’t quite feel so well that day. Also, I tend to become sick relatively quickly when I get shaken thoroughly…

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“Fireball” (right) and “1001 Nachts” (sic!), (left).
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The “Zipper”. According to Verena, the wildest ride in the stadium.

Of course, I also explored the area around my new apartment and my new place of work a little bit. I went for a walk in “Cates Park” where I found a nicely sculpted war memorial that I had to photograph of course. Also, I already found a new place where I can play my favorite games from time to time. It is called “Big Pete’s” and they have an interesting event schedule and nice offers so I guess that I will start going there frequently in the future. Apart from this, I realized that there are a lot of nice hiking trails around here so I will happily start hiking if the weather allows for it at the next weekends. Of course, I will take some pictures then and share them with you. Originally, I already wanted to go hiking today but I felt it was more important to take my time to settle in properly and write this blog entry. Next weekend then….

Memorial
War memorial in Cates Park.

 

Big-Petes
Comic- and Games- Store in North Vancouver.

Again, this was a rather short blog entry but I guess that is okay. As of yet there are no news about my diploma certification so I’m not able to start my application for permanent residency yet. I will keep you updated once things change in this matter.

As usual, let’s finish this blog entry with a music advise. Today’s title is a rather old one and the band is a bit controversial. But I still like their music because it’s not only raw Hip Hop but they use other interesting music elements as well.

Insane Clown Posse – The Great Milenko

37. Long-term decisions

Vancouver, Canada, 11.03.2017.

When I came to Canada in January, I had basically drawn up two viable plans what to do:

1. The Gap-Year plan: Originally, it was my plan to to just travel through Canada during my Work&Travel year, to get a break from work life and to just enjoy my life. I thought about spending a few weeks on Vancouver Island, to drive to the Rocky Mountains again, to go up north to Yukon and then to drive all the way across Canada by car to finally end up in Newfoundland and Labrador at the end of the year. Of course, it was also part of this plan to visit all the sights and parks that were on the route from western Canada to the east.

2. The residency plan: This plan focused on trying to get a decent job somewhere as quickly as possible, to move there and get my own apartment, to then apply for permanent residency and thus to gain a foothold here in Canada. Of course, this plan is the more “responsible” and “mature” plan as it satisfies the common view that you are supposed to work somewhere and be a “good member of society”.  On the other hand, this plan is also less fun and not so much different from what I have been doing so far in my life. So not a great change, really.

To be very honest, I was totally unsure what to do initially when I arrived in Canada in January. I had no real preference for a plan although I clearly saw their individual benefits and drawbacks. However, it was not at all easy for me to weigh them properly and make up my mind what I really wanted. On the one hand, the Gap-Year plan promised to be more fun and it would reward me with a million priceless impressions and great experiences. On the other hand, this Gap-Year would then clearly be a one-shot thing and I would have to go back to Europe at the end of the year and it would become increasingly more difficult after this year to try to gain a permanent foothold here in Canada. So what do you do if you don’t know what’s right? I solved this problem by prioritizing the plans while not discarding either of them. Upon arrival in Canada, I decided to follow the residency plan first and to try to get a job quickly. Then, in case of an unfruitful job search, I was prepared to discard the residency plan in favor of the Gap-Year plan by the end of April. Why not earlier than the end of April? Well, Canada is mainly a cold and snowy country. So leaving the lower mainlands around Vancouver earlier than May does not really make much sense if you want to go up north and see a bit more of the landscape than just the white layer. Also, most of the parks do not open that early in the year and hiking is not too much fun if you have to do it in the snow. So basically the residency plan was my primary plan and the the Gap-Year plan was my “Plan B” or backup- plan. Now why am I writing about all this now? Well, my current situation has significantly changed in the last days and it looks like my primary plan has worked out well. But before I go into details here, let’s take a look at a few pictures first.

Buch
The third book in the triology. Overall, three very good books with a great story line but “The Chess Men” can’t quite keep up with the quality of the first two books. Peter May is a great author, you’ll like him.
Shells
A few shells I found when jogging on the beach.

Last week, my future employer, the BC Liquor Stores, finally received the last reference they needed to take me on board. So now I will start to work as a Senior Store Manager for them in North Vancouver on the 20th of March. However, before I get my own store there, I will be trained in several other stores nearby. So it looks like my primary plan worked just fine and I can now try to apply for permanent residency here. And this is exactly what my next step will be once I have settled down in North Vancouver. Next Monday, I will take a look at a few apartments there and hopefully find a good place to stay there. But I think that will not be a huge issue as I am not too picky about my living places.
Despite the current development, I have not at all given up on my Gap-Year plan yet. And if all goes according to my grand master plan, I don’t have to give up on it anyway. In case I get my permanent residency, I can always do my all-around-Canada-trip at some point in the future. So nothing is really “lost” and by pursuing my current plan I keep most of my future options open. I feel I can always take a Sabbatical later in my life and still do the trip once I managed to acquire my permanent residency and worked for a few years here in Canada.
Interesting side- note: Last week, I also received an E-Mail from Parks Canada telling me that I was chosen for an interview for the site-manager position at the Banff Upper Hot Springs. How unexpected. Last time I heard anything from this application, I was just buying my car. Must have been late January I guess. But there was no chance I would go to that interview as I had already signed the job offer of the BC Liquor Stores. Still interesting to see how long a recruitment process can take. Six weeks in between the end of the application process and the decision who will be invited to an interrview. That is long! Also, I am quite thrilled to see the success of my applications. In total, I wrote just 7 applications, I got invited to interviews 2 times, attended one interview and got the job. Can’t say I am not a bit proud about that. 🙂

Now that should be enought talk about work and me drawing up strange plans. Let’s write a bit about the fun things I did in the last days. I managed to read a bit and I also continued to go jogging regularly (see both pictures above). Now that I know that I’ll be staying in Vancouver a bit longer, I decided to sign up for the Vancouver Marathon on May 7th and do the first full marathon in my life. Seems really fitting that I will do it here in Vancouver on a stunning course that will also lead through Stanley Park. You can check out the course map here. Just a really really nice course I think.
Also, I will get a year membership in one of the climbing gyms in Vancouver and start climbing regularly. Climbing is not only great fun but I realized that it trains my upper body and arms a lot and I feel that this really benefits me. Up to now, I only trained my legs by running and completely neglected my upper body. Possibly not the greatest choice.

When it comes to regular fun activities, I managed to attend some board game evenings in the store in Ladner and I also visited the CatFe again twice. They have three very cute Main Coone mix breeds there, all siblings. They are really friendly and curious and two of them ended up on my lap, enjoying my cuddles. I expressed my wish to maybe adopt them but after having checked the currently available apartments in North Vancouver, it looks like this is not going to happen. Most of the landlords do not want any animals in their apartment and those who tolerate cats will only tolerate one or two. That’s pretty unfortunate because I think this band deserves a second chance. However, I guess that many potential new owners will be deterred by their current age as they are already 10 years old. Now that does not deter me but I know that most of the people look for cats that are still young. That situation makes me a bit sad but there’s not much I can really do about it…

Cat2
Harvey (female) and me in the CatFe in Vancouver.
Cat1
Budddy (male), who sat on my lap for over an hour, enjoying my cuddles.
BoardGame2
Mare Nostrum Empires. I played the green Greece, trying to fend off the Romans and the Babylonians at the same time.
BoardGame1
Castles of Burgundy. Second time I played it. Thanks to Stephan Valkyser, I already had a good insight into this game.

Last week I also managed to make a few trips to downtown Vancouver and I visited the Vancouver Public Library, the Vancouver Museum and the Space Centre. The library resides in a very interesting Colosseum- like building and it has a truly large collection, including some German literature. Unfortunately, they apparently also bought crappy books in the past as I found a copy of a rather infamous German author whose views are much questioned.
The Space Center is a nice place to go and their shows are really entertaining and offer some stunning views. So I can only advise to go there if you’re a bit interested in astronomy or Space exploration. Not the biggest or most thrilling exhibition but it is still worth to go there and take a look at it. Now I wish I could say the same for the Museum of Vancouver but I really can’t. Verena and I went there and we both agreed that this museum is rather boring and that it did not really entertain us. I have seen many better Canadian museums and I would not recommend seeing the Museum of Vancouver if you’re only staying at Vancouver for a few days…

Library
The Colosseum- like building of Vancouver’s Public Library.
Library2
Very surprised to find a copy of THIS book here in Vancouver. Not the best choice to invest the library’s money.

Space1

Space2
A very nice saying, displayed at the Space Center.
Car
Magnificent Oldtimer in the Museum of Vancouver.

Now that I’ve chosen to settle down in Vancouver, I suppose that I won’t be writing that many blog entries in the future anymore. Of course, I will still write about the exceptional events in my life but I also guess that it will start getting a bit more quiet in my life in the future. But that is okay, life can’t always be a rollercoaster ride. Thus, you should not expect so lengthy and frequent blog entries anymore. But we’ll see about that…
Ah, one last thing before I conclude the blog entry with my music advice: I just received my Parks Canada Discovery pass (see cover picture at the top of the entry) so I can visit every one of Canada’s National Parks for free this year. Anyone can apply for this pass and it costs exactly zero Canadian dollars as Parks Canada gives it away for free this year due to Canada’s 150th birthday. What a great gift! I wish I could do both: work in Vancouver and travel to see Canada’s National Parks at the same time. Not possible though. And again, it is always about setting priorities and making (long-term) decisions….

By chance, I stumbled over this interesting piece of music last week. And I simply put it on repeat and listened to it again and again and again. Until I got fed up with it at some point. But it is still a very good song so I happily share it with you here:

Aesop Rock – None shall pass

35. GP Vancouver and Job Interview

Vancouver, Canada, 21.02.2017.

I have to apologize. Bad habits keep returning. I can’t believe the last blog entry is already nine days old. Anyway, now it’s time to recall what happened in these nine days and there is a lot to write about. Undoubtedly, there were two highlights in the last nine days: Firstly, I played at the Magic GP Vancouver. Not the main event but great Sealed Deck side events. And secondly, I had a job interview at the BC Liquor stores for a position as a Senior Store Manager yesterday.

The Magic GP Vancouver began on Friday 18th, ended on Sunday 20th and I guess that there were probably around 2000 visitors at peak times. As there were no good events on Friday, I decided to only go there on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday was a complete disaster for me although the pool I got in my Sealed Event was fairly okay. Nevertheless, I went 0-2 in both of the first matches and this meant that I could not win any great prizes anymore. So I dropped from the event, drove home and used the rest of the day to prepare for my upcoming job interview. Then, on Sunday, I went back to the GP in the morning and began playing in another Sealed Deck event (Pro Tour Qualifier). The pool was fairly bad and I expected to lose my matches again but the opposite happened. I won all of my first four matches and I was only one win away from making the Top8 and the subsequent draft. That would have been really huge, what a turn of events!!! Then, in my last match, I had bad draws, had to mulligan in both of my two games and lost them without any real chance. Sad, really. Total loser as Mr. Trump would say. 🙂 So I expected to be placed 2nd in my pod but then there was an unpleasant surprise. Because they determine the placings based on some freaky tiebreaker rules, I was placed 3rd instead of second. Too bad, because in third place, I got less than half of the prizes than the guy who placed second. What a frustration, really. I somehow felt I got betrayed and cheated and my mood dropped considerably. After having left the event, I began thinking about the situation again. In the end, I made my peace with the situation fairly quickly because it had not been a deliberate decision by someone to treat me unfairly but it was just a result of a rather strange tiebreaker system. Next time, this system may be working in my favor, who knows? Also, had somebody told me at the start of the event that I would place third in the pod with the pile of cards I opened, I would have laughed hard. So I guess I should be grateful for what I achieved because it was unexpected and more than I could have hoped for. In any case, it is always hard to accept such results if you’re an ambitious player and you want to win. And in Magic, I like it when my decks perform and I win. 🙂 Anyway. After the event, I got my play mat signed by all the artist and I bought a great Goblin- Token card from the artist “rk post”. Unfortunately, the Donald Trump token was already sold out. Bummer!

deck
My BG midrange- deck without any great synnergy whatsoever. The deck’s allstar: Herald of Anguish. Won me at least 4 games. Notice the lack of good 4drops while playing 2 druids of the Cowl.
goblin
Got to start playing Red Aggro again and use this token. 🙂 Great humor in this card.

Well, that was the GP. Then, on Monday, I had my first job interview here in Canada at the headquarters of the BC Liquor stores in Vancouver. Before beeing interviewed by two Regional managers and one HR manager, I had 30 minutes to analyze a Profit & Loss statement. Good thing I have already done that more than once in my life. So I felt it wasn’t a big deal, really. Then, the following panel interview went fairly well and I talked a lot about my past job experience. Of course I didn’t get an immediate feedback and it may take up to three weeks until they tell me if they want me as a Senior Store Manager or not. Also, I will not have a choice of store but they will tell me in which store they need me based on my skillset and the manager’s skillset needed in the stores that currently don’t have a manager. In any case, I will probably stay in the Greater Vancouver Area somewhere as they are currently only looking for managers over here. But hey, why not? It’s pretty nice here, I won’t complain about staying…

Talk about staying. Today I received the results of the English- test I took 11 days ago. On a scale of 1-12 I scored like this: Reading 12, Listening 11, Speaking 10 and Writing 8. Yep, I am mostly happy but the Writing mark puzzles me a bit. I had lots of time left when I wrote my answers and I felt they were fairly okay. So I don’t really understand why I only scored an 8 here. Well, that should not be my downfall I guess. In any case, I will enter these results in the immigration’s office questionnaire later today and see if it’s sufficient to apply for permanent residency or not. I’ll write about that in my next blog entry I guess.

And what else happened in the last 9 days? Verena and I spent a great Thursday together. We visited the Maritime Museum, enjoyed the sunny weather at Kitsilano Beach and went climbing again. Climbing was really great, I felt how I was already getting better at it and we had a lot of fun there. Verena was doing even better than me and climbed increadibly well. After the training, my muscles did not hurt nearly as bad as they did when we went climbing for the first time. In case I get the job at the BC Liquor stores, I will definitely look for a good nearby climbing hall and start doing that sport regularly. I really like it and if you haven’t tried it yet, just do it once. It’s a great experience. Also, you meet interesting people. Like the guy in the men’s dressing room. He stood next to me and yawned really loud. I:”Hey, someone’s really tired, huh?” He:”Oh yeah, and stoned”. I: “Uhh, okay. And climbing works when you’re stoned?”. He:”Hell yeah, I can only recommend it.”. I:”Right, go for it man.”. That’s Vancouver for you, great stuff. 🙂 Of course, Verena and I also went to the YukYuk Comedy club on Thursday evening to enjoy some more great stand- up comedy. Yep, I keep going there regularly, it’s great fun. 🙂

marmu
Vancouver’s Maritime Museum.
totem
The huge totem pole near Vancouver’s Maritime Museum.
kitsilano-beach
Sunny Kitsilano Beach. Clouds and Vancouver Downtown in the background.

Apart from all the sight- seeing, I also kept running regularly and, of course, I also played at the board game night at the local store again. Not much to write about this but a few interesting pictures to look at. See below.

alien-invasion
Some Alien- looking thing with tentacles at Tsawwassen Beach. No idea what it is but the plastic tentacles were hollow and had some hooks attached. Looked strange.
bald-eagle
Bald Eagle at Centennial Beach. German: Weisskopfseeadler.
concordia
Great board game I played for the first time: Concordia. I (black meeples) beat Dave (red meeples) by 4 points, lucky me! 🙂

Well, that’s all for now I guess. When writing the next blog entry, I hope I’ll be able to report that I got the job and that I also started my application for the permanent residency. But we’ll see about that. 🙂

Since the last music advices were all Rock/Punk titles, it is now time to showcase a Rap song again. This one is from Sido, a pretty popular German Rapper who has moved from Gangsta- Rap to a more Mainstream- Rap during the last 15+ years. Still, even today’s songs are pretty nice if you like Rap music.

Sido – Massafaka

34. A new plan

Vancouver, Canada, 12.02.2017.

Sunday afternoon/evening in Vancouver, Canada and today I am just relaxing and enjoying the great weather and the beautiful sea. There was the opportunity to go swimming with a friend of mine today but I didn’t feel like doing that. After a few days full of sports, it is always good to calm down a little once in a while and let the muscles relax a bit. So no sports today…. Probably again tomorrow, though…

Last week, quite of few very interesting things happened. On Sunday, I helped Verena to move her stuff from her old apartment in Burnaby to the new one in Vancouver. That was no big effort as Work&Travelers usually only have 2 suitcases of stuff and that’s it. So we were finished with that pretty quickly. Then, we decided to visit Granville Island, south of Vancouver Downtown. This island is famous for its galleries and artist and although it was Sunday, most of the galleries and shops were open. Which was great because we got to see some really nice art and get an impression of what the artists are doing on the island. In the afternoon, Verena had to go to work so I explored the island a little more on my own. They also have a quite huge Public Market there which hosts many different food shops. And some of them even have German names and offer German food. So I had to take a picture of that and share it with you, see below. Not sure that all of the food they offer there is truly German but it is hard to tell for me now since the picture I took is a bit blurred. Anyway, after a longer tour of the food court I decided to watch the first half of the Super Bowl in a pub before I drove to Richmond to play at a board game evening at Jen’s place. It was truly great to meet everyone there and play some really nice games I had not known before, including Carcassonne. Unfortunately, I forgot to make a picture of that game so I can’t share it here with you. Bummer. But I also met Teddy at Jen’s place and he is a cuddly and friendly cat that seemed to like me as well. Especially because I gave him some treats and Teddy likes treats! 🙂 Thanks again for the invitation and the lovely evening, Jen!

granville
Entrance to Granville Island, south of Vancouver downtown.
gi-public-market
The Public Market on Granville Island, sprawling with food shops and visitors.
german-sausage
The “Kaisereck”- takeaway, with German flag and food. Feels like home? Well, not really…. 🙂
gi-super-bowl
Enjoying the fist half of the Super Bowl 51 at the bar of a pub in Granville Island.

On Monday, I started scanning the BC- job market again and I also took my time to analyze how to increase my chances of getting a decent job quickly. In the end, I think I need to solve the following problem in order to be more successful with my applications: As I currently only have a working permit for one year, many HR managers are probably reluctant to consider me for an open position. Why is that? Well, most of the HR managers are probably looking for a long-term replacement for their job openings and not for a temporary one. At least this is what I would do if I was an HR manager. And this is also what I did when I was in charge of hiring customer assistants for my stores in Germany and England. You don’t want anyone who will only be available for a short time and who is then going to leave again quickly. The time investment for new employees is huge in the beginning and the benefit of that must be negative if the new employee leaves again quickly and you need to start hiring again. That does not make much sense. So I figured that I will probably only have a good shot at a decent job if I can convince people that I will be staying longer in Canada than the current projected year. Thus, I checked out Canada’s immigration website to find out if I am eligible to apply for permanent residency. Luckily it turned out that I am already eligible to apply for that if I pass an English test. Possibly my chances to get the permanent resideny would be better if I already had a job but this is probably a two-sided problem that cannot be solved: Without a decent job, it will be more difficult to get a permanent residency but without a permanent residency, it will be more difficult to get a decent job. Not much I can do about that other than to try to get either of the two as quickly as possible and then try to get the other one afterwards. Thus, I then decided to sign up for an English- test for immigrants on Friday and I was there on time to take it. The test went okay but I am almost certain I made more than just a few mistakes. Now I have taken a few English- tests before in my life but in this one the questions were quite difficult and some of the topics and vocabulary used were rather special. Like urban city-planning and details of an art festival. Oh well, I will see how I did in the test in about a week when they will send me the results. And If I failed, I can always take the test again, I don’t worry about that really. But if I pass, I will definitely apply for the permanent residency and see if the Canadian government wants me here permanently or not… In the meantime, I wrote some more applications last week and I got good feedback from my application as a senior store manager. Of course, senior store manager would be a step down from my former position as an area manager but I guess I am still willing to accept that to gain a foothold in the Canadian job market. We’ll see how this whole situation develops…

And what else happened during the week? I went to the board game evening in the local game store on Wednesday and I did some serious running training in the last days, despite the snow here in the lower Mainlands. Also, Whippcream and I got a visit from a rather unfriendly neighbor cat and the cute fuzzy white girl was pretty upset about that. I guess I’ll have to pay good attention in the future if I let her out on the deck. Last thing I need are two fighting cats and a necessary visit to the animal hospital. Then, on Friday Verena and I did some climbing and that was a lot of fun and really interesting. The only problem was that you need some well trained arms in order to do proper climbing. Now that is a problem in my case because the only muscles that are really well trained in my body are my leg muscles. Thus, after roughly an hour of bouldering and climbing, I could already feel the ache in my forearms and I started losing power in my hands. Verena was actually doing a lot better than me and she managed to finish one of the easier climbing routes successfully whereas I twice had to let go two steps below the “finish line”. Sometimes it just sucks to be as old as I am. Especially when your body needs a lot longer to recover from the muscular strain than it used to just a few years ago. Oh well. In any case, it was a lot of fun to go climbing and I can see myself doing that regularly in the future if my place of work/ future apartment will be somewhere near a climbing center. After the climbing, we went to the Brett Martin Show in the YukYuk’s comedy club and it was as great as always. If I don’t get to stay in Vancouver in the futurer, I will definitely miss this location. It offers really great entertainment on a regular basis and I just love it.

snowy-beach
Snowy beach and a flock of ducks straight ahead.
cats
No way these two cats will ever be friends. Good thing the glass door is pretty solid.
climbing-route
The “easy” yellow route we climbed. Every route has its own colors and if you want to climb properly, you are only allowed to use steps of one color = “stay in a route”.
yukyuk-bm
Brett Martin (on the very left od the picture) and his crew on 11/02/17 at YukYuk’s Vancouver.

Today’s music advise is a bit different from the previous ones. When listening to some rock music during my running sessions last week, I realized that two of my favorite bands, Saxon and Motörhead, each made a song called “Dogs of war”. So I thought it would be a great idea to make a double- header advice here:

Motörhead – Dogs of war

Saxon – Dogs of war

They’re both great songs but the one from Saxon is clearly my favorite. Sorry, Lemmy! 😉