49. Germany- Trip and Grouse Mountain

North Vancouver, Canada, 13.07.2017.

After two strenuous but exciting weeks, I finally managed to calm down a little today. So why not sit down and write another blog entry? Alright, here we go.

Roughly two weeks ago, on the 27th of June, I first flew from Vancouver to Calgary and then from Calgary to Frankfurt. Both flights were okay but I still don’t love flying so I felt a little bit stressed anyway. Back in Germany, I had much to do in the few days that I were there. First of all, I met Jana, a former colleague of mine in Herford on Wednesday afternoon. We sat outside and drank some coffee while it rained badly outside. We had a great time but unforunately, we forgot to make a selfie or picture. Next time, Jana. 🙂 After that, I drove to my mum’s place and decided to run a little. It felt good to run “my” old trails again and to see the village in which I spent so many years of my youth. On Thursday, I spent the whole day working on my english and german tax returns for 2016. Very annoying and time- consuming but necessary. In the evening, my mum and I decided to go out and have dinner at a mongol restaurant in a nearby town. The food was really great (I like fresh veggies cooked on hot plates!!!) and I guess that my mum will probably go there again. I think I will definitely go there again in January 2018 when I will make my next trip to Germany. Unbelievable, that I have already spent over 6 months in Canada and that my current visa is only valid for another 5 months and 3 weeks. It is really crazy how time flies…

German-Wine
Shopping at Lidl’s. Some really cheap wines. Would be great to have them here in my store 🙂
Running Trail
Running trail near the village I grew up in. Brought back great memories.

On Friday morning, I finished my work on the tax returns. After that, I drove to Cologne to meet my buddies from the “Captain’s Mafia”, German Army. We used to work together in the same department back in 2012 and 2013 and we all decided to keep in contact when our ways parted. Back in 2013, we were all active soldiers and we all had the rank of “Captain”, expect for Martin. But we knew that he would be promoted to Captain soon so he already counted as a Captain. Today, one of us got promoted to Major and the rest of us have left the army, so we are mostly reserve Captains today. But technically, we are all still members of the “Captain’s mafia” and that will never change. Up to now, we used to meet once or twice per year. Last time, we met in London, England last summer when I was still working for Lidl UK. Now we met in Cologne but there were only three of us since Martin had already headed to Canada to spend his holidays there. I will meet him next Monday here in Vancouver and I am already looking forward to that.

photo
Captain’s Mafia in London, August 2016. God, I look so bad and silly on some pictures. 😦
German-Army-Crew
Only 3 members of the Captain’s Mafia at the meeting on 30th of June 2017.

On Saturday, I drove to Olpe in the morning to meet another former Lidl colleague of mine, another Martin. When I was still working for Lidl Germany, our management areas were close to each other and we used to meet for lunch (Döner /Donair) or to run together. When we met on Saturday morning, we ran our usual route around the Olpe Biggesee and chatted a lot while doing that. It was good to meet him again in person and to exchange some information. Guess what: We also forgot to take a picture so I can’t post anything here. After the little workout, I drove to Wesseling near Cologne to play in one of my boardgame groups. It was really nice to meet Stephan and Ralph again and to play “Dominant Species”, a very entertaining strategic game. I managed to place second out of five and we had a lot of fun playing and chatting together. When we finished playing, I headed off to Cologne to meet a good friend of mine, Glenn. We partied all night long and then finally drove to his place early on Sunday, around 5 am. What a night! On Sunday, Glenn and I chilled all day and watched some movies. Then, on Monday, I drove back to my mom and spent the rest of the day to prepare my lawsuit against my former German Landlord. He still owes me a lot of money and since he decided not to answer to my e-mails and letters anymore, I now need to take this action. I am excited to see how that turns out but I am quite confident that the judge will make a decision in my favor. And that was pretty much the last thing I did in Germany before I flew back from Frankfurt to Vancouver on Tuesday. Busy busy days in Germany and a lot to do. But I am glad that I was able to meet so many friends of mine. Unfortunately, I was unable to meet ALL of my friends and all of my family members. Oh well, there is always a next time, in this case: January 2018.

Boardgame
Playing “Dominant Species” with Stephan, Ralph, Torben and Matthias. I played the yellow birds. 🙂
Cologne
Partying with Glenn in Cologne, Saturday evening, in the “Schaafenstrasse”.

Since last Tuesday, I am finally back in Canada and very happy about it. There is still so much for me to discover in the greater Vancouver area and I was also excited to get back to work. Yes, you read that right, I love my work. Great people there, much to organize and to do in my store but still manageable and a good environment overall. But let’s not talk about work here but about a great place in North Vancouver: Grouse Mountain. After five days of work, I had a day off last Monday so I decided to finally visit Grouse Mountain. Without going into too much detail here (I feel this blog entry is already getting too long), I have to say that this is a great place and I would always recommend a visit to anyone. I did the famous Grouse Grind in 46 minutes which is not bad but also not an overly great time. That performance confirmed to me once more that I need to train more uphill- running and mountain trails if I want to succeed in the upcoming Ultra- races in September and October. That’s why I decided to buy an annual pass for Grouse Mountain so that I can come back anytime to run the Grouse Grind for training purposes. Let’s see if I will be able to improve my time a little in the future….

Grouse-Grind
The start of the Grouse Grind. Sooooo many stairs. 🙂
View-NV
View on North Vancouver and Deep Cove from Grouse Mountain.
Goat-Mountain
View from the top of Goat Mountain.
Trail-GM
The way back to Grouse Mountain: Sliding in the snow while trying to keep balance.

On top of Grouse Mountain, I was rewarded with a fantastic view of the whole Vancouver region. After a short rest, I decided to hike to the top of another nearby mountain, Goat Mountain, and I found myself scrambling through snow again. But it was still an enjoyable trail and I also managed to not get a sunburn this time. Some parts of the trail were pretty steep and occasionally, the “trail” was more like a snowsled on which you had difficulties to get up but much fun to ride down. So the way back from Goat Mountain to Grouse Mountain was not so much of a hike but more of a sliding- and skiing adventure. Since I still had another appointment on Monday afternoon, I decided against doing any of the other activities on top of Grouse mountain, like Zip- lining and Helicopter flying. However, I still managed to see most of a bird show that had already begun when I returned from Goat Mountain. They had a trained bald eagle, a great owl, a falcon and another bird whose species I can’t remember, sorry. It was great to see these great birds and their different flying- and hunting skills. Check out the pictures below!

Grouse
A “wild” grouse I saw on Grouse Mountain. Naming story of the mountain checks out. 🙂
Owl
Such a beautiful and talkative owl. It was about to loose one of its feathers.
Bald_Eagle
The bald eagle “Hercules” wandering around while her trainer explained his hunting habits.

After the bird show, I took the 4-minute skyride back to the bottom of the mountain. Although it was a Monday (and not the weekend), I still had to wait in line for about 30 minutes because there were quite a few people who wanted to take the skyride as well. Thus, I would not necessarily recommend to visit Grouse Mountain at the weekend when it will probably be even busier than it was last Monday. Anyway, it was a great day and I am happy that I got to know another of Vancouver’s attractions. 🙂

Hmmm, I just realized that I have written more than 1500 words again. So I guess it’s time to stop writing now. But before you quit this page, check out this great rock song from Linkin Park. Such a good song for your running playlist. Or your car playlist. Or your chill playlist for the beach. Or whatever, it’s just a great song, believe me. 🙂

Linkin Park – Easier to run

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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

36. Canadian Entertainment

Vancouver, Canada, 02.03.2017.

Again, over one week has passed since my last blog entry and quite a few interesting things have happened. Although there are also job- related news to write about, I spent a lot of time enjoying my life in the past days so I had to choose the title for this blog entry the way I did. Okay, let’s start with the job news to get that out of the way first.

Last Thursday, the BC Liquor Stores sent me a job offer for the position as a Senior Store Manager. That was really quick and I was both, surprised and happy, about that offer. Of course I signed the job offer and I also prepared all the necessary documents for them to employ me. Now there are two more things that they will do before I actually get a contract: Firstly, they will check my criminal record and see if there are any entries at all. This should not be a problem as I’ve not yet committed any crimes. And secondly, they will contact my former Lidl superiors (=references) and ask them about my general performance and the situations I described in the job interview and the written assignment. Now of course I don’t know what my former superiors will tell them about me but I am pretty sure it will be a fair assesssment. In the end, there was no conflict at all when I left Lidl so I don’t expect my former superiors to be mad at me for any reason. But in the end, it is really up to them what they will tell the HR manager at the BC Liquor stores and I can’t really influence that. So now I will simply have to wait until they contact me again and then they will either offer me a contract or not. We’ll see about that. With regard to jobs, there is also another interesting development to talk about. BC’s government has finally posted its job advertisements for the Park Ranger and Senior Park Ranger positions. However, these positions are all seasonal so this does not really help me in the long-run. Still, I think it would be nice to work as a Park Ranger for some time and be paid for being outdoors in BC’s beautiful parks. Well, you can’t have it all, can you? The deadline to apply for these jobs is March 8th so I suppose there is still time for me to wait for a response from the BC Liquor stores before I need to do anything here. They should be done with their checks by then and if they choose to not take me on board after all, I can still apply for the Park Ranger job. We’ll see and I will keep you updated.

Now, let’s talk about the main topic of this blog entry: Canadian Entertainment. Yesterday, Verena and I finally went to an Icehockey match of the Vancouver Canucks at the Roger’s Arena. Originally, we already wanted to go to another game earlier this month but the ticket situation online was pretty confusing and ordering tickets through the official ticket center did not work at all. Also, the prices for weekend- tickets were much higher than the prices for yesterday’s match during the week. Still, we had to pay a little more than 60 dollars per ticket for seats of a rather lower category. That was quite the amount but the money was not wasted at all. It was a good experience to watch my first Icehockey match and to see how a sports match is presented here in Canada. Lots of entertainment, lots of commercials and in between that, you just watched the game. 🙂 As a foreigner, I was a little intrigued by the two national anthems that were played prior to this “ordinary” league match. As far as I know, this only happens in Europe if the country’s national teams play against each other. But I may be mistaken here… It was also interesting to see that there was no separation of the opposing fan groups, neither inside nor outside of the stadium. In European soccer matches, this would be unthinkable. Then again, European soccer fans seem to bee much more involved with their club, the team and the match. In contrast to that, there wasn’t much cheering or loud enthusiasm in the stadium yesterday. The people just seemed to be there to relax, have a good time, drink a beer and talk a little while watching the game. Just a very different attitude that also created a completely different atmosphere than the one I got to know when I occasionally watched European soccer in different stadiums in Germany. It feels like the Germans take the game a lot more seriously and they treat it more like a fight that must be won than an entertaining event. However, I have never been to a German Icehockey match yet so I guess it is not that easy to compare these situations. In the end, the German soccer fans are known to be very involved and emotional at times and I don’t know if the same holds true for the German Icehockey fans. Anyway, it was a good experience yesterday and I am open to seeing another Canucks match in the future if the ticket price is acceptable. In any case, I don’t think that it is worth paying a lot more for the so-called “good” tickets as we still had a pretty good view on our “cheaper” seats. Finally, is it worth mentioning how the game ended yesterday? Well, the Canucks lost 2:3 in the overtime against the Detroit Red Wings and it wasn’t overly exciting. Both of the teams do not have a chance anymore to go to the play-offs so I guess the outcome of the game wasn’t really too relevant to anyone in the stadium anyway. At least I did not hear a lot of complaining on our way out of the arena.

canucks-1
In the stadium: “Canucks are for everyone”- campaign featuring the rainbow- colors.

And what else happened entertainment- wise? Well, Verena and I had a great night out in Vancouver and shared one of the craziest “drinks” I ever had in my life. The “Checkmate Caesar” is a roughly 0.6 liter big drink that has the following ingredients: Vodka, Tomato juice, clam broth, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Also, the glass had celery salt around its egde. I gotta say that was one of the most ugly drinks I ever tasted. But the food “garnish” that came with this drink was really good: A grilled chicken, a big hamburger, a small hamburger, a sandwich, a brownie, some onion rings and five chicken wings. Take a look at this crazy piece of food/ drink:

ceasar-checkmate
The “Checkmate Caesar”, served at the “Score on Davie” bar/restaurant, West End Vancouver.
score
The “Score on Davie” bar, West End Vancouver.
west-end
Rainbow crosswalk in Vancouver’s West End: The citie’s LGBTQ- quarter.

After having eaten, we again went to a show at the YukYuk’s (this seems to become a habit) but this time the show wasn’t that good, really. No need to mention the Comedian’s name here but the 20 bucks per ticket were not at all well invested, unfortunately. Well, as everybody’s humor is different, this was likely to happen at some point I guess…

And what else happened in the last days? Well, I bought my own climbing gear (harness, shoes, chalk bag and belay device) and tested it already in our current favorite climbing hall. It all fits well and it wasn’t that expensive, really. So now I can save the money to rent the gear from the climbing hall and I also have my own shoes which is a definite plus on the hygiene side. 🙂

At the board game evening last week, I got to play a new game: Zombicide. Well, as the name suggests, the game is basically about killing Zombies and escaping from them after having completed a certain task. It is a cooperative game and although it is more about slaying Zombies than strategy, I like it and we had a lot of fun playing it.

floyd
One of the items belonging to my new climbing gear: The chalk bag “Floyd”.
zombiecide
Zomicide. Notice all the grey miniatures (= Zombie horde) on the board.

Finally, I also visited the CatFé once more because a friend of mine tolf me that she had seen Main Coons there. Now I have had Main Coon cats myself and I really like a lot about them: Their thick and fluffy fur, their high pitched voice, their size (they are the biggest cat race!) and most of all their friendliness and gentle behaviour. So I went to the CatFé to take a closer look at them. On that day, however, most of the present cats in the café had already found a new home so even if I wanted to adopt one, there was no chance to do so. Maybe an opportunity will arise for me in the future at some point to have pets again, who knows?

cat2
Maine Coon- Mix “Marshall” at the CatFé Vancouver.
cat1
Marshall’s brother.

Oh my god, over 1500 words again in this blog entry already? Time to quit writing I guess. But finally, as always, let’s have today’s music advice. In honor of the “Zombicide” board game, I choose to present to you:…. A rather strange Hardbass- song. Did I mention that I have a weird music taste? Probably…

Dr. Rude – Apocalypse

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! 😉

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