60. A lazy writer

North Vancouver, Canada, 30.05.2018.

It is more than ten weeks ago since I last wrote something for this blog and I really should have taken the time to sit down and write a little bit a lot earlier. So when it comes to writing my blog, I admit that I have been very lazy lately. Thus, the title of this blog’s entry. 🙂 Alright then, let’s catch up on what has happened in the last ten weeks, shall we?

After the Dirty Duo- race in March, I had a pretty quiet rest of the month with running and working as my main priorities. It was a little bit challenging at work since both of my managers were gone for the whole month and I had to manage my store mainly on my own. However, I did get quite a bit of support from my store regulars so that I did not have to work too many extra hours. The situation itself turned out to be pretty interesting as it forced me to focus on the really important things and delegate or let go of all other duties that were not really vital for the store’s immediate performance.

In April, I flew back to Germany for two weeks to meet friends and family and to deal with a few organizational and bureaucratic issues. The first thing I had to do was to fill out a lenghty report for the Canadian Immigration Agency about my history as a former officer of the German Army. The information they wanted included posting dates, names of superiors, promotion dates, the names of my units and a comprehensive list of my duties for every single position I held during my career. In the end, just dealing with this request and finishing my Canadian tax return kept me busy for a few days already.

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Beautiful weather in Köln (Cologne) when I went there to meet Martin, a good friend of mine who still works for Lidl.
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At the Motorjesus- concert in Mönchengladbach. It has already become a tradition to do that together with my brother.
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A stretch of my favourite trail, not far away from my mum’s house. While I was in Germany, the sun shone almost every day!

Aside from this “work- part”, I also found the time to visit my family and some of my friends as well during my Germany- holidays. I stayed at my mum’s place for a few days, I went to a rock- concert with my brother and I also spent a quiet and relaxing day with my dad, chatting about a lot of things. Then, I also met my army friends from the Captain’s Mafia, a good friend from my Lidl- days and, of course, my best buddy, Glenn. He and I spent quite a bit of time together planning for our roadtrip through British Columbia, starting either on June 4th or 5th. That is in less than a week from now! We will probably drive through and see a few places in the Okanagan and then spent a lot of time in the YOHO and KOOTENAY National Park. Needless to say that I am already really excited about that! Finally and before I flew back to Canada on April 24th, Rachel flew in from Vancouver and we spent a lovely weekend together in Hamburg. It was great to show her the city that I lived in for almost six years and it was good to re-visit some of my favourite spots. These are just some of the highlights of that fabulous weekend:

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We visited the Hamburg’s magnificent town hall and found this greek- inspired statue in the backyard.
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The original “Heiße Ecke” on St. Pauli’s Reeperbahn. We ate a Currywurst here before watching the “Heisse Ecke” comedy play at Schmidt’s Tivoli theatre.
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We had a “Dinner in the Dark” at this place. It was a challenge and an absolutely stunning experience to eat a four-course surprise-dinner in complete darkness, served by blind waiters.

Soon after I came back from Germany, I had a fitness weekend coming up in early May. First, I met up with Emilia and we went for two hikes at the Golden Ears Provincial Park. Again, the weather was beautiful and we got to enjoy a sunny day at this beautiful park. When hiking to the waterfalls (see picture) and a lookout, I noticed that there is another hike in the park that goes all the way up to the 1500m summit. This could be something that Glenn and I may do next week, at the start of our road trip through BC. We’ll see about that…

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Scenery at the Golden Ears Provincial Park with view on the still snow-covered mountains.
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The lower part of the Golden Ears waterfalls.
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The upper part of the Golden Ears waterfalls with a large pothole on the right side.

The day after we hiked at Golden Ears Provincial Park, it was race day in Vancouver, May 6th. I already ran the BMO Vancouver Marathon last year and that was the very first marathon I ever ran. So at the start of this year, it sounded like a good idea to me to sign up for this race again. The weather on race day was lovely again and I felt really good when the race started. Since I knew from last year that there would be plenty of good aid stations along the way, I decided to run without my backpack and rely on what I would get from these aid stations. Well, it turned out that this time, they only had ONE!!! aid station that offered gel packs instead of at least three of them last year. So that was pretty bad as it serioiusly impacted my nutrition intake. In addition to that, I probably ran too quick during the first 20ish- kilometers so that the second half of the marathon was not at all enjoyable anymore. Also, I felt that running on tarmac for the whole distance really put an extra strain on my body and I felt a lot worse after these 42 kilometers than I did after the 50 kilometers of trail in March. In hindsight, it was probably a mistake to even sign up for this race since neither the distance nor the elevation profile nor the running conditions of the race mirrored what I will be facing at the Death Race in August. So not a good training run at all, I suppose. Anyway, lessons learned. With the way my knees still feel even three weeks after the race, I don’t think that I will run a tarmac-only race anytime soon again. Better focus on trail running. In the end, I finished the marathon in 3 hours and 35 minutes, so it took me 8 minutes longer than last year.

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This was a so-called “Yoga for runners”- session on the day before the race. When I was a kid, people used to call that “sleeping in the sun”. 🙂
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Just seconds before the race started. Again, we were really blessed with the weather on that day.

In the weeks after the marathon, I continued my training for my next big racing event: The Death Race training camp in Grand Cache from June 22nd to June 24th. Judging from the prelimiary training plan I saw, this camp will be quite a challenge on its own already. I believe the goal of the training camp is to run the whole course of the Death Race (=125 Km) in those three days. That will surely give us a good idea of what awaits us in August when we will have to do the same course in just 24 hours. Fun times! 🙂

With regard to my Permanent Residence application, I have not heard anything back from IRCC since I submitted the last documents at their request. Judging from their usual processing times for new PR applications, I should hear from them soon though. Hopefully there will be something positive to report in my next blog entry, which will probably go online in July sometime.

In the meantime, I hope that all of my readers enjoy life as much as I do and that you will have an equally glorious summer with lots of great activities and events coming up. Let’s get the summer started with this nice summer song by Bam Bam:

Bam Bam – Bags packed 

51. Busy times

From Horseshoe Bay to Texada Island, Canada, 24.08.2017.

I have been lazy with my blog lately, I agree. There has not been much time for me to sit down and recapitulate what I experienced in the last weeks. But now there is a little time because I am on a ferry again and on my way to Texada Island. This trip will include three ferry crossings and quite a bit of driving and I hope that I will make it to the island by this evening so I don’t have to stay somewhere on the Sunshine Coast overnight. But even if I have to do that, it won’t be the end of the world. As usual, I will be fine in the end. 🙂

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Another ferry crossing our way from Horseshoe Bay to Gibsons.
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Sunshine Coast: view from the ferry.

So why am I making this trip to Texada Island? Well, it is time to start running again and on Sunday the 27th of August, there will be the “Run the Rock” marathon and I am happy to do it. Also, it is always nice to explore new places so I decided to stay a little longer on the island and travel around a little. Right now, I feel I am in a fairly good training state but I have to admit that I haven’t done much running in the last two weeks. I was really busy with working long hours or exploring the Vancouver area together with my mum.

The next big event after my last blog entry was the Stefan/Henderson reunion near Saskatoon on the weekend of August 4th. It was an amazing weekend full of good conversations, great sport activities and exciting new experiences. I got to meet many interesting and very friendly members of the Stefan/Henderson family, I learned how to prepare the famous family- Schtroodel (Jo Anne, did I spell that correctly?) and I got a very interesting insight into the Canadian past when we watched the old family pictures on the slide projector. Overall, I had an awesome time and I feel really grateful that I was allowed to be there and meet everyone. Now since I don’t know if everyone is okay with me posting family pictures or going into details about our activities on the internet, I will not do that here but instead I will only post a few pictures of the cabin and the nearby lake.

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The cabin at the lake.
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View on the lake from a nearby hill.
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Sunset at the lake.

After returning from Saskatoon, a lot of work awaited me at my store. Due to our then upcoming transition to a new computer system, there was still a lot to prepare and to take care of. I had to work pretty long hours because one of my managers was attending the training course for the new computer system while the other manager was on vacation. So I pretty much had to do all by myself. But I won’t complain ab out that because it was still manageable, I like being busy and it is my job to do that, right? In the end, all the extra work paid off and we had a really smooth transition to the new computer system on August 15th.

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Chilling at the lake in the morning.
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Beautiful lake to swim in. Especially early in the morning when everybody else is still sleeping.

Then, my mum arrived in Vancouver to visit me. I took some days off to do some hiking with her and to show her some of the sights in Vancouver city. First, we hiked up to Mount Seymour and I finally made it to peak 3, the “real” Mount Seymour, together with my mum. The hike itself was really nice and I was so proud to see that my mum was really fit and strong so she had no trouble to hike all the way with me. However, there were two things about the hike that were pretty annoying. First of all, we encountered a lot of hungry flies and mosquitos on our way up. And secondly, we partly had to hike in clouds which also covered the entire mountain during the whole day. So we did not have the great 360- degree view that Mount Seymour usually offers. I felt really sorry for my mum because it would have been really great for her to see that nice panorama live. Not much you can do about that I guess. In the end, it would not have made a difference had we done the hike one day later because on that Friday, the sky was covered by clouds again. Instead, we spent that Friday downtown and I guided my mum through the city. She went on the Vancouver lookout, tried the Fly Over Canada simulator, visited the CatFé to meet some cats and went to a comedy show at YukYuks with me in the evening. In between this full day, we ate at 2 different restaurants where we got some very delicious food. On Sunday, I took my mum hiking again and we conquered the St. Marks summit together with a few friends of mine. Fortunately, the weather was good on that day and we could enjoy the great view on the Howe Sound and the many mountains around the area. It was a wonderful and sunny day that really compensated us for the rather bad weather on Thursday. On Saturday and Monday, my mum went out to discover other places in Vancouver on her own. After these few but really intensive days, my mum had to fly back to Germany on Tuesday. It was really great to have her here in Vancouver and show her the beauty of this country. I guess that she now understands why I love it here and why I will definitely stay here if the Canadian government allows me to do that.

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My mum at Mount Seymour taking a picture of me and vice versa. 🙂 Later on I noticed that she is actually quite well camouflaged in that picture. 🙂
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Skilift at Cypress Mountain. We hiked to St. Marks from there.
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View on Howe Sound from the St. Marks summit.

This week, I had to work from Monday to Thursday (today) and now I have a few days off again to spend some time on Texada Island. So far, I have made it to Earls Cove and I am currently waiting for my second ferry. I guess I need to be very lucky to actually make it to Texada Island today. Maybe I will be able to catch the last ferry to Blubber Bay but that depends on the length of the second ferry trip and the amount of time that I need to drive to the third harbor. Well, we will see about that I guess…

Last update: It is 9:20 PM and I just made it onto the last ferry to Texada Island in time after 6 hours of travel. Yay!!! 🙂

Today’s music advice is as straightforward as possible but it also contains a good amount of irony. Please find out for yourself, see link below. Thanks for being here in Canada, Mum, it was great to have you here. See you again in Germany next January!

257ers – Mama

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

45. Current state of affairs and running thoughts

Between Tsawwassen and Long Harbour (Salt Spring Island), Canada, 08.06.2017.

It is Thursday evening and my long weekend has just begun. Since I have five days off now, I decided to make a trip to Salt Spring Island to relax a little. That’s why I am currently on my way from Tsawwassen to Long Harbour (Salt Spring Island) on board of the “Queen of Nanaimo”, a rather old ferry. As this trip will take roughly three hours, I have ample to write another blog entry and share some thoughts about running and my current situation in Canada.

Let’s start with my current state of affairs in Canada. As of now, I have spent a little over 5 months in Canada already and I have enjoyed every day of it. I managed to get a decent and enjoyable job, I met family members and found new friends, I did quite a bit of sightseeing and travelling and I started to climb and run marathons. Certainly, I am currently experiencing one of the best parts of my life so far. That said, I would not be me if I had no plans for the future. Now what’s my main plan for the future? Well, as I have already laid out in one of my previous blog entries, I will apply for permanent residency so that I can stay in Canada indefinitely. As of last week, I was not yet able to apply because my university degrees had not been certified yet. Luckily, I got a letter from the certification agency last week saying that they recognize one of my degrees as a Master degree and the other one as a combination of an undergraduate degree and a diploma. I disagree with their latter assessment (that degree is also the equivalent of a master degree!!!) but that does not really matter. All that matters is that they certified the other degree as a Master degree so that I will now get the higher amount of points for the Master degree when applying for permanent residency. However, I will still wait with the application until I have my company’s final decision on my request to do a “Labor Market Impact Assessment” (LMIA) for me & my job. If they do this LMIA for me, I will score additional points in my application and that would significantly raise my chances to be considered for permanent residency. However, if my company does not support me with a LMIA, I will still be able to apply for permanent residency but I will score significantly lower and thus it will be less likely for me to get that permanent residency. In a first decision, the head of the HR department told my line manager that the company generally does not support employees with LMIA’s. So far, so good. At first glance, it looks like I won’t be supported by my company in this regard. However, I can be very persistent if I really want something so I will talk to the head of HR first before actually giving up on this endeavor. I feel that he needs to know that they will have to look for a new Store Manager in January if I don’t manage to get that permanent residency. This may entice them to overthink their decision and maybe support me after all. But if not, I will definitely try to get the permanent residency even without their support. Generally, I almost never give up until the very last card is played. You never know how things may turn out in the end. Now you may ask yourself: And what will you do if you don’t get that permanent residency? Is there a plan B? Good question and yes, there is a Plan B. If I don’t get that permanent residency, I will briefly fly back to Germany in January after my visa runs out and then I will return to Canada to do some travelling. Probably, I will also go to the U.S. and see some places over there. Now why would I do that? Simple thing: Without a valid visa, “normal” visitors are only allowed to stay in Canada for up to 3 months in one piece. However, if I cross the border to the U.S. once in a while, this 3-months period is reset and I won’t be considered an illegal visitor anymore when I will be travelling through Canada from January to August. It is my plan to drive through Canada from west to east and back again on another route. In August 2018, Grand Cache in Alberta (click here for my first visit to this place in 2016) will be my final destination. Since I won’t be working in between January and August, I will have a lot of time to train for the Canadian Death Race and this will be my final endeavor on my trip. So no matter how the Canadian government decides on my application for permanent residency, I have good plans in place for the future and I will definitely make the best out of it!

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Tsawwassen seaport and commercial terminal(s) in the background.
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Tsawwassen coastline in the background. I used to run there when I was living at Dawn’s place.

You may have noticed already that this blog entry does not contain many pictures. I am sorry about that but I did not have many opportunities in between the last blog entry and this one to take interesting pictures. However, I promise to share many nice pictures with you in my next blog entry which will be about my trip to Salt Spring Island.

Now that I have done quite a bit of running in the last weeks, I want to take this opportunity and share some of my thoughts about running with you. First of all, I realized that I really like running and pushing myself and that I can take quite a bit of pain while doing so. From my time in the German Army, I already know that I am able to take a lot of pain and endure bad situations but as of now I was unsure if I was willing to expose myself to these situations voluntarily. As it turns out, I am increasingly willing to do that and to test my personal limits. Although my first marathons were a challenge to me, I still feel that I can more than 42.2 kilometers. So I will continue to push myself and train hard for the 80 K- race in Whistler in October. And if that race goes well, my next goal will be to run the Death Race in 2018. Now I don’t know if I will be able to do that but I strongly believe in pursuing your dreams in life and also in trying as hard as you can to achieve them. And if I fail to complete that race, I can at least say that I tried and that it was not for me. In addition to that, I will never look back later and ask myself “…what would have been had I actually tried to run that race…”. I have not yet made up my mind how exactly I will train for the longer races but I am almost sure that I don’t want to stick to any rigid training- or nutrition plan. Now I know that there are numerous training plans and diets on the internet and each one tells you what to eat, when and how much to train and how to structure your weeks before the running event. Let’s put it this way: I am sure that you can optimize your running performance by following these plans and diets but that is just not my style. I don’t want to overcomplicate things and I am not prepared to slavishly do what others tell me. Sticking to training plans and diets does not sound like fun to me and in the end, I want to enjoy what I am doing and I don’t want to be forced how to spend my leisure time. Thus, if I feel like eating chips, drinking beer and watching a movie, I will always do that and I don’t want to have a training/diet plan telling me that I am supposed to eat pasta now and at least run 10-15 Kilometers that day. Won’t happen if I don’t feel like it, sorry. To me, it is all about feeling good and comfortable with spending my leisure time for something. Bottom line: I only want to go running when I feel like running. I know that I will have to “pay the price” for this attitude and kind of training in the end but that is okay with me since I am not a full-time athlete and running is a passion and hobby to me and not a job. However, when it comes to the race day itself, I think that I will be forced to follow the more scientific approach of running. Probably, you need a certain nutrition (electrolytes, energy,…) for your muscles to be able to run for an extended period of time without getting bad cramps or collapsing. So I guess I will be forced to explore this topic a little more in the future and to try some of the prevalent nutrition advices during the next races.  Let’s see what results I can achieve with my way of training…

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Sturdies Bay at Galiano Island. Our first stop on the way to Long Harbour, Salt Spring Island.
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Bald Eagle near our ferry at Sturdies Bay.

Wow, another very long blog entry with over 1600 words! I guess it is time to stop writing now and to finally post my music advice for today. Let’s listen to some alternative and crazy German music with hip-hop and electronic elements. In all of my arrogance, it is a tribute to all the training plans and marathon diets out there:

Deichkind – Like mich am Arsch

40. Exploring the neighborhood

Vancouver, Canada, 14.04.2017

Nearly another two weeks have gone by since I’ve written my last blog entry. So I guess it’s time to write a little about the newest developments here in Vancouver.

Aside from the bad weather (rain, rain and even more rain), I really enjoyed the first weeks here in North Vancouver. It turned out that I moved to a quiet and friendly neighborhood which is quite close to the start of several hiking routes in the Canadian rainforest. And of course, I already tried two of these routes on my days off. They are really nice to run, well maintained and offer some spectacular views. It is also quite nice that one of the hiking routes goes up to the nearby Mount Seymour because I really like mountain hiking. Unfortunately, I haven’t yet had the opportunity to do that hike but on Easter Sunday, I will probably try it. If the weather forecast is right, there will be at least some sun on that day and since I won’t have to work, it sounds like a good plan to do that hike then. Now let’s have a look at a few of the pictures I took on my previous runs/ hikes:

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A small, makeshift bridge that did not seem too trustworthy. Thankfully, it did not collapse when I walked over it.
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Narrow stream of rushing mountain water, crossing the hike’s path.
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A bigger stream, carrying crystal- clear water.

Aside from the running and hiking, I also spent some time in the climbing gym in the last weeks. And due to some classes that I took and a lot of training, I can already feel how I am slowly getting better and better each time I am there. However, there are a lot of techniques that I still need to train and master before I can possibly start climbing outdoors. But I am confident that I will be able to do that and that I can do some outdoor climbing this summer. There are quite a few popular routes around Vancouver and Squamish and I am already exited to see the difference between climbing indoor and outdoor. Although I have only started climbing a little more than 2 months ago, I already feel that this sport has become an important part of my life and I don’t want to miss that again. To me, climbing is a lot of fun and I also really enjoy meeting people at the gym and talking about the routes, techniques and general issues. If you haven’t tried climbing yet, maybe you should give it a try and see for yourself if you like it or not…

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View from a bridge that crosses a mountain stream.
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The beginning of the “Quarry Rock” hike, starting at Deep Cove.

This Monday, I started working at my own store in North Vancouver. It was really exciting to meet all of the members of my store team and to get a first impression of the current situation in the store. We already started reorganizing a few things and I think that a few months down the road, we will have a great looking store with an efficient, “german”, organization. 🙂 In any case, I really enjoyed my first days at the store and I am truly happy to be there at the moment. It is also quite nice that it only takes me roughly 15 minutes of walking to get to work in the morning. No traffic jams, no long drives to work, no trouble finding a parking place. What more can you possibly ask for?

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View from Quarry Rock. Notice Downtown Vancouver (high- rises) in the distance, right side of the picture, above the tree line.
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Quarry Rock: Another angle. Must be nice when the sun is shining…
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Panorama Park in Deep Cove.

This week’s featured song is one of the more popular songs of a great German Heavy Metal band called Gravedigger. I have only seen them live once but although the members of the band have already aged a little, they were full of power and the concert was a blast. Check out this nice song from their great album “Heavy Metal Breackdown”:

Gravedigger – We wanna rock you

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.

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My welcome drink at the new apartment.
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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….

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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

38. Starting to work

Vancouver, Canada, 24.03.2017.

As announced in the last blog entry, it will not make a lot of sense for me to continue writing this blog as frequently as I used to. The main reason for this? Well, I won’t be doing that many extraordinary things in the future anymore. Starting this Tuesday, I actually started working for the BC Liquor Stores and it looks like some kind of everyday life routine has returned to my life. Which is a good thing because I wanted it that way and it may be a good foundation for the next chapter in my life.

So how were my first days at work? Well, honestly? It was great and I enjoyed every day so far. I met a lot of interesting and nice people and I already learned a lot about the BC liquor market and the company’s procedures and policies. Quite a few things are very similar or even identical to the working environment I got to know in Germany and England so not everything is completely new for me. Today, my line manager, who was also one of the managers in my job interview, visited the store I’m currently training in and we had a good chat about a few things. I think I will get along with him quite well in the future so I am happy that he is my line manager. He told me that I will start working in my own store on April 10th and that surprised me a little. On average, a store manager at Lidl Germany will receive roughly 6 months of training until they get their own store. At Lidl UK, the training of a new store manager takes less than these 6 months but is very rare that someone gets a store with less than 4 months of training. Now as a former Area Manager who has trained store managers in the past, I feel that I don’t need that amount of time to be able to do the job properly but only having 3 weeks to learn everything is a challenge. However, I’m not afraid of this and I think I’m be okay with this time frame. Of course I will not be as knowledgeable and experienced as my fellow colleagues after 3 weeks of training but if I have any questions or problems I can always pick up the phone and ask my current trainers for advice. Still, it feels a little bit strange to be be given this amount of responsibility so quickly right away….

Beer
Even at work, I find a lot of traces of my German heritage…. “Home sweet Home”…. 🙂

Before I started working last Tuesday, I moved out of Dawn’s apartement and into my temporary AirBnB suite here in North Vancouver. The transition was smooth and it didn’t take me long to pack and move my stuff. However, I also noted that I have already accumulated quite a few new things since I started living in Canada in January. On April 1st, I will finally move into my own apartment in the very east of North Vancouver and then I hope that I don’t have to move again anytime soon. Dawn’s cat Whippcream seemed to be a bit sad about me leaving the apartment when she sat right next to the last load of my stuff. Also, Dawn phoned me and told me that Whippcream seems to be looking for me in the apartment. I really miss her too because she is a lovely and low maintenance cat and she was a great companion to me during my stay at Dawn’s apartment. That is one of the harder things in life: To say goodbye…

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Whippcream sitting next to my stuff when I was moving out of the apartment.
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The fuzzy little girl sleeping on my lap.

Aside from me moving out of Dawn’s apartment and starting to work, nothing overly exciting happened since my last blog entry. With regard to my application for permanent residency, I got my university degrees translated and I also already sent copies of it to a Canadian certification agency. Once I have their assessment of my degrees, I will be able to apply for permanent residency but I think that will probably take another 2 or 3 weeks. But that is okay since I have enough time left here in Canada and there is no need to hurry. And what else did I do in the past days? Well, just the usual stuff that I love doing here in Canada: Playing Board Games, climbing, jogging, you name it. I’m really looking forward to go hiking again but I think I will not start with that until I moved into my new apartment. This weekend, Verena and I will be at the YukYuk’s one more time and we’ll also go and visit the carnival at BC Place (the big stadium in Vancouver). That’s gonna be a whole lot of fun and I’m really looking forward to doing that!

The Networks
Nice little game: The Networks.
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Preparing for the Vancouver Marathon in the nearby rainforest.
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Is this the place the Trump administration referred to??? It’s right in my Neighborhood…

As there is not much else to report in the moment, this blog entry is a lot shorter than usual but that is okay. Let’s finish with another music advice. The following song is a truly great metal balad, performed by one of Germany’s best Rock bands. Absolutely worth listening to again and again:

Scorpions – Send Me an Angel

32. Encouraging developments

Vancouver, Canada, 30.01.2017.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Drowning Pool – Bodies

31. Slow progress…

Vancouver, Canada, 16.01.2017.

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

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

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

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The very very small plate marking the border between Canada und the U.S. on the beach.
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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.
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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!

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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…

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Tulula, a cute little girl in the CatFé. She had unbelievably soft fur.
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Jon, preparing a pitcher of the house made persimmon sake.
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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.

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The Yuk Yuk’s Comedy Club south of downtown Vancouver.
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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

29. First steps Vancouver

Vancouver, Canada, 06.01.2017 and 07.01.2017.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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U.S. / Canadian border south of Vancouver.

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

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Whippcream occupying a part of my bed. 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kollegah – Assassine