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

28. Finally back!

Somewhere between Frankfurt and Vancouver, 03.01.2017.

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

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

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Our plane after we landed at Vancouver airport.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Rocky Mountains just south of Jasper. What a beauty!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Linkin Park – Don’t stay