A few notes from Canada

During a break from travel went to Canada for a holiday. Family visit.

On the flight from Amsterdam views of inaptly named Greenland. Does the earth’s curvature become more visible further up north?

Later we cross the Rocky Mountains. They’d be Rocky Hills using Himalayan standards, but they look beautiful.

The stewardess’s features are Asian, but not Chinese, Japanese, Korean. So I am puzzled. Then I decide: Inuit.

Staying in Vancouver’s West End. Lively, international, food from everywhere. Nearby is Stanley Park, encircled by the Sea Wall. Downtown waterfronts are lined with marinas. Small seaplanes come and go, fun to watch. Lots of glass in the downtown skyscrapers. Less glittering are the lives of pavement dwelling drug addicts or the people going through the rubbish left outdoors at night.

All this every guidebook no doubt would have told me. But I preferred coming unprepared and being surprised.

Scented plastic garbage bags.

Tree trunks for electricity poles.

No alcohol sold in supermarkets.

Suburbs as in American movies.

A coyote when at night walking the dog.

The TV’s coyote alert may make sense then. But this is a nanny state.

Helmets for cyclists are compulsory.

When starting a car its headlights are turned on automatically.

Printed on the glass of the rear view mirror the warning that vehicles seen in it are closer than they seem.

Warnings abound – to step over a sill, to hold on to a handrail on stairs, to watch out as ‘Docks & Ramps May Be Slippery’.

Those who haven’t used a cable car before are advised to seek assistance of staff when getting in a gondola.

If a children’s playground is unsupervised a sign will say so.

Community Against Preventable Injuries (ambiguity unintended I suppose) exists:

We take ferries up the coast, then across to Vancouver Island. They are stomach turning expensive, 60 euro or so for a car with two. On a car deck the smell of the now defunct ferries in Zeeland, province of my youth, a mixture of oil, wood, salt water – a whiff of nostalgia.

We drive through postcard Canada. Fir trees, lakes, distant snow.

It has struck me that travelers are often reminded in one place of another they visited previously, while objectively the two are hardly similar. I call them private associations. Mine here: Kham with its mountains and pine forests. The most obvious difference of course: in Kham indigenous Tibetan people form the majority of the population, here First Nations people are few and far between.

Coffee breaks in ‘Timmy’s’ = Tim Hortons = the poor man’s Starbucks = a Canadian icon. Coffees and maple syrup donuts.

Orca watching is the first and foremost must-do, says my brother. And it is amazing. As a bonus we get to see a humpback whale.

We walk through a grove of Douglas firs standing a stunning 80 meters tall. Named after Scottish discoverer David Douglas who later died while exploring in Hawaii.

We reach the edge of the continent and all but deserted Long Beach. From here on the Pacific.

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