I’ve spent three months in Vancouver. During this time, I’ve written two lonely little blog posts. The reason I’ve written so little is not that I haven’t had much to write about but the exact opposite. I have yet to stay in a new city and so effortlessly find fun stuff to do and wonderful people to befriend.
Why this ease? I am sure I’ll pick it apart and analyse it in excruciating detail in later blog posts, but I suspect it was a mix of getting off to a great start, having employment, planning ahead using a mind map, creating a weekly routine and Vancouver simply being an awesome place.
I’m splitting the Vancouver post in two. This first part is about my personal life in Vancouver, and part two will be more of a Vancouver travel guide.
The best way to see what my Vancouver stay was all about is to check out this version of my Daily Photo page, which show you only the photos from these last three months. Don’t forget to come back and read the rest though!
I count myself lucky if I make one good friend in a new city. In Vancouver, I made six friends and many wonderful new acquaintances that I sadly didn’t get enough time to get to know better.
(I love my friends and want to give them a quick mention below. If you don’t care about this section, feel free to skip down to the next.)
Allowing friendships to coagulate around you organically is never gonna work if you are a nomad. You need to hunt them down. So, the day after I arrived, I went out to the so-called leather bar of Vancouver (Pump Jacks). There, I walked up to random people and said, “Hello, I’m Gustav, a new nomad in town. I’m into the leather scene and board games, and I’m looking for people to hang out with. Know anyone into the same stuff?” Dan was one of the perplexed guys I approached, and he turned out to not only be involved with the leather scene but also part of a weekly board-game group! We ended up playing board games twice a week, go to comedy shows, failing to escape locked rooms and so on. He was always there for me, so thrice hurrah for Dan!
Pete is a handsome guy, my age, who I couldn’t stop stealing glances of at Starbucks as I pretended to be working. He had this adorable mixture of cuteness and silliness as he made fun faces to the delight of some nearby kids. As he was leaving, I walked up and gave him me card. We later became good friends. Just like Dan, Pete was always happy to say come along to everything from board game nights to museum visits.
One day, Pete sent me a message on Scruff, and I noticed that we had spoken before, over a year ago, when I was in Australia. Pete is Australian, but a year ago, he had already moved to Toronto, starting his own semi-nomadic adventure, moving to a new country for the first time. We had spoken about my nomadic journey and in some way, I had inspired him to struggle through the initial hurdles of settling into a new life abroad. We lost touch but fate somehow guided us to the same Starbucks a year later so we could meet in person. The world feels pretty small sometimes.
I met Peter (different Pete) through a mutual friend of ours, Ian. You may remember Ian as the burner friend who let me live in his beachside flat of technology and general wonderment in Sydney for a couple of months. Peter runs the gay SkiOut group in Whistler, and I went to ski with him a couple of times, both times staying at the Cockwell Inn, his house where guests are treated as superstars. Peter wasn’t just some useful contact in Whistler however, but became a good friend in Vancouver who didn’t just enthusiastically join me in my escapades but suggested many of his own! Just too bad I got to know him so late in the game.
I met Jason briefly in Philadelphia, and through Facebook tracked him and his hunky husband Guy as they seemed to live a life of constant fun in Vancouver. So, when I arrived I of course tracked them down, and they did not disappoint. Jason was as outgoing and fun as I remembered, and Guy turned out to be one of those solid reliable great guys who is a pleasure to be around. He, Pete and I would meet up at a local coffee shop and potter around with our laptops, doing our own thing in company, like age-old friends. Oh, and Guy makes the best Old Fashioned this side of the 1920’s. My only regret is I never had the time to do a tandem paraglide flight being strapped into Guy’s embrace.
Finally, I introduced my lovely landlord, German, briefly in my very first Vancouver blog post. He and I shared a home for three months. We had our own little routine, centred around the daily breakfast and dinner that he cooked and countless pots of coffee. It was the perfect mix between personal space and company. I will miss it greatly.
I made a small tweak to how I recorded things I might want to do in Vancouver and the surrounding area. I installed a mind map app for my phone and built a to-do map, and I picked one thing to do on a rainy day, one thing to do on a sunny day and one longer excursion. One by one, I checked them off. The visual nature of it propelled me to keep checking things off, half-driven by the desire to create a beautiful map of things I did. I will leave it up to you to judge the aesthetics of the map, but the technique did really work, and I’m rather proud of the number of things I got done. I will write more about Mind Maps in a future post.
I settled into a comfortable routine in Vancouver. I would work my normal 40 hours a week, and in addition, I would have this loosely followed weekly schedule.
Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I would relax, meet a friend, go on a date or check off some half-day thing from my to-do map.
Tuesdays and Saturdays were board game nights. Dan would organize the Saturday with his friends and I would do the same with my friends on Tuesdays. Vancouver has three (THREE!) gaming-themed bars and restaurants, so that is where we would go. The Storm Crow Tavern is a bar with geek paraphernalia, from Cthulhu statues to steampunk weapons, on every wall. I loved their ‘shot of destiny’, where you roll a D20 (a 20-sided die) and get one of twenty possible shots. Pizzeria Ludica has a wall (A WALL) of games that you can pick up and try. Finally, the EXP bar and restaurant is a video game themed place where they show video game tournaments on big screen TVs and where they serve a TriForce burger, a burger with the TriForce from Zelda burnt into the patty with a branding iron. I never been to a city with even one place that is so gaming-friendly, and Vancouver has THREE!
Thursdays I went dancing at Timberline, a same-gender country-western boot camp held in a St Paul’s Anglican Church. They did both line dancing and two stepping. I’ve done two stepping before but this was the first time I did two stepping. With… moderate success. I learnt one dance (Imelda’s Way) well enough, but the rest…. At least I tried! The two stepping was awesome as always.
Sundays was Beer Bust Brunch at Pump Jack, a complete and utter piss-up at the so-called leather bar of Vancouver. (They did have a BDSM flag made of leather on the wall, with a maple leaf taking the place of the heart. But, they also showed curling on the TV screens, and no leather bar with self-respect would ever show curling!)