December 14th, 2014

Falling in love with Vancouver

Vancouver marked the first stop on a 2 month trip around North America and also my Canadian debut. Surrounded by mountains and the ocean, it’s a city defined by the great outdoors – the perfect place to exercise my nomadic work life…

Vancouver marked the start of a 7 week trip in North America. It wasn’t really a holiday, I still worked as much as I would at home, only exploring new places at the same time. I call it an Outpost.

The trip out to Vancouver was one of the worst I’d had the pleasure of experiencing. Starting with a delayed connection at Reykjavik and a churning stomach thanks to a questionable takeaway from Wasabi (TIP: don’t get food from Wasabi after 9pm). By the time I finally boarded possibly the worst plane I’ve ever seen, I took my seat between a guy who barely fit between the armrests and a Glaswegian woman who yelled things like, “Where’s ma bloody Chhrrisps?” every few minutes. Only Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa on the in-flight entertainment remotely lifted my spirits. Definitely one to forget in a hurry.

Vancouver marked the start of a 7 week trip in North America. It wasn’t really a holiday, I still worked as much as I would at home, only exploring new places at the same time. I call it an Outpost. Traveling forces you out of your comfort zone, builds your character and opens you up to new ideas. Also working in new cities is great, as each city comes with it’s own working culture. If you can embed yourself into that culture during your time there, you can take the best of each place with you. These are some of the reasons I want to develop this Outpost idea as part of Dark Blue’s own culture.

Vancouver sits on the west coast of Canada, in the British Columbia region. It’s nicknamed Rain City, but it was sunny and in the high 20’s every day I was there. Warm days met with clear cold nights make for great dark blue skies! When I arrived at the Airbnb, the only person home was a ginger cat, creatively named ‘Orange Kitty’. My hosts had left me a mini feast though which, having barely eaten that day, had me punching the air in delight. The following morning I set out to find a place to work from and Foursquare was the perfect tool for this. Wherever I was I could search a close radius for the top rated cafes and lunch spots, find out which ones had free WiFi and even see if some of my Foursquare friends had been there and rated it. What a brilliantly connected world we exist in!

The Vancouver Airbnb

 

It’s a place where natural beauty and urban culture collide to create a very high standard of living. The project I’d taken out with me was a bit of a beast, I kept telling myself though that this work is enabling me to travel, so it takes priority over exploring. Fortunately it was easy to find the right balance as the cool thing about Vancouver is natural beauty and urban culture are all at the epicentre of the city; you don’t need to take much time out of your day to experience it. If you’re working West around Kitsilano or the harbour, you can always catch the sunset at English Bay in the evening. If you’re Downtown and want to break for an hour or so, within minutes you can be strolling through the giant pine forest of Stanley Park (also home to one of the best aquariums I’ve been to). And if you’re anywhere East of Downtown, there’s the hip Gastown to explore. Vancouver’s compactness is a real asset. Straying slightly out of the city centre you’ll find Commercial Drive. A north/south road jam-packed with amazing bars and restaurants. I loved it so much one evening on my way home I ate three courses in three different restaurants!

English Bay Sunset

 

I loved every minute of my time in Vancouver. If I had the chance to live there someday I’d snap it up. ‘Vancouvians’ are so proud of their city and they’re some of the most considerate people you’ll meet. Not a glamorous compliment I know, but when you find an entire city looking out for each other by default, that city becomes an incredibly happy and easy place to be. You find cars and cyclists living harmoniously on the road, neither are in a rush, they just look out for each other. The majority of cafes have a suspended coffee tab running, especially those in gentrified Gastown where the homeless population live. I saw a girl on the beach one day swim out 50 yards to retrieve a plastic bottle she’d seen in the ocean. Another day out for breakfast I sat next to two drunks, sipping vodka and wine at 9.30am – they weren’t subtle enough though and were asked to leave, but as they left offered me the rest of their alcohol. And also my two hosts, Courtney and Marcus, who left me the mini feast when I arrived and pretty much adopted me as their family member. It’s a combination of this simple consideration and Vancouver’s natural beauty that make it a truly incredible place to be.

Vancouver Aquarium