Gab and I decided to drive up to Vancouver for Labor Day Weekend. We wanted to turn the long weekend into an adventure, so we rented a car, couch surfed and didn’t really make any plans.
The first unexpected adventure was crossing the Canadian border. The clock read past midnight as we pulled up to the official sitting in the toll booth. He looked at us. We looked at him. He checked both of are passports, asked us about our trip and whose car it was. We explained it was a rental car and then he asked us to pull over. Yep, we got checked at the border. They interrogated us separately, took my phone and sent us inside as they let a dog sniff the back seat and under the hood.
Clearly we were innocent looking smugglers, but fortunately they didn’t find anything.
We arrived in Vancouver around 1am and figured out our GPS didn’t work in Canada. We had already disabled the data on our phones because of roaming charges, so we got lost rather quickly. We accidently drove through Hastings street, the worst street in Canada. Homeless folks lined the sidewalk, doping and shooting up while standing in line for the soup kitchens. We had no idea where we were and no idea to get to the rando’s house we were staying at (couch surfing, remember).
Somehow we found our host’s apartment and in no time we passed out on the couch. The next morning we went for a run around 9am. And we didn’t get back until 5pm but with good reason.
We ran on the water, got distracted by a fresh food market and met up with some Portland friends for a bike ride around Stanley Park. We rode our bikes up to Capilano bridge and were exhausted. It felt like a freaking hike. But we went with the flow—we were in our running clothes the entire day.
We finally got home and our host took us out to the ex-pat watering hole, The Cambie. It’s a hostel/restaurant where all the young travelers go. It’s the usual spot for our South African host. Later that night we met up with our second couch surfing host at a fist pumping club.
The second host was British and his roommate was Australian. The bar we met them at had a multicolor stage that very much reminded me of Saturday Night Fever. Gab and I paired up with the internationals and proceeded to dance battle. Gab did the wheel barrel and I imitated Dirty Dancing moves. Clearly, I won (just ask our judges).
On Sunday, we met up with our Portland friends again and headed to Whistler, one of the best ski resort towns in the world. The drive was as beautiful as Whistler. The water and mountains reminded me of Greece and Switzerland, which is a weird but amazing combination. We got to Whistler, took the ski lift and hung out at the top of the mountain. We caught one of the last rides on the Peak 2 Peak gondola. Essentially, it is a lift that extends from one mountain peak to the other, so there is no support. It is the longest unsuspended gondola ride in the world. We went on a hike, saw three bears (!) and ate a $15 all you can buffet, which included salmon, mussels and dessert.
We were tempted to stay in Whistler for the night, for adventure’s sake, but we had no place to stay. I tried to persuade Gab that we could figure it out, but we decided it was best to go back. We stayed at our second couch surfer’s place in Vancouver for the night and left the next morning after breakfast. We got lost again since the GPS still didn’t work but we eventually made it home hours later.
The adventure travel weekend was just what I needed. A little bit of chaos, a little bit of random, a little bit of what the fuck. I loved meeting people from all over the world and couch surfing. It’s the best way to travel when you’re traveling with one other person, Michelle recommended.
DID YOU KNOW
East Hastings street is the most concentrated drug and poverty area in North America with a high use of heroin and cocaine—and they do it in public. -MSNBC