Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Back in Montreal, for now...

That was a fast week. From last Tuesday evening to this Monday night I was in Vancouver BC visiting friends and family. I realized about Sunday that I hadn't touched my computer for five days. Never missed it, really. Today I was browsing a few regular sites so that means everything is back to normal until I fly to Halifax for my new job.

So what happened instead of internet trawling? In no particular order...

I climbed up the Grouse grind and Lynn Peak on the weekend. Not major ascents but maxing out vertical mileage wasn't meant to be a pie eating contest. Both peaks still had a lot of snow, which is cool. Literally. Dirty/icy snow so we passed on the idea of a snowball flight.

Played a bit of blackjack at the Casino. I forget which casino. I did not know its name at the time either. Thankfully no money was lost...except on drinks (along with gift shop that's how they get you).

On my first full day (Wednesday) I ran around the city's sea wall beginning on the east side of Stanley Park, making my way through the park's interior. I came across this sign:

Vancouverites do not merely walk through their parks. This guy will appreciate the designation.
Being horseless I figured it'd go to Granville island for a lunch and sampling of real crab California rolls then a sampling of Granville island beer. Note: Running for three hours will give you a buzz on less than a pint.

Granville Island

After the lunch I was full of energy, but I bit off more than I could chew (running-wise, not the lunch). That is, I tried to continue run all the way to UBC campus but after running another hour east I realized that wasn't going to happen in a realistic time frame. Instead took bus back to friend's place.  Probably ran 20 miles. Enough for one day. I revisited the university campus a few days later and toured the Enchanted Forest Endowment Lands.
Just outside UBC
Also spent a day in Ladner visiting the pilot in the family. She's collecting her 1000 hours to go commercial. Getting closer every day. Pilots work crazy hours: it was her day off and she still had to visit the airport.  While out there visited one of the more bizarre border crossings at Point Roberts, which is American despite not being attached in any way to the USA (but well attached to Canada). Probably the only place in the states with gas priced in dollars per litre; it was $1.17 vs $1.45 in BC. Damn their subsidies!
Lucky I brought my passport
Props to Vancouver's skytrain system which made traveling around the city relatively pain free. You can even get to hiking trails (such as Lynn peak) without a car. Such service! I'll here dispose of my anticipated rant regarding bike helmet laws. The rules kept me from renting a bike (I didn't want to bother), but whatever. As far as I can tell not many people bike to work; seems they're all taking the sky train. Exercise is reserved for running in the park and skiing on weekends. Not the worst way to live.

What else? A few restaurants, watched my friend defend an appeal case in family law (they're open to the public, which makes sense). Cool stuff. I will say is this much about it: don't buy Lakota Vitamins.

Montreal vs Vancouver:

-Top-down management
-Well-run infrastructure (and easy-to-understand city signs, i.e. parking & biking)
-Low density suburbs with jam-packed houses (housing is always low density no matter how packed) next to 20-story apartments
-Large grocery stores (but some nice smaller Asian ones, thankfully)
-Small, well-defined downtown core
-Few small parks many big ones
-Superficially polite people (especially Asian-canadians who say 'thank you' every time when dismounting bus) who mostly they keep to themselves
-Sunny dry/rainy cold season combo.  

-Grassroots/bottom-up style initiatives (student protests, for one. Tam-tams, for another.)
-Poorly-run infrastructure (and hard-to-understand signs, i.e. parking & biking)
-Densely populated pseudo-'burbs (shoulder-to-shoulder 4-story apartments/condos) 
-Lots of small grocery stores, few big ones
-Relatively large, loosely-defined downtown area
-Many small parks, few large-sized ones
-Superficially not-so-polite people (but nice when you get to know them)
-Sunny humid/snowy wet season combo

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