Arriving in Canada

One of my essay writing tutors at university once told us never ever to start the first sentence of an essay or a paragraph with the ominous "so". Nevertheless, I will be so disrespectful and use exactly that word to begin my tale of exploring Vancouver Island.

So, I somehow was of the firm opinion that traveling from Switzerland to Canada would be a much faster and convenient journey than traveling from Switzerland to New Zealand for example. After all, I was flying with a German company and I had the famous red passport on hand to enter the country. Little did I know of the troubles ahead when I boarded my plane in Zurich...

I learned in the second most unpleasant way that planes do break down (the first one being a plane breaking down in flight obviously) when after all the passengers had boarded the plane the pilot politely informed us that there was a leak in one of the fuel lines and asked if could we please switch to another plane. Result: 2 hours delay.

Upon arriving in Vancouver I quite quickly made it through passport control (or that's what I thought when they gave me back the little slip of paper you have to fill out at immigration and waved me through) and picked up my luggage. However, I wasn't allowed to enter the country until I went through a thorough investigation by an immigrations officer. Yes, I know, telling the immigration clerk that I didn't know exactly when I was gonna leave the country wasn't gonna help the issue. Neither did the fact that I couldn't give her any exact route I was gonna travel or accommodation I had booked. Or the fact that I didn't (and still don't) have a return ticket back to Switzerland. After a friendly conversation (I mean it as I say it, not in a sarcastic way!) I was able to convince the officer that I
a) was really traveling on my own around the world
b) packed my bags myself and everything in it was mine
c) had no intention in working in Canada and
d) was able and planning to support myself financially through my work for a Swiss company.

After I was allowed to enter the country I made my way to downtown Vancouver where I was greeted with warm dinner from friends. I stayed a few days in Vancouver just to get the hang of things. It took me quite a few days to get over jet lag actually (bummer) but the weather was gorgeous and I spent my days walking, cycling, bussing and boating around the city.

I also did a short but very intense (those of you who've done it know it very well) hike up Grouse Mountain: The Grouse Grind. It's basically a couple of (thousands of) steps up a steep hill and takes about 1 1/2 to complete if you're of average fitness. At the top you're rewarded with a great view over the bay around Vancouver which is best enjoyed with a cold bottle of beer in hand. :)

Downtown Vancouver


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