~Make sure you start from day 1 to read in order - see archives on the right~
My flight home is at tea time so I decide to spend my last day on the Drive doing some last minute souvenir shopping. Most of the shops don’t open until 11am so I go in to a cafe which has ‘Enter as strangers, leave as friends’ written on their wall for a hot chocolate. There are some older Italian men and women sitting having coffee together. The young woman who serves me sounds Eastern European and it strikes me again how cosmopolitan Vancouver is. Confirmed again when I go in to a shop where a Mexican woman serves me, and in another one an Australian woman chats to me and asks if I will be sad to go home. I’m always ready to go home but it’s not until I am at home now writing this that I realise how much I actually miss being in Vancouver, in such a different culture and I miss the ‘fear factor’ of travelling around a lot alone, being out of my comfort zone.
I walk up the whole length of the Drive, to the sky train area, knowing that I’m going to be sitting for a very long time on my flight later. I walk past the Tarot guy and he is with someone. I had decided I would get a reading if he was free but he looks like he’ll be some time so I move on. I stop off at one of the pizza places to get a big slice of chicken and pepper pizza. I like that they sell them by the slice here. I call in to a newsagents and buy some ‘Vikki’s crisps’. I walk past a beauty shop which has a coconut hand cream sample sitting on a table outside, with a fan blowing beside it so that the smell of coconut wafts over as you walk by.
I head back to Jane’s apartment early afternoon to make sure I’ve got everything packed away. When I’m in her bathroom brushing my teeth I can hear the Stone Roses blasting from outside the open window. It somehow sums up the vibe of the Drive in a lot of ways. It’s like the fashion and style is a throw back to 90s grunge and, it would appear, 90s indie music.
My taxi arrives promptly and the (Indian) taxi driver engages me in some conversation, asking who I’m flying with, how much my flights cost, that his daughter visits her aunt regularly in England. It’s only 3.30pm and the roads are already getting busy. He tells me it’s just as well I’ve left now as rush hour is about to hit as most people finish work at 4 here on a Friday.
The queue for check in is long and moves very slowly. As I look around I notice there a lot of females travelling alone. An hour and a half later it’s my turn to check in and then it’s time to head to the departure gate. I buy an American Marie Claire and read an article about how being on the Pill can lead you to choosing the wrong ‘mate’ as attraction is really about smell and a subconscious chemistry which the pill can distort. Maybe this is why the divorce rate is so high in modern life. Women come off the pill and suddenly neither they nor their partner smells right any more.
On the flight I’m sat beside a mother and daughter. They pull a blanket over themselves and I see a familiar face staring at me upside down. I ask the mother if it’s Robert Pattinson and she smiles and nods. I show her my MP3 cover. This time on the plane the TV screens are universal, in the middle of the aisles, so we all have to watch the same films. They show 3 back to back and I watch them all so get zero sleep. When at Jane’s we’d watched Trains, Planes and Automobiles when Steve Martin was fresh faced. He appears in one of the in-flight films looking very strange, plastic surgery strange, I am sure...His face has a stretched, plastic look about it now.
There are two men across the aisle from me who are plane nerds, taking photos of the planes on the runway and one of them tells one of the air cabin crew all about this plane, when it was built and other important facts. He’s wearing a Thomas Cook t-shirt, which would be cool and witty if his name was Thomas Cook but somehow I don’t think this is the case.
We touchdown at Manchester airport at 3am Vancouver time, 11am UK time. I head to the toilets beside the baggage carousel and am surprised to see a man coming out one of the cubicles zipping up his jeans. He’s even more surprised to see me and a look of panic fills his eyes as he looks around and sees other women standing at the sink. “Uh, wrong place.” He mumbles on his dash out.
I get my case back and then head through the airport and get a lift up to the walkway which takes me to the train station. The heat hits me as I head through the walkway and it feels strange. This is the first holiday in a long time that I’m arriving home to hot weather. But I’m not home yet...still another 4 hour train journey to get through...
On the train I have my two seater to myself for most of the way. A French girl gets on for a few stops and she tells me she’s travelling around Britain. When she gets off I lie across the two seats and read my magazine and can hear the drone of a woman at a table near me who has a very irritating accent.
It sounds like a fake Edinburgh accent and she is loud with it. She’s also a fake hippie. She hones in on a pleasant older couple sitting at the seat s in front of me. She is telling anyone who will listen that her name is something ridiculous like Armadillo. This isn’t her real name (which is probably Maggie) – this is her ordained Buddhist name. There is nothing Zen about her loud incessant voice.
She takes a picture of the old couple on her mobile phone and tells them she’s going to upload it on her facebook page. She asks them if they know what facebook is; they don’t really, so she explains it in great detail, enthusing so much about it I begin to wonder if she has shares in it. She screams in delight when she tells them that she has titled the photo ‘my new friends on the train’ and one of her facebook friends has left a comment. Probably along the lines of ‘Who gives a bleep, you annoying fake hippy.’
She makes one sensible comment, something that me and Jane talked about back in Vancouver, that we Brits have the ability to laugh at ourselves, that we have a deprecating sense of humour.
Vancouverites seem much more straight forward in their kind of humour. I can’t really imagine them laughing at themselves much. I made a comment to Jane: “They’re cardboard like their houses.”
It’s not meant to be an insult. Just an observation. I tell ya, if I was in a crisis it would be good to be stuck with a Vancouverite. I can imagine they would stay calm and just carry on.
Right on duuude.
Music on my MP3 player for the trip: Dog Days are Over- Florence and the machine, a mix of Hole, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Metallica, the New Moon soundtrack, a native Indian Spirits collection (all of that 90s grunge and native Indian stuff being a spookily appropriate Vancouver soundtrack without me even thinking about it), Placebo, Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, Guns N Roses...and the list goes on.
Scent of Vancouver: Chance by Chanel – Jane’s perfume but I also kept smelling it everywhere!