The day finally arrived. Everything went smoothly; travel to the airport -problem free, parking at the airport – a breeze, checking in – done in an instant. So, what could probably go wrong?
Well, firstly, my inability to pack effectively was rewarded with a baggage a few kilos heavy than the maximum allowance and a stern but kindly look from the check-in lady saying that she wasn’t going to charge me, but that I needed to lose some weight before coming back. She meant the suitcase, though I did wonder…
What else could go wrong? Getting to the airport two hours early then waiting as my flight was delayed by two hours perhaps? Exactly. Still, my spirits and excitement level were high and my reward was an empty seat next to me on a full flight.
Flying with Air Canada was a lovely experience. The flight attendants were the epitome of professional hospitality, providing a service that the prevalence of budget airlines has taught us to expect to pay extra for. Pre-ordered lacto-vegetarian meals provided with relative ease, a wide choice of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks offered freely.
Two movies, four TV drama programmes and two chapters of a book later, I arrived at Vancouver International Airport. Prior to leaving home, I had called the hotel to get directions from the nearest station. So, armed with a Google Map print-out, I successfully navigated the driverless Skytrain and saved myself $40 in cab fare. An only slightly confusing walk from the station to the hotel and I was there, finally, ready to start my first solo adventure to Vancouver!
My accommodation surpassed my expectations. A one-bedroom apartment with a kitchenette and a super huge balcony. Perfect.
Even though it was by this time almost 04.00h back in the UK and I had been up for 24hrs, I was so buzzy as a result of five cups of coffee during the day, I immediately had a quick shower, changed clothes and headed out for a stroll. I had what was to be the first of many encounters with a homeless person, camped somewhat optimistically outside 7-Eleven. The prices there were so high, it’d be unlikely that people would have change to give him. In search of my evening meal, I went to McDonald’s, only to learn that vegetarianism and McDonald’s are not meant to be uttered in the same sentence.
Finally exhausted, I returned to my apartment, ready to rest up and gain new energy for the week ahead.