Holiday Road: Things I miss about Vancouver
I spend a fair amount of my time in Vancouver thinking about what I miss about the UK, but when I arrived back in the UK last month I was barely off the plane before I started thinking about what I missed about Vancouver. I’ve been living here for nearly two years now, and my second year has made all the difference in terms of settling in and making Canada my home. I obviously decided to move here, and stay here, for a reason, and here are some of the reasons why.
It seems like I’ve gotten very used to the Canadian accent, not only through people I know but also from TV, radio and just listening to Canadians all day every day. I didn’t realize quite how comfortable I’d gotten until I stopped off at the supermarket on the way home from the airport. The first English voice I heard (other than my brother, his girlfriend and the customs officials) was a high pitched scream which sounded something like ‘Oi, Chantelle, git back ‘ere naaaaah’. I shuddered, then shuddered again, then begged for the soothing, dulcet tones of the West Coast. Unfortunately they didn’t arrive, though this incident showed me how much I’ve come to appreciate the calming and inoffensive accent that is Canadian.
I’ve written about how much I love the mountains before, and it’s a love that will never die. The mountains are a navigational aid (where is North?), a barometer (can you see them?) and an important feature of the Vancouver landscape. Viewable from the city, the beaches and the parks, it was strange going 10 days without seeing them. East Anglia is a particularly flat part of the UK, so there wasn’t so much as a hill to meet my needs. The only consolation is that now I’ve returned to Vancouver there is only a matter of weeks before the snowboard season begins again. The countdown is well and truly on!
Another subject I’ve written about before, more than once. Sushi is a Vancouver staple, and I probably eat it either for lunch or dinner at least once a week. I can’t get enough of all of the various special rolls, and above all the deliciously fresh sashimi. It’s not that you can’t get sushi back in the UK, you just can’t get it as much. When you do find it, it’s not usually as good quality or good value. Of course there are some gems to be found, particularly in London, but late night sushi in Futomkaki on Davie Street was one of the first things I did on arriving back in Vancouver.
You say wellies, I say rainboots. Vancouver is one of the only places in the world that statistically rains more than the UK, and the majority of that rain occurs between October and May. When I first arrived in Vancouver I had a suitcase full of less-than-waterproof Uggs, and soon realized that they were not going to get me very far. Instead, the footwear of choice is the rainboot (read: posh wellington boot). Rainboots are not only practical, but are comfortable and stylish too. The brand of choice is typically Hunter (usually patent, coloured and very expensive), but I picked up a pair with a peacock feather pattern and black ribbon bows on the back last year and they’ve kept me going since then. I didn’t take them back to the UK with me as I would just have received weird looks from the British public, so I just got wet feet instead. It was a relief to get back to wet and windy Vancouver knowing that at least my feet would be protected.
Last, but definitely not least, as the lack of chavs in Vancouver is the biggest single cultural difference I’ve experienced between the UK and Vancouver. It’s not that Vancouver is perfect (homelessness is one of the biggest social issues in the city) but there just isn’t that level of anti-social behaviour that you see on every high street in the UK. To make it even clearer: there are no chavs in Vancouver! No gangs of tracksuit-clad youths who shout obscenities at you just because its funny. No market stalls with knock-off gold jewellery catering exclusively to 16-24 year olds. No underage kids drinking White Lighting calling each other ‘blud’. Chavs might be a stereotype but they are also a staple of British society, and they don’t exist on this side of the pond. It turns out being friendly, welcoming and polite makes a world of difference…who knew?