So I made it here safe and all and got decent sleep last night so I'm feeling a little refreshed. I was feeling a little under the weather, but I'll attribute that to all the crappy weather on the way up. It was only fitting that the second person I talked to upon entering Canada just happened to be from Charlottesville Virginia. As I was parking and getting out of my car at the hotel, some guy who had also just drove in asked where in VA I was from. I guess one can never truly escape no matter how far they travel. While I'm on the subject of yesterday, I'll just continue my story from there. I asked the front desk where the best place to exchange money at 6pm was, and the small korean woman directed me to a large Canadian bank on Davie street, about 1.5 miles (3.3km) away. The only shitty thing was that she directed me in the WRONG direction, downs towards the water, which was down a huge hill. I was on my bike, and once I figured out that I was going in the wrong direction, I was already about 5 blocks down a big hill in the wrong direction. After figuring out where I was by asking some asian business men where Davie street was, I finally found the bank around 7.
I have never seen a line that long in a bank before. I guess right before they close (8pm) all of the tourists line up to change their money, since this bank is open the latest in the area. So after waiting in line about 15 minutes, I get to the teller and ask him what the exchange rate is. It wasn't as horrible as the hotels (1.13CAN for 1USD), so I just get 100 changed to tie me over. As I bike back to the hotel, I notice everything so suburban although I'm in the middle of the city. It kind of reminded me of my neighborhood in Hayes Valley from when I lived in San Francisco over the summer. Residential situated in a large city. So I get back to my hotel, take a shower and change because I'm feeling like shit from sitting in the car for 6 hours. After resting for a bit and unpacking, I headed out to forage for food around 9pm. My hotel is located in a very korean part of town and since I wasn't particularly in the mood for korean, and it seemed like these places would be difficult to go into with a party of 1 since everyone was there with their 4th removed cousins, uncles, aunts and godparents, I kept walking down the street that my hotel is on (R0beson), until I came to a major intersection. Lo and behold, I saw this glistening pearl of a restaurant on the corner of the street, called "Ukranian Village Restaurant". I don't think I've ever had Ukranian before, so I go in and take a seat. The guy is way too excited to see me and there are a couple of large parties of older people who are definitely locals. I order the Ukranian Dinner which contained 6 perogies, 2 cabbage wrap things with meatloaf inside, ukranian sausage, pureed beats and cole slaw with sour cream for the perogies and home-made mustard for the sausage. The whole meal was pretty good and it was the heavy meal that I needed to lull me to sleep after the long drive. While I was eating I read a newspaper someone had left and the headline news read that Hillary Clinton raised a record $10M so far, besting her democrat opponents Obama and Edwards. There was also an article detailing the deadly 9 drug cocktail that had killed Anna Nicole Smith. Take home message: US news is still news everywhere else. The Clinton article was interesting because it went into some basic explanation of the US government system and how it all works and that there are primaries and these are the first elections to elect the nominee for a party, etc. It seemed funny to read this from an outsiders perspective. I guess that's not how it works in Canada.
Anyway, so I head back to my hotel, on foot, and spot a coffee place on the way back that has free internet, which is where I posted from last night. After spending an hour posting all those pictures, I just went back to my room and watched Arrested Development on CBC (Canada's BBC), and went to bed.
So far today I've just gotten myself together and biked down to the Vancouver Bullion and Money Exchange on West Pender Street to get a better rate (1.15CAN for 1 USD). Maybe if the rate keeps getting shittier, as it has been in the past several years, I can change my extra Canadian dollars back in the US in a few months and make a profit. I'm sitting having coffee and a chocolate croissant at this place called the Bread Garden and about to head off to find/make adventures.
Oh also, just an explanation for some of these new pictures, the guy getting arrested apparently hijacked an airport bus and that's where the chase ended, I suppose. Some of the pictures are also of Olympia and Seattle, which I drove through on the way up, but I only stopped in Olympia for gas, so I don't have any stories about those places yet. I'll be in Seattle on Thursday early afternoon or so.
Also, just wanted to let everyone know that I won't be answering my phone while I'm in Canada because of the international roaming charges. So don't call me and if it's an emergency, send me a text message so I know and I'll call you back. Thanks all for sticking with me, and I'll talk to everyone soon.