Thusday 3rd July 9:00 a.m. Vancouver
These long days are AWESOME! Yesterday while Gail worked, I explored the West End neighbourhood a little. Well, okay I sat down at the first outdoor coffee shop I saw, and explored a nice strong cappucino. If I was going to stay awake till nighttime, I'd need all the help I could get! A nice old lady at the next table noticed my accent, and she and I ended up chatting for quite a while about Australia, work, health care, liquor licencing laws, divorce and of course the Olympic Games. (Vancouver was successful in their bid for the Olympics, it was announced today.) On the way back to Gail's I picked up a six pack of Black Label beer *the cheapest I could find* at a pub, since you can't buy cold beer from a liquor store! If you want cold beer, you need to buy it from a specially licenced bar or from - you guessed it- a 'beer and wine shop'.

Gail has her friend Krista, from Switzerland, staying with her, so the one bedroom apartment is quite busy. Gail seemed to have finished her work, so we relaxed on the balcony with a couple of beers, but I couldn't understand why the girls were in such a hurry to get ready for dinner. It only seemed like mid afternoon. That was when I looked at the clock. It was seven thirty. Seven thirty and the sun was still high in the sky! Almost three hours later, when we'd munched our way through platefuls of calamari, chicken wings and chorizo sausage at their local Tapas restaurant, it still wasn't what you'd call 'dark'. Gail then treated me to one of her favourites, bubble tea. It's apparently a Taiwanese drink, a little like a milk based slushy, but with an unusual choice of natural flavours and a pile of black tapioca 'pearls' at the bottom. I took a walk on the wild side and chose avocado flavour, unusual but refreshing. When we got home at midnight, I was so tired I could hardly speak. I spread my sleeping mat out on the floor just inside the door, and can't even remember getting into my sleeping bag.

Of course this morning it was glorious daylight at 5:00am when I was woken by a newspaper flying through the mail slot in the door, and narrowly missing my head. When the brass flap on the mail slot slammed shut, I thought I'd been hit across the head with a frypan. So I set off for a walk, and here's a few photos of my first morning in Vancouver.

looking back along the beach towards Granville Island looking northwest along sunset beach One of the ferries from Alaska

The walk took me from Granville Island along Sunset Beach to Stanley Park, a huge wooded expanse jutting out into the inlet. As I was walking, I saw one of the ferries arrive from Alaska, and thought how much easier it would be to ferry to Alaska instead of hitchhike. I've done a few sums and it looks like it's well over 3000 kilometres to Anchorage, quite a hitch in anyone's language! Continuing around Stanley Park I wound up back in West End, where I treated myself to a hearty breakfast of pancakes, bacon and eggs... and tried to get my head around this concept of 'tipping'. It just doesn't make sense to me; it's as if the restaurant is saying that the price of your food is either five dollars or six dollars, whichever you choose. I know there's a reason for it, but wouldn't it be easier if workers were paid reasonable wages, and prices were increased to match? More about tipping another day...

IF YOU KNOW ANYONE WHO LIVES BETWEEN VANCOUVER AND ALASKA, PLEASE LET THEM KNOW THAT I'LL SOON BE ON MY WAY. MAYBE THEY'D LIKE TO PUT ME UP FOR A NIGHT? I HAVE BASICALLY NO CONTACTS ALONG THE 3000 KILOMETRE JOURNEY. TOWNS INCLUDE- WILLIAMS LAKE, PRINCE GEORGE, DAWSON CREEK, FORT NELSON, WATSON LAKE, WHITEHORSE, AND HAINES.

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