Monthly Archives: July, 2013

One Piece At A Time

Even though the car should have been ready at 11:00, there was still a part missing. Therefore we decided to head into town with Marc and Marisa and wait for the call there.

We had lunch at the ‘Dirty Apron Cooking School’ (…still no news on the car).

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We had a drink in the sun at ‘The Parlour’ in Yaletown (…still no news on the car)

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We had a coffee in a local coffee bar where Patrick finally found a decent espresso (… still no news on the car)

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Yes, finally! News on the car that it was ready to be picked up! We got on the train, got the car and drove the car home. It’s now parked just around the corner from the AirBnB. As you can see, Patrick is very proud of his 4 Canadian wheels (“Canadian is the better answer”) :).

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In order to celebrate, we headed back into town to ‘Portside’ in Gastown where we ran into a group of Americans coming to Vancouver to celebrate the below guy’s bachelor party. We offered him a Belgian Palm but it was probably too strong as he couldn’t finish it off (or maybe he already had too many drinks before…)

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Marisa was having fun too 🙂

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After a while Marc came back with Diana and Kevin (colleagues from Marc) to finish off our drinks we made a quick stop at ‘The Diamond’ for complicated cocktails (and mocktails for Marijke) and had a big meat fest at ‘Wildebeest’ (bone marrow, elk tartare, popcorn pork rinds, quail, schnitzels with beer & mustard sauce, …).

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Also a big thank you to Diana and Kevin for driving us back home.

I’d get it one piece at a time
And it wouldn’t cost me a dime
You’ll know it’s me when I come through your town
I’m gonna ride around in style
I’m gonna drive everybody wild
‘Cause I’ll have the only one there is around.

Crazy World

Well… that was interesting!

That’s the least we can say about today. It all started in the morning when we heard the door bell ring of our AirBnB and noticed 2 lovely people waiting for the landlord to arrive. So now it turns out that our place is booked the whole weekend for a wedding reception and the whole family is moving in. I know right… what?! So we had to pack all our stuff again and move it back to the ‘old’ location. This comes with a little side note to understand the full story. When we just got here, we had to move all our stuff from one place to another because ‘the other place is much nicer’. So when we said well, why didn’t you tell us yesterday or before that we would be moving back… she said, we’re very sorry but you will have to move anyway. Great! 🙂 So as we didn’t want to spoil the weekend for this lovely couple we just said ok, that’s fine. When we arrived at the other place there was already a British couple renting the above appartment so now we are sleeping in what seems to be the children’s or grandma’s bedroom of the Chinese landlord in the basement of the house. It’s all clean and all so that’s okay. It’s just all very very bizarre.

Then, we decided to go and get our car together with Marc and Marisa and when we got on the bus and we called to say that we were on our way, the sales guy freaked us out by saying that it wouldn’t be ready. That they were working on it and that a part was missing. That got us all worried like ‘what’s he doing to our car’ and ‘what? why didn’t you tell us?’. He could at least have called us to save us the trouble of our trip. But Patrick stood his ground and said we were coming anyway. When we arrived there was another guy (Victor) who seemed quite genuine and got us convinced that it’s all going to be fine. So we made the payment with all the cash money and credit cards we had (thanks superman Marc for helping out here!), got ourselves insurance (which is very expensive in this country!) and got ourselves a car (yippie)!!! We just couldn’t take it home (because of the missing part). We agreed with Victor that he will come and drop the car of in Vancouver city when it’s ready to avoid us having to take the sky-train and bus all the way back to Langley again tomorrow. Let’s hope we didn’t put our trust in the wrong guy but like we said, he seems quite genuine and the car is already on Patrick’s name anyway. We also asked the dealer how we were supposed to get back home – as we were kinda expecting to be able to take the car with us – and Victor had to drop of a car near New Westminster so he said we could drive back with him which was a very nice gesture of him.

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Back in town we went for a few drinks in very lovely pubs recommended by Marc and then headed to the Westside of Vancouver to find the AirBnB from Marc and Marisa.

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It seems though that Marc somehow mixed up the dates and the AirBnB was not available which was very unfortunate because it looked really nice! So they had to find a hotel instead. Luckily they managed to find something and once they were settled, we started searching for a good place to eat. We headed for this lovely Japanese restaurant called ‘Guu’ which was absolutely delicious!

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We then headed back to our place. Trying to find the light of our bedroom, we accidentally opened a door in the house and found this woman sleeping on the couch which was totally bizarre. I’m thinking she’s probably the one that got kicked out of the bedroom which we are sleeping in now. Anyway, it was a bizarre end for a bizarre day which in the end turned out to be all okay. I’m just hoping we don’t get more funny stories here and that the car is going to arrive save and sound tomorrow morning.

I fear real danger
This world ain’t simple
But I’m strong, I know how to get out

Skills To Pay The Bills

Today we left early in the morning to take the public transport to Langley. This is were we wanted to check out some extra cars. After inspecting 4 cars on site plus the 3 cars from yesterday, we believe to have spotted the best choice. The car is in very good shape and we hope that it will be able to take us to Argentina without any major issues. It already has a trunk cover and the support bars installed on the roof so we don’t have to worry about that anymore.

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So then we went into town to try to get a hold of the money for the car but it seems that it’s not that easy. Unfortunately, unless you have a Canadian account, none of the banks are able to give us cash from our bank accounts or make a money transfer. So we had to take as much money as we could from the cash machines and cover the rest with Visa. We didn’t manage to get the whole amount in cash though and American Express cash machines seem to be hiding in the city somewhere so tomorrow we are counting on friend’s support (thanks superman-buddy Marc for helping us out!) to do the trick when we go and try to pick up the car.

On Your Marks. Get Set. Go!

Adventurous as we are – right… 🙂 – we decided to rent 2 bikes to get around town in the search for our future car. In order to get used to them, we tested our bikes at the seaside and then headed downtown seeking the different car dealers. Little did we know that Vancouver had some hidden steep hills for us (actually quite a few…). At the end of the day we were completely knocked out.

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Once we recovered from our ride, we headed back downtown (on the skytrain this time) to meet our friend Marc and have dinner together. We found a lovely Spanish restaurant in Gastown (The Sardine Can) and finished with a beer in a neighbouring pub (Alibi Room).

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Tomorrow we will have  look at some more cars and then we’ll make a final decision.

I want to ride my bicycle

I want to ride my bike

I want to ride my bicycle

I want to ride it where I like

I Took A Walk Around The World

The objective for day 1 was simple: move all our stuff from Belgium to Canada, preferably with no pieces missing and everything intact. Additionally, we also needed to get some documentation arranged at the border to be able to buy a car here. After spending 10 hours sitting next to the fattest guy on the plane (note: this is not Marijke talking about Patrick!), we were happy to achieve all of this!

Over and above these achievements, we also set the following trip records on day 1:

  • Visited 3 countries in one day (Belgium, Netherlands, Canada)
  • Spent the longest time in the air (9 hours 26 minutes)
  • Covered the most time zones in a day (9 hours difference)
  • Travelled the furthest west ever (123 degrees west longitude)
  • Hauled the most bags (3 pieces checked-in, 5 pieces carry-on)
  • Checked in & out of a country in less than 10 seconds (border officer made a mistake so we now have a stamp “entered Canada in error” in our passport)
  • Informed that we are the first Belgians to travel to Canada to buy a car and drive it south (according to Canadian border officer wearing a bullet proof vest – so we are sure she has seen some crazy things before)
  • Checked the inside of the Vancouver airport transit zone while waiting for our paperwork (only for 30 minutes)
  • Crossed the most Asian people and restaurants in the street in one day (a little surprising being in Canada but making sense after discovering we are in the middle of an Asian neighbourhood)

We will probably set and break new records in the next days… So far everything went smoothly (except maybe negotiating a key out of the Chinese landlady’s mother who is definitely fluent in Chinese – English to be confirmed). We only managed to stay up until 9:00 PM local time yesterday and we slept the sleep of the dead until 4:00 AM.

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I took a walk around the world

To ease my troubled mind

I really don’t mind what happens now and then

As long as you’ll be my friend at the end

Friends (Are People Who Are Not Strangers)

The last week has officially started now. In one week time we should arrive in Vancouver, safely landed, maybe a little bit jet lagged but ready to start our journey starting with the search for a car.

At work we’re cleaning up our inbox and we’re making sure that all tasks are handed over so that we can leave ‘met een gerust hart’. So much needs to happen still during these last days (amongst which also repairing the washing machine and going to the dentist …).

During this busy time we also try to make time to ensure that we can properly say good-bye to our closest friends and family. The colleagues from work have already had a farewell evening and we also already said good-bye to the game club friends.

Thanks all for all your tips and advice but also for taking care of our house and lovely rabbit while we are away. We will all miss you very much!

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We will think of you when we have the below song playing on our radio. 🙂

If you cross the road and a truck struck you,

I’ll scrape you up and reconstruct you.

I’ll cheer you up if you’re depressed.

If you get murdered I’ll avenge your death.

Lalalala …. friends friends friends friends

or in the Spanish version 🙂 (especially for Patrick)

Doctor Please, Some More Of These

At some point during our travels, Montezuma* will undoubtedly have his revenge. However, we are taking all possible measures to delay or at least minimise the impact.

After an initial visit to our doctor, we worked out a schedule for all the vaccinations.

  • Yellow fever (at the Institute for Tropical Medicine in Antwerp)
  • Hepatitis A & B (two shots before we leave and one shot when we are back)
  • Tetanus, diphtheria and polio (one shot)
  • Typhus (also one shot)

Yesterday we got our lasts shots before leaving. Here are some shots (pun intended) of that:

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Next to the shots, we also stocked up on pills.

  • Lariam for (well, against) malaria. We tested the pills last week because they can make some people hallucinate or have really bad nightmares. I only had a dream about having a nightmare, so it does not really count.
  • Diamox to deal with altitude sickness. We will be reaching heights of over 4,000 meter, so best to be prepared!
  • Azithromycine EG for when Montezuma is knocking on the door and Imodium is just not enough

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On top of  the heavy stuff, we also loaded up on enough medication to open up a roadside pharmacy.

  • Epsipam (muscle pain)
  • Cedium (disinfectant)
  • Vicks VapoRub (if we get a cold or if the neighbourhood smells bad)
  • Bepanthol (rash or irritation)
  • Voltaren (muscle pain)
  • Paracodine (cough)
  • Rhinisan (congested nose)
  • Strephen (throat)
  • Nurofen (small headache)
  • Dafalgan (medium headache)
  • Ibuprofen (extra large headache)
  • Naproxen (the mother of all headaches and small hangovers)
  • Hirudoid (bruises)
  • Mosquito repellent (50% DEET, supposedly the good stuff)

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And it all fits in one bag!

 

Life’s just much too hard today
I hear every mother say
The pursuit of happiness just seems a bore
And if you take more of those, you will get an overdose
Doctor please, some more of these! 
Outside the door she took four more

* Moctezuma II (c. 1466 – 29 June 1520), also known as Montezuma, was the ninth tlatoani or ruler of Tenochtitlan, reigning from 1502 to 1520. The first contact between indigenous civilizations of Mesoamerica and Europeans took place during his reign, and he was killed during the initial stages of the Spanish conquest of Mexico, when Conquistador Hernán Cortés and his men fought to escape from the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan. Montezum’s revenge is the colloquial term for any cases of traveler’s diarrhea contracted by tourists visiting Mexico. (source: Wikipedia)