For most of us, Christmastime is about enjoying the home comforts. On those bleak December nights, there’s nothing quite as cheering and reassuring as sharing in annual traditions with friends and family. Nestling up and getting cosy by the fire, drinking mulled wine whilst feasting on warm mince pies, watching Christmas movies and shedding a little tear when Buddy the Elf gets to ride in Santa’s sleigh. However with most of these things denied to me, how was I going to get in the festive spirit? How would I get through December all alone? It was understandable that in the run up to Christmas, my friends kept asking with great concern how much I was going to miss England and how homesick I was going to feel. Thankfully for them and for me, I was actually going to do just fine.
With my trip to Vancouver all planned out, I was ready to set off for a very memorable Christmas experience indeed. As I arrived into YVR Airport, suitcase brimming with presents, I was reunited with my auntie after countless months. It was so comforting to be part of the Edwards clan again. And then as I walked out of arrivals into the warmer (than Calgary) winter air, I was hit by a wall of damp, wind and rain, I was suddenly reminded of England. Yep, I’m home.
Being the crazily determined family that we are, my aunt and I attempted to tackle Vancouver full on and as we explored I met many incredible Vancouverites and newly found friends. Therefore it came as no surprise that looking back on it all, my holiday held soooo many unforgettable moments; especially Christmas Day which was clearly a significant highlight. However just to make this slightly more readable and less painful for you all, with some great struggle, I’ve managed to narrow it down to three incredible places which I would like to tell you about.
Located on the edge of University of British Colombia’s campus sits the Museum of Anthropology and needless to say I felt like I was infiltrating the enemy zone trying to get there. However being a student in that discipline it would have been an injustice not to have visited. I was certainly not disappointed by what I found; in fact I was in my element. One major exhibition, set in a huge glass-fronted gallery, held large cultural artifacts and totem poles from the First Nations peoples of the north-west coast. As I’d just completed a rather sensitive module based on contemporary aboriginal issues in Canada, it was inspiring to have much of what was just taught put into context and I felt in awe being surrounded by such incredible craftsmanship.
Situated under a flyover and potentially easy to miss (if it weren’t for the giant, red neon-letters announcing its presence) sits Granville Island: a relatively small industrial area, now unashamedly proud of its eclectic mix of artists’ studios, tourist shops and upscale restaurants. As it was located about 15 minutes walk from our accommodation, I found myself making regular pilgrimages to visit the food market to pick up vibrant, local produce and taste high-quality, artisan food – all of which proved to be a little overwhelming for us foodies. I certainly ate my fair share of calories over this joyful winter period.
Stanley Park proved to be a prominent feature of our trip. One thousand acres of natural beauty, on the edge of downtown and surround by the harbor; it afforded us peace, tranquility, and stunning views out to sea. It felt good to be by the water again after a few months living inland. On one rainy day whilst strolling around the park, we stumbled upon a magical aquarium. We popped in to say hello to the penguins and the porpoises and gave our respects to the cutest creatures of all, the beavers! Additionally, on our final day, the weather was icy but beautiful and so we found ourselves cycling the entire sea wall. Wrapped up warm and armed with speakers on full volume, we pedaled off all of the famous fresh fish and sushi that we’d been devouring all week. Being fairly rusty on a bike; it took me some time to stop crashing into bins and actually master how to cycle. But then it really did feel like an exhilarating experience.
Throughout my stay in this compact, bustling, and liberal city, I met so many wonderful people, experienced the joys of Christmas Vancouver-style, and got to spend some quality time with my auntie. It’s fair to say that the festivities of December 2014 will stay with me for a long time. It was certainly a trip to remember. And thus it was with a heavy heart that I returned back to my university home in Calgary, happy to see my bed but with a great sadness that I couldn’t have stayed longer.
Speak soon from good ol’ Calgary!