We have just returned home to New Zealand from a holiday in West Canada and South Eastern Alaska. When you visit foreign places where the locals look like you and talk much like you, it’s easy to assume that it’s not like being away at all. Well you know what they say about making assumptions? (It makes an ass of u and me, just in case you didn’t know.)
The first thing you notice about Canadians in Vancouver is their courtesy. They smile, they make eye contact (in a city!!) and they say sorry …. a lot. A local joke asks, how do you get a Canadian to say sorry? You step on his toes.
And if you even look like you’re going to cross the road and you’re not at a controlled crosswalk, drivers will stop and let you cross. We felt bad about holding up traffic and tried waving them on but we lost the waving contest, every time. They would not go until we had crossed. And they still smiled. (Take a note, Kiwi drivers. It’s not about who has ‘right of way’. It’s respecting everyone’s right to safely use the roads.) And the roads are busy but you seldom hear a horn and waiting seems to be just a part of the journey.
The airport and the city are full of helpful souls who’s only job is to help. To tell you which line you should be in, or what form you need, how to get there or what to do here. We stood at a bus stop scratching our heads over the timetable one day when a young woman at an information kiosk about 50 meters away spotted us. She closed and locked her kiosk and came and asked if we needed help, bless her. All that effort when we would have walked over to her if the need arose.
Our immediate impressions of Vancouver and it’s inhabitants were; youth (everyone seems to be under 40), kindness, genuine interest, fun (a few of those helpful souls had a giggle at our stupidity) and diversity – all kinds of people from all corners of the globe, nature – parks and green spaces everywhere, trees – lining the streets, in gardens and parks and even on high rise buildings, high rise apartment living, flowers in window boxes and hanging baskets and water, water everywhere. Sure they have their problems like any city. We were warned against visiting some areas after dark and their homeless are visible and tragic but it is a beautiful place full of beautiful people.