January is almost over. So, my post about my experiences in Victoria around New Year’s comes very late. I had several excuses for not writing the blog entry during the last three weeks: bad weather, good weather, work, etc. To be honest, I simply might have been lazy and there is no excuse for that. Anyway, here it is: My post about Victoria.
Victoria is the Capital of British Columbia and is located on Vancouver Island. So, one of the interesting things about visiting Victoria is definitely the way to get there: Starting in Vancouver one can either take a small airplane or several busses and a 90 minutes ferry ride; which we did. We, that is me and three other exchange students (one from Germany and two from New Zealand) who decided to spend New Year’s together in this beautiful city. The ferry ride is very nice and the boat passes by many islands (see pictures below). We were very lucky with the weather: Although it was pretty cold and windy, the sun was shining and we had no rain during the entire trip.
Our first activity in Victoria was a visit to the Parliament Building which is lightened beautifully in the winter. You can go inside the building for free and have a self-guided tour. Another sight is the Royal BC museum that has both a historical and a natural history department. Even more impressive was a special exhibition featuring some of the most talented wildlife and landscape photographers. As you can imagine I spend lots of time admiring the pictures they put on display.
Among the pictures below you will also find a shot of Emily Carr’s birthplace. Unfortunately, during the winter months this house is closed so I could only see it from outside. Carr is the most famous and also the most influencial British Columbian painter and writer. Many of her pictures can be seen in museums all over the world and especially in museums located in BC, as for example the Vancouver Art Galery.
My actual New Year’s eve was quite unusual and also very unspectacular. In Canada – or at least in Victoria – they have no fireworks on New Year’s. So we had a very quite start into the new year 2012. But we did watch “Dinner for One”: We two Germans introduced our friends from New Zealand to this (very German) tradition: The same procedure as every year!
My Christmas post comes bit too late. So, after sending best wishes in person and on facebook in time, I will wish everyone a delayed merry Christmas on this blog.
Everybody knows what Christmas in Canada or the United States looks like since we’ve all seen lots of American Christmas movies. Of course, when being there, the differences between the American (I’ll write American instead of Canadian since in this case they are pretty similar and I couldn’t tell the difference) and the European/German Christmas become more visible. But still, there is no big surprise and you should not expect reading something completely new about American Christmas here.
Also, I hope that this post doesn’t seem like the German guy who is complaining about the bad commercialized American christmas. It would be very ignorant to think that the German version isn’t commercialized, too. And although different, the American Christmas is very nice in its own way.
A first very visible thing is that, Christmas in Canada is more colorful and there are much more lights and decorations on the streets. For European eyes, such as mine, this can seem a bit kitschy: Below, you can see pictures of my visit to the “Bright Nights”, an art installation in Stanley Park with illuminated trees.
Also, the symbols and figures you see are different from the ones you see in Germany. Of course, Santa and snow men have become more and more popular as parts of European Christmas decoration. But they are by far not as dominating as here in Canada. On the other hand, I can’t remember having seen an angel somewhere (though there might have been one or two). More traditional Christmas symbols such as angels and mangers are very rare. It seems to me, that maybe, Christmas on this side of the atlantic is more uncoupled from its original meaning: Santa Claus and his elves play an important role whereas at least in my family they played no role at all: My presents were brought by the Christkind and of course, elves were not involved.
On Christmas day I had a very nice dinner with my new landlord and her family and friends. I also had my first turkey and I have to say that it was really delicious. I’m really glad for having made this experience.
I also added two pictures of the Christmas tree at Canada Place right next to the Olympic Flame. Enjoy the pictures!
Very soon I will post a blog entry that will deal with Christmas in Vancouver. This post, however, is about the Vancouver Christmas Market, which is the Vancouver version of a German Weihnachtsmarkt. The Christmas Market is located pretty much downtown and most of the stalls are run by Germans. It felt very weird to hear German voices all over the place and it was nice to see al these things that reminded my of christmas at home. I think the pictures below give a good impression of that.
A short selection of the things you can buy there: Brezeln, Schupfnudeln mit Sauerkraut, Feuerzangenbowle, Kinderpunsch, Bratwürste im Brötchen (natürlich mitt Sauerkraut – wer macht den sowas?), Christstollen, Lebkuchen, Weihnachtspyramiden und -bögen, “Münchener” Bierkrüge and so on. Most of it was imported from Germany and therefore pretty authentic: My 8-dollar Bratwurst for instance was really delicious! Although I could not stop smiling when I saw that they had grilled Weißwurst there. Reminded me of Dr. Bretzner (“Dieser Mann bringt es fertig und grillt eine Weißwurst” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEbLICnYVNM at 3 min).
I had lots of fun and was really enjoying the odd feeling of almost being in Germany: Very strange, funny weird, amusing.
I will not close this post with best wishes for christmas since I’m hoping to finish my next post in one or two days.
FYI: I uploaded two new pictures of Vancouver on my flickr page. They wouldn’t fit in here.
It has been pretty quiet on this blog so I’m very happy to finally publish another post.
My brother is visiting me right now and we went to a game of the Vancouver Canucks two days ago. For those who don’t know, the Canucks are Vancouver’s hockey team and almost won the Stanley Cup last year. Some of you might have heard about the Vancouver riots after loosing the last game against Boston this year.
For being one of the best NHL teams (they finished first in the regular season 10/11), the Canucks have had a rough start having won only nine out of 18 games so far. But everybody in Vancouver is very confident that they will make it into the playoffs (and hopefully win the cup this season).
From the 18 games this season I have only missed a few and I’m really into hockey right now. I have never played hockey myself but I spent hours playing NHL on my computer when I was younger. So, I’ve always been interested in this exciting sport and it’s great to finally attend a game in an arena.
My brother and I went to the game against the New York Islanders. The Canucks ended up winning 4:1. It was a great experience and I hope that I will have the chance to go to at least one more game while I’m here in Vancouver.
We arrived at the arena very early so we could watch the warming up from right behind the glass. Check out the pictures: The Sedins and Kessler skating directly in front of us!
Although the game’s presentation was epic I have to say that the atmosphere during the game was – unfortunately – nothing compared to a German/European football/soccer stadium. Not so much because of the size of the arena but because of a different attitude in the audience. Most of the time it was pretty quiet…
Tomorrow, the Canucks are taking on the Blackhawks. Will be an exciting game! Go Canucks, Go!
The pictures have been shot with my iPhone (didn’t want to take my SLR to Rogers Arena).
The UBC campus is surrounded by a approximately 7km long beach called Wreck Beach. In summer you can see lots of people down there chillin’ out, playing frisbee or even go swimming in the pacific ocean.
One very special thing about the beach is that it is a clothing optional beach and therefore the only nudist beach in Vancouver. So, during the day people (especially the nudists) don’t like it when you bring a camera to the beach.
Two days ago I decided to go there to take some pictures anyway. But it was in the evening and a bit cold so the beach was pretty empty. To be precise: Me and a group of (dressed) students were the only peaple there. I took the picture below which I did not want to hold back from you. It is my first picture of a sunset in Vancouver…
Oh, by the way: It is an HDR picture. But my intension was to make it look like non-HDR. Or at least an HDR at second glance…
As some of you might know I met a few other German students this weekend who are currently studying all over Canada and the United States. I got to know very interesting and nice people and had a great weekend including good food, cool sightseeing trips, interesting conversations and open bars…
One other good thing about the weekend was the weather. I know that earlier on this blog I have said that the rain season is about to begin. But right now the weather is just wonderful. Also, all trees are very colorful at the moment and I have been thinking about a way to capture this variety of colors. You can see some pictures below (hopefully you won’t think that I have become completely crazy…).
As some of you might have read on Facebook I ran the North Shore Half Marathon today. It was a very rainy day but it was lots of fun. So you could say that it was very cool, both literally and figuratively.
The run was very different from those that I have done in Germany: First of all, there were only about 350 participants so it was a very small field of runners (e.g. the Sport Scheck run in Munich had 18,000 participants last year). Therefore me finishing 11th wasn’t that impressive as it may sound. Also, they did not block the entire roads for traffic here so at every intersection they had policemen blocking the streets temporarily. Sometimes I was running on regular roads with cars driving by. The track itself was really interesting: It went up and down and even included a very muddy downhill trail. At one point I had a beautiful view on Downtown Vancouver. Sadly, they did not announce the last kilometer so I only sprinted the last 100m or so.
Maybe I will upload some pictures later; I went to the run with another exchange student who took a camera with her. She was even faster than me and became first in the women’s competition (and therefore won a free pair of running shoes). My respect for that awesome performance!
Two days ago I went to the Capilano suspension bridge with two other exchange students. This park is actually not very far from the place were the half marathon has been. The main attraction there is (as you can guess) a big suspension bridge. But you they also have walkways between the treetops and walkways on the cliffs of a canyon. It is fall, so all the trees have beautiful colors and we also got lucky with the weather (which basically means that it didn’t rain). Have fun watching the pictures below.
A few weeks ago I went to Grouse Mountain with a few other exchange students.
Grouse Mountain is a mountain very close to Vancouver with lots of attractions such as ziplining, paragliding, a lumberjack show and of course the Grouse Grind trail.
This hiking trail is the only way to get to the top of the mountain if you don’t want to pay a ridiculously high amount of money for the cable car. The trail is about three kilometers long but you gain 850 meters while walking up.
We had beautiful weather and it was very hot that day. So the trail seemed even longer but we all had a lot of fun. On the top I ate my first beavertail: A beavertail in this context is not an actual tail of a beaver but a very delicious piece of fried dough in the shape of a beavertail. It is very similar to a Bavarian Auszogne (for those who know what that is): Really tasty!
One of the main attractions of Grouse Mountain is the Lumberjack Show. It is a very touristy competition between two lumberjacks that are climbing trees, chopping wood and throwing axes. Check out the pictures. It was fun!
Although it is not raining right now the weather today is by far not as good as in the pictures. But I bought some used skis today and am really looking forward to go skiing during the upcoming months. Also, the Canucks are playing the Penguins today: Season opening. I’m gonna watch the game wearing my brand new Canucks jersey.
Oh and again: I did not edit the pictures… Sorry aboat that, eh!
At the end of my trip I stayed two and a half days in Las Vegas at the Luxor Hotel (in the pyramid). Las Vegas is how I imagined it. Except for one thing: It was even hotter! This is the main reason I have taken only a few pictures of the city and the ones I’ve taken have been shot by night. A few hundred meter walk gets exhausting so you’re always trying to look for air-conditioned ways to get from A to B.
On my second day I flew over the Grand Canyon. There is a company that offers flights from Las Vegas over and to the Canyon. After a short walk you then flight back to Vegas. The Canyon was really impressive and seeing it from above was a great experience. Check out the pictures. I guess they say more than a thousand words.
In the evening I visited David Copperfield at the MGM Grand. Really impressive! For his last number – he makes thirteen people from the audience disappear – I was lucky and got on stage. Unfortunately I was not one of the people that David made disappear. I was just one of the witnesses that stood next to the cage where the other people were sitting. I have no idea how he did it (well, I figured out a few parts of the trick but I couldn’t see how he actually did it) and that was just an awesome experience: I was like two meters away from thirteen people who just disappeared. A very cool show!
On my second day I met a friend of mine who has been to the US together with his girlfriend. Together we played poker at the MGM Grand for about four hours. I had the worst bad beat in my lifetime but despite for that it was really fun: One good thing when you’re playing poker is that you’re getting free drinks. So I had four cocktails, two cappuccinos and two bottles of water. I was a little too shy to ask for a free massage… Maybe next time.
So that’s pretty much it from my trip to the United States of America. I hope you liked the reports and the pictures and I’m looking forward to writing lots of reports about my days in Vancouver. Maybe I will get closer to the idea of blogging and write about things that did not have happened weeks ago…
After a two hour drive from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles I had to return my car at a drop off station at LA international airport. Well, apparently I was almost the only one there who could speak english at level that allows a proper conversation which surprised me very much. LA has a big Hispanic influence and I was told that half the people living there are Hispanics. Los Angeles is very different from San Francisco: Everything seems to be bigger and the view of the city is dominated by cars and large streets . After all, it may not be as romantic as San Francisco but LA is a very interesting city. I strongly recommend a guided tour through Downtown. If you have a good guide this part of the city can be very fascinating. On the pictures you see some of the spots the movie Inception was shot and also some pictures of the Walt Disney Concert Hall (a very impressive building).
I stayed at a hostel in Santa Monica right at the beach. I’ve never seen such a high density of yoga studios in my whole life. Seems to be the number one sport in Santa Monica… At the beach they have a theme park where I took some pictures. The beaches are broader than most of the beaches in Germany but also a bit more dirty.
On my second day I went to a Tim Burton exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA): Really impressive. I didn’t know that Tim Burton is such a versatile artist. The exhibition showed sketches, drawings, movies and poets as well as costumes and items from his movies like the original catwoman suit or the razorblades from the movie Sweeney Todd.
Of course I had to go to Hollywood as well. As you can see on the pictures it was very crowded and touristy and all the tours to the celebrity’s houses scared me off a little bit.
On my last day in Los Angeles I visited the Universal Studios with some friends. I didn’t brought my camera but we had lots of fun. I decided to just throw in a few key words here: Virtual Simpsons roller coaster, Jurassic Park Ride, Shrek 4D, Studio Tour including Psycho Motel and Wisteria Lane and probably the most dangerous escalator in the world… Had a great day!
Coming up next: Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. Enjoy the pictures!