Edmonton, Monday 20/07/15

i took the Greyhound bus from Seattle to Vancouver. I got talking to a very interesting woman who at the moment is working to try to get better deals for young musicians/singers who are struggling to make any money within the present music industry. Very relevant now, if you know about Taylor Swift’s part in getting Apple to pay artists during the three month free trial of their new music streaming service. My companion got off before the Canadian border and I went on to Vancouver to spend my first night in Canada in a hostel near Jericho Park, one of the beaches along the shoreline. 

The first day in the city I visited the downtown area and the Art Gallery. I don’t know why, but it somehow reminds me of Bristol, though it is newer and cleaner. 

That afternoon I met up with Steve, who had offered to be my Servas host and put me up for a while, even though he is very busy trying to do up his apartment. First we went for a walk in Lynn Canyon Park.  

 Not many cities have such a site of natural beauty so close to the commercial centre. To see how it all fits together he took me to Cypress Provincial Park, high up across the bay.  

   We finished the evening with a walk along the riverside and a light dinner at a Craft Beer Market in a large renovated Salt Building. Steve is a very engaging person to talk to and I drank samples of local beers, so the evening passed very pleasantly. 

The following day I walked over to the university area, (UBC), to the Museum of Anthropology. There are several different sections. The entrance leads on to a large glass hall with canoes, house poles and other large artefacts.  

 There was a small, more intimate and interactive area dealing with the cultural lifestyles of the local First Nation peoples. I admit to knowing very little about them and I was touched by their need to tell their stories and in particular to protect a sacred burial ground in the city.  

 There are some specialist galleries and the large, important, Multiversity Galleries, housing thousands of objects from around the world. Like the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, there are drawers beneath the exhibit cases packed with more collections, but it is newly presented and with better lighting. I’m sure you could spend days in there, especially learning about the Musqueam, the Kwakwaka’wakw and the Haida indigenous tribes. 

Steve had to leave for a few days, but he very kindly gave me a key and allowed me to stay while he was away. This gave me an opportunity to settle in, do a little yoga and meditation and explore the local area. I admit that I did not see that much of the city as a whole, but the shops and cafés in this part of town were diverse and rather trendy, (including lots of places offering “medicinal” cannabis), with friendly people willing to chat. I was able to cook for myself, leave my toiletries in the bathroom and listen to my own music – small pleasures but so rare in my travels. 

When Steve returned, there was just enough time for another beer and a meal before I had to board the train to Jasper.  

 It’s a 20 hour journey. I didn’t sleep much, but spent a lot of time in the observation lounge. Here are some of the things I saw.  

 One of the people I met on the train was a wonderful woman called Marie-Eleni, who is Australian with a Greek mother. She has lived in Canada in the past and travelled, literally, all over the planet. I learnt a lot from her and we discovered we were staying at the same hostel, so we were able to do things together over the next couple of days. 

We went to the summit of Old Fort’s Point.   

 We walked by the Athabaska River and around lakes.  

   On an evening drive we saw Black Bears and Elk.  
 This still gave us time for yoga in the park and periods to go off to do our own thing. But there was only accommodation for two nights, so although there were so many places to   explore and animals to encounter, I had to get on the train. 

I was leaving the majestic scenery of the Rockies behind and I wish I had planned better and had greater funds so as to have spent more time and gone further. Canada is an extraordinary country and I am fortunate to be here. 

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