Saturday, 23 May 2015

Vancouver - and a Jade Canoe

So I've finally arrived in Canada at the beginning of my northern adventure after a long and very boring flight.  It was strange to fly over so much frozen terrain and then step out into 26 degrees of humid heat.  Vancouver is having some record breaking weather - inland it was 29 degrees. Sweltering.
Arctic Tundra from 38,000 feet
After more than 9 hours of being cooped up in a small space like a battery chicken it was good to be out in daylight again. Compared with other big national airlines, British Airways is definitely no frills - a kind of upmarket Ryan Air.  The inflight entertainment system wasn't working properly and the catering was minimal. But I cheered up in the sunny weather and the sight of  Haida artist Bill Reid's 'Spirit of Haida Gwaii' sculpture in the centre of Vancouver Airport Arrivals.

It's one and a half times life-size, cast in bronze with a jade patina and is also called the Jade Canoe. It's difficult to photograph because of the way the light reflects off the bronze.  All the main characters of Haida mythology are depicted - Raven steering at the back, the Bear at the front with his human wife and their cubs, Frog, Dogfish Woman, Wolf, Beaver, the Ancient Reluctant Conscript (human) with his high hat, and the tiny Mousewoman peeping from under Raven's wing.

I spent the first night struggling with jet-lag, and eating cornflakes at 4.30am watching ridiculous Canadian TV.  It was either ice-hockey or sit-com repeats.  I'm staying in a very cheap motel on the outskirts of town, but I have two queen size beds to choose from  and the front door opens onto a beautiful courtyard.  There's a  Macdonalds next door if I get desperate (but I won't!).



I was lucky enough to find a Chinese supermarket and get supplies for those 4am snack attacks and the odd pot noodle soup for budget evening meals. There are huge numbers of Chinese and Japanese here - all the public signs are in English, French and Japanese.  Most of the shops and restaurants seem to be oriental.  And the city is vast!  But thanks to a very helpful person at the airport I'm equipped with a map and detailed directions. Once I've got the hang of the public transport system (SkyTrain and buses) I'm off to the Anthropological Museum to look at their First Nation collection with high expectations of a treat. 

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