Over Labor Day weekend, I was fortunate enough to travel to Vancouver for the first time. It was my first time in Vancouver and my first time in Canada at all. I was very excited for my trip because I’ve wanted to go for awhile and have heard wonderful things about the area. The real reason for excitement was for my reunion with my friend Marija. She and I first met in kindergarten at New Horizon Montessori. She was new to the school and to the States; she was born in Latvia. Marija and I were friends until she moved away a few years later. Long story short, Marija and I had not seen each other in about 10 or 11 years before Labor Day weekend. We did, however, reconnect via Facebook about 4 years ago, which was wonderful. Finally, after years of trying to meet up with each other, we managed to plan to meet in Vancouver!
So, on that fateful Friday morning, I woke up early and drove to the DFW airport. For some reason, the boarding pass machine at the airport wouldn’t take my credit card, so I had to get in line and pay cash, which made me run a bit late. Thankfully, I was still there in time for my checked luggage to be put on the plane. The plane ride was not too long or too turbulent, but there was a toddler across the aisle from me who was rather unpleasantly vocal for the duration of the flight. Once I landed in YVR airport, I managed to pass through customs without incident for the most part. The customs officer was much more in-depth than I anticipated, however. She asked me questions about who I was meeting, how I knew her, if she was a citizen, why she was in Vancouver, where we would be traveling in Vancouver/Canada, and more. I got nervous at this point because Marija’s story is kind of difficult to explain to an outsider. I mean, “I became friends with her in kindergarten but haven’t seen her in ten years, so I’m here to meet her while she’s visiting some other friends,” sounds strange enough. But when I had to explain that no, Marija is not a Canadian citizen, she just went to high school here, it got more complicated. Don’t even get me started on Marija’s citizenship status of which I was ignorant at the time. The one comfort was that my story was so elaborate and ridiculous that it had to be the truth. No one could have made up all this stuff haha
Anyway, YVR is a really nice airport. I managed to find Marija; rather, she managed to find me relatively easily. From the airport, we found our hostel, which was very centrally located! We spent the rest of our first day together sightseeing in the area of Vancouver around our hostel and going to dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory. The salads there were delicious and the white peach sangria was to die for!
Gastown is an absolutely gorgeous area of Vancouver, and it’s one of the older sections. It was supposedly founded by “Gassy” Jack, who has an awkward statue memorializing him. The streets are beautiful. I can’t post all the pictures I took of Gastown, but it was wonderful. There were also all kinds of cute little stores to go into that sold many different types of items. There was also a lot of graffiti in Gastown, but it wasn’t an eyesore. It was beautiful, truly a work of art. The artists were clearly talented. I posted only my favorite, but I took so many pictures of the graffiti as well.
Marija and I also swung by China Town. It was such a cool little area of town. Also, there was a beautiful park in it, in which Marija and I took many a picture. She remembered that she came with some friends to take prom pictures there back in the day!
Afterwards, we went all the way out to Steveston, a fisherman’s village where the show “Once Upon a Time” is apparently shot. Marija used to live very close to Steveston. We got ice cream at the best place in the world. It was so delicious; I can’t even begin to describe it! We sat on the shore and watched the sunset. The views there are amazing.
After packing so much sightseeing into a few hours, Marija and I went back to our hostel and spent some time catching up. It was so wonderful to be able to talk to my friend face to face again! We caught up about all the things that have happened in our lives, what we are planning on doing next, and started brainstorming ideas for our next outing together. I’m hoping to go to Latvia in the summer to visit her! She also spent a lot of time educating me about Latvia and Russia: the language, the culture, the food, the people, the music. I loved every minute of it! I love learning about new cultures and she has so much to teach me. I want to start working on my Russian so that I can say a few words when I go visit. I know a phrase in Latvian, but it only translates to “Where is my airplane?” In other words, it’s not the most useful thing to know for every day interactions haha.
Well, there is the bare bones tale of the first day of my reunion with Marija in Vancouver. I hope you enjoyed hearing about it! There are many more adventures to come!