Well, it's been a whirlwind of a week! And since Dave wasn't here to chronicle the adventures this time, I have to actually do my own blogging. Fortunately, Sarah has a photographic memory and, before she left, she wrote down a list of everything we did while she was here, otherwise this posting would read something like, "um.. we did a bunch of stuff... I remember going to the Eatery... ya, and some other stuff".
Sarah's transportation misadventures, of which there were several, started even before she got here. While she was supposed to arrive at 11 pm, she didn't get here until after 1 am, owing to lightning at Toronto airport, where she had to transfer planes. Apparently they don't like to have the workers out on the tarmac during storms, 'cuz it would be a bitch of a lawsuit if one of them got struck by lighting. I whiled away the extra time waiting for Sarah by going to see some no-reason fireworks - the show, put on by the Czech Republic was, in my humble opinion, the best of the series. After her 11 hour trip (which followed a full day at work) and arriving at what was past 4 in the morning her time, Sarah was tired for some reason, so we went off to sleep, only to have to rise early the next morning for my practice defence session. After making sure that I knew how to use the Grad Studies laptop and projector and that my PowerPoint slides all worked (and getting feedback on my presentation from the people who came to watch), my friend Erika joined Sarah and I for lunch at One More Sushi in the Village. As One More is conveniently located near the campus Liquor Store, Sarah quickly rushed to buy as many cans of Granville Island Kitsilano Maple Cream Ale as she could carry (having brought an empty suitcase in which to return said cans to Ontario). Taking the bus while carrying 24 cans of beer made us look in no way like a couple of alcoholics.
After a much needed nap, we headed out to dinner at one of my favourite Indian restaurants, Indian Oven, and then downtown to meet Kalev and some of his friends at Celebrities, where we were horrified to discover that a new by-law means that the minimum price for hiballs has been raised from $2 to $3... Vancouver university students will now be 1/3 less drunk and will be none to happy about it. Other highlights from Celebrities included the bouncer requesting 8 pieces of ID and her T4 after he saw Sarah's Ottawa-based ID, the amazing* entertainment, and dude in (and later out of) the kilt. Oh ya, and the guy snorting coke in the middle of the club.
The next of Sarah's transportation misadventures occurred the next day on our bus ride to Stanley Park. Shortly after a women with a cart full of bottles got on the bus, a woman got on the bus in her scooter, declaring, "It's my first bus trip on my scooter!!". The bus driver informed her "it's easier to get on the bus if you back in," to which she yelled, "WHAT??" as she drove forward on the bus. Then it took her 20 MINUTES (no, I'm not making that up) to try to turn her scooter around to get properly placed on the bus. The whole procedure was complicated by the women with the bottles who was standing right in the way of the woman trying to turn around on her scooter. Apparently it didn't occur to her that she was right in the way and it didn't appear that she spoke any English and so couldn't understand the bus driver's requests to get out of the way (and apparently this woman is often on this bus, as the driver said, "Why do we have go through this EVERY day?!"). Also, the woman had taken her shoes off. That didn't add to the complication of getting the other woman and her scooter on the bus, but it was just a weird thing to do on the bus. Then, to top things off, the woman on the scooter got off the bus a mere 4 stops later... it would surely have taken her half the time to just scoot there!
After this long and harrowing ordeal, we FINALLY got to Stanley Park, where we met up with Sarah's friends Deepa and David (who were in Vancouver on a househunting trip as David is starting at UBC and Deepa is transferring to Van) at the Aquarium. After eating outrageously priced sandwiches at the snack bar, we marvelled at size of the sea lions**, ooh and ahhed over the adorable sea otters, and ran screaming from the snakes & spiders*** in the Amazon Rainforest exhibit. Once we'd had our fill of marine life, we checked out Prospect Point, which Sarah hadn't been to on her previous trips to Stanley and which I haven't been to since I was 17. That was followed by a ridiculously long search for a parking spot downtown, as we were meeting Sarah & Deepa's friends Etienne and Eve at the Banana Leaf on Denman for dinner. Word to the wise: the Banana Leaf on Denman is no Banana Leaf in Kitsilano. When we proceeded to tell Etienne & Eve our story about the woman with the bottles on the bus, they sighed, "Oh, her." Apparently she's quite the fixture in the world of Translink travellers. We followed up dinner with coffee at some coffee place whose name I can't remember where I had the surreal experience of sitting in a coffee shop in Vancouver with 5 people all speaking French around me. I believe this is the first time that 5 French speakers have ever been in Vancouver at the same time, let alone at the same table, and surely is one of the signs of the apocalypse.
The next day was Saturday and since Sarah needed to get more bus tickets, we stopped at Safeway and picked them up, along with some surprizingly tasty sandwiches that we ate on the bus on the way downtown. We met up with Deepa & David, as Sarah had forgotten her camera in their car the previous night. The Mac-Mc family doesn't have much luck when it comes to not losing their digi-cams, so we were very glad that it had just fallen out of her purse in their car. After a quick chat with D&D at Starbucks in Gastown, it was off to the Vancouver Art Gallery to see Raven Travelling, an exhibit of Haida art. They also had some other exhibits, including an exhibit about contemporary prefabricated homes... now, I know what you are thinking. You are thinking "prefab homes? wtf? that's not art!" And you know what, you are right, it's not. So we were glad that we spent most of our time on the Haida art, of which Sarah and I are both big fans. Dinner was at everyone's favourite hippie hangout, the Naam. And since it was the last night of the Celebration of Light (aka the no-reason fireworks) we decided to add a little something extra to our diet Pepsi bottles and hop on a bus to Kits Beach to watch the show. Now, the plan was good. We checked the bus schedule. We knew that we needed to go quite a bit early because EVERYONE in Vancouver goes to the fireworks and EVERYONE takes the bus 'cuz there's no parking within a hundred mile radius of the beaches. But you know what they say about the best laid plans. The time at which the bus was supposed to arrive came and went. The time at which the NEXT bus was supposed to come also came and went. Finally, pretty much when Sarah (who had quite enough of her transportation misadventures by this point) said, "I don't even want to go to the fireworks anymore!" the bus arrived. 40 mins late. On a route where buses are supposed to come every 20 mins. On a night when Translink claims they have extra buses because they know so many people are taking the bus to the fireworks. Pretty much everyone on the bus had a bottle of "pop" or "juice". There were even a few people with "bottled water" that was an awfully strange shade for water. And Sarah was all like "I thought the stage in my life where I had to surreptitiously drink my alcohol from a pop bottle were over!" Apparently, not so much. On the way back we decided it was just easier to walk home than to wait for a bus, which gave me the excuse to stop at the Tim Horton's on Broadway for a coffee. Where I impressed an American with my vast knowlege of American and Canadian politics****. And his friend was like, "Wow, this is one well-educated young lady." Seeing as this was 3 days before my Ph.D. defence I was like, "Dude, you don't even know the half of it."
Sunday was one of the few days where we had actually made plans more than a day in advance. The day started off with a pre-Pride brunch at Kalev's friend Craig's place, where Craig made Eggs Benedict and wicked awesome champagne and Alize drinks (which I managed to spill on myself). Now, believe it or not, I'd never had Eggs Benedict before and, after trying it, I can't believe what I've been missing out on! After brunch we found ourselves a nicely shaded spot to watch the Pride Parade, where we boo-ed the Conservative Party of Canada car and cheered Hedy Fry, Jack Layton and, especially, the Celebrities float. After the Parade, we lost Kalev & Co in the throngs of people at the Sunset Beach Festival, so we headed back across the bridge to Kits, where we found ourselves back at Sophie's for burgers. After that we headed back to my place to try to touch base with Shalu, with whom we had tentative plans to do something that night. After about six thousand phone calls in which we dithered and dithered and dithered on what we wanted to do, we finally decided to go to Andrew's post-Pride party and then head over to Wild Coyote for FUBAR. By the time Shalu arrived, Sarah and I had broken into the bottle of port she had picked up at the Liquor Store. Port which I managed to spill on myself. We arrived at Andrew's with a bottle of wine and a bunch of beer, so Sarah declared, "We BYOB'd" and everyone thought she said, "We brought weed." Oh, Vancouverites. In a surprizing twist, I managed to spill my wine on myself. We got to chatting with everyone and before we knew it, it was totally late and we never did get out to FUBAR. But we had a great time at the party, so it was all good.
After our fun-filled Sunday, Monday hit me hard. Monday meant there was only one day left before D-day. Panic started to set in. Sarah entertained herself with my collection of Harry Potter books while I got in some last minute studying and practised my presentation for my defence. The day was punctuated with good luck emails and phone calls from family & friends and with Sarah keeping me from ever getting to full-blown panic mode*****. Lunch was some mexican food at Mexacali's, where I had a passable meal and Sarah's was inedible. We made up for the lackluster lunch by going for a late dinner at the Eatery. Mmmm, the Eatery. If you are ever in Vancouver, I highly recommend you go there.
OK, so this posting has gotten really, really long, and it is getting late... and I think the defence itself warrants it's own posting, so I'm going to end this posting now (has anyone actually read all the way through this thing?)
*where is a sarcasm font when you need one?
**I actually know someone who works with those sea lions for her research
***OK, this might have just been Deepa and I. And we didn't so much run or scream as just refuse to look and got the hell out of that exhibit ASAP.
****My vast knowledge consisted of "I dislike Stephen Harper because he is a fundamentalist wacko" and "I dislike GWB because he is a fundamentalist wacko." When pressed for more details, I added, "He's a war mongerer who cares more about oil than he does about human lives."
*****henceforth Sarah was known as my PPP (personal panic preventer).