Settling into Vancouver life & Family n Friends visits

So we have now been here for just over 3 months and we are really enjoying it. The city is a brilliant place to live, there is so much to do! We have met a great group of friends, mainly from England and Scotland as well as New Zealand and a couple of Canadians.

We have also had Harry’s family here to visit and we went to Victoria and Whistler with them, they came over for 2 weeks and spent the first week in the city with their tour guide Harry and then I joined them for their second week. We also had a surprise last minute visit from my friend Theresa from Kentucky who I met when we did camp America in 2006, we have stayed in touch a lot since and seen eachother in America, England and now Canada, we’re hoping to add to the countries we meet in and see eachother in South America next year too.

We went Whale Watching in Victoria and saw 2 Humpback whales which was brilliant. We then had a great lodge in the mountains in Whistler with our very own out door hot tub. We all really liked Whistler, very ski resorty (is that a word) but very pretty. Within 30 minutes of being there we had our first proper Black bear encounter when one just strolled out onto the path infront of us. Brilliant.

After the family left it was back to work. Work is going well for us, Harry’s job at BC Place ends this week but the agency have got him another assignment to start next week. Hopefully after this he might get something more long term but for now it is ok.

We are looking forward to coming home and seeing everybody for Christmas but also want to let everyone know they’re welcome to come and see us! We have lots of visitors next year with my cousin Lauren coming in January, my best friend Kate coming in Feb and my lovely family coming in March! Loads to look forward to!

Hope I haven’t bored you too much but Ciao for now and will update again soon!

Charli & Harry (although he hasn’t actually contributed at all)

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Seattle

We decided to cross into the USA border for my birthday. Seattle is only a couple of hours South of Vancouver, if you have a car and don’t have to queue at customs. Unfortunately for us we got a Greyhound and had a queue but luckily not much of one.

After a birthday breakfast cooked by Harry after he made a secret trip to a British shop in North Van to get some proper bacon for me, we made the 5 hour journey and checked into our lovely hotel. My presents from home had been sent there which was a lovely welcoming.

Seattle is a really nice city, again, we had perfect weather (so lucky). There’s lots to do, we spent time wandering around the city, we went up the highest building in NW America

We then went to the famous ‘Pike Place’ market and did some more sight seeing.

The next day we went over to the University of Washington campus and did some shopping. There was a College football game happening and so the atmosphere was buzzing. It was a really great area with lots going on!

The next day was raining and we were getting our bus back so after a visit into town to see Barack Obama who was speaking at some event there we headed back on our Greyhound journey ready for work in the morning.

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Banff, Jasper & Lake Louise

Harry has always wanted to visit Banff and what better reason to go than his birthday. We decided we were going to rent a car and drive around the Rockies, spending his birthday in Banff itself.

We set off on our trip on 1st September, collected our car from the airport and headed further inland. Canada is HUGE, Banff is a 11 hour drive away so we decided to break the journey up. We spent our first day driving to a point just over half way called Sicamous. We stayed in a gorgeous B&B with amazing views and a lovely family-

We then drove all the way to Banff where we had a hotel booked in town with a mountain view.

Banff is a lovely little ski resort town nestled in the mountains, it is very stereotypical, lots of tourist shops and ski shops. We spent Harry’s birthday visiting the Banff upper hot springs and then we went up Sulphur mountain as my lovely Mum & Dad had booked us a gondola ride and meal at the top for Harry’s birthday. We have to say it’s the nicest view we have ever had dinner with, thank you Mum & Dad xxx!

The next day we went on a howling dog tour to visit all the huskies and then as a present from Harry’s parents we went on a horse trek through the mountains and woods, it was so lovely. Something neither of us had ever done before so a brilliant experience, thank you Julie & Peter xxx

We can’t possibly talk you through what we did each day as the blog would go on forever, it was by far the most action packed holiday I have ever been on but it was so much fun! From Banff we went to Lake Louise and stayed there for a couple of nights. From here you could go to Lake Louise and Maligne lake, both of which were beautiful, we also saw a Grizzly bear and her 2 cubs which was a definate highlight.

The area had lots of warnings about Grizzly bears and it was a rule that you could only hike in groups of four or more so we had joined a German couple for our walk. We got to Consulation Lake just in time to see the Grizzly with her 2 cubs which was amazing and we were so lucky.

The journey between Lake Louise and Jasper is called the ice field parkways and is one of the best drives in the world. We were so lucky with the weather for our entire trip, it made the ice fields parkway even more spectacular. The journey is 280km of lakes, glaciers and waterfalls. We stopped a lot and admired the views, it is hard to explain just how beautiful it was but we would definately recommend it.

         

Jasper was also great, we spent 3 nights there, it is another touristy town but very pretty and lots to do. We spent one of the days riding bikes which was great fun but also hard work, especially when Harry decided to lead us off the track and insist for a while that we hadn’t gone wrong! I wasn’t impressed. We also went to Moraine Lake and this is where we finally spotted a MOOSE!! Highlight of Harry’s trip I’m sure, he was so happy after spending the previous 8 days looking for one we finally found it.

After leaving Jasper we did half of the journey home and spent our last night in Kamloops. A small city hidden in the Valley it doesn’t have much to offer but the weather was so so hot we enjoyed our evening there before heading back home to Vancouver. We’d had such a brilliant trip and seen so many great things!

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Finding a job

So the next thing to do was to find work. Daunting process being over the other side of the world in a place neither of us had ever been to before but our previous travelling experience and working in Australia helped to prepare us so we knew where to start.

I had arranged 2 interviews from the UK, one was as a team assistant for a financial company, I had a phone interview with them, and the other sounded very exciting, through a link in the UK, my lovely ex work colleague Jane’s daughter actually lives out here in Vancouver and is Vice President of operations for a association management company. She was hoping something might come up for me as they organise a lot of events etc and thankfully, something had!! So I met with Jenny for lunch and then went to the company to meet with the owner, Donna. Both so lovely and the office seemed great. That evening Jenny informed me that they would love me to start straight away! Yay!!

I decided to wait until we had moved into our flat before starting and have a few days to chill out before working again. Started work on the Thursday while Harry went to join some agencies downtown. My first day went well, everybody is really friendly.

Harry had a call the next day from an agency to say they had found him a job starting the following Tuesday (as Monday was bank holiday) so within 2 weeks of arriving we were both employed!!

My job is working for an association management company as mentioned before. They manage around 20 different non profit organisations. By manage I mean look after all of their administration, communication, emails, websites as well as their events which is where I come in. I am helping with the event organising as well as attending events and helping out with various projects around the office.

My colleagues-

Harry’s job is working at the new stadium in the city, BC Place. They have had an on-going project for the past 2 years to build a retractable roof on the stadium. Harry is working behind the scenes helping with all of the admin. It’s a great place to work, really interesting and he gets free tickets to some Soccer & CFL (Canadian Football).

BC Place-

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The Beginning

So after a long journey to get over here we had just 5 nights booked in a hotel in downtown and no plan. First jobs were to get a Social Insurance Number (SIN), a cell phone and a bank account! With these we figured we would be able to do everything we needed.

Harry had done a lot of research into which banks were best as in Canada you have to pay for most banks and most withdrawals. We decided to go with CIBC and as we went into the branch I spotted a poster on the wall advertising the ‘Newcomers to Canada’ promotion. Anybody who was new to Canada got free everything banking related for a year! Perfect, it meant no cost to get our own money! Bonus!

After asking around re mobile phones or ‘cell phones’ as they’re more commonly known as here, we went with a provider called Fido. We got a good deal which included unlimited texts internationally as well as within Canada (great to be able to keep in touch with home) as well as free evening and weekend calls and no contract. The only thing is, you have to pay an extra $10 a month for caller recongnition which is so bizarre so we opted out of this, we’re still finding it very annoying not knowing who is calling us though.

Our main priority after this was to find a place to live. Our hotel was in the ‘East End’ of town, surrounded by homeless druggies wandering around looking like people out of ‘Shaun of the Dead’ ,not the best place to be but the hotel was fine and the staff were really helpful and friendly.

Craigslist is North Americas version of Gumtree and where hundreds of rooms for rent are posted everyday so it seemed like a good place to start. We weren’t sure as to whether we wanted our own place or to house/flat share so though we would have a look at both. We set our budget at $1200 a month which could get us our own place but it would have to be a studio apartment. We arranged to see one downtown and got very excited when we were taken to the 22nd floor or a luxurious building, our hopes soon faded when the guy led us into his 2 bedroom apartment which he had converted the master bedroom of into a suite. It was literally just a bedroom with an en-suite and a microwave which somehow apparently qualified as a kitchen. When we asked to see the rest of the apartment he told us that part was his and all that was available for rent was the master bedroom. We then decided to go and have a look at a place in the West End sharing with a guy on his own, as soon as we arrived we realised the place was unfurnished and not willing to spend out on furniture to use for less than a year and then have to sell, we apologised and continued our search.

The next day we set up viewings at 4 different places, hopeful that at least one of them would be nice. 3 out of the 4 were located Downtown and were all really nice, the first two were 3 bedroom places sharing with another couple and a single with only one bathroom. 1 bathroom between 5 people seemed like a lot so we went to look at the 3rd place in a swanky area called ‘Yaletown’ this was sharing with just one guy and when we went into the apartment we both knew straight away that this was ‘the one’. Alejandro is from Mexico and is very into everything ‘Asian’ meaning the decor in the place was lovely as well as the smell of incense. He took us to the master bedroom which was huge with a big en-suite. We both loved it. We thought we should just go and check out the last place as it was in the area of Kitslano (Kits) which is near the beach and we had heard good things about it. We went along to a basement suite of a very nice lady who informed us that she had already rented it from the beginning of September onwards but we were very welcome to rent it until then, however, we both decided we didn’t want to move around and loved Alex’s place so gave him a call and we were told we could move in the following week!

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Hello & welcome to our blog

Hi everyone and welcome to our blog. Unsure of whether to do this as we do well and keep in touch with everybody but at least this way, if people want to know more about what we’re up to then there is a place to go.

So we have been living in Vancouver for 10 weeks and 1 day and we absolutely love it so far.

Question everybody asks….why Vancouver?? so here are the answers

  • It has been voted the best city in the world to live in on numerous occasions
  • It is relitively easy to get a working holiday visa here
  • The economy is currently far better than the UK
  • It has a decent summer (more than a couple of days of sun every few weeks like England)
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