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During my travels, my compensation for free accommodation for one night, was for me to write a daily travel diary. Of how I got to my next location, the people who would host me, the food I was offered and everything else. Below you find the archives of the highly extensive reports. Know that English is not my native language and most reports were written at high speed around midnight. Enjoy.

Sunday, 20 July 2003
--> Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada (2nd day)

While walking through Jasper I suddenly realised how much I am going to miss Canada.

Miss Canada. I flirted with you and you have seduced me. For about 150 days I have adjusted myself to so many differences (food, lifestyle, language) that I realise it will all be gone next week. It's like dating a beautiful lady, enjoy all the time together but know the fun will only last for five months. And then it's all over.

This morning in Jasper I was already a bit awake when Corinne Vey woke me up in her apartment late in the morning. It was good it was already this late in the morning; otherwise I might have felt an interesting hangover.

I had a quick shower before we left the apartment. Corinne told me last night that she'd wake me up with the aroma of bacon and eggs, prepared freshly in her kitchen. But she decided to just all have breakfast at her boyfriend's apartment.

He lives in a house with three other people and when I arrived there I met up with him and lovely Karen and the animals. We enjoyed bacon and eggs at the kitchen table as we made preparations for today.

Karen really had to get going sometime today, but she was happy to join us on a trip to "the falls" and maybe we could do some horse riding today!

We hung around the house for quite a while. Karen first had to haul everything over from one car to another, so I joined her to the industrial terrain behind Jasper where her other car was recently fixed. She once had this station wagon, but that one turned over on some snow ditch and got brutally damaged. With pride of the past she showed me the photo of her car upside-down in the snow.

It was already in the afternoon when we had a drive to the Jasper Park Lodge, an Alpine-like village of cedar chalets and authentic log
cabins just out of town, where we visited the horse riding grounds. It was a bit rainy today and the last rides just returned from the track.

Karen had tried to talk to one of the manager she knew from the past, but had no luck to get us all on a horse and have a ride around. So I had a fake horse-ride on the playground there, to compensate it.

From the lodge I joined Karen in her revamped station wagon, while Corinne and her boyfriend drove ahead of us in their monster truck. One thing I had to see in Jasper was the view on the town from one of the mountains.

So my hosts decided to take me up the old ski hill. Where once people skied down in the winter a long long time ago, young green trees were flourishing again. It was great to just walk there, enjoy the sun and look over Jasper, with the great Rockies on the background.

Our next place to visit is amongst the most powerful and breathtaking falls I have ever seen (and I have already seen the mundane Niagara Falls) are the Athabasca Falls. I took Karen's dog here for a walk, but she got a bit scared by the thunders of the falling water.

The water of the Athabasca River comes all the way from the Columbia Glacier (the largest ice field south of Alaska) about 70 kilometres south of here. The Athabasca Falls thunders through a narrow gorge where the walls have been smoothed and potholes are created by the sheer force of the rushing water carrying sand and rock.

To just stand there and listen to the sounds of nature (just ignoring all the Japanese and American tourists passing by in bus loads) gave a captivating sensation.

Like every day it is almost out of the question to understand the fact that I come from a little country on the other side of this planet and I in point of fact standing here and enjoying falls in these Rocky Mountains.

At the end of the afternoon I had to get going again.

After I was on the radio last week (in Calgary) the reservation manager of the Château Jasper, Sabrina Mowbray, extended the offer of one night accommodation at this hotel in Jasper. The Château Jasper is part of the chain of resorts hotels of Decore Hotels, with many hotels located in the Canadian Rockies.

So of course I took that invitation to stay there for the night! It hasn't happened that often that Canadian hotels offered their hospitality so complimentary!

My hostess, her boyfriend and Karen dropped me off at the luxurious hotel, just a few streets from where I slept last night. They just loved the room I stayed in. I had two big beds, a television with Playstation games and a big bathroom. As you can see, Corinne had to test the beds for a sec.

I thanked her and everybody else for the great time I had with them. It was short, but interesting enough. I had a great time with Karen that was for sure. She is not a tough cowgirl, she is a cow lady!

I never heard if she eventually wants to marry me (re: yesterday), but we exchanged email addresses to keep each other posted. I haven't heard from her since then…

After checking in at the reception I was given two coupons for a complimentary dinner at the in-house Italian restaurant and for tomorrow's breakfast. Sabrina really took care of me here!

Before heading out to the restaurant for this night's dinner, I had a little nap on my room.

It was a bit quiet at the Italian restaurant. The guests I saw were clearly tourist couples or families from another country. A friendly man (he was a really happy chap!) named Erin was my waiter for the night and offered me a table at the window. After a look at the fancy menu I treated myself with 'peppered bison carpaccio with shaved parmigiano reggiano and extra virgin olive oil on a bread stick'.

That was the first course, hey!

The main course was veal piccata (thin scaloppini of veal sauced with white wine and butter). This was delicious and during this dinner I read some brochures of the hotel and about Jasper, while sipping red wine from Chili.

I was enjoying the meal to the fullest, because how often do I get something so scrumptious as this. The people at the next table were munching on their food as you'd do if this is your 30th day in a hotel's restaurant. Dinner had become a necessity and they weren't really appreciative at all! "We really need to find a grizzly tomorrow," I heard a couple from Wisconsin say.

After dinner I decided to go for a walk through Jasper. On my own this time. It was dark and in the small town centre it was pretty quiet for a Friday night.

While walking through Jasper I suddenly realised how much I am going to miss Canada.

Miss Canada. I flirted with you and you have seduced me. For about 150 days I have adjusted myself to so many differences (food, lifestyle, language) that I realise it will all be gone next week. It's like dating a beautiful lady, enjoy all the time together but know the fun will only last for five months. And then it's all over.

Suddenly I came to a point where I might not want to say goodbye. Because it hurts!

Back home my life will be so much different again, unimaginable for most Canadians. I know I will even miss many people I have met. For the while at home I will take a rest for a few months and in that time I will fall back in the life I have left several times now.

Back home I am a bum, without a degree and I will have to find a job for a while to support myself. I might end up behind the bar of my favourite local pub again.

In the coming few weeks I'll meet my dearest best friends again too, my amigos, whose life have changed so much these years: they graduated for what I dropped out off and move around. Have a life.

Back home in The Netherlands I'll need to start a life too, however I might be travelling again soon too. My question to myself is: how do I do that all together?

I am just a little afraid about what's going to happen next. You read that right, Ramon can be afraid of something.

Fortunately I have travelled through a great country and learned a lot about friendship and about real friends at home. So I shouldn't worry. The question shouldn't be how I should handle things at home but it should be: who the heck will pay when I take my parents and friends out for dinner?!!

Good night Jasper!