sponsors always were:
During my travels newspaper columns were published weekly in the Dutch daily newspaper
This project has been supported by these great and warmhearted companies:
Netherlands: Paping Buitensport, ODLO, IPtower.nl, AVRO Dutch Broadcasting Org., Travelcare, TunaFish, Book A Tour, StadsRadio Rotterdam; UK: Lazystudent, KissFM, The Sunday Times, The Guardian; Isle of Man: SteamPacket/SeaCat; Ireland: BikeTheBurren; Belgium: Le Temps Perdu, Majer & Partners; Austria: OhmTV.com; Norway: Scanrail Pass, Hurtigruten, Best Western Hotels; South Africa: eTravel, British Airways Comair, CapeTalk, BazBus; Spain: Inter Rail, Train company Renfe; Australia: Channel 9 Television, Bridgeclimb, Harbourjet, SeaFM Central Coast, Moonshadow Cruises, Australian Zoo, Fraser Island Excursions, Hamilton Island Resort, FantaSea Cruises, Greyhound/McCafferty's Express Coaches, Aussie Overlanders, TravelAbout.com.au, Travelworld, Unlimited Internet, Kangaroo Island SeaLink, Acacia Apartments; Malaysia: Aircoast; Canada: VIA rail, Cedar Springs Lodge, BCTV/GlobalTV, St. George Hotel, VICKI GABEREAU talkshow, Ziptrek Ecotours, Whitler Blackcomb Ski Resort, Summit Ski & Snowboard Rental, High Mountain BrewHouse, Cougar Mountain Snowmobiling, Whistler Question Newspaper, Snowshoe Inn, First Air, Nunanet.com, Canadian North Accommodations by the Sea, DRL Coachlines Newfoundland, The National Post and Air North.
ReportsDuring 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.
Friday, 25 July 2003
Victoria, Vancouver Island, Canada --> London, UK My last day in Canada.
I woke up at 5 am this morning, had a shower and got my stuff in the back of Anna's car. Most of my necessary luggage I had already packed last night. Anna took me along to Tim Horton's for the last time where she bought me the sandwich-coffee-and-a-donut-deal for breakfast. That was really cool of her, because what else is more Canadian than Tim Horton's for breakfast? Then she drove me to the Victoria Harbor where my ex-host Jamie Little from Halifax, Nova Scotia, had arranged me a free flight with Helijet! Well, he had paid for it, but got a nice discount because I bannered for Helijet on my website.
So there I was. I hugged Anna goodbye and thanked her for letting me stay four days at her place, for being my last hostess in Canada, and for being such great company!
At 7 am the helicopter took off from the beautiful Vancouver Island. It was one of those real flashy helicopters and it was cramped full with people on their way to their offices in Vancouver. I was actually the only passenger who was not wearing a tie and a suit!
This flight was a thrill! I had a great view on Victoria as the jet took off and loved the sight of the many little islands along the horizon. I especially enjoyed watching the warm orange sun rise from that same horizon, behind the mountains of Washington.
When the helicopter landed at the helipad a few kilometers south of Vancouver, after a thirty minute flight, I noticed I was the only person getting off here. And then the jet took straight off again, probably taking people to their sky scraper offices in downtown Vancouver. As the only passenger in a van I was escorted to the departure terminal of the Vancouver Airport.
Of course it was way to early to check in for my 1 pm flight. It was only 8.30 am now. So I walked around the big terminal building, browsed books in the book store, studied the names of sushis at a Japanese restaurant (which was of course still closed) (you never know if sushi names come in handy someday in the future!) and walked around some more. I had the Tim Horton sandwich while I sat on one of the many waiting benches. Waiting for the check-in time at 10 am. Then I fell asleep right there. All the preparations and thoughts of leaving Canada had made me tired. And a total of exact 160 days in Canada is tiring too!
When I woke up, with my backpack still next to me, I looked at the check-in desks of Air Canada. Oh my God, the airport had woken up when I was out! It was crowded and full of people everywhere! I actually had to find the line for my flight to London and noticed that waiting line went all the way down the terminal. Where did all these people come from?!
Some people called me smart. While everybody was waiting standing in line, I just sat down all the time. I had put my pack on one of these trolleys and just sat on my pack, while reading a local newspaper that I took along from the helicopter. And every time as the line moved a bit further, I only had to move my feet to connect with the line again. I wondered why nobody else was doing that, because people were sighing and moaning around me.
I had my return ticket safely hidden in my backpack during the whole trip through Canada – you know that ticket that was paid for by Aeroplan points of a lady in Calgary.
Well, actually she never lived in Calgary, but she asked for privacy so I made 'Calgary' up. If I stayed with one person only in a small town and I had said that 'a lady' from that town had paid my ticket it would be very obvious who would have paid it, wouldn't it? But the ticket was paid for and I have stayed with that family too.
It was about noon when I received my boarding pass. Now I had to go through customs and security before arriving on the other side of the airport, where all the tax-free shops are situated and where all the people get boarded .
I jumped the long line for the security check, to be honest again. I jumped the 200 meters of waiting people as I walked all the way to the front. Hey, there was the Japanese restaurant again! I looked at that menu again (hey, this was only acting) and then stepped a few steps backwards and poof!, I was one of the first in line. Slowly I walked towards security. Nobody noticed, I guess. Hehe. I just hate to wait.
The security screenings somehow always fascinate me. Those people take care for the security of the airport and of all the flights that depart from this airport. What a load of responsibility that is! I had to undo my belt (iron) so that security lady was sure that nothing beeped from behind my zipper, before I could continue.
Now it would take about an hour for my boarding time at 12.30 pm, so I sat down at a bar near my designated gate. I had a chat with an American who ordered double vodka with 7Up. "No make it a triple," he said. It cost him $16! He drank it as it was water and then told me it was a great thing to do before flying. "I'll sit down and after take off I'll be asleep!". We talked a few minutes and then he bought himself another triple-vodka. I wondered if he would make it to his seat! "You want something too?" he asked me and before I knew it I had a pint of Canadian Molson foaming in front of me.
I took on his advice to have a bit of alcohol before take-off, but refused anything to do with such hard liquor as vodka at this time of the day. Even for beer it would be way too early for me, but it was going to be my last beer in Canada and I was going to be on an airplane for nine hours and will be screwed by time zones anyway! "Thank you!"
I boarded my plane, a Boeing 767 at boarding time (as one of the first, hehe) and took my seat. Now I know some people can be stressed about flying, but why the heck was Air Canada playing Christmas songs on the intercom?! That beer really helped out, because other wise I would have been totally stressed out by that irritating noise! Oh, well, I thought, it must be Christmas in July then…
Continue in next report…