Saturday, 5 October 2013

Vancouver is AMAZING (read the small print and between the lines)

and the smallprint is: on a drizzly Saturday morning at 6 am.

The air seems fresh, the sky is not obscured by clouds of exhaust fumes, the roads are EMPTY of cars and people, no honking or swearing is to be heard, one's mind does not have to work overtime in order to avoid ignant drivers and one actually gets to where one wants to go extremely quickly, Superstore is OPEN at 6 am, and there is ZERO wait at the one open cashier isle.

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A very nice change from yesterday afternoon, when my plane landed on time at 2:20 pm at YVR. The airport experience was a bit odd:   I got through passport control within 1 minute of reaching the end of the queue (unheard of), despite having FOLDED the CUSTOMS DECLARATION form, despite the EXPLICIT warning 'DO NOT FOLD'.  Has anyone else noticed that countries all over the world have managed to publish these stupid forms in a format that easily FITS INTO a PASSPORT, thus eliminating the constant irritation of FORM FOLDERS like me?  I mean, come on guys and gals, clue in.  People are coming out of a plane with their hands full of luggage and still manage to show their passport. So where the heck are they supposed to carry the LARGE FORM unfolded?  In their mouth?

I had to pay for the rapid passport control by waiting a not exorbitant amount of time for my bicycle and my saddle bags.  Customs did not chose to drive me 3/4 of the way to insanity with cunning trip- or trick questions that would not fool my 5.5 year old pseudo-nephew Mika.  But the lovely young lady that did that to me last year was actually one of the two people deciding on whom they should pick on today.  You can imagine how delighted I was to see her again.

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Anyhoo, my rather large bicycle box was sitting sideways on my luggage trolley, because otherwise it would fall down down in the front.  Some Giant of Gray Matter at Customs had decided to narrow the permanently installed guide-posted way passing customs using these lovely silvery posts with the tape between them. Now, the permanently installed guide posts would have presented no problem for me and my bicycle.  But the added cattle coral fencing did.  So I pointed out politely to the two customs amazons the obvious:  "I don't think I'll fit through there!"  Without a smile or word customs lady (the other one) moves one of the poles.  Now I fit through this former tight spot but not through the one that is formed by the next cattle fencing pole. And this was rather obvious.  For a split second I thought about inquiring with the guardian of our country again whether she would move the other pole as well, but she seemed rather occupied with giving the people behind me a visual third degree, so I just used my cart as a bulldozer and cleared the last pole out of the path.  Welcome to Canada !

I cleared the terminal building at almost exactly 3 pm. When one leaves the arrival area there is a person with a whistle directing taxi & pedestrian traffic right.  I had often regarded these people with a skeptical look, especially the ones that use the whistle like a symphony orchestra director uses his baton.  But today I was surprised: The whistle blower on duty today saw me approaching with my loaded cart and grasped two things immediately:  1) I would not fit through the cattle gates erected for other prospective taxi customers and 2) that a regular-size taxi probably would not do on account of the size of the bicycle box. So he immediately instructed me to wait at the mail box (smokers know where the mail box is: RIGHT OUTSIDE the sliding doors ;-) and with much whistling directed an oversize taxi cab to me.  THANK YOU !!  Someone was thinking !!!   Now why does this guy not work for Canada Customs ?   I think it is because directing the traffic is a much more important job and his one-person actions probably save more lives and prevent more injuries than of those of all the customs people inside the airport combined.

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Vancouver traffic at 3 pm was astonishing.  I had thought that as soon as tourist season was over things would quiet down again.  Boy was I wrong !  Even directing the cab driver along some of my 'sneaky' routes did not help and we got stuck a few times.  In honour of cab drivers: It is not only their fault that a taxi ride that used to cost $25 20 years ago now costs $80.  There is a lot of traffic that drastically slows them down!

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