Thursday, 4 May 2017

Here we go again (oh, thank thee, Gods of rescuing adventurous souls from cities of Evil)

3 am.  Time to get up.  My clothes will only be subjected to sink-laundry during the next month, so it would be nice to grant them one final washing machine experience ;-)


The next 2.5 hours are occupied by doing laundry, packing the last remnants, and chatting with Carlos, the Cuban receptionist of the hotel.

RAIN.  What else would one expect?

5:40 am. Just like 2 months ago, I'm catching the FIRST bus of the day right in front of my hotel.  Just like last time, the bus is PACKED.  I'm occupying one of the LAST 3 standing spaces.  Hello Translink !  On the bright side:just like last time, there is that cute First Nations guy riding to his construction job (judging by his shoes)
No more standing room
Skytrain to Main Street Station

6:05 am.
I can hear the LOUD "HOW'RE YA DOING?" already when I just pass the doors of Pacific Station.  It's the SAME conductor working again today as on the last 2 train journeys.   My NEW passport gets its very first stamp from an American border officer.  Just why the Americans and Canadians always have to smack their stamps into the very first passport space they encounter is beyond me.  NONE of the neatness and evidence of thought that the Vietnamese exhibit. Their stamps are ALWAYS neatly lined up, and you can bet your life that the Exit Stamp is RIGHT NEXT to the Enter Stamp ;-)

8 am

The rain is letting up as the train crosses the US border and stops entirely when we pass Bellingham.  I check Seattle's weather forecast for this afternoon and I'm shocked:  20 Celsius and SUNNY !   Oh, right I never mentioned where I'm going. But that's OK, You'll find out eventually, LOL.  

10:30 am.
I only realize that something must have happened to the Canadian Dollar when I pay the US$ 23 bill for a bottle of wine and a sandwich with CAD $40 and get 6 (SIX) US bucks back.  What happened to the other $ 11?
1 Canadian $ only buys 0.73 US dollars !  There was parity only 4 years ago ! I US-buck buys 1.37 Canadian wienies.  LOL. What a nasty blow to the Canadian Dollar and Canada in general.  But no worries.  The US has Trump now, the yellow-haired duck that CRAVES approval but has NO CLUE what it's doing, so I can see parity coming back soon, LOL.

Aha! Is that the wine talking already?  And it's NOT EVEN 11 am any PROPER Canadian will now manage to stammer while putting on a studied DISAPPROVING look.

Ah!  Who cares about our Northern Frozen Whiners?  I'm happy.  Sure blame it on the booze, but JUST 1 Minute ago I glimpsed a piece of BLUE SKY, the Chardonnay is actually quite good, and somehow the idea of decadently sipping wine while relaxing and watching the ocean landscape slide gently by my window very much strikes me as something overwhelmingly and old-worldly CIVILIZED.   Just think Orient Express.  Could you ever imagine the dining car of the Orient Express WITHOUT a bottle of WINE?  

 Mais NON !  Sacrilege !


King Street Station.  Wow, that seemed a SHORT ride.  Sitting in a comfy chair, taking short naps, sipping wine, watching the landscape roll by, WHY would anyone drive a car to Seattle????
I'm going to 'eat at home' in my motel at SeaTac, so I am happy to see a SUPER MARKET behind the advertised Asian restaurant mall right behind the International District/ Chinatown transit station close to the train station.

In 5 days, I will have been a widower for exactly 3 years , so I notice the the name of the cheapest available white wine (6.99) and smile.  
And with 12.5 % it's also a great inspiration, LOL.

I also get baguette, sliced cheese & sliced chorizo.  Dinner is served.  One thing strikes me as a TRES ODD when I pay:  The cashier asks me for ID.  Not being offended but curious, I ask "What for?". She points at the wine.  "But I'm obviously OLD enough", I reply.  Yes, but some people apparently try to buy WINE WITHOUT ID.   Can't have that now, can we?   WTF?   The cashier is UNABLE to explain WHY I have to have ID to purchase wine, but fortunately she is appeased when I show her my BC Driver's license.  Even my comment of "Just tell me the REASON; I DO TRAVEL to LEARN" does not produce a result. 
You can tell this is an old book. Nowadays the Grey Men would NOT be smoking anymore, LOL
Is THAT what the world is coming to?   Rules and regulations that MUST be obeyed and are ENFORCED by mindless Zombies even though NO-ONE is able to remember WHY those rules were created in the first place?  What a NIGHTMARE!  Coincidentally:  When visiting Wilhelm & Ute in Germany two months ago, the name of Michael Ende's book MOMO came up.  It was written about 35 to 40 years ago and it is about the increasing number of little gray men in the world that is  trying to extinguish the fun in all other people.  I ordered it on Amazon and it will be read on this trip ;-)

12:00 Noon

I remember that my motel won't give me my room until 2 pm, so I might as well waste time in a restaurant for an hour to drink more wine and to put down to electronic paper things I might forget before long (i.e. the strange wine-buying experience above).  I remember that 2 months ago I was NOT at all happy with the food at Shanghai Garden Restaurant, so this time I try something else.  TROPICS Thai Restaurant.  And I order Coconut-flake-dipped prawns with Tropics special sauce for 6.99 and a glass of Chardonnay.   I am instantly pleased by the AMOUNT of Chardonnay in that glass ;-)  None of the CHEAP small-glass policy around here.
And although historically I have NOT been a fan of coconut (blame it on an incident in Holland when I was 16 years old), these prawns are DELICIOUS. What a STRANGE but WONDERFUL combination of flavours!  As a reality check:  I can't remember when I ate something TRULY yummy or novel in Vancouver last.

13:45 (Note switch to European time notation ;-)

I've checked in to Rodeway Inn.   NOT fancy, but cheap and easy walking distance to SeaTac Airport in Seattle. My second time here but not my last time. Since my flight does not leave until 17:00 tomorrow, I've asked for late check-out at 14:00 and grudgingly paid $15 for the privilege. Almost ANYTHING is better than hanging out long periods at airports ;-)
Just for fun I decide to check the status of my PR card application.  I've paid all my outstanding taxes yesterday, so now they should be able to finally give it to me.   NO, I don't expect any change to the In Process message, but you never know. I mean NO-ONE can take 6 frigging months to PROCESS an application without a specific reason like unpaid taxes, right?   

Apparently CIC CAN take that long.  I see that they mailed me my NEW PR card on the day BEFORE I paid my taxes.   

During a walk over to the airport to find a bank machine and to buy more cigarettes I run into that strange present your ID thing again.  I can not buy cigarettes without presenting valid ID, and the woman behind the counter CHECKS whether it's STILL valid.   Again, she can't tell me why.   A woman pipes in from the back of the line.    It's the liquor-control board and the cigarette control board that are the problem.  They send undercover inspectors to stores and hand out HEAVY FINES to clerks that sell booze or cigarettes to anyone without a valid ID.  
 Yes, as I had feared, it is a system that is running Amok.   NO-ONE has been able to explain to me WHY a 60 years old person WITHOUT a valid ID should NOT be able to buy a bottle of wine or a pack of cigarettes ;-)

No wonder I can't wait to get back to the real world, LOL.

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