My wakeup call was in the form of a herd of speed cyclists in the parking lot dressed in their uniforms of spandex, bizarro helmets and bikes that cost more than my car… all having conversations at nightclub decibels. 15 minutes of this defeated my earplugs and I threw in the towel and trundled off for coffee down in the kitchen. My roomies were made of tougher stuff and continued to huddle under their comforters. (before you get an eiderdown image, they are the stuff of Kmart).
I plugged everything in to re-charge, made coffee and settled in to read. Soon enough people dribbled in, mostly older and a woman with a small child. Showered and dressed I grabbed my rental bike and was off to Naam, a vegetarian restaurant that I haven’t been to for a decade or more. A Kits institution, it is old as dirt and represents the strong hippie history of the neighbourhood. Nothing to jump up and down about but nice not to have to worry about meat tainting my eggs on the grill.
There was an interesting exhibit at the Anthropology Museum up at UBC so I cycled up there and spent an absolutely stellar afternoon exploring some of the many facets of that institution. I have recently become a huge fan of the often free tours offered by museums and art galleries, I have found that they increase my enjoyment of the place enormously. The one I joined on Sunday was no exception, the dosant gave us a well delivered and informed overview of the place. I have visited before but this was so much because of the tour. I do wish I could have also joined the tour for the Safar/Voyage exhibit but I missed it. Even without the added information it is a powerful show and I am so glad that I caught it. So much so I might actually make the trek back to catch one of their guided walks. If there is any possible way you can go, please do it. You will love me for nagging you into it. 🙂
While I was taking a break to write in my notebook (how old school of me) a young couple came by, the man dropped exhausted into the chair beside me and his partner rolled up in her wheel chair. They had ridden their bikes all the way from Coal Harbour, through Stanley Park, around False Creek and then up to UBC! And had wandered around the museum for a while. He had every right to be exhausted. For a year she has been suffering from a nerve problem in her foot that doctors can not explain but at least she is able to cycle. She was cheerful and bright and charming, he was grumpy, tired in a charming sort of way. From Seattle, where much of the shore line is privately owned, they loved how accessible Vancouver’s shore was to the public. I agree.
Finally they kicked me out so they could close. My brain was numb from stimulus overload so it felt good to jump on the bike and scream down the hill in seconds that took forever going up. It was freezing and all I could do was hang on for dear life as the lush dark green of the Pacific Spirit Park forest on one side and its rocky, drift-wood strewn beaches on the other streaked by. Hunger pains drove me on past the hostel to this vegetarian restaurant on West Broadway that I’ve been dying to try, Dharma Kitchen. So glad I did and will definitely be back. I had the Buddha Bowl, a delightful melange of steamed marinated tofu cubes, bean sprouts, fresh cucumber and tomato slices, cilantro and green onions served with Thai peanut sauce, very yummy. I ordered the Mango Tapioca Pudding to go and even though by the time I ate it, it was cooled down, it was still freaking wonderful. Warm it would make my toes curl in delight.
Quite exhausted I rode back to the hostel and found I was just too tired to deal with computers and such so I curled up in bed and read until the lights went out at 11 and I feel asleep.
2 new girls had moved in to share the bunks across from me, from Germany, I believe. Not friendly in the least, I barely got a nod response to my hello. Whatever.
Late the night before I was introduced to a young girl I called Tinker Bell. She was in the bunk on the other side of the wall from me and she wore bells. Which meant they announced each little movement she made. So the 2 trips to the bathroom, undressing, even rolling over in bed was accompanied by those little bells. sigh. I finally actually saw her Sunday evening and couldn’t help but ask her what the freak was up with the bells. She was somewhat startled by my frankness (many are) and mumbled that it was her bracelet. She actually made some effort to quiet them but then I could just hear her thinking; “Heh, screw her, I can have my little bells pealing if I want!” and she let them rip. Whatever, I had bought super-duper earplugs in anticipation of such events.
Its now Monday morning, no cyclists, which means I got to slowly wake up in peace and quiet. I grabbed my coffee maker and padded down to the kitchen to write.
Now this is interesting. I am sitting in the kitchen having my morning coffee and a herd of prepubescent kids drifted through like a flock of chattering crows. Earlier I had ventured to the 3rd floor to the bathroom up there and walked into a room full of pre-teen girls all in full on prepping mode. Yammering, hair blowers, curling irons … holy crap! When I came out one of the male chaperones spotted my face and started laughing his off. Need less to say, I looked stunned. I’m guessing they are all the same group. The hostel seems to be a favorite nesting place for youth athletic teams from out of town. Yah.
I have met an American woman, originally from Nairobi, who has come up to find a way to move to Vancouver. She has been out of work for some time and is desperate to start a new life here. Vibrant, intelligent and charismatic, I am sure she will do well no matter the challenges ahead. We sat and chatted for some time while she picked my brain for information about the area. I enjoyed her company but I was/am conflicted about any future meetings. It is much easier to explore a new friendship when the 2 parties are more or less on equal ground but when one is obviously struggling and one isn’t, well it is uncomfortable, at least for me. During my 20’s I would have insisted she stay with me and I would share whatever I had with her. But now I am careful. Which causes me guilt: shouldn’t I help her, do what I can to assist a fellow human get back on her feet? Don’t we see movies, read books about how gratifying it can be to do just that? Well there are just as many, if not more, that show us how scary and destructive it can be as well. Sadly it dampened my enjoyment but I decided to give her my email and proceed with caution, it is the best I can do and hope for the best. This is nothing if not further proof I can find things to angst about anywhere at any time, I don’t even need to go to a foreign country. 🙂
My transit trip home was so much better than the last one. I even transfered 3 times to run errands without bugging the driver! Yah, me! Now I am sitting here at my computer trying to wrap up the experience in my head before writing it up but that never works for me. Writing is actually a good way for me to think. It was a positive experience, very glad I did it. There was really no noise at night, certainly none that made it through the ear plugs but then this is the shoulder season so the dorm was definitely not full. I believe it would be very different with 14 women in there at the same time. The bathroom situation would be horrific – there were 4 dorms plus at least a couple of private rooms that was serviced by 2 bathrooms – 1 men’s and 1 women’s. We had 2 toilets (1 of which was out of commission) and 2 showers and 4 sinks. I don’t think you need a lot of imagination to realize that would be daunting to say the least.
The Jericho Beach Hostel seemed very clean and every day the cleaning crew were at it to keep it that way. The kitchen was large and well stocked. There were quit a few stove burners that didn’t work though. The tv room was stocked with a wide screen tv and comfy chairs and there were board games to share. The staff was friendly and helpful, I couldn’t ask for more from them. You can rent bikes, which I really appreciated since it made it so much easier to get around. One tip I can give you is to take advantage of the 2 night/free bike rental for 1 day offer. It actually ends up cheaper than just 2 nights without the bike. No I don’t understand it, even after the staff tried to explain. I decided I didn’t need to understand.
I didn’t eat in the restaurant this time but on another occasion I did and was impressed. It is relatively new and is run by the North Shore Culinary School. The Jericho Sailing Club is within an easy walking distance from the hostel and has good food and great atmosphere and their restaurant deck has a view to die for. A short bike ride lands you on West 4th and a little further to West Broadway where there is extensive offerings of restaurants, coffee shops and a few pubs. If you’re into nightclubs, you’re out of luck and it will require a drive to downtown.
This photo of Hostelling International Vancouver Jericho Beach Hostel is courtesy of TripAdvisor
I decided I will never be a fan of the dorm scene, no matter how cheap they are. My home is my sanctuary, whether it is my apartment or a simple room in a basic hotel. I am so effected by the energy of people on my psyche that I need to be able to shut the door, be by myself, and re-ground. But for others that don’t suffer from other’s company, this would be a most excellent alternative. Plus they do have private rooms with bathrooms, which are very basic and run from $78 to $112, depending on the time of the year.