I love travelling...I guess most of you know that by now...But there is always a familiar comfort when you fly back home and see the familiar sweep of the Manukau Harbour unfolding beneath you. Any weight of awkwardness and anxiety of being in foreign land rolls from your shoulders with the first grunt from the disinterested ground staff in the skybridge, and the disbelieving looks from the hulking border guards. (Maybe that's just my experience though - "Yes officer, I am carrying drugs/firearms/illegal fireworks AND small children on my person...")
Going back from Vancouver last time around though I felt like I had left a little too soon, and through circumstances that are now left altogether in the past I was compelled to venture back to NZ for a little while at least.
No surprise though that I now find myself on these fair North Western shores again, albeit a little colder and a little greyer this time around!
Thursday night landing was met with a welcoming commitee that was a sight for sore eyes and a few cold 'Canadians' settled me straight into a deep first night slumber. Feeling surprisingly fresh on my first day back I felt enormously productive doing a little work and writing until lunch time beckoned.
Feeling the need to explore and reaqcuiant myself with the area I stepped out the door only to be greeted with the beginnings of rain and an icy wind. Thinking that jandals and shorts, whilst showing my Kiwi patriotism, were perhaps not the clothing d'jour, I turned on my heel to get better equipped. I had however failed to realise that the door would lock automatically behind me and I had taken the key that doesn't work!
I thought thankfully that there was at least one other unemployed person staying in the house so I would be rescued at any moment. But being pretty cold out and the weather threatening to break I figured that it was now or never for lunch, and so I trudged off in my jandals to look for something to eat....not so easy at is seemed! After walking probably the wrong way I came to a McDonalds and tried to make the healthiest choice available (burger - extra meat, no fries, no soft drink) and ordered an ENORMOUS coffee to keep me warm.....
5 Hours later, and after several more warmth providing coffees and failed expeditions to find internet cafes from which to launch a 'facebook cry for help' I found myself huddling for warmth in the carport wondering (perhaps a little melodramatically) if this was to be both the beginning AND end of my Canadian adventure!
BUT the cavalry appeared in the form of Amy and Lou coming home from work, and after a warm shower and some damn fine sushi (not to mention fuelled up on far too many coffees) I was not only alive, but ready to hit the town....in a small way for some quiet drinks.
A great night out was followed by a great morning, breakfast and fine conversation, leading to a decision to hit the 'Grouse Grind'. Now last time I went to Grouse and was a little less than impressed. This time, actually doing the walk was awesome! Although perhaps we were a little underdone after very little sleep the night before. It rained a little, was cold and misty, but if nothing else that added to the Nth Western vibe - tall cedar and spruce straddling a steep mountain face, pretty cool - and the glimpses of the city and sound back from the mountain were breathtaking, and will no doubt be even more so on a clearer day.
Coming back to town our plans of partygoing were curtailed by the cumulative weight of beer, lack of sleep and climbing a mountain....and so 'India Bistro' instead was suggested and one of the best Indian meals I think I have ever had helped to cap off a great weekend, and hopefully the first of many here...