To get my work visa for Chile, I had to visit one of the country’s consulates in Canada…and there isn’t one in Alberta. The nearest one is in Vancouver, British Columbia.
I have two cousins, neither of whom I’ve seen in years (because I’ve been in China, they live in Vancouver and Toronto, and I’ve never been home at the same time as either of them!). There’s also a Chilean consulate in Toronto, so I’d get to visit one of my cousins no matter where I got my visa. And it made the most sense, logically, to get it in Toronto, because all flights from Canada to South America go through Pearson airport. However, my cousin there is very busy…he’s an engineer, and he’s planning his wedding…and, really, I wanted to visit Vancouver more.
I’ve been there a number of times now, and I absolutely love it. The stories about the cost of living there are outrageous, and also true. On the cab ride to my cousin’s place, I passed a new condo development on Granville Street, apparently geared towards families…they started at $2 million. There’ve been efforts to control land prices, and taxes for absentee owners who buy property in Vancouver but then don’t live there — many of those investors are of course from China, and are desperate to get any money they have out of that country. But Vancouver has always been expensive, because everyone wants to be there, because it’s beautiful.
Another story about Vancouver is you can go swimming in the morning and skiing in the afternoon, and in winter that is true. It has the Pacific Ocean on one side, and mountains right there on the other! It has Stanley Park, with one of the best aquariums in the world, totem poles, dozens of kinds of wild birds, roses and TREES, on an amazing coastline. Downtown Vancouver has (expensive) buildings right on the water which are all glass, so they reflect the water and the hundreds of boats docked there. They have outrageously good sushi, and the coffee culture is so pervasive I wonder if their blood is half caffeine; I say that having been to three excellent coffee houses in two days. They have salmon, and amazing fruit. There are so many beautiful (expensive) neighbourhoods with phenomenal houses and huge trees. The university of British Columbia sticks out into the ocean, and has its own forest, Japanese garden, and the legendary (notorious) Wreck Beach.
I know that when many people outside of Canada think of Canada, they’re thinking of Vancouver. I love that I got to spend my last few days in Canada there.