“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to YVR Airport. We hope you enjoy your stay in Vancouver. If you have to make a connecting flight, please proceed to Carousel 23 to pick up your baggage, as we will not check your bags onto the new flight for you. If you do not collect your baggage, it will slowly migrate to baggage heaven. Thank you.”
* * *
Ah, Canada. Home to misty fir forests, rain that falls harder than anywhere else in the world and airport tannoy announcers with a sense of humour. And, for the next three weeks, me.
I arrived last night after a 12-hour journey which was the nicest flight I’ve ever had, despite the plane leaving two hours late due to a computer glitch and the fact it was an old-fashioned aircraft with screens dotted throughout the cabin instead of groovy individual TVs in the back of the seats (how Dickensian!). I watched Juno, didn’t fancy Rush Hour 3 and killed time watching three episodes of House on my laptop and chatting to the nice chap sitting beside me (who’ll also be on my flight home, oddly enough).
I’m staying with a friend in West Vancouver in her housemate’s room (she’s gone away for a few weeks) and sharing the premises with three fishtanks, four parakeets and a tubby cat named Daisy who is without a doubt the noisiest feline I’ve ever met in my life. She’s also adorable, especially at 3am when you’re awake with jetlag and she climbs into bed with you and snuggles like she’s known you for years. The parakeets don’t like her much though.
Today I took the bus to downtown Vancouver and nearly fainted when the driver grinned at me and said hello as I climbed on board – that NEVER happens in London. Believe the hype: Canadians are very polite. I was last here four years ago, spending seven out of my ten days on Canadian soil doing set visits (Stargate SG-1, Stargate: Atlantis, Smallville, The Dead Zone and Dead Like Me) which were great fun, particularly Smallville, but I didn’t see much of the city. This time I’m going to know every damn inch before I’m done!
And because this is Vancouver, otherwise known as ‘Hollywood North’, I can safely attest that in the space of just one day I was filmed by a movie crew walking down Robson Street, saw several lamp posts with those luminous instructions for location units taped to them* and was interviewed by a team wanting to know if I approved of their latest TV commercial for milk (the “Got milk?” slogan seems to have mutated, but I’d better not say what the new one is in case I get in trouble).
Right now Daisy’s snoring on the sofa, my friend Justine will be back from the cinema soon (I was too tired to go, for fear of snoring in public) and the parakeets are looking bleary-eyed. Tomorrow I’ll find another part of Vancouver to explore while the sun’s out and I’m going to make the most of it, because once it starts raining here it’s like the end of the world. Vancouver rain is the wettest, hardest and scariest ever.
This is where umbrellas come to die. FACT.
* I remember reading a few years back that an artist had mounted an exhibition of those Day-Glo signs for location crews after he’d collected hundreds of them from all round the city. But the TV/film companies took him to court, claiming the signs were their property. I wish I knew how it turned out…