When Elliot and I went to Japan for our honeymoon, I didn’t think much about how I was going to write about our experiences. I just jumped in and started adding captions to photos, describing our days blow by blow as I always have in travel journals. And I’ll continue to do that in separate albums, but it’s no way to maintain a travel blog for an entire year! Instead, I want to use this blog to share my thoughts, feelings, and impressions; my own personal journey as our locations – and lives – change.
I finished reading ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k’ by Mark Manson on the plane over here, and it’s the most life-changing self-help book I’ve read. I think that’s partly the content and the way it’s written, but also partly the timing of reading it.
I’m drawn to the laidback, hippy lifestyle, and some of the time it fits perfectly. But there’s no escaping the on-the-spectrum side of my personality. I spend a lot of time overanalysing, and then overanalysing the overanalysing, something Manson describes perfectly early on in the book. And often it’s myself and my own behaviour that I’m overanalysing to begin with. I feel anxious when I don’t know the plan or when I’m not moving somewhere, making some kind of concrete, measurable progress. Perhaps not the ideal attributes to get the most out of a trip like this, nor to be a tolerable travel partner!
Reading the book has come at the perfect time for me. Manson entertainingly explains why he believes the problem with most people’s approach is that they care too much; they set too many goals; they work towards being happy instead of just being happy; they try to find themselves instead of just being themselves. I identify with a lot of this, and I’m ready to change my approach. In particular, I love the idea that we change throughout our lives, that there is no ‘self’ to be found. You are who you are now – embrace it, and enjoy it.
We’ve essentially packed up our life in pursuit of discovery and adventure. We’ve given away the structure of home and work. There’s nothing specific we’re looking to achieve. The aim is just to be happy… and there are no strategies for doing it. It’s just a matter of soaking it all in and appreciating the majesty of the world around us, and more importantly, the people in it.
The past couple of months at home I felt like I was stagnating. It’s not a word I would have used to describe the feeling at the time, but I guess I would sum it up with the fact that I just wanted to stay home and watch TV more than I wanted to go out. For a while it was as if nothing felt as joyous as it once did. I started to feel like I wasn’t as smart as I used to be, or as interesting, or as fun. I questioned myself for no good reason. Sometimes I would wonder if I even liked myself.
Already I almost feel like a different person. I feel more free, more open, more curious. More comfortable with myself and my relationships. I can’t wait to see and learn new things, to see how other people live. And Vancouver was the perfect place to start.
The people of Vancouver are all so friendly. There’s a real respect and warmth to everyone’s interactions with each other, not just in terms of willingness to chat and help each other, but also to recognise and respect boundaries and desire for solitude as well. On the whole, people are healthier than in Melbourne. Slim bodies aside, there's a noticeable spring in their step!
Vegetarians and vegans beware: if you visit Vancouver, you may never want to come home. As someone who is used to choosing from maybe three or four vegetarian options on a menu, it’s been an exciting and overwhelming experience. Our vegan hosts Megan and Nate took us around the best vegan cafes Vancouver has to offer, but everywhere you go vegans are catered for. Vegan burgers in particular are just everywhere, spearheaded by A&W’s ‘Beyond Meat’ burger.
For the first few days we were here, I couldn’t get over how beautiful all the dogs were. I’m talking seriously handsome. And then it hit me, right in the middle of the Pride Day Festival, as I enjoyed the best falafel I’ve ever had in my life – none of them are overweight. In our whole week here in Vancouver, I only saw one overweight dog, a Golden Retriever that, had I seen it in Brighton, I would have probably just called ‘the high end of normal’.
Vancouver is an amazing example of why drugs, or at least marijuana, should be legalised. Weed isn’t quite legal in Vancouver, but it’s pretty close. There are ‘dispensaries’ scattered around the city, which are theoretically there to service those with a prescription, but all you really need is proof that you’re over 19! At Wreck Beach, people are wandering around chanting ‘Mushrooms! Chocolate mushrooms!’ The scent of marijuana smoke wafts across the breeze every so often as you wander around town, but refreshingly, the smell of tobacco is a rarity. We came across a few people who seemed a little happier than would normally be physiologically possible, but nobody was belligerent and nobody had overdone it. Who knew legalising drugs would lead to more responsible use!
I guess in theory I knew there were plenty of cities in the world with big open green spaces alongside thriving metropolises… but I’d never been to one, so it never really occurred to me that it was possible to live in the city and casually wander down into a lush green forest so big you’d need days to explore it all. Stanley Park is one of the most serene places I’ve ever been. A different kind of serenity to what you find deep in nature where nobody has ever been. It’s more of a harmony. Everybody intersecting so comfortably as the sun twinkles through the great big Douglas Firs and shimmers across the leaves.
Ah, Vancouver… definitely my favourite place so far! To see a full album of Vancouver with captions detailing our adventures, click here.
As I said in the last post, I intended to start posting a bunch of travel-friendly recipes, but we haven't yet stayed anywhere that has made that possible! So here's one that I used to make at home, and that I'll no doubt use on this trip.