I have always been a traveler of sorts - at a younger age accompanied by my family all around the city, then province, eventually expanding the circle exponentially as my career eventually brought me to Europe and beyond. As a Canadian, these excursions - especially around the national circuit - have always been both intriguing and slightly daunting as the second largest country in the world has a lot to offer and plenty of terrain to cover. The distance from coast to coast, or in my case from the east of the country to the west coast, is an exceptionally long journey and a journey that had remained on my bucket until I finally had the opportunity to trek westbound last month.
Ironically, the starting point wasn't from my hometown but rather the Netherlands to British Columbia - the latter location being a picturesque part of the country that consistently draws parallels to New Zealand - and though it would be rather easy in this case to focus exclusively on Vancouver, there is a whole lot more to see and do outside of the provincial capital. It was technically a business trip that caused me to venture over to Western Canada, and I needed to stay sharp and focused for each of my performances (ranging from Vancouver/West Van, Burnaby, Abbotsford, Lake Country as well as commuting over to Vancouver Island and Hornby Island).
There are so many layers to that part of the country - some things that I had anticipated and others not so much. The people are incredibly engaging and exceptionally friendly - even more so than I am used to as a fellow Canuck. I had heard for years from other Canadians that where I am from (the Greater Toronto Area) is considered by other parts of the country to be less socially engaging (graded on a national curve), though of course I had always challenged that notion. However, after traveling to and through British Columbia that I started to better appreciate those sentiments. After arriving from the Netherlands, I had spent the first couple days in the centre of Vancouver and my first recital took place in Qualicum Beach - a beautiful area on Vancouver Island.
This visit was the perfect opportunity to balance business and leisure time. Not only were the people who attended these performances avid concert-goers, but they brought with them a level of warmth, appreciation, and friendliness second to none. These attributes were evident among the people before, during, and after each performance, as well as while strolling through the streets and commuting around the province. If someone less social than me decided it was easier and more comfortable to keep to themselves while traveling in this area, then the landscapes, nature, and animal life would be enough to excite just about anyone! Unfortunately, I wasn't able to capture the family of dolphins I had seen on one ferry ride on camera, but you get the idea...
As a last side note, if you ever find yourself in the Vancouver area, you must certainly visit Granville Island. This beautiful suburb just off the city centre features an incredible world-renowned market which I had not heard about until arriving, and certainly didn't disappoint. It has a little bit of everything for everyone, and I decided to take a venture over there for myself. Here are a couple of videos of what I came across during my visit:
Here's wishing you all a very happy new year with very best wishes for a healthy, happy, and prosperous 2018!