Have you ever been a tourist in your own city?
Like take a tour bus or be the tour guide? It can be lots of fun. I had the pleasure of re-discovering some fabulous places when a friend visited who I have not seen in over 20 years.
I first met Masako in the early 80’s when we both lived and worked in Tokyo. We became fast friends. I knew she was someone I wanted to keep track of because she’s really smart, funny, hard working (international investments), well traveled, a nature lover, caring and curious. In other words, the perfect friend.
When I moved to Vancouver and Masako moved to London, England we continued to stay in touch. Since that time she came to Vancouver once to visit me and I visited her once while I went to take in London theatre with a girlfriend from New York. I was in London more recently but unfortunately we were not able to meet up. She’s a single mom of a very bright 14 year old boy who speaks fluent French and is also an avid tennis and golf player. She dropped him off at Stanford University in S.F. for a 3 week math tutorial and spent time there before visiting me. She never stops. But we managed to pick up where we last left off as if no time had passed. That’s when you discover time is a moving and so much has happened but you’re still the same person. Almost as if time has stood still. When we first met I was calling my mom in Montreal every day to check in and get her advice on everything from cooking to the men I was dating.
So during her stay I too felt like I was on holiday. Vancouver and its environs has an abundance of picturesque places to see but we had to narrow it down. Two nights we visited Whistler with a stay at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler. Masako went peak to peak on the lookout for wildlife (specifically bears) while I took in the Audain Art Museum and wildlife at the Scandinave Spa. All amazing by the way. There was a cute Canada Day parade in the village and the VSO gave a free outdoor concert in the evening. We ate well too.
The day after we got back we took the ferry to Victoria. The first time she was here we went directly to Butchart Gardens. This time from Victoria we were picked up and boated to one of the charming little gulf islands. A car-free little gem of an island called Piers where a friend has a stunning ocean front home where little Jack (the J.R. terrier) resides when I’m not looking after him. We met several interesting locals in the evening at a barbeque. What I’ve noticed is that island people are artists, musicians, writers, photographers, actors and zoologists. I was talking to a man who takes people on treks to Rwanda to see the mountain gorillas (a guest had just come back and said they were so close that one gorilla brushed right by him) and also to Churchill, Manitoba to see the Polar Bears (who are now starting to mate with grizzlies should you want to know this fascinating piece of information). He met Jane Goodall, the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees – a person I’m in awe of and would love to meet. Future trips to consider. Sidenote: Lowland gorillas and polar bears are sadly on the endangered list.
The next day we boated to Saltspring island (separate post to come) while seeing many seals (not bears, but still...)
In Vancouver we stayed mostly local biking around a couple of times, eating out and also cooking at home. Next
time the Okanagan and Tofino is high on the list of places to take Masako.
I’m not sure when the polar bear trip will fit into schedule; certainly not in the summertime.
By the way, you are guaranteed to see these gorgeous giants in close proximity.
And my friend just left but I already miss her
Photos: (moments in time) d. king Photos: (airport, kits beach, boat) kind stranger