East Meets West: I Get Around, Kinda.
Places have personalities, everything from the weather to the cuisine holds a piece which contributes to the culture of a region. I’m not saying that Canada is Venice where you amble around in a gondola, but where I am dictates my relationship to transportation. These soles of mine, they’re not worn out. I’m down with walking. Give me some tasty tunes and I have no problem escaping into my inner landscape and pretending I’m in a music video.
The first half of my duration in St. John’s, walking was really my only option as the closest bus stop was still a 15-minute walk away and a terribly inconsistent/inconvenient transit schedule. I’m not shitting on the city. And have been told that things have gotten a bit better since 2011, righteous! All the walking permitted me to look great in my red jeans, get to know the city really well, and fostered new friendships when I got rides home, and I always had a ride home.
In Kitchener biking was escapism, I would hit the meager trails and pretend I was far away from it all, engulfed by foliage but void of any steep inclines because grinding up hills fills me with more rage than I can say. Did I bike in Newfoundland? NO. See- steep, frustrating hills, I applaud those who do battle the inclines; rewarded with thighs of steel.
Steel thighs: now there’s a slogan to get you on your bike, and Vancouver doesn’t need to be told twice. This city loves biking- bike lines are a major issue on the voting ballot, bike shares all around (frustratingly, taking up parking) and an annual Bike to Work Week, further promoting and celebrating this green, healthy option.
When I first arrived in this city, I was much more committed to biking (maybe I’ve just gotten lazier or am in a yoga class instead working on my steel thighs while simultaneously searching for inner peace). I was so into biking that I even got interviewed about it.
It’s not all idealistic, I have heard many horror stories from friends being smoked on their bikes. Love me a bike trail, thank you very much.
I didn’t get my first car until I lived in St. John’s. And that little machine treated me good. I acquired her the day before there was a snow storm so bad that the Avalon Mall had to be closed. (If you’ve ever worked there you would appreciate how big a deal this was). Cool. I wasn’t nervous driving 5km/hr in white out conditions. Baptism of snow. Yet I survived, and in turn, I paid it forward and always made sure that people had a ride home at the end of work or rehearsal.
Vancouver, as a major metropolis has meant a variety of transportation available to me. I don’t have a car. Have you looked at the price of gas? Let’s play a little comparison game. According to gasbuddy.com Ontario is sitting pretty at 93.6/Liter, St. John’s 102.9/ Liter and Vancouver flipping off car owners with 135.9/Liter.
What to do when sometimes you just need a car? Car sharing, a la Car2Go: a service available in the city. Ranging from 32 cents/min to 45 cents/min, depending on size of car, you open the app, see if there are any cars available nearby and can reserve it for up to 30mins, you’re aces. However, sometimes you’re hooped via no vehicles and begrudgingly you either walk or suck it up and hit the bus.
Bike, bus and car, the norm, yet some novelties haven’t worn off: boats and planes. Means which are escapes from reality, vehicles of dreams. In landlocked Ontario, boats were reserved for joy-rides on lakes, a shuttle across bays in the Muskoka’s. BC ferries have taken me to tiny islands where hitch hiking is encouraged and practicing yoga in the forest and swimming nude in the lakes. And planes, it’s no accident that soaring describes what they do, because being on them has always been uplifting in every sense of the word (oh geez, I know, I know). First plane ride: to Newfoundland. Touching down in Vancouver, or LA, Nicaragua or Indonesia; all these plane voyages have resulted in life changing experiences, on the grand and small scale. So I guess it just comes down to what Metric was singing about, after proclaiming their heart is beating like a hammer “I get wherever I’m going, I get whatever I need”, cuz luckily, I do.