Archives for May 2013
It’s tourist season. I can tell by all the folks in matching khaki’s and Tilley hats coming in to the café asking for directions to the Rockies. If they’re in flip flops, we send them to the Canada Line and the airport. If they’re in sensible shoes, we point them up Granville Street.
“When you get over the bridge, continue walking up to 12th Avenue and hang a left. That will eventually merge into Highway 1. You’ll recognize Banff by the moose.”
In either case, we don’t let them leave without appropriate provisions. Recommended chocolate for a journey of this magnitude? Open in Case of Emergency. If they make it to the shadow of Mt. Rundle, then the chocolate of choice is Celebracious. And if they and their RCMP musical ride snow globes and hand carved totem pole backscratchers make it home, they can serve their friends and family Greetings from Canada ~ wish you were here ~ during the slide show.
You can define tourist as someone who enjoys traveling. It’s not always synonymous with loud, obnoxious and insulting. For every foreign visitor pissing off the locals by standing in the middle of the street to photograph a building, there are those who are determined to try as much local cuisine as possible, meet as many locals as possible, and who have a genuine desire to experience something new.
Tourism is a pretty important industry in Vancouver. As long as pipelines and tankers and mining and forestry and fishing are verboten, we need to appreciate the visitors who come to learn about our culture, our history, and us as people.
Traveling extensively is an art, and you need a few essentials: a carry-on that fits into the overhead bin, a valid passport, all the required vaccinations, and a sense of humor. An obviously jet-lagged customer from Australia told me a while back how, when they arrived in Vancouver during the big wind that toppled all the trees in Stanley Park, he asked the flight attendant when he de-planed if they had landed or if they had been shot down.
For a homebody like me, I travel vicariously through others. Former Mink No.1 draft pick Jason B. is off to North Korea. He is a tourist because he likes traveling. Those who know and love him refer to him more as a global adventurer, a worldly wanderer, a true citizen of the earth. Armed with a Lonely Planet guidebook, a propensity for learning enough of a language to get by, and a proclivity for a good cup of coffee, he’s going to the DPRK because there’s really nowhere left on Earth he hasn’t been to.
His experience there will be tempered by the close company of round-the-clock hosts. It will be interesting to see if he’ll get to exercise his modus operandi and chill at a Pyongyang café, striking up conversation with the local citizenry, or if he’ll be fed a prescribed experience based on the inherited political ideology of Kim Jong-un. He’s taking chocolate as gifts for his handlers. I hope and pray it’s enough to keep him out of a North Korean gulag and back home safely, with the stories and pictures to prove it.
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