09.09.2016 - 16.09.2016
I left my aunt and uncles house in Vancouver on Friday morning Sept 16th and headed for about 40kms along to coast to the ferry port in Twassessen. Ferries run every couple of hours from the Canadian mainland to Vancouver island.
I wanted to visit my cousin and his wife (Justin and Amie) and a friend and co-founder of VAA (Matt) and his wife (Astrid) who all lived in Victoria which is the capital of Vancouver Island – before hitting the high road to California.
Pic – on ferry to Vic
Pic - of Justin & Amie & Nora
It was really nice to meet up with my cousin Justin again. I had last seen him in 2002 and since then he had moved to the island, got married, bought a house and had 2 kids. I had never met his wife Amie, nor his 2 hilarious children Ewan and big sis Nora. We had a lovely time together and I spent the afternoon with Amie and the kids at the Vancouver Island aquarium in Sydney. This guy was my favourite.
Pic – of Olly the octopus.
I know Matt (from Texas but living in Dublin at the time) since about 2008. Matt, myself and Conall sat in the Mont Clare hotel in Dublin city one evening and mapped out the bones of what would become the Irish NGO, Value Added in Africa literally on the back of a beer mat. At the time Matt and Astrid, his wife, were living in No 3 Longford Terrace in Monkstown. Right beside a friend of mine Dee Walsh – Ireland is such a small world. Pretty soon after Matt and Astrid moved to Canada. But I either saw or heard Matt every month since then, when he Skyped into the VAA bi-monthly board of director meetings. It was really nice to stay with them for two nights and meet Thomas. Thanks for a lovely time.
Matt and Astrid live in the foothills of Mt. Douglas. So on Sunday morning we
literally walked into their back garden and found a trail through the forest to Mt Douglas. Autumn is just beginning here so it was a beautiful stroll. From the top we had a 360 degree view of Victoria and the surrounding area. A mixture of forest and sea for as far as the eye could see.
Pic – of me and Matt and Thomas on top of Mt Douglas
Pic – of me and Matt at The Local.
Victoria has two main bike trails. I rode the Lockside Trail all the way from the ferry port near Sydney into downtown Victoria. And I rode a mix of that trail plus the Galloping Goose trail to get to Matt and Astrid’s house. Both trails were full of walkers and joggers and people riding all sorts of bikes. I even saw a tandem with 3 seats. Does anyone know what that is called. I’ve never seen a bike like that before. A dad rode on the front and two kids (probably on their way to school) on the middle seat and the back seat. Just like Vancouver a totally bike friendly city.
Pic – of the bike counter
Pic – little plastic green man
Highlights of the week:
1. Reaslising at US Customs in Victoria that my ESTA visa from my 2014 Christmas trip to Colombia was still valid. So I didn’t have to buy a new US visa. (I met an Austrian cyclist at the Victoria ferry terminal who had spent the last year cycling through New Zealand, Fiji, Hawaii and then from Alaska to Vancouver. He was planning to cycle to Argentina but they didn’t let him board my boat. I suddenly felt very lucky to have got into the US so easily.)
2. Seeing this photo of my nieces Keeva and Emily at Legoland in Germany. I think it's brilliant. It makes me laugh.
Pic – of the pair on the rollercoaster
Lowlights of the week:
1. Realising that I had left my penknife in Navan. I popped into the Salvation Army store in Victoria on the way to the ferry and found a sharp little bread knife for the grand sum of 50c.
2. Hearing that the Munich-based Spanish mafia were all going to Oktoberfest without me! Hope it was fun.