Staying in Vancouver, we achieved a new personal best for imposing ourselves on a host. Four of us rocked up at the swish condo in the sky of Harald, a cousin of Daniel on his father’s side. A cousin he hadn’t seen in twenty years – they live 6,000 miles apart, after all. We outnumbered our host by a lot, four of us to one of him. We have been welcomed by whole families, and couples, but never just one person. What’s more, Harald had just said goodbye to his in-laws, who had been in town for ten days before flying back to Japan with his wife and two-year old son the day before we arrived. Harald met us outside the building, directed us into the guest parking spot he had reserved and then took us up in the elevator to his well appointed, two-bedroom apartment on the 24th floor. Once we were safely installed with the few bags we needed for the weekend, Harald suggested we take our valuables out of the car, just in case. Hearing that we already had brought the laptop, he mentioned that his car had been broken into – twice, the second time to steal his son’s car seat. So Daniel went down to the parking lot with him. After about ten round-trips, the two men had brought the entire contents of our car up to the apartment. I tried as best I could to store all the items as unobtrusively as possible. Remember, we are on a six-month road trip. Across innumerable climates and three seasons. With two kids. Who are both constantly outgrowing clothes. Who need lots of toys to stay occupied as we drive hundreds of miles at a time. It was kind of embarrassing to have someone I’ve just met see our whole life in all of its messy detail. Harald said he didn’t mind, he knows what it’s like to have kids. And it was true, he didn’t mind. He was an extremely gracious host who genuinely enjoyed having his life and home overrun by a gypsy family. He showed us all of Vancouver, a city that consistently wins polls on best places to live, happiest populations, etc. And with good reason, too: it’s a clean, pretty place, surrounded by water and overlooked by mountains, enjoying a temperate climate and healthy economy, and attracting outdoors-loving, intelligent people from across Canada and many other countries as well. Pictured here are Horseshoe Bay and the path towards Stanley Park. Good stuff, eh?
Claire – On maternity leave from career as editor of monthly finance trade magazines, and occasionally a freelance translator. Half-American/half-English, raised in the suburbs of New York, has lived in London for almost nine years.
Daniel – Furniture designer/maker based on London’s Columbia Road flower market, for ten years, also an aspiring painter and DIY supremo. On one-year career break to reconsider options. English by birth, but mother is half-American and spent part of her childhood in Bronxville, New York.
Sophia – 3.5-year old spitfire who loves school, singing, swimming and being a big sister
Lulu – Born May 8 of this year, a model baby who eats, sleeps and gurgles.
Special guests – American, British and international friends and family who drop in along our trip to see whatever part of the country they fancy. They’re welcome to travel in the car with us and sleep in an adjoining tent.