Nightmare on Hastings Street

Trip Start Jan 09, 2004
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15
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Trip End Jul 14, 2004


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Flag of Canada  , British Columbia,
Friday, February 20, 2004

Today Chellsie and I got up at 5:45am, to catch the 6am bus from her house, which would arrive at the Greyhound bus station at 6:30, to give us time to get good seats for the long ride to Vancouver. We scrambled to get our gear together and sprinted precariously up the icy road to make it to the bus stop on time.

We collapsed on board, breathless. I offloaded my backpack onto the seat next to me while she went and asked the bus driver where we should disembark. He chortled, and said "Sorry ladies, you're going in the wrong direction." Chellsie was horrified. We jumped off the bus at the next stop and caught a taxi back the other way. Good start to the trip.

The bus stopped at a seemingly infinite number of small towns along the voyage through Alberta to BC, and each time we got back on the bus after stretching our legs we had to politely ask the people who had just gotten on at that town to get off our jackets and find their own seat. Anyone acquainted with the wondrous system of transport that is long distance bussing would be familiar with the importance of asserting your seat.

When we finally arrived in Vancouver my bag was nowhere to be seen. My bright blue Fairydown backpack isn't the easiest thing to misplace, so when the pile of bags dwindled to single layer my heart sank. No big blue bag. I asked the bus driver if there had been another bus going to Vancouver. There was not, and I started to get alarmed. I hadn't even been organized enough to pack a clean pair of underwear in my hand luggage, and we were there for a week. Chellsie interrupted my panicking: "Isn't that your bag there?" I went and turned over the nondescript black bag and surprise surprise, it was bright blue on the other side. I'd forgotten that with the arm straps all zipped away for transport it was half black, and the particular angle my bag had landed on had covered it completely. Sheepish but relieved I grabbed my bag and we proceeded through the bus terminal.

I'd been super organized prior to our trip, booking a hostel recommended by friends and printing off Mapquest directions on how to get there from the bus terminal. We headed over to a security guard to get our bearings, since our efforts at geography first thing in the morning had been pretty poor. He took a look at my little map and said "Don't go down East Hastings Street. Get a taxi." I double checked the map and told him we'd be fine, it was only a five minute walk and our packs weren't that heavy. "No," he said "It's not that. East Hastings is the crack haven of Vancouver. Unless you want to get hassled I really think you should get a taxi."

After a warning like that we would have been stupid to walk, so we forked out a few dollars for a taxi. Our taxi driver was a veritable tour guide and finally our plan to check out Vancouver began to look like less of a disaster. He took us through Gastown and pointed out the sights. All was going grand until we arrived at the Cambie. A particularly unpleasant looking panhandler came up to the taxi and started garbling away in drunktalk. The taxi driver fended him off while we put our backpacks on, but as we walked to the entrance the panhandler tried his best to get some food or money from Chellsie who was, once again, horrified. We eventually fobbed him off and managed to get inside.

I presented myself to the front desk, where the woman established that my booking had been made incorrectly and according to their records we weren't meant to be there until the following night. Luckily they had spare rooms anyway. She asked if we wanted a dorm or private room, and Chellsie quickly chipped in, "Private." The woman then told Chellsie she wouldn't be able to use her sleeping bag (bed bugs: common policy). I'd suspected such would be the case but she'd bought a new one especially for the occasion. It was temporarily confiscated.

We traipsed up the stairs, entered the room, locked the door, and collapsed on the bunks. I tried to identify the unsavoury odour while Chellsie said "I'm not staying here again after tonight." I decided she'd had enough for one day and didn't dare argue.
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