Monday, 22 December 2008

Canada, and HOME!!

So, it turns out that -35°C is too cold to go skiing or snowboarding with a large degree of comfort, and that -14°C feels positively warm in comparison. Hooray for the person who invented the little active carbon sachets that keep toes and fingers warm all day long! And hooray for snow-making, since even Whistler doesn’t always have oodles of snow.

So, Luce and I are now level 3 skier/rider respectively (where 6 is beginner and 1 is highest). I never really believed that I would ever have control over turns on a snowboard, so I am pretty impressed with myself. I can even negotiate moguls (slowly, and not very elegantly YET), so long as they’re not too massive, and there aren’t too many people. I am definitely go to continue ‘riding’, especially since it means Luce and I are now perfectly matched to hit the slopes together :)

So, 4 days at Whistler. The Peak-to-Peak gondola opened the day we arrived, and we went both ways on it, including a go on one of the gondolas with a glass bottom :) 440m above Fitzsimmon’s Creek between the Blackcomb and Whistler peaks, the whole trip of 4.4kms takes 11mins. Because I was wearing a helmet (as did about half of everyone I saw, even adults!), I planned that if something ‘happened’, I would hug Luce’s head to my chest and protect him. It turned out I didn’t need to do this, thankfully. Although it was a little weird, when, 2 hours later, we found out that the Blackcomb gondola tower #4 had snapped, and the only injury was a guy who whacked his head on the roof as his gondola fell. He should have worn a helmet, like me. Or had someone ready to hug him tightly, in case of emergency!

Finally, we’re home. I love Melbourne. The light is bright white, the sun is hot, my car is AWESOME (I have a volume control on my steering wheel!), my bike is EVEN AWESOMER (soft seat, smooooth gears, easy braking, COMFORTABLE angles, stiff frame, pannier, and there are new and newly paved bike paths going from my house to the shops in 2 directions), there are TREES absolutely EVERYWHERE, and they are all so beautiful with their slender trunks and blue leaves, and there is a strong feeling of connection with people, even those who are pushing trolleys around a carpark, because they make eye contact, they smile, they SPEAK (okay, we both mumble something no-one can hear, but you can tell we’re being friendly!), my clothes were washed and dried in a matter of hours, there is extra vintage extra tasty cheddar cheese OMG!, and I’ve eaten a month’s worth of nectarines, peaches (omg, so yummy!) and apricots in the 3 sleeps we’ve been home. Oh, and did I mention how COMFORTABLE my bed is? With 1,000 thread-count sheets, a firm futon mattress, just the right number of pillows that are just the right sizes, and Luce within hand-splatting distance for snuggles and reassurance in the middle of the night. And I have already borrowed two new audiobooks from the library. For free. And it's always daylight here, apparently ;) I love Melbourne.

Friday, 12 December 2008

on the road again...

So, we thought going home via Canada would be good - to go skiing, and to go 'with the sun' and all that. BUT. FIRST up our flight Keflavík-Halifax (Canada east coast) got diverted via Boston, because it's winter. Fine, we found this out 2 months ago. But THEN Air Canada changed the time of our Boston-Halifax connecting flight, so we had to spend the night in Boston. Again, fine, this happened weeks ago, and Luce persuaded them to put us up at the Hyatt for the night.

But THEN, our Boston-Halifax flight this morning got cancelled, so we got diverted via Toronto, and our planned 2 days in Halifax has dwindled to a single night. And seeing as how it gets dark at 16:30 here (in Halifax), there's no 'sight' to be 'seeing' even out of the aeroplane window.

We did try to skip Halifax and fly directly Toronto-Vancouver, where we're going skiing for a few days. It was very difficut trying to explain this to the Air Canada staff: "Why are you going to Halifax from Toronto if you want to end up in Vancouver?" -Precisely! Can you change our ticket. "Um, no. No. No, no. No." FINE.

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It turns out we have made about 5 friends here already, including a lovely couple who were about to tell their parents they were about to be grandparents. Wait for it... As they were hugging, the guy was going to say "Careful, you might squish your grandchild!" And... he did! Hahaha, nerd! I like Canadians :)

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Perlan, oh Perlan

Well, Luce and I finally made it up to Perlan for a lovely buffet meal. Our friends Ási and Björk came all the way from Cambridge to join us, and we all munched happily on smoked salmon, turkey, prawns, rye bread, smoked salmon, rye bread, ice-cream, creme brulee, rye bread, smoked salmon and much much more :)

Perlan rotates slowly, and we did the usual lose our coats because they were resting on rails that our table left behind, and I have to say that, when we went to get our entrees and then headed back to our table, the expression on Ási's face at not finding our table where we left it was priceless! Hahaha :D

Yoko Ono's Tower of Peace moved slowly around us, as did the National Hospital, the under-construction Uni of Reykjavík, Öskjuhlíð forest, the airport and the Háskóli Íslands, all under an apparently starry sky (even if the stars were tiny lights on the inside of the domed windowed ceiling of Perlan!).

At Björk's insistence, we went for an after-dinner walk around the balcony of Perlan, which turned into a bit of a jog and then a run as the wind stripped all warmth from our bodies, even on just a single loop. Ah, Christmas in Reykjavík.

PS, Our party on Saturday went brilliantly. Luce made loads of lovely food and there were plenty of people. I was a little concerned we wouldn't be able to chill our drinks, there being no snow at the moment, but it turned out that the -5 degrees was enough after all to turn our fizzy drinks into slushies :)

This time next week, we'll be in Boston!