What I Did On My Holidays


Chapter 31

Crossing the Border

29/11/99
Day 23

Today we say farewell to the wonderful Waylands and head to Vancouver. We catch the morning train to Seattle and then a bus to Vancouver.

Since it's now a Monday morning, not a long weekend, we got to see why Portland has so many freeways with wheel ruts worn in the concrete. Getting to the station showed us an example of four lane freeways full of crawling cars. And of course, "This is a good day!". Crazy.

We get on the train in Seattle. No first class sleeper car this time, it's only an hour or two to Seattle. No point really. After sitting down in our seats, the train moved off and we concluded that a sleeping berth for the overnight leg to Portland had been a good move. These seats were not so comfortable that you'd want to try to sleep in them. So I promptly fell asleep in for the rest of the trip.

We arrive in Seattle around lunchtime and half an hour later, we're on a bus headed for Vancouver. Just as well because the Seattle Amtrak station is not one of the great sights of Seattle.

The very next day the protests outside the WTO talks turned ugly and caused a lot of downtown Seattle to get gassed, beaten and arrested. We hadn't yelled anything from the window of the bus. Promise.

As we approached the border, the bus driver explained the procedure involved in passing through Canadian customs. He kept referring to the customs officials as "troubles makers". When we got there, we could see why.

These guys were serious. Whereas the Japanese and US customs officials were relaxed and cheerful, when these people were asking you questions there was the distinct impression that you were one out of line crack about mounties away from being roughed up in a back room. Lucky I don't know any jokes about Canadians. Eh.

We survive customs, we reach Vancouver, we find the place we're staying, we say "Oh, isn't this good". And it was. After the very inner city San Francisco life and the frenetic-but-fun Tour de Portland, Wayland-style, it was a pleasant change to be in an urban setting with no demands on our time.

Except for the fact that it was dinner time.


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