My parents just departed from a fabulous three week trip to Vancouver and I must say they were three of my most cherished weeks in my twenty-eight years.
They came to visit me in summer 2010 for a month, but this time around they knew what to expect (except of course that they still packed an inordinate amount of clothes each and wore only 15% of the total...falling into the typical traveller trap and contrary to my best backpacker advice!) and were less "tourist" and more west coast veterans for summer '11.
I see their trip as a gift from God in my humble opinion - karma for being good people and even better parents. Only last March they rang me to say they'd love to come visit again but, given Vancouver prices and the exorbitant cost of flights, accommodation, wining, dining and sightseeing the many attractions this beloved city has to offer in its environs and beyond...not to mention spoiling their youngest daughter despite my many protests, reminiscent of a *Mrs. Doyle fight scene!
(By the way, you might be interested to know they show *Father Ted repeats in Canada. I'd love to know what the average Canuck makes of it all, they must think we're all like that!) - so, long story not so short, they said unfortunately they weren't going to be able to make it this year. As you can imagine, I was bummed. I only get to travel home once a year, so the thought of not seeing them for another twelve or so months killed me.
All this was within the first seven days as the PR guys were kind enough to allow my parents to extend their trip by two weeks at their own expense, and zip home on later flights (and when I say "zip" I mean crawl on their hands and knees, kicking and screaming, as that journey is hellish.) They were put up in a hotel for the first week and whizzed around completing "challenges" as Jack's 'Circle of Trust' demanded.
My mum decided to sit out ziplining and skydiving as she's a rock 'n' roll gran, but not that rock or that roll! So, I went in her place with my paternal and had a whale of a time (minus the whales, they're always a bit shy on us!)
The skydiving in particular was amazing. We headed out to Abbotsford early with a 90-year old driver full of stories (apparently lots of skydivers died back in the day...great stuff!) and, wouldn't you know, the two other people jumping with us that day were Irish!
That weekend, they had commissioned a special plane from the US so instead of falling from 12,000 feet we fell from 14,000, which gave us thirty seconds extra freefall and WOAH! what a difference those seconds make. I thought my eardrums were going to explode with the sheer force against my cranium, and my ears only unpopped last week!
Ziplining the next day could of course never live up to such an extreme, but it was good all the same to see Vancouver's sprawl from atop Grouse Mountain. I could see my commute route to Burnaby which was surreal, tracing it with my finger in one foul swoop yet it takes nearly an hour out of my day each way. Grrrr!!
The second two-thirds of their trip was more laidback. They stayed in a lovely studio apartment on Burnaby Street with its own rooftop pool and panoramic views over the city. It was so central and right in the heart of the West End, which is my neck of the woods and where I feel most at home. I so adored walking up the hill at English Bay to meet them every evening. In fact, I still walk up it now and half expect to see them waiting at the top but, alas, it never transpires...
We even took a wee jaunt over to see The Merchant of Venice at Bard on the Beach, and squeezed in a tandem bike ride along the seawall and around the Lost Lagoon. The weather was fabulous for their whole three week stay and, since then, has been kinda blue to match my mood. If I'm honest with myself, I miss them a lot, so much so it physically hurts sometimes!
However, I'm trying to stay positive (that's Vancouver's PMA - Positive Mental Attitude - rubbing off on me) and I remind myself daily to be thankful they even got the opportunity to visit me at all.
A hell of a lot of other immigrants are over here like myself and their parents simply can't afford to make the trip, so I have to look on the bright side. We had an amazing three weeks together which is something I'll cherish forever (on a separate note, I've my big sis to thank for that - love you sis x), so I'm content with that thought, for now.
On their last morning, as we waited for their chauffeur-driven car to whisk them off to YVR courtesy of the Meet the Parents franchise (thanks Rob De Niro & Ben Stiller, appreciate it), we reminisced on our time together and tried not to break down at our parting.
À bientôt mes parents, je vais garder des souvenirs chers x