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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

And here I am!

Finally, I'm here!

I've just ended my first week in the great white north and my head is still spinning!

Despite all of my preparation, the whole thing still took me by surprise. It started about 10 days ago. I was woken at 7:30 on Saturday by my Dad throwing a large envelope embossed with a Canadian flag at my head. My work permit had finally arrived! By 7:50h, I was in possession of a plane ticket for the coming tuesday. By the time Canada awoke 5 hours later, I had booked a guest house and was starting to pack.

The day of the flight to Canada started in a mad rush, with me desperately trying to find a third suitcase. Sometime between me leaving my apartment and moving to my parents, pixies placed invisible lead bricks in my suitcase pushing it over the 32kg weight limit. Fifteen minutes before my father was due to drive me to the airport, I was standing in my parents' kitchen with a set of scales desperately deciding what I could leave out of my luggage and have shipped over. Finally, I was left with 3 bulging cases a bursting laptop bag (thank god they relaxed the carry-on limits!) and a bum bag (or fanny pack as they call it here - snigger) full of essential documents.

Check-in at the airport was surpriingly smooth, although my total luggage weighed 3 kilos more than my Dad and nearly killed the skinny little guy at the desk as he tried ot lift it all on to the conveyor belt. Total cost was an extra 170 quid, expensive but not unreasonable given that I am actually moving to a new home 3,500 miles away.

Arriving in Canada things were a little less smooth. The limo drivers at the airport tried to rip me off by charging me $50 even though I was sharing a cab with an Aussie I met in the airport. We bartered it down and I was duly dropped off at a guest house. Sadly, despite my showing the driver the address and checking that he knew where it was - it was the wrong guest house. Needless to say, I had already hauled my baggage up a flight of stairs and was seeing stars. It cost me another $15 and a plethora of strained muscles to correct the error, but finally I arrived at my temporary lodgings. An interesting place to be sure...

The theme for my room was "Oriental", with Chinese style patterned throws on every surface. This contrasted quite nicely with the Swedish-Sauna meets childrens IKEA bathroom and painted murals on the corridoor walls... However, the place was clean, cheap and run by a staff of wannabe artists and novelists who made a jet-lagged, shell-shocked Brit feel as if he was a long lost cousin. I've kept all the details, and will be recommending it to anyone who visits me. Perhaps by then Billy, the octagenarian semi-permanent resident who likes to wander around in her nightdress muttering about the $10m lawsuit she plans to launch against the Canadian government concerning her treatment in WWII will have either moved on or started taking her medication again...

Looking back, I can't believe it has only been a week. In that time I have learnt that Canadians like gravy and melted cheese on their chips, gotten drunk at a beer festival for free and most importantly rented an apartment. Tonight will be my third night in a basement "bachelor" apartment owned by a lovely Australian couple. They even knocked $25/month off my rent if I agreed to put the rubbish and recycling out each week. No great strain, given that the rubbish is already sorted and bagged by the side of the house and there isn't even a driveway...

Yesterday I got my internet connection and cable TV setup (still no phone or mobile yet) and I hope that the combined action of 10 metres of gaffer tape and 3 large wooden planks will stop my bed collapsing in the middle of the night again.

I started work on Monday. I'll post about that shortly. In the meantime "goodnight, eh?"



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