I am sitting in Shizuoka Train Station waiting for my Shinkansen Bullet train to Tokyo. My adventure in Japan is coming to an end, I am bikeless and extremely sad to leave behind this amazing country and its people. Japan will remain in my heart and memory the greatest experience I have had so far…
The Eva Air takes me to Taipei and after 7 hour layover I board the plane to Vancouver. I haven’t been to Canada in 3 years and upon landing in Vancouver, strange feelings gnaw at my heart… We used to live not far from here, in Victoria (more than 12 years ago) and I know these places well.
The Immigration process is a breeze, it takes 2 minutes and I am out. The next day I call the Nippon Express agent to inquire about my bike: it is safe and sound in the warehouse, he informs me. I go to Canada Customs in downtown Vancouver and in less than a minute the officer stamps the customs entry, without inquiring about anything. I am shocked, and so is my agent; usually, they have to inspect the crate, but the officer was very nice and didn’t give me any trouble.
We unpack the bike quickly, I put the key on and the baby starts purring again! It is incredible how much I missed her, even for few days! I have so many memories with this bike that I cannot see myself traveling without her anymore, it makes no sense.
I spent 2 days roaming Vancouver, getting reacquainted with this city that I haven’t seen since 2006. Then, I am off to the East, I want to see my wife and my daughter and I cannot wait any longer.
The road takes me through the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia and Alberta and then the prairies into Eastern Manitoba, Ontario with the thousands of lakes to North Bay, then Ottawa and into Montreal. 4800 km in 4 days and few hours! I am fried, my ass is covered with blisters after riding 13 hours a day like a maniac.
I had great difficulty finding accommodation on the road, not from the lack of hotels and camping, but because most hotels these days in Canada want a credit card. You cannot check in paying cash, you have to have a credit card. Mine expired at the end of July and the new one was waiting at home in Montreal. 9 hotels kicked me out in the street at 12:00 at night in Calgary, talking offensive to me as if I was a nobody without a credit card. Eventually, I found a crappy motel that took cash but charged 90 dollars for a stinky room and a 50 dollar deposit, just in case I was inclined to steal their amazing furniture. I couldn’t believe it when I saw the high prices these people charge: in Saskatchewan, in a tiny village, they had a Motel 6, which by any standard is a no star motel. Here, it was 129.99 plus tax. The girl told me: “High Standard, High Price”… I wanted to slap her… “High standard?” I just came from Japan, where the standard is higher than anywhere and I paid for hotels in amazing cities only 45 dollars, including an amazing Japanese buffet breakfast that deserved 2 Michelin Stars, with a service that was fit for a Caesar and cleanliness and hygiene that cannot be compared with anything else. I got a stale muffin and a bucket of cheap coffee for breakfast here, the blanket had cigarette burns on it and the room stunk like a brothel room. That is one of the reasons I pushed riding so long, so I don’t have to spend a week in these “high standard hotels”. Of course you can find decent hotels, but the price will easily be over 200 dollars a night and for that money I live 5 days on my bike anywhere else in the world (except Norway and my home country).
I arrived home exhausted and bruised, but very excited to see my girls and to take a break for few weeks before Carmen and I head South for our last 2 continents.
I am domestic for the time being, spending time with my daughter, visiting family and friends in Montreal and reflecting on my past trips. 44.000 km from Namibia, where I bought the bike, 9 months and 2 weeks since departure from Livingstone, Zambia.
30.000 km to go! :)
Rainy, cloudy Vancouver, typical weather for this city. It is beautiful nevertheless!
Rainy, again, on the way East. This is outside Hope, BC, on Trans Canada Highway