Thursday, October 30, 2008

My life in Canada (July 2008)...Part 3

July 2008...continued:

*Tuesday – July 15: Day 4 in Swtizerland: When I woke up this morning I looked out the window and saw that it was clear out...not a cloud in the sky! Finally after all that rain we had. We purchased our Bernese Oberland Regional Pass at the train station in Interlaken which cost 224 CHF per person and would allow you to travel for 7 consecutive days on all trains, gondola’s, boats and busses for half price. Three out of those 7 days were free travel days and you could choose any day to be your free day. We decided today would be one of our free travel days as we would take a big roundtrip by train to go up to Jungfraujoch. If we had to pay full price for this trip it would have cost us over 300 CHF per person for this single trip, so our regional pass was paid for already.

View in the morning from our apartment

From the Interlaken train station we drove to the Zweilutschinen train station where we parked the car for free and here we would start our journey to Jungfraujoch. The train would leave from Zweilutschinen and takes us to Lauterbrunnen. In Lauterbrunnen we would have to get off the train and take the train to Kleine Scheidegg. Once at Kleine Scheidegg we had to get off again and hop on the Jungfraubahn, the train to Jungfraujoch. Jungfraujoch is the train station inside of the Eiger mountain and it is the highest train station in Europe with an elvation of 3,454m/11,333ft. It was very busy on the trains because everybody wanted to take advantage of this beautiful weather. During the trip from Kleine Scheidegg to Jungfraujoch the train enters a tunnel that was created within the Eiger and Monch. The train has to overcome an elevation gain of about 1,400m/4,600ft, so it goes fairly slow. On the way to Jungfraujoch there are a couple of stops on the way where you can have a look through huge windows created in the mountain wall to look outside and see the Eiger glacier and the Eiger wand (a straight mountain wall popular with mountain climbers). Once we arrived at Jungfraujoch we were able to visit different areas through a set of tunnels. Up here it’s like winter forever…it was 0 Celsius (32 Fahrenheit) which is freezing and there is snow everywhere you look.

View of Jungfraujoch (the building on the mountain) where we were headed to

Up at Jungfraujoch there are several things to do and see. You can visit the Ice Palace which is created inside the Eiger Glacier, you can visit the sled dogs who can give you a fun ride on the snow up at Jungfraujoch. There are possibilities for skiing, snow walks and such. There are several areas to go outside onto the snow and glacier, the most interesting area was the Sphinx Observatory which is located even higher than Jungfraujoch. This Sphinx Observatory is located at an elevation of 3,571m/11,760ft. The views from the Sphinx Observatory were amazing, you could walk out on a big platform and see for miles and miles in the distance, the mountains were up close and you could also see the amazing Aletsch Glacier which is the longest one in Europe with a length of 25km (15.5mi). Inside Jungfraujoch there were a couple of restaurants, a gift shop of course and big windows for viewing the surrounding mountains and beautiful scenery.

After we spent a few hours up here we thought it was a good idea to in the afternoon as the train trip would be another hour to 2 hours. We took the train back to Kleine Scheidegg and from here we got on the train to Grindelwald which is on the opposite side of Lauterbrunnen. Once we arrived in Grindelwald we got on another train back to Zweilutschinen where our car was parked. We got back to our apartment/house around dinner time. My mom was tired as it was quite a long time on the train. So we had dinner and she went to rest on the sofa in the living room while Michael and I went up to Beatenberg for a trip to the Niederhorn as it would be a free trip as well.

We drove to Beatenberg which was about 15 minutes driving, we were hoping to get onto the Niederhorn gondola, but it was too late and we wouldn't have much time to spend up there. So, we would leave this for another day. As we drove along we stopped here and there to enjoy the views and to take some photos of the beautiful views. After we came back we enjoyed a swim in the swimming pool at the apartment. How nice to be able to enjoy an incredible view over Lake Thun and the mountains from the was heaven! Well, that was the end for today…we were tired and had a wonderful day. Finally we were able to enjoy the beautiful sunshine!

Some views seen from Beatenberg

View of the mountains from the swimming pool at the apartment we stayed at

Please see my next post "My life in Canada (July 2008)...Part 4" for the rest of the story!

My life in Canada (July 2008)...Part 2

July 2008 continued:

*Saturday – July 12: Day 1 in Switzerland: Today we got up fairly early as we wanted to leave quite early to go to Switzerland. we left around 7.00am to make our trip to Switzerland. We drove through Luxembourg, part of Germany and mostly France. We started out with fairly nice weather and some sunshine, but once we got closer to Switzerland it was getting really wet. At the border with Switzerland we had to pay $40 CAD and you get a sticker on your car so you can use all the roads. This is some sort of a one time road toll/tax you pay and it’s valid for a whole year. In France you also pay this toll, but only on certain highways. It was still raining hard and by the time we got close to the place we were staying we were quite tired. We stopped at a gas station to fill up the car and since there was a supermarket there as well, we bought some things for the first couple of days. This way we could do our big shopping some other day.
Some photos on the way to Switzerland

Once we were in the area of Spiez we had some nice views over Lake Thun even thought it was raining. After about 15 minutes we arrived in Interlaken and from here on we had to pay attention to where we had to go as our GPS could not find the place where we were staying. We followed the signs towards Beatenberg and after the first big right hand turn of 180 degrees there would be a sign saying “Ruchenbuhl” and that’s where we had to turn. We had to follow the 3km partly dirt and partly paved road. My goodness, that was a fairly narrow road and only about one car could fit on this road…so we were hoping not to bump into anyone going the other way! It seemed like a long road and in some places we could see quite deep down the cliffs. My mom didn’t like that too much as she is afraid of heights. Finally we got to the place and it looked beautiful.

It was a wonderful typical Swiss house on top of a hill with a view over Lake Thun and the mountains. We met with the owners and she showed us our “apartment” as they call it. We had a full equipped kitchen, 3 bedrooms, a bathroom with jetted tub and a shower, a sitting/dining room and living room with satellite TV all to ourselves. On top of that we had 2 beautiful balconies overlooking the lake and mountains. In the backyard there was a patio, a stone bbq, a games room and a swimming pool all for us to use as well. Well, we were impressed and I was happy that I found such a beautiful place with wonderful owners! In the evening the rain stopped for just a little while and we saw the most beautiful rainbow. That was a perfect ending of the day.

*Sunday – July 13: Day 2 in Switzerland: Today we slept in a little bit and it was a rainy day again sadly enough. We decided to go into town and visit Interlaken for awhile. The trip on the narrow unpaved road was much better today. I am sure after driving it a few times we will get used to it. Interlaken is quite a touristy town, so most of the souvenir shops and such were all open. Even though it was a fairly wet day, we enjoyed walking through Interlaken and seeing all the stores. We found a little grocery store that was open 7 days a week until 10.30pm, so we did a bit of shopping there. They had this amazing kind of white bread which looked like a ring of buns attached together, they call it “Krustenkranz”…my oh my that was delicious! After that we went for a little drive to Lauterbrunnen, a beautiful valley with several waterfalls coming down from the cliffs. This place looked like a fairy tale even though it was raining. It was so beautiful and I can’t imagine how beautiful it would look if it was a nice sunny day. We walked around in the town for a while and enjoyed the views. At one point the rain was really coming down, so we decided to go sit on the patio of one of the coffee shops/café’s in Lauterbrunnen. It was really nice and we enjoyed it. After that we headed back to our apartment and took it easy the rest of the evening.

*Monday – July 14: Day 3 in Switzerland: After waking up and looking outside I was feeling a little depressed because it was raining AGAIN! It was really getting us all a little down as this was our 3rd day and so far all we had was rain. Because the clouds were so low you couldn’t really see the mountains. We wanted to see those big snow capped mountains that I saw on pictures when I was doing my research. Oh well, we would just try and make the best of it rain or shine. Today we went to Lucerne which was about 45 minutes driving from Interlaken. It was pretty cool outside, when we left in the morning it was only about 8 Celsius outside (about 46 F). On the way we passed by beautiful Lungern Lake where we would stop on the way back. Once we were almost in Lucerne it wasn’t raining anymore. We walked through the town and over the river where we had some wonderful views over the city. Since it was our 3rd wedding anniversary we went for dinner at a nice restaurant. We went to the Movenpick in Lucern which was pretty good and very friendly service.

On the way back from Lucerne we enjoyed some beautiful views as the clouds lifted up a little. I could notice some fresh snow on some areas of the mountains. I guess it was it cool enough to snow way up there while we got all the rain down below in the valley. We stopped along the highway between Lucerne and Interlaken to enjoy the views over beautiful Lungern Lake. This is a beautiful lake with a bluish color. After that we went shopping in Interlaken for some groceries. We found this big supermarket called “Migros”, it’s a great store with pretty good deals and wonderful breads that are so tasty. After that we went home and just enjoyed the evening. For some reason I went out on the balcony and WOW, I couldn’t believe what I saw. It was clearing up and these huge snowcapped mountains (Eiger and Monch) were appearing through the clouds. What a view, absolutely stunning. It looked like we might get lucky tomorrow and finally get some nicer weather.

Please see my next post "My life in Canada (July 2008)...Part 3" for the rest of the story!

My life in Canada (July 2008)...Part 1

July 2008:

So we got back on July 1st from our week at Mara Lake which gave us only a few days to get ready for our big trip to Europe. We got everything done on time, but it was a bit of a rush and we wanted to make sure that we wouldn't forget anything. The 4th of July was a big day for us as we left for a 4 week trip to Europe. We would spend most of our time in Belgium, but we would also spend 12 days in Switzerland. My mom and uncle would pick us up at the airport in Amsterdam as that was where we would land. Last year when my aunt and uncle were here they told us that they would pick us up and drive us back to the airport if we decided to visit Belgium as we did so much for them when they were in Canada. That was nice of them to suggest and to hold their word to it. Okay, here follows a short report of our 4 weeks in Europe:

*Friday & Saturday - July 4 & 5: Michael’s friend picked us up around 1.30pm as we had to be at the airport by 2.00pm. Our flight would leave at 4.55pm and they like you to be there about 3 hours ahead of time. There was quite a line up at the Martinair counter. So, by the time we got our tickets and went through customs and such there was only about 1 hour left before our flight would take off. Our flight left a little later than expected, but it was only delayed with about 15-20 minutes. We arrived in Amsterdam on the 5th of July around noon, they are 9 hours ahead of us in Vancouver. It was sooo good to see my mom again and my uncle too of course. Finally we’d be on a holiday in Belgium and not for an emergency. By the time we got to my mom’s place it was close to 4.00pm. My aunt was at my mom’s place and she had set the table for us with some tasty sandwiches and such. It was so good to see her again too. By the time we finished eating and caught up on some chatting it was about 7.00pm. My aunt and uncle left soon after and Michael and I were so tired…so we decided to go to bed as we were up for quite some time already.

An aquarium at Vancouver Airport and some views during our flight

*Sunday - July 6: We slept until 7.00amthis morning, that’s almost a 12 hour sleep. We felt ok at that time and didn’t feel too much from the jetlag. Today my brother and his family would come to see us, as they would be leaving to Switzerland on the 10th of July and we would be leaving on the 12th of July to Switzerland. It was good to see my brother again, it had been 4 years and wow the kids have grown so much. They’re not kids anymore but full grown teenagers. Jessie turned into a real pretty looking young lady. And Gert…my goodness he grew so tall and turned into a real good looking teenager. Well, we got some tips from them about Switzerland about the toll roads and such if you go through France. It was a nice afternoon.

Michael and my brother enjoying a yummy piece of cherry pie!

*Monday – July 7: We didn’t have a car yet, so it was kind of a bummer that we couldn’t get around. My mom lives in a very small village and there not much to do. We did go for a walk in the area and in the afternoon my cousin Veerle invited us to go to Maastricht in the Netherlands with her for an afternoon. She works there and knows the city quite well. Sure, we’d love to do that. She picked us up and we went to Maastricht. The weather was quite nice and it was a beautiful city as we saw it in a different way than most people do. At one point we had to run for the rain, so we decided to go have a drink in a café somewhere. Oh yes,a nice beer tasted good at this point. After that it cleared up again and we went for another walk through the town. Hmmmm, what’s that smell…it were “Luiske Wafels”, warm Belgian waffles with pearl sugar (little hard pieces of sugar) and with a bit of icing sugar sprinkled on top of it. Michael wasn’t going to pass on that one…he loved it! After that we stopped for some grocery shopping and we took my cousin out for dinner at a restaurant near my mom’s place called Chopin. Hmmmm, the food was delicious! After dinner we stopped by at Veerle’s sister place Marijke. They build a nice house and she wanted us to come by and see it. It was nice to see her again too and the 2 kids. The little one has grown so much, she was only about a year when we saw here last. What cute kids!

*Tuesday – July 8: My good friend Maarten had promised us that he would take us to the car rental place. We discussed this on msn before we went to Belgium. He was off most of the month of July so he wanted to this for us. He would come and pick us up around 2.00pm to go to Luik (Liege) where we would pick up our car that we had reserved via internet. Well, it was great to see Maarten again and so nice of him to take us to the car rental place. We brought our GPS from Canada as we had loaded the European maps on it as well and it took us right to the door. Our car was a Renault Megane hatchback with 4 doors and it was a diesel…thank god because gas is soooo expensive in Europe. The diesel is a bit cheaper and a tank lasts a lot longer. My mom was with us too and on the way home we just drove through Liege for a bit. Once we got home we had some dinner and after that Michael and I went to Bokrijk, a nice park not too far from my mom’s place. We walked around in the park and played on the playground...hehe, it was fun. We were just like little kids, but oh well why not. That was that for today.

*Wednesday – July 9: Michael was awake at 6.00am and the first he said to me was that he felt like a big hamburger and fries…hahaha. I guess his stomach was still thinking Vancouver time as it would be evening over there now. We lied around for awhile and got up around 8.00am. Since we had a car now we went to the bank with my mom to pick up her Swiss money and this way she could pay some bills as well. After that we went to the shopping mall in Genk. We had a quick visit at Johan’s, a friend of mine who has a candy store in the mall. It was nice to see him again. He is doing well and I am glad for him. Michael wanted to go to the sport store as it was “Solden” (sales) again, which is a big sale in the summer. He bought a few different shirts that had a price we couldn’t resist. We had some lunch in the mall at the Quick (something like McDonalds) and Michael’s dream of a burger and fries was fulfilled. We walked around in the mall and went to have a look at the new part. Lots has changed and many new stores were added. I bought some nice summer shoes at the C&A for a good price. After all that we did our grocery shopping at the Carrefour and off we went home. In the evening we were invited at my aunt & uncle’s for dinner. The kids were there too with their husband’s. We watched some old film that my uncle took when they were in the Interlaken region in the 80’s, it was nice to see what we were going to visit ourselves. We had a wonderful evening with them and enjoyed our time.

*Thursday – July 10 & Friday – July 11: On these days we didn’t do too much. We went for some more shopping on Thursday, we went to Wijnegem…a big mall near Antwerp. It was a nice morning and we wanted to visit the city of Antwerp, but when we were halfway on the road it started pouring rain. So, we decided to go to the mall instead which was fun and we saw many interesting stores. We bought a cordless phone for my mother so she can take with her if she goes outside or something. On Friday we visited with my good friends Maarten and Joke as they bought a house in Tessenderlo about half a year ago. It’s a nice place and it looks beautiful, I am sure it will look even better once they are finished with the last bit of renovations. We had some of my mom’s friends visiting us and having a chat and we also got ready for our trip to Switzerland. We helped my mother in the garden, cut the grass and got it all cleaned up before we had to go to Switzerland. Tomorrow would be our big day as we would leave for Switzerland until July 23/08.

Please read my next post "My life in Canada (July 2008)...Part 2" for the rest of the story!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My life in Canada (June 2008)

June 2008:

Ineke and I met up a few more times after she moved here. I happened to be off on my birthday which was May 15 and she wanted to do something for me, so she envited me to her place for lunch and we would go for a walk after. I figured it might be an idea to pick up some Chinese food, so this way there wouldn't be any work for us (as in dishes). I picked up the food on the way to her place and once I got there I was greeted by the friendly little four footers. It happened to be a nice sunny day and fairly warm. When I walked onto her patio where she had just set up the patio furniture a few days ago, I noticed she had decorated the patio with balloons for me...HOW NICE! It was so great to see that and that's not all, she also bought a yummy chocolate cake for my birthday! Well, we would have to do quite some walking to work off all that yummy food...haha. After endulging ourselves in the Chinese food and the cake we took 2 dogs with us (Bella and Dax again) for a nice walk at Belcarra Regional Park. That was really nice. We walked for quite some time and the doggies seem to enjoy the walk as well. Dax just wanted to go towards the water, appearantly he loves swimming and he goes crazy when he sees the water, haha. He really kept on pulling towards the water, so funny. But he was okay after a while. We had a great day and I really enjoyed my birthday. It sure is nice to have a wonderful friend like Ineke nearby!

At the end of May Ineke and I went out again with 2 of the doggies. This time we took Dax and Pink for a nice walk in Barnet Marine Park which is a wonderful park as well. Here you have a big beach and a few smaller secluded beaches where the doggies could have fun and swim in the water. Boy did they ever have fun in the water...just have a look at the photos and the little video below! :)

For the rest nothing too much happened in June. Ineke was quite busy with a bundle of things and I didn't have that much time in June to meet her. But Michael and I did go out for dinner with her and Sandor (her husband) for a lovely dinner at Milestones which was great. We had a fun evening and hope to this again in the future. In other news I can tell you that I finally got a letter from Canada Immigration about my Canadian Citizenship. I had to go for my citizenship test and interview on June 24/08. Darn, that was bad timing as we would leave to Mara Lake for 1 week on that day. Well, we decided that I would take the Greyhound bus to Sicamous where Michael could come and pick me up. So, we went for a little trip to downtown Vancouver together to find out where the place was to do the citizenship test and where I would have to take the bus after. We enjoyed our time in downtown Vancouver and it was really nice to walk around there again. I would have to be in Vancouver on the 24th of June by 10.30am for the test and my bus would leave at 2.00pm in the afternoon. So, I would have plenty of time to take the test and get to the bus. I got to downtown Vancouver fine and I found that the citizenship test was really easy. They make it look so hard when you read the booklet for the test, but yet it if you read the booklet a couple of times it is very easy to do. There were 20 multiple choice questions and I am sure that I got them all right. The interview really wasn't an interview, it was more like a little chit chat and that was that. I got on the bus and the bus took off about 2.15pm, we would get to Sicamous around 10.00pm and was on my way to Sicamous. When we got to Salmon Arm, about half an hour from Sicamous our bus broke down and we had to get into another bus. Oh dear, I was afraid that Michael would be worrying on the other side as he was waiting for me in Sicamous. There was no way that I could reach him. Anyway, I finally got to my destination about 11.45pm. I was sooo happy to see Michael waiting there for me! Somebody at the office there had said that the bus broke down in Salmon Arm and we would be late. Thanks goodness, I was worried that nobody would be waiting for me. We got to Mara Lake and it was good to see mom and dad there too...but Fay and Dorothy went to bed already and I would see them the day after.

Some photos from Vancouver and my trip to Sicamous by bus

Our week at Mara Lake was great again as usual. The first few days it was a little cloudy and cooler, but by mid week it was really getting hot with warm summer temperatures. We were able to enjoy some afternoons on the beach and swim in the lake. The only problem was that the water level was quite high and there was not too much beach. But we had a little patch of beach where we could put our chairs and sit in the sun. We also went in to town a couple of times to look around, do some shopping and just enjoy the area. It was so good again to see Fay and Dorothy, they both look good and told us all the news and happenings from Calgary and Saskatchewan and we told them all our news. There wasn't too much news from us, but we were also getting ready for a big trip to we talked about that. I also called my mom once from Mara Lake which is always nice and this way she doesn't have to miss me so much. My mom is looking forward to our visit to Belgium.

Some photos taken at Mara Lake

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Please see my next post "My life in Canada (July 2008) for the rest of the story!

My life in Canada (January 2008 - May 2008)

January 2008 - May 2008:

Let me start where we left off. We had a wonderful Christmas. We spent the day at Michael’s parents place where we had a wonderful dinner. We usually go to their place after lunch and stay until about 9:00PM. By the afternoon it actually started snowing, so we did have a white Christmas. It didn’t snow very much, but enough to cover the ground and make everything look white and like Christmas. Michael and I were off between Christmas and New Year and we enjoyed ourselves just being together going out here and there, do some shopping or just take it easy. We had a wonderful time. On the 2nd Christmas Day (Dec. 26) we have "Boxing Day" over here. On this day all the stores are open all day and most things are on sale for 50% to 75% off. Usually we buy some clothes, shoes and groceries. Some people line up to get electronics for a very cheap price. But we usually don’t feel like standing in line for this as you have to be waiting at 5:00AM if you want the good stuff...that just seems a little too early. We do shop on this day every year, we never miss it as we always like to find some good deals.Well, we had enough winter as well so far. We had a couple of snowfalls in December which disappeared pretty quickly. We had quite some snow in January which stuck around for a while, but the most of it we got in February. In the beginning of February we had about 25cm (10 inches) of snow and a few days later we had another 25cm (10cm), this was gone within a week. Then half of February we had another snowfall of about 50cm (almost 2 feet) which stayed around for about 2 weeks. This is great for our local mountains as they had tons of snow since half of November and it’s even colder up there so they get more snow than we do down here. They had a great season as the snow kept on falling until half of April on top of the mountains. At this moment the local mountains still have about 5 meters (16 feet) of snow, so the skiing/snowboarding season isn't over yet. We even had a snow fall on March 28, but it was gone by the end of the day. This is really unusual to get snow that late in the season, the flowers are blooming by then already and spring has set in. I guess global warming is the cause of this crazy weather.I finally finished my nursing course as well. I did my preceptorship (practicum) in Burnaby Hospital which is about 15 minutes driving from our place and it was really good. I had to work 14 shifts in total as they are shifts of 12 hours. I had to work 4 days in a row, 3 day shifts from 7:30am until 7:30pm and 1 night shift from 7:30pm until 7:30am. After those 4 shifts I was off for 4 or 5 days. I had to take care of 4 patients and you do everything for these patients, you wash them, you do all the medications as well as intravenous therapy and much more. I learned a lot and I am happy that I had this experience. The nurse I had to work with 1 on 1 for my 14 shifts was great and so helpful. Now that I am finished I still have to do the national nursing exam which is not until October (it’s only 3 times a year). In the meantime I started working full time again at the same place where I have been for the past 3 years. I am not sure if I will go back to hospital nursing or not, I haven't made up my mind yet. I like my present job and I will continue here for now.

Some snow photos from around our place

On a lighter note I can tell you that we will be going to Mara Lake again this summer where we meet up with some of our family. This is always fun as we stay in a cabin near the lake where we can just relax and enjoy ourselves. This area is kind of like Spain to Europe, a very dry and quite hot place in the summer with temperatures around 30 C or even more. There is a beach and we can cool off in the lake which is nice to swim in. Besides that we are going to Europe as well for about 4 weeks. The main reason is to visit my mother, but of course we also want to travel around a little. We’ll do a bunch of day trips in the area, but we also want to take a short holiday in 1 place and take my mom along so she can have a little holiday as well. We have chosen Switzerland as our destination because my mom, my husband and myself have never been there. I have been there once but that was for skiing in the winter, summer time is always different. We’ll be staying in a lovely chalet in the Interlaken area for about 12 days and visit the surrounding area. We will be staying at this beautiful vactions home near Interlaken. We look forward to it! We hope to visit the Jungfraujoch, Lauterbrunnen Valley, Grindelwald with a trip to First from where we walk to the Bachalpsee, The Niederhorn, The Shilthorn, Kandersteg and the beautiful area around Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. That's our plan anyway, once we get there we will decide what we will do and when. It's hard to plan everyday ahead of time because you don't know what the weather will be like. So, we have a list of things we definitely want to see so we have time to see the most important things. I am still talking to my mom on the phone every week and we call at least once a week but usually it's twice a week. It's a great way to keep in touch and it makes us feel like we are not that far away from each other.Michael and I are still going strong, our love for each other grows stronger and stronger everyday and we are so happy together. It's nice to be with someone that loves you, that's your best friend and someone who understands everything. I am so greatful to have found someone like Michael, he is the best for me. Michael and I enjoy going out now and then to enjoy the beautiful scenery around here. I still enjoy taking photos and you will see that I update my photo albums frequently with new photos. Further we have been to Burnaby Mountain a few more times and we finally made it out to Steveston Village which is a wonderful place near the Vancouver International Airport. Steveston is a small fishing village by the water where you can buy fresh salmon, other fish and fresh shrimp. It's wonderful place and we enjoyed a lovely walk here as at Terra Nova Park ichmond from where you can see the planes take off from the Airport.

Some photos from our visit to Steveston & Terra Nova Park

May 2008 has been quite exciting so far. I had some great news from one of my girlfriends who I met online a few years ago. She is from The Netherlands and we met through a website about immigrating to Canada. Her and her boyfriend at the time had thoughts of moving to Canada and she wanted to get to know some people that lived in Canada already that are from The Netherlands or Belgium. We got along quite fine on msn messenger and in October 2005 they were coming for a holiday to West Canada. They wanted to get an idea about this area and see if they would want to move here. I helped them out with an interesting route and gave them some tips on what to visit. Since they were coming all the way out here they would find it interesting to meet up and talk about life in Canada. We met at White Spot in New Westminster, a nice restaurant not too far away from us. Ineke and Sandor (that's their names) brought us some presents to say thank you for helping them to put a travel route together. I got these cute Dutch Cloggy's that look like wooden shoes, but they are soft slippers. They bought some Belgian beer for Michael and a pretty calendar for us as well. That was so nice of them. We enjoyed ourselves at dinner and we talked and talked. We got along so well which was really nice.Their plans of immigrating to Canada had been put away for the moment due to several reasons. Ineke and Sandor got married in June 2006, they bought a lovely house and continued their life together without any plans to move to Canada. But then in 2008 Sandor travelled to Vancouver a few times for his work with Phillips and I guess they likes what they saw and they offered him a job for a year at Phillips in Burnaby. This means that both of them would be able to move to Canada on a temporary work visa. Phillips would arrange everything for them. They would be able to live in a house in Greater Vancouver as they were going to bring their 4 Jack Russels. Sandor arrived here in April already, but Ineke didn't arrive until the beginning of May. Of course this would be an opportunity for me to see Ineke more frequently. I was looking forward to that very much as we hadn't seen each other for 2 and a half years. We met at our place and then we went for lunch at the White Spot where we met for the first time in 2005. We chatted about so many things and had a good time. It was so good to see her and to be able to talk in person.

We also did some shopping in the mall and went to Burnaby Mountain afterwards to enjoy a few nice views. Sadly enough it was a little too cloudy and you couldn't see as much as you would on a clear and sunny day. After that we went back to my place for a cup of tea and then she went home. We would try to meet up again next week, but the day after it was such a nice day with more sunshine and I was anxious to see her 4 doggies. I got in touch with Ineke and suggested we could go to Buntzen Lake since the weather was so nice. Buntzen Lake is a wonderful place to enjoy a walk and dogs are allowed over there as well. Ineke thought that it was a good idea since the weather was so nice. She decided that she would take only 2 doggies at once as it would be too much to take all 4. I would meet her at her place and then we would leave from there to Buntzen Lake. I went to her place just after lunch and as I got out of the car the doggies came running for me already. What a happy bunch they were and they were so happy to welcome me. We took Dax and Bella to Buntzen Lake. Dax is a real active and quite hyper dog so full of energy, but he's a sweetie. I walked with Bella and what a darling she was, so calm and sweet. She liked to sniff around along the trail, but was easy to walk. Dax on the other hand wanted to see everything he could close up and he was running about a lot. I think he is a very curious dog, but he obbeys which is good. We spent almost 2 hours at Buntzen Lake and walked a nice trail through the forest. After that we went back to Ineke's place for a drink and a rest. The other two dogs, Max and Pink, were so happy to see us again. We sat in the sofa for a while and Bella sat on my lap for quite some time. She seemed to enjoy that and liked to cuddle. She stole my heart and so far she's my favourite out of the bunch. But they are all so sweet and all so cute! Well, that was it for that day. I would have to go to work again for the next 4 days, so we'll probably try to meet up again next week at some point. The weather is supposed to get much sunnier and warmer by next week. So, we'll see if they're going to be right?

The doggy squad was so happy to greet me at Ineke's place (photo by Ineke)...(the dog's names from the left: Bella, Max, Pink, Dax)

Ineke with Dax and Bella at Buntzen Lake

Bella and Dax on a hiking trail at Buntzen Lake (photo by Ineke)

Please see my next post "My life in Canada (June 2008) for the rest of the story!