Another year has come around again and some things have happened of course. Half of January I received a phone call from one of my best friends and former colleague Eva from Belgium. She was wondering what I was going to do next week. I thought she was going to set a time to phone me so we could talk a bit longer. So I told her that I had nothing on the agenda for next week and to that she says..."Well, that's great as I would like to come and visit you for a week". I couldn't believe what I heard. She told me on my last day at work that she would come and visit me someday, but I had never thought she would really keep her word. She wanted me to find a small hotel to stay at near us for about 1 week. I was soooo excited and still couldn't believe she was going to come. Then I told Michael about it and since I would be home all week and he was at work we decided she could stay with us. Eva arrived on the 28th of January 2002, we had a big snowfall the day before she came, but thankfully the weather was ok on the day she arrived. It was so good to see her and to have her here for a week. We did all kinds of fun things together. During the week we went shopping, we went for long walk, go to downtown Vancouver, Stanley Park and so on...we had a blast. In the weekend when Michael was off he took us to a few nice places that were harder to get to by public transit. We talked about so many things and really enjoyed our girl talk and girl time...haha! It's a week I will never forget. It was hard to say goodbye again, but we will keep in touch!
Eva & I at Burnaby Mountain during her stay in Canada
In the summer of 2002 one of my nursing teachers from Belgium was coming to Canada for a trip through British Columbia. She got my e-mail address through someone at school and she contacted me as they would be in Vancouver for a few days, so I met up with them and I took them on a tour through Vancouver. We visited the main parts of downtown Vancouver including the waterfront and Gastown, we also went to Stanley Park where we walked around on the seawall to enjoy all the beautiful views over the water, the mountains and the city. We also drove up to Mount Seymour where there was still some patches of snow. The view from up here was also wonderful. After that we went to Lynn Valley which is a beautiful place with a suspension bridge that crosses over Lynn Creek and takes you into the lush green rainforest. We were lucky as it was such a beautiful and warm day! It was fun and we had a great time. They were off for a trip of 3 weeks through British Columbia and the Canadian Rockies. So, we would meet again for dinner (together with Michael) after they would be back in Vancouver from their trip through the Rockies and before they would leave Canada to go back to Belgium.
At the same time that my teacher and her family was touring through BC and the Rockies we went to Mara Lake again for a week of fun. The weather was just fabulous, we enjoyed several hot and sunny days. We spend a lot of time on the beach relaxing by the water and enjoying the weather. It was so good to see the family again and to spend endless hours talking by the bonfire at night about all kinds of stuff. We went for our usual walks every day as well as some visits to nearby towns like Enderby, Sicamous and we also went out to the beautiful city of Vernon to do some shopping and some walking. We had a wonderful time at Mara Lake as usual. After our week at Mara Lake Michael's parents went back home and we went the other way to take a beautiful trip through the Canadian Rocky Mountains. It was my first trip to the Canadian Rockies and I was soooo excited to see this wonder of Mother Nature. I had read about the Canadian Rockies and seen many pictures on the internet of these amazing mountains and the blue glacial lakes. On postcards and photos on the internet these lakes look so super blue...hard to believe that it is real! Well, we were going to found out for ourselves how blue these lakes really were! We rented a mobile home in Golden where we stayed for about a week. From there we drove to the different areas of the Canadian Rockies. We spent time in Glacier National Park, Mount Revelstoke National Park, Yoho National Park and Banff National Park. My goodness I had never seen such beautiful scenery and nature in my life! The lakes were indeed as blue as they portray them on the many postcards, posters and photos. You have to see it with your own eyes to believe how blue the water looks. I was shocked and happy to see that it really looks that beautiful! If it weren't for the high mountains with snowcapped tops you would think you are at a tropical beach somewhere. The scenery in the Rockies is absolutely stunning with high jagged peaks and those crystal blue lakes. There are also some very beautiful waterfalls and rivers to admire. We enjoyed several hiking trails in the National Parks as well. The weather was fantastic as well, so we got really lucky during this trip! I can't wait to go back here again in the future to see the places that we haven't seen yet!
In the summer I met a girl from Belgium online through my personal website. She was looking for some information on Vancouver and British Columbia on the internet and that's how she bumped into my website. She wrote me an e-mail to ask a few things about Vancouver and its surrounding area as she was going to be visiting here in September. We started to e-mail back and forth quite a few times. After that we ended up chatting on msn messenger where we really got to know each other quite well. Since she was coming over to Canada all by herself she was wondering if we could meet up for some coffee. Well, why not...that sounded good to me and we made arrangements to meet after she would arrive in Canada. She gave me a call and we hooked up in downtown Vancouver. I showed her around to English Bay beach, beautiful Stanley Park and the popular areas of downtown Vancouver. We got along great and had a good time. After spending a day with her she was telling me about her plans to visit Vancouver Island and then take a trip to the Rockies and back. She wanted to meet up again after she would be back from her trip. Once she was back in Vancouver she gave me call and we met up again. This time Michael came along so we could drive around to a few places. We drove to North Vancouver and visited Lynn Headwaters, Ambleside Beach and other parts of Vancouver. It was so nice and I gained a new friend because of all this! It was too bad to see her leave again, but hopefully we would meet again in the future while I would be in Belgium for a holiday or if she might return to Canada for a trip. In any case, I was happy to get to know her!
Bibi (Belgian friend) in Vancouver
Then it got even more exciting by the end of the year as my parents had decided to come over to Canada and spend Christmas with us. They arrived on the 6th of December and stayed until the 27th of December 2002. That was so great. This trip was really one that they enjoyed to the fullest as it was their second time. They felt more comfortable with the whole trip and kind of knew what to expect this time around. The first week Michael was still working, but I was off for the whole time my parents were here. The first week my parents and I went to a few places and went to the malls in the area. All the beautiful Christmas displays were seen everywhere, as well inside as outside. The first week we took it easy as my parents were still a bit tired from the long flight, it takes almost a week to get fully over this jetlag. We made a few plans to do some real fun stuff that are especially nice to see around Christmas. One thing I definitely wanted to do was take them up to Grouse Mountain on a sunny day and after a snowfall on the mountains. Grouse Mountain is one of Vancouver's local mountains located in North Vancouver. Boy, we sure got lucky that snow was falling on top of Grouse Mountain in the first week that my parents were here. Of course we got rain down here instead as it wasn't not cold enough to snow at our place. We had the chance to drive to Grouse Mountain the second week on a sunny day. It took about 20 minutes driving to the parking lot of Grouse Mountain from our place. From the parking lot we had to board the Grouse Mountain Skyride, which is a gondola that takes you to the top of the mountain. Once we hit the top of the mountain we were in winter wonderland and the evergreens looked so beautiful all covered in snow. From the top of Grouse Mountain we had some amazing views over the Greater Vancouver area, the Pacific Ocean, Vancouver Island in the distance and even the mountains in the USA. We enjoyed watching people skating on the pond and people that were enjoying some skiing, snowboarding or just walking around. Inside the building there a movie showing about the history of Grouse Mountain and the scenery of British Columbia (the province we live in). Of course we waited to see the sunset and we took the Skyride back down when the city lights were coming on...what a sight! It was so great for me to be able to spend Christmas with Michael, my parents and his parents. We also took my parents on a tour to see all the houses that were packed with Christmas lights, I think they loved that very much. My mom thought is was so beautiful to see all those Christmas lights. We also took them to some beautiful lakes that were surrounded by mountains. We did some walking there and just enjoyed everything we did. We had an amazing time together and for Christmas Michael's parents invited us for dinner. It was so great to have my parents here to celebrate Christmas with us. We had a wonderful time at Michael's parents place!! Too bad they had to go again, but I know that these were 3 weeks that we would never ever forget!!!
My parents in Canada for Xmas 2002
Please visit my next post "My life in Canada (January 2003 - December 2003) for the rest of my story!