Vancouver: Day two
Today I learned a number of things:
The pedestrian wait signal is a red hand, and the walk signal is a white silhouette of a person walking. It is not green. Only traffic signals are green. Don't start walking when the lights go green.
Cars are likely to stop on a suburban street if you look like you’re about to cross.
I'm not sure if it's illegal or just custom, but no-one seems to cross mid block. Mind you I've mostly been downtown, and there are an awful lot of short blocks and each one has signals.
There are a lot of migrants here. I was served by a woman from Bulgaria at the bank, a man from Persia, and one from Germany at the phone shop, and those were the people where that info came up in conversation.
So far my experience has been very different from my experience setting up in England. Over there, there was a strong sense of being a second-class citizen and everything was difficult. You had to prove your identity in multiple ways, and the only way I got a bank account was through paying the travel agent for a package that included phone and bank account. Here, my bank account was set up immediately and they gave me a temporary card to use till the real one arrives in the post. The phone proved to be a little harder. My phone isn’t compatible with some networks (the cheapest one included, sadly). It also requires a SIN (tax) number, and it turns out the Canadian service counter which will allocate me one closes at 4pm, which is no help when you show up at 4.07pm. The phone people kindly tried to set it up with my temporary bank card, but no luck. Will have to go back to sort it out tomorrow.
It’s getting dark here about 9.30pm and there's a noticeably longer twilight.
Apparently Vancouver has a reputation for being wet for nine months of the year, and a little less wet for the other three. So far I can't disagree.
In general cars are a little bigger and look newer than in NZ, the buses on the other hand seem old and rattley, and stop almost every block with people getting on and off. There are lots of trolley buses, which reminds me of Wellington when I lived there – minus the stopping to put the bus back on the wires.
A numbered street system makes it much easier to navigate, if a little less interesting.
It only took three trips for me to finally notice that it’s a tag-on only system. No tagging off. It was easy to get a Compass card here (ie HOP/Snapper/Oyster card), but I think there’s an additional fee or complication that wasn’t on the fares table at the Skytrain station, that meant my fare was $8+ from the Airport. Today’s fares were as expected, around about $2, and there’s a 90min transfer window.
I have yet to see any sort of customer service counter or network map or paper timetable. I have to assume they’re going for an online approach. Another reason to sort out my phone asap!
So far my impression is that food and mobile plans are expensive. A plan roughly equivalent to a $30 to $40 plan in NZ is around $65 - $75 a month here. Cheese seems to start at $4 and even fruit and veg seem more expensive. I have however not come across a standard-sized supermarket yet, only what appear to be fancy boutique places, or additions to a chemist shop, so I will reserve my judgement.
I watched someone buy Whittaker’s chocolate in a posh supermarket that also sold Tim Tams.
So far, from a sample size of two, hot drinks start at medium-large and go up from there. One café had a choice of dark, milk, or white hot chocolate, and the dark was fantastic. I hope this is common across the country. I’ve not spotted a flat white on a menu yet, although one café is advertising “uncomplicated lattes” which is intriguing enough I will go and try one tomorrow morning.
I must look approachable – I was asked for directions again today.