Sunday, February 5, 2012

Top 10 Things I will NOT miss about Vancouver

*Warning - this post contains six years of pent up frustration and most likely a high amount of sarcasm. Ranting will be involved. This post is not for the sensitive soul and might offend. Or you might nod and laugh in agreement. I'm hoping it's the latter.

After writing my last post on The Top 10 Things I'll Miss About Vancouver and realizing how much I'm going to miss my beautiful city, my wise sister recommended I should write the next list soon in order to get excited for my travels. So, here it goes. I apologize in advance to any hard-core Vancouver lovers out there, but, as we all know...there will always be things that drive you insane about the city you live in. Thinking about them in the weeks leading up to leaving for a year seems to be a good plan.

1. Crowded buses/sky trains and bad transit habits (and yes, I realize I'll be riding transit in Europe but I'm hoping it's maybe not quite as annoying). Particularly riding the 99 B-line in rush hour. Riding pretty much any crowded bus in Vancouver in rush hour is no fun, but there is just something extra special about the number of students on the 99 who leave their backpacks on, don't care when they smash into you and seriously people....move to the back of the damn bus. Is it really that hard? Also, sitting on the outside seat and making me squeeze past you..not okay. Eating your onion-garlic beef burger on the bus next to me....not okay. Passing your potentially lethal virus on to the whole bus well....thanks for that. At least the hospital is along the 99 route. And seriously twenty year old guy at the front...get up and move your a$$ so that old lady can sit down. We know you can read the signs about it. We see you texting on your iphone. You must be somewhat literate. And I just have to say it one more time..."MOVE TO THE BACK OF THE BUS!" Sorry, a little bus rage came out there.

2. Paying the equivalent of about ten gym memberships a month for groceries. Okay, so I spent three years living in the lovely, but ridiculously expensive neighbourhood of South Granville, but I still could never get over the fact that I would go to buy maybe five items from the grocery store and never spend less than $40. For a city that has so many health conscious people, they sure make it hard to eat healthy, organic, local food and hormone-free meat on a budget.

3. Rain, rain, grey, more rain, some more grey, light drizzle, downpour, hail storm followed by rain. the picture? Okay, so I realize that I'm moving to a rainy city in Germany so I might have the same complaint there, but seriously, there are days in Vancouver where I feel I need an IV of sunshine hooked up to my arm 24-7.

4. "No fun city". Yes, there is a reason Vancouver has this glorious title. Ever gone out clubbing on the weekends? Well, if you're lucky you might find a club that stays open until 3am, but guess what...the sky train stopped running at 1:30! So, you can find a 24-hour Tim Horton's (let the good times roll), or dish out about $30 to get home in your cab. So, your night out just cost you another two months of gym membership. Go Vancouver. Also, one of my favourite moments was being charged full cover when I arrived at a club at 8:50pm. Woot! Did I mention all the outdated liquor laws too? Maybe that's another rant.

5. Warning, this might be a sensitive one. In Canada, and especially Vancouver (and the lower mainland) we love to promote ourselves as a multicultural city where everyone gets along and holds hands and has multicultural potlucks every weekend and sings Kumbaya. Truth be told, we do have cultural ghettos, so to speak, right here in Vancouver. We have racism too. We live in a city where lines divide us by language, cultural misunderstandings, geography and ignorance. Whether we like to admit it or not, we all carry grudges against certain cultural groups and vice versa. As an ethnomusicologist I am hard on myself when I feel any such feelings come up, but they do exist. Stereotypes exist for a reason, as they say. The whole cultural landscape of Vancouver is changing at a rapid pace. Values change as certain cultural groups dominate. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the next thirty years. I realize that Europe is much worse for cultural division and racism, but it is something that is always on my mind in Vancouver.

6. Congratulations Vancouver you are now the 2nd most expensive place to buy real estate in the WHOLE WORLD!! Somebody buy a cake for this city, cause we should be proud. Alright, I realize there are reasons it's an expensive place...look at those mountains....look at that ocean! But for a 30-something educated, single career gal trying to make it in this city there is no way I could possibly afford to buy even a 1 bedroom condo in Surrey. That is saying something. Some of my favourite moments (heavy sarcasm) are hearing my friends, colleagues, people on the street, say things like "Wow, I found this amazing listing on MLS...a 3 bedroom condo in East Van for only $650,000"! When did over half a million dollars become reasonable for a condo? This housing crisis in Vancouver is not going away anytime soon and it worries me to see what will happen and if foreign investors will end up taking over the city. Only time will tell....and as for us young singles and young families...we may just have to move away or rent forever.
This fixer upper is on the market for a mere 3.95 million.

7. Hockey fans don't hate me, but ....The Vancouver Canucks have to be on my list. Seriously, last year's loss in the long hoped for Stanley Cup trophy was a crushing blow to this entire city. I don't think I saw a Canucks shirt on anyone for a good six months. I only hesitantly started wearing mine again recently. Okay, so losing a hockey series should not be such a big deal, right? But it's pretty depressing when your team has never, ever won the Stanley Cup (under their current name anyway) and yet they keep charging an arm and a leg (and maybe some severed feet...sorry, couldn't help myself) for tickets. And then to follow up with the disgusting riots afterwards? I remember sitting in a pub in Kits after the game was over, seeing the riots on the news and I don't think I could fully believe that this was going on in my city. What a bunch of spoiled, moronic, ignorant, drunken idiots. Yeah, I was upset they lost, but get a life. Seriously. Oh and did winning the Grey Cup make up for the loss some people asked? I want to thwack them with a hockey stick. You know better than that silly football fan (no offense to those who like football, but really...there's no comparison).

8. Yoga pants should NOT ever be worn as actual clothing. Going to or from yoga? Yes, wear your yoga pants. I do! Hanging out at home and doing dishes? Sure, wear them all you want! Going downtown to go shopping with friends? No, do not wear yoga pants and please for heaven's sake burn the Ugg boots. And while you're at it, leave your miniature poodle at home and not in your purse. Better yet, leave your miniature poodle in Antarctica. If we're lucky the penguins will get it. So, I didn't post a photo of the all know the look. I thought that was kind of me. But here's the dog for good measure.

9. Vancouver men out there, please don't hate me for this one, but it is what it is (and yes, I realize there are some diamonds in the rough). We are all probably familiar now with the article "Do Vancouver men suck?" Having dated in this city for the last six years I can attest to this. Every single guy I've dated here has not actually been from Vancouver, true story. So, if you want to date in Vancouver, sure there are some fantastic men out there, but chances are, they aren't from Vancouver. Do Vancouver men suck? And if so, why? It's a question that my single gal friends and I have been trying to figure out for years. Is it just too laid back here? Is the yoga pant dress code lowering our standards? Is it the no-fun city attitude? The depression that the Canucks cause? I really don't know. All I know is that finding great Vancouver guys to date is kind of like finding cheap and good quality groceries in this know they're out there somewhere, you've heard about friends who found them, but no one seems to know where to go to get them.

10. I had to leave one of the most pressing issues for last and that's of course the homeless problem in Vancouver. It's not just the amount of homelessness, but the amount of mentally unstable homeless people who are not being cared for, are wandering the streets and are a danger to themselves and the people around them. I even had an incident this week with one, involving the police. Although I felt good protecting myself, my heart kind of broke when I saw this mentally unstable, drunk, homeless guy with hand cuffs on. There is something seriously wrong with this picture. We live in one of the richest and best countries in the world. People coming from India and other third world countries must be shocked to see the downtown East Side when they arrive. It's not okay. Things have not improved and they only seem to be getting worse. I remember once when a very drunk homeless First Nations man climbed onto the bike rack of the 99 B-line. The entire bus, including the bus driver just kind of froze. It was like this man was making a stand, but he had no real power other than to stop the bus for a few minutes. If I could change anything about Vancouver it would be this. We need better social services, better rehab programs, more education programs for those on the fringe of society. We call ourselves a first world's time to act like it.

Wow, that was pretty satisfying. I may have to write both of these top 10 lists for Hamburg at the end of my time there. Let me know some of your biggest Vancouver pet peeves in the comments. I'd love to hear them. :) Congrats if you read all the way through!


marianne said...

We went grocery shopping yesterday and spent 173€ in the organic coop and 80€ in the regular supermarket. We did admittedly stock up on a few items that are harder to get closer to home (we drove 100 km round trip to do the shopping), but $330 CDN for groceries for two? Oh, and our electricity bill has just gone up to 220€/month ($286 CDN). Just a few things to look forward to in Europe! There is, however, a 15th century villa for sale in our village for under 900 000€ and I can buy jars of Dijon mustard for 60 cents, as well as 200 Qtips for 22 cents. You win some, you lose some! :) I hope it's cheaper in Germany.

Kristi said...

Yeah, I realize Europe is very expensive too. But I hear that groceries in Germany tend to be a bit cheaper (fingers crossed). That is a crazy electricity bill!

JMA said...

Be honest, you are going to miss the rain a little.

Edith & Freddy said...

Kristi, I love all of these and amen to each one. But I must say that life is expensive everywhere and the homeless are treated poorly everywhere. It's the sign of the times. My family complains about how expensive it is to live in Budapest, my husband's family complains how expensive Stockholm and Bujumbura is, and we complain how expensive life is in Cape Town. Life is just expensive no matter where you are, unless you are selling Van Westside real estate ;)

Kristi said...

Hmm....missing the rain? Well Hamburg apparently has lots so I won't have a chance to miss it! :)

Kristi said...

Yes, it's true everyone loves to complain about the cost of living and weather. But, having just eaten at a restaurant in Pennsylvania it's like half the price of Vancouver. :)

bcrdukes said...

As an original Vancouverite, I quite enjoyed reading this list. :)

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Marc said...

As a German who has been living one year in Canada, and the last 6 month in Canada, i really enjoyed the Blog and this post especially...
So i thought about making a list about things i won't miss about Van.
and i really had to laugh about the Yoga-Pants.. it's so true.. Lululemon everywhere..

1. Prices for groceries. As you mentionend, veggies and milkproducts a ridiculously expensive. A liter milk back in Germany costs me about 90 canadian cents or less when it's on sale...but these prices are common in whole Canada.

2. Canadian/Vancouver bureaucracy. Service Canada, Service BC, Drivers License. Everytime i had to offical stuff and i had to visit the offices or had to make calls, i never got the same answer. 1 Office, 2 different people i talked to, 3 different people on the phone and about 10 different opinons and solutions for my problem. But i think these are my german gens. "Deutsche Effizienz" Like when you wrote about your visit to german consulat.

3. "Canadians" bullied by the chinese... This might sound a bit racist, but as foreign person in Vancouver it's really obvious. Canadians sometimes are to polite. For example at the bus station. Everyone is standing in a long line waiting for the bus. And if the bus is to full, everyone waits. Several times it happened, that some "sneaky" asian looking guys just cut the line and didn't care about the others. And no one said something. One time i did, and a lot of people look upset at me, why i did raise my voice.

4. Sales Taxes. After one year living in Canada, i'm still not used to the pricing in canadian stores. In germany, the pricetags have the final price. We also have salestaxes, but they are allready included in the price. i don't how often i forgot about taxes and wondered why it was more pricy than i expected. So special thanks to Alberta. There weren't any sales taxes ... or maybe 1%.. but really low.

5. Skytrain. Does she work, or does she brake down? I remember one day, when a bird's nest!!! caught fire, fell on the tracks and burned the cabels. The Skytrain was shut down for a whole day!

6. Buses with aircondition just in West Van. May, really hot days and i had to take the bus home from work. The oldest busses. Plastic seats, no AC. But when i visited friends in West Van. Allways AC

7. The homeless people and drug addicts on hastings street. I guess every big city in the world got this problem, but in Vancouver it seems to be way higher. Maybe it's because Vancouver got no really cold days in the winter. And i won't miss Rollerblade girl from granville street. It's fun to see one time, but if you meet her in a bus she always wants to show you her Youtube website and so on... And this happend to me five times ;-)

8. No fun Vancouver... nothing to add to your words.

9. No drinking in public. In germany it's allowed to drink in public. For example sitting with some friends in a park, at the beach or in Hamburg at the Alster and have some Beers and basically having a good time. Sadly it's not allowed in Canada. But Germany and Canada got some totally different drinking policies... But this theme could fill many pages.

and last but not least.
10. all the "artisan" "european" or "german" bakerys in Van. The bread you sell isn't german at all. Worst thing is the sold "Pumpernikel" That's no Pumpernikel at all. It's just marketing.

Don't get me wrong. I love Canada, I love Canadians and I like Vancouver.