Moment of awesome
Thinking I had smoked all the proverbial Lucky Strikes in the pack, it happened again – I ran into a friend in the middle of nowhere! This week, I went skiing with my buddy at Whitewater – known for its amazing powder snow. After our fifth run, while waiting in line for the lift, I noticed a guy who looked suspiciously like a friend from home. I called his name and, in true Hollywood fashion, he slowly turned around. He gazed at me, looking confused. After a few moments a huge grim appeared on his face, acknowledging the fact that, no, we were not in a trashy bar in Amsterdam, but we ran into each other on a random ski slope in British Columbia. I believe the correct terminology here would be: it’s a small world. IT WAS AWESOME!
Read more about this week’s adventures. Read More
I was honored to be invited by my good friend, Adam, to join his and his family for Christmas. After a 9-hour drive from Vancouver, through the beautifully snow-covered pines in the British Columbia valleys we arrived in Nelson, BC. Nelson is a small town (population 10,000) well-known for its Hippie spirit and amazing skiing at Whitewater. In the 60’s a vast number of American moved to Nelson, avoiding conscription for the Vietnam war. These ‘Draft Dodgers’ picked a spectacular place to live. Nelson is situated on the banks of a river that connects to the Kootenay Lake. Elephant mountain, on the opposite site of the city, provides a stunning view from wherever you are in town. The adorable downtown area is characterized by co-op grocery stores, cute coffee shops, and outdoor supply stores. My favorite store: a knitting-solution store – I wondered if this was a secret hangout for the local elderly community…
My friend had announced that he’d be using the Christmas downtime to get some rest and find a job, but there would be ample opportunity for fun activities. The day after Christmas we went snowshoeing. Being new to the concept of snowshoeing, I expected to bind under some tennis rackets and start plowing away in the deep powder snow. My expectations weren’t far from the truth, other than the cartoonist tennis rackets were actually metal platforms with spikes underneath. It was my first outdoor experience in BC and I was stunned by the nature. What impressed me most was the vast number of trees all around us. I think at any moment I could see more trees than that exist in the entirety of my home country. Snowshoeing proved to be a physically challenging activity. You constantly sink away in the powder snow. Yet, the most energy-consuming exercise is trying to maneuver yourself out from sinking waist-deep in the powder snow.
The night after our snowshoeing adventure mother nature opened the heavens. The town was awarded with a feet of fresh snow. This only meant one thing: skiing at Whitewater! I was told these conditions were very rare (roughly 3-5 times a year) and during this type of weather I shouldn’t be surprised to find the town deserted. People take sick days and stores don’t open until late in the afternoon – everyone chasing the powder snow. At first, I didn’t understand what the fuzz was all about. Until we got to the slopes. The conditions were marvelous! The powder snow is very light because of the dry air – unlike Whistler’s more slushy snow conditions. The skiing was amazing with the highlight being running into my friend. I was reminded, yet again, by the Hippie culture in Nelson. During lunch, I was happily surprised to see Indian curries and quinoa salads on the menu, where I was expecting greasy burgers and corndogs.
The 29th I took a shuttle back to Vancouver. Although I was dreading the ride, it was an opportunity to reflect on what I wanted to do the next few months. My of my best friends tipped me about this guy (JohnnyFD), who quit his corporate job and decided to travel the world. That sounded familiar. This guy currently makes a living from setting up web shops and selling through affiliate marketing and drop shipment. This got me thinking: I have the time and opportunity in NZ to do this. With the necessary time and dedication, I’m convinced web shops can provide a source of passive income for me. I envision a situation where my web shops provide financial security, enabling me the freedom to design the lifestyle I choose for myself. Let’s see how this is going to work out for me.
As I’m writing this post in a Vancouver Downtown coffeeshop, I’m reminiscing yesterday’s day hike in the north part of town. A one-hour bus ride took me to the edge of town from where I started a hike in the woods. My plan was to hike for roughly 5 hours before heading back for some yoga. About one hour into my hike, I lost track of the path due to heavy snowfall. I tried to navigate the hike according to my memory of Google Maps, which, unsurprisingly, let me to get lost even more in a matter of minutes. Trying to head back to the main trail, I found myself sinking into deep snow soaking my shoes in the process. No fun. At some point, I ran into this super creepy shack someone had built as what I assumed was a secret meth lab. Time to go back! Luckily, I noticed a biker pass by as I was climbing up the hill. I hiked up to where I had seen him and found my way back. In an act of self-compassion I walked to the nearest coffee shop and gulped down a hot coffee.
I capped the day off with 2 yoga sessions at Karma Teachers; a donation-based yoga studio in downtown Vancouver. I’m impressed by the level of the instructor’s professionalism and the appeal of the studio. Unlike most yoga places one finds, you don’t need to be a quinoa-salad eating, tattoo-covered member of the yuppie granola culture. Anyone is welcome and it makes the classes feel very communal. At a suggested $5 CAD this yoga studio has provided the best bang-for-buck I have encountered on my trip.
Hills around Whitewater ski resort near Nelson, BC.
Day hike in Lynn Valley, Vancouver, BC.
Food for the hungry soul
Article: 2016 in pictures by the NYTimes.
This page shows the most eventful moments of the past year. It is a rather gloomy picture of the past year, but I think it’s a fair depiction as it shows the global and social change the world is currently undergoing. My favorite picture is the first one in July: An older woman sharing a bench with a Gay Pride participant.
A word of wisdom
“After I surrounded myself with people who follow their passion, my thinking went from, ‘how can I possibly do this?’, to ‘how can I possibly not?’ “
Dash for cash
Any experienced backpacker has, at some point, used hostelworld.com. From my experience, the site’s offers a pretty good idea for the quality of the hostels. I find that the ratings usually correspond very well with my personal experiences. All good fun, so what’s the deal here? Hostelworld is a middle man. When you make a reservation via the website, you’re not paying the hostel directly – all you do is pay a non-refundable deposit to Hostelworld (a sales commission for them). The owner of the last hostel I stayed at gave me the following tip: use Hostelworld to find a hostel of your liking. Then, instead of throwing your money down the drain, call up the hostel directly. Not only do you circumvent the deposit to Hostelworld, you are now in the position to ask the hostel for a discount. Here is the script:
– Hi, I noticed your hostel on Hostelworld.com and thought I’d give you a call directly. I’m very interested in staying at your hostel, and wanted to personally book with you directly. I was wondering if you could provide a discount on my stay as we don’t have to do business through Hostelworld. Does that sound good to you?
I have successfully used this technique on my last few bookings and lo and behold, it worked! Obviously, this example only refers to Hostelworld, but there are tons of other middlemen whose sales commissions you can circumvent. Any website that compares prices for different suppliers is basically a middleman. See if you can figure out when you are dealing with a middleman and avoid the extra charges. Happy savings!