Saturday, July 1, 2017

[Throwback Post] The Canada Day Festivities in Vancouver, B.C.!

Watching the Canada Day Parade (July 2014) at Burrard Street, Vancouver.

I'm very fond of traveling. Obviously.

I'm the type of person who, when feeling idle and having nothing better to do, looks back at my collection of travel photos and memorabilia and with my favorite beat mix playing in the background and a cup of tea in one hand. It's funny how I remember each trip vividly as if it only happened yesterday but always forget where I put my phone five seconds ago. For me, each place has a unique reason that makes me want to either selectively remember or forget it. Each place holds a distinct memory that I could play like a video in my head anytime I want; and unavoidably, each place evokes different kinds of feelings within me whenever those videos play.

I visited British Columbia, Canada, in 2014 for personal reasons for a span of three months. It was the longest I've been away from my family in the Philippines. A lot of things have happened during my visit, and I'm always ambivalent whenever I reminisce about my time there. While it was a beautiful place that I'm planning on visiting again in the near future, I will probably never forget how it gave me a lifetime's supply of sadness-- and heartbreak. 

One of my favorite memories during my stay in Canada was when I went out to celebrate Canada Day, which is held annually every first day of July. I remember the festive atmosphere all over the city on that day and that a lot of sponsors gave out freebies which I gladly took and still have with me up to this day-- memorabilia such as a red and white water bottle, a Canada foam hat, and a paper flag among others. It is this memory and the fact that it is July 1, 2017 here in the Philippines that prompted me to write a post sharing about my experience exactly three years ago.

A little note before I proceed, though: I apologize for the accompanying pictures in this post which were taken three years ago (1) back when I had a camera with subpar quality, and (2) back when I had never even considered the possibility that I'd start a travel blog. Nevertheless, please continue to read this post and enjoy!

Canada Place, built to look like a ship. Image from this Wikipedia page.

My Canada Day adventure started in Canada Place, which is kind of like Vancouver's expo. From my uncle and aunt's place in Royal Oak in Zone 2, I took the Skytrain to Waterfront Station where the huge, dome-like establishment is only a stone's throw away.

The crowd that turned up for the Canada Day festivities was overwhelming!

Performers and live indie music bands played their music on makeshift stages.

Free cans of cold Nestea! The line was about 15 meters long.

People lining up for souvenirs and free goodies.

It was a little ways past lunch time when I arrived so I felt a little famished. Good thing there were loads of food kiosks offering various kinds of festival foods to go.

This kiosk sold 20-oz. plastic cups of freshly-squeezed lemonade!

Beef gyros with pita bread, 10.00 CAD and a can of Coke Zero.

After lunch, I headed inside Canada Place to see the  different Canada Day exhibits. In the first hall, I chanced upon the Canadian Forces Zone where the country's Armed Forces, Military and Navy not only put their essential paraphernalia on display but also conducted demonstrations, held guest-interactive activities, and performed thrilling simulations. 

The second hall that I walked into was the Canada Sports Zone, where the various Sports Teams of Canada-- including the Vancouver Canucks-- held galleries and exhibits. There was also a basketball game between two teams of people in wheelchairs by the time I arrived.

The next hall that I visited was right next to the Canada Sports Zone and housed Salty's Market, a collection of kiosks selling organic and local hand-made items and brands sourced from all over the country. I was really thrilled with one kiosk's collection of spices and flavored salts for sale. It came with a free spice rack, too! Other kiosks that caught my attention were a cosmetics shop selling products with organic, non-allergenic ingredients and a vintage dress shop.

Yes, it was this spice store that caught my heart!

A few hours inside Canada Place with a crowd full of people, I felt light-headed and hungry for some fresh air. I figured that the picturesque view from outside Vancouver's expo may be the perfect remedy. I was right, of course.

This beautiful view was a welcome change from the overbearing crowd of Canada Day.

At 3:45 in the afternoon, I secured a spot at the Olympic Cauldron plaza outside the Cactus Club Cafe for the Lumberjack Show. I didn't expect much of it; I thought it was just an exhibition of how lumberjacks do their thing. I was wrong. It was one of the shows that I will never forget fr as long as I live. It was a unique performance that I've never seen before in my entire life. It was like a circus where the lumberjacks threw sharpened axes on targets mounted on tall hunks of timber, jumped and climbed on axes that they themselves embedded on the timber, and used chainsaws to make pieces of wooden shapes. It was awesome! Exclusively in that moment, I thought about wanting to marry a lumberjack.

Come 5:00 PM, I headed to Burrard Street with hundreds of other festival-goers for the highlight of the day: the Canada Day parade. I've noticed that scores of people have already secured their spots near the edge of the street. Tip: arrive early and secure a spot.

If I had to compare the Burrard Street parade that I witnessed three years ago to all the other parades I've seen in the Philippines, I'd say that the one in Canada is a little boring. It was a plain parade that had no antics nor gimmicks, etcetera. It was nothing compared to the parades in the Philippines where the marching band is always followed by participants in colorful clothing and street-dancers clad in native indigenous costumes-- the staple of every Philippine festival. Nevertheless, the parade gave its viewers a very useful insight regarding the diversity of the cultures that make up Canada.

It was on the ledge in front of this fountain that I sat to watch the parade.

Feeling the spirit of Canada Day!

Opening the parade were select Vancouver Policemen flashing their lights and racing in perfect synchronicity up and down the street.

A marching band-- wearing kilts.

Vancouver Firefighting Squad with its cute mascot!

Better fan down-- the Sheriff just drove by!

The Navy-- and its cute mascot, too!

The following photos depict the different communities in British Columbia. Can you guess which specific nationality is represented in each image?

How cute! It's Star Wars!

A giant piƱata! 

Cosplaying in Vancouver!

The Aklan Ati-atihan Association of B.C. opens the Philippine delegation to the parade.

I thought my celebration of Canada Day would finally end at the conclusion of the parade, but I heard from a passer-by that the finale, a grand fireworks display, will be held at the Olympic Cauldron later in the evening.

People gradually gathering for the fireworks at the Olympic Cauldron!

At around 8:00 PM, we all got what we came for. It was an extravagant display of sounds and colors. It was the perfect way to cap off a tiring and fun-filled day!

Nostalgia kicked in as I clacked away on my keyboard. I remember the place as if I was there only yesterday. It is in this beautiful place that I met some of my relatives who've been absent from my life for so long-- and just recently, I lost one of them to lung cancer. In this place, I found someone who made my heart beat again-- only to realize that he wasn't really the one for me. Even so, I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't be able to help myself from coming back to this place. Because life is just like that: you'll never learn to appreciate the happiest of memories without the lonely ones.


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