Usually our travelling goes perfectly and everything turns out exactly as we expect. Unfortunately sometimes the complete opposite happens and our plans go up in flames. This post is about one of those times! The Vancouver Dilemma is the story of how our careful organisation and prior planning came completely unstuck.
First though, how did we get to Vancouver?
Last Days in the Good Ole US of A
We’d planned a couple of days in a hotel near the airport after our ‘monumental’ trip to Washington DC and the Wyndham Garden Hotel at Newark was ideal. A few last minute arrangements and of course spending our remaining US Dollars.
An early morning flight from Newark Airport New Jersey to Vancouver had been booked months earlier. Our original plans had been to criss cross between the USA and Canada from West to East coasts but changes to the US visa program meant we had to visit each country separately. No problem at all but it just meant we had this long 6 hour flight from the east coast back to the west. We weren’t phased though as we’ve made quite a few flights over the past year that have been much longer. Easy huh?
Flight from Hell?
Not quite but it wasn’t great. Probably our fifth United Airlines flight but sadly it turned out to be our worst. I’ll let you decide how bad. Six hours in the air with no food, no entertainment, limited drinks, no leg room, uninterested cabin crew, and definitely the most cramped seats we’ve ever experienced. We will certainly think twice before booking United Airlines again. But at least as we landed and disembarked our hearts were lifted with excitement at the beginning of our Canadian adventure.
Hello Canada !
The airport in Vancouver took our breath away, it’s raced into my Top Five Airports straight to Number One and may never be overtaken. The walk to the customs hall took us through one of the worlds biggest Pacific Art collections, past Aboriginal statues, British Columbian wooden carvings, and actual rivers and small lakes. All in the arrivals terminal! We’ve never before seen any passengers stop to look and take photos upon arriving. Incredible.
Anyway, no issues at customs or baggage control and in minutes we were on the city Skytrain racing into the city centre. Twenty minutes later we were walking along 10th Street in Mount Pleasant towards our new Airbnb home. Now don’t forget that this is still the same day that we left Newark and although it was lunchtime we’d lost 3 hours due to time differences. So sit back, try not to worry, and let me tell you a story ……………
The Vancouver Dilemma
The Canadian sun beat down mercilessly on our weary backs as we dragged our cases along the bumpy sidewalk at the end of another long travelling day. We had been awake for 13 hours and were only just recovering from the unpleasant flight as we crossed the road to the foot of the steps up to our new Airbnb home. Relief and tiredness hit us as the end of the journey approached.
We reached the bottom of the stairs of the big white house on the corner and stopped to take it in. A little run-down and flaky around the edges but we knew that from the website reviews and we were sure it would be great inside. As we started up the steps a voice behind stopped us. There stood Rigsby from Rising Damp. He wanted to know what we were doing and where we were going. A short conversation ensued where we explained how we’d booked a flat through Airbnb and with that he declared that he actually owned the building. He asked who we’d booked it with and when we mentioned the name Lili his face turned redder and he visibly shook. Apparently she leased a room from Rigsby and had been told it was illegal to sub-let via Airbnb. We started to panic slightly as his voice got louder and he began to mention ‘eviction notices’.
All sorts of thoughts started running through our minds the primary one of course regarding where we would sleep that night. A major charm offensive was necessary so we hit him with both barrels. Jo went for sympathy and understanding of his difficult predicament and I went for matey with sport, travel, and politics. He wilted under the attack and although seriously unhappy with Scumbag Lili said that we could stay after all and he’d sort it all out. Relief!
During the intense negotiations I had been messaging the aforementioned Scumbag Lili mentioning that we’d met Rigsby and wondering where the keys were. Her replies started fairly friendly but deteriorated as I mentioned who we were with. At this moment another character entered stage left. Naomi the cleaner! When I say cleaner she was just a friend of Scumbag Lili. When I say she was a friend, she actually had never heard of her and had been asked to come and ‘tidy up’ by Sarah. Who the hell was Sarah we wondered? Rigsby was both cross at the sub-letting but overjoyed at the drama of the situation and proceeded to flirt uncontrollably with Naomi the Cleaner. Very unpleasant for everyone.
Scumbag Lili messaged that we would have the keys once the cleaner had finished so all seemed fine. However, once Naomi the Cleaner had cleaned the whole flat thoroughly in 6 minutes and Jo had been in to check out our new quarters it was fairly obvious that it wasn’t exactly habitable. Rigsby was adamant that legally he couldn’t enter and Naomi the Cleaner said perhaps we should speak to the Illusive Sarah so we just decided to give it a go and went up.
Five minutes was all we needed to see the unemptied bins, ripped bedsheets, dirty stained towels, hair covered kitchen floor, and so much more. No way were we staying there! What to do though. Rigsby was still outside but not allowed in apparently, Scumbag Lili had gone mysteriously quiet online, Naomi the Cleaner had left, and we still didn’t have a flippin clue who the Illusive Sarah was! We had to call Airbnb. Oh, did I mention that the WiFi was dreadful too? Obviously.
After sneaking out past the patrolling Rigsby we found a Starbucks and I got in touch with Airbnb support. We were assigned Jeff Tracy from International Rescue and he got straight down to business. Although we would have loved Thunderbird Two to have rescued us Jeff advised me to get photos to him of all of the ‘issues’ and he would approach the host (Scumbag Lili). Great. That meant sneaking back into the House of Horror past Rigsby, getting the photos, emailing them via the crazy-slow WiFi and then waiting in the dirty apartment. In the best Great Escape tradition we managed it all and sat back ready for action. Unfortunately the next call from Jeff Tracy wasn’t what we expected as he explained that although it didn’t look ‘ideal’ he really needed to speak to the host and couldn’t do much until he could track her down and she wasn’t replying (really?). So we took matters into our own hands.
Jo put on her organisation-head and found us a lovely bed’n breakfast just round the corner, more expensive but we just wanted out and somewhere to sleep. She booked the last room and we grabbed our cases and marched out of the Amityville Horror house straight into Rigsby. Last thing we needed right now. He was chatting up the Giggly Zoe, a girl young enough to be his great great grand-daughter, and wanted to know where we were off to with our cases. Cue more charm from Jo and a quick chat about The Beatles from me as we explained how the place wasn’t what we expected and how disappointed we were in Scumbag Lili. He hated Scumbag Lili so that really got him onside.
So with Giggly Zoe giggling at every other word anyone said, and a shouty Indian fella screaming that the WiFi had broken, Rigsby actually sympathised and even offered to find us somewhere else to stay. Nice of him I guess but we were sorted and just wanted to go. A final story about a trip he made to Budapest and we were away. Ten minutes to the lovely Cambie Lodge and in minutes we were in a quiet relaxing room ready to sleep. And it was still only 6pm although we’d been awake for 18 hours or so.
Before bed I had several unpleasant messages from Scumbag Lili but Jeff Tracy saw our side of the situation and eventually, after a serious semi-argumentative phone calls, agreed to reimburse our booking fee.
Fabulous nights sleep followed by a tasty breakfast and we set off to another Airbnb that Jo had found and booked before bed. An easy Skytrain trip out to the suburb of Burnaby and we arrived at Sedi’s place. Slightly different to Scumbag Lili’s Amityville Apartment.
The whole experience of the past day was exhausting and obviously disappointing but we pride ourselves that we roll with the punches and can take whatever life throws at us and everything worked out well in the end. In fact we got a full refund from Airbnb plus they covered the bill for the night at the Cambie Lodge so financially we were good.
This was our first bad experience of Airbnb but it hasn’t put us off at all. There are good and bad hotels too so it’s just a matter of putting it down to experience and chalking it up as part of our adventure. We won’t forget it though.
Well rested and recovered it was obviously time for a session of JWalking so we headed into the city on the Skytrain and set off for some exploring. Vancouver is located on the west coast of Canada in British Columbia and is always listed as one of the most liveable cities in the world. The climate is actually pretty similar to southern England although can be a little more extreme, some hotter days in summer and of course some much colder ones in the winter. It’s an incredibly diverse mix of cultures too, we’re not sure if we’ve ever been to a more ethnically diverse city.
Vancouver, or Metro Vancouver as many here refer to it, is nestled between the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Ocean which makes it unbelievably picturesque and the feeling you get as you walk the city streets is that you are just a stone’s throw from complete wilderness. Lots of stories of bears wandering into residents gardens and whales basking in the harbour. You will have to wait for in-depth information on Vancouver until next time as I fear I’ve bored you all for long enough with my ridiculous storytelling. Just enjoy the following photos of our first day enjoying this fabulous Canadian city.
30.6 – 3.7.2016