One of the most important things about settling into a new country and your new life is making friends. It gives a sense of belonging, provides comfort and support.
This has been a great weekend of making friends and what better than making friends over this big weekend of celebrating Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving, which you could be forgiven for thinking originated in America, actually originated in Canada.
Unlike American Thanksgiving. which is celebrated in November, in Canada it is celebrated on the second Monday in October. Originally started in 1578 this long held tradition was started by an explorer from England, Martin Frobisher. It was designed as a celebration of thanks for the year’s harvest but as with most holidays Thanksgiving has been heavily commercialised. That said one thing that remains is the bringing together of friends and family to celebrate, and for me this has been no different although minus family as mine are all in the UK (we FaceTimed if that counts?).
Blarney Stone and Jimmy’s
Saturday was the first day of making friends and, as previously blogged about, involved meeting a group of local Canadians for coffee and cake. It was a great afternoon and I felt really accepted into the group. I look forward to meeting up with them again soon.
Sunday was another day of meeting and making new friends. This time I was meeting up with a group of fellow Brits and Irish who were also celebrating their first Canadian Thanksgiving. With people representing all four countries of the UK (England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales) as well as the Republic of Ireland it felt really good to be among fellow countrymen and women. It really felt like being at home and the sense of familiarity made for a great afternoon.
Many of us had never met before and all of us had been here for varying amounts of time, from the most recent arrivals coming a week ago through to our trusty organiser who has been here for 11 months and was about to give us the tour of two of Vancouver’s best Irish pubs.
Our meeting started in Gastown in a bar called Blarney Stone. The bar is a real hotspot for locals and travellers and is known for being packed in the evenings with people celebrating the night away. At midday it is dead as many regulars sleep off their hangovers so it made for a great meeting place and allowed for lots of conversation without being drowned out by other people in the bar.
The meet up started in true celebrating style with beers flowing freely and great conversation. We were quite an eclectic bunch coming from very different backgrounds and with very different life experiences. We had everything from a games tester, video editor and software designer through to a conservationist, an equestrian expert and someone who works with people who have drug and alcohol addiction. It was really interesting getting to know each other and sharing our respective stories and future plans.
After four and a half hours at the Blarney Stone it was time to settle up and move on to another bar. This was really easy to do because one of the great things about Canada is the waiters and waitresses automatically split the bills for the table and keep tabs on what everyone is drinking automatically. It makes paying for your bill an absolute doddle rather than having the awkward mishmash of trying to split the bill up, which inevitably ends up upsetting someone (England there is a lesson to be learned here).
After a 10 minute walk we found ourselves in the heart of Downtown Vancouver, this time at another Irish bar called Jimmy’s Taphouse. Jimmy’s is a great bar and was where we remained for the next 6 hours. Again the drinks were flowing just as freely and the conversations continued.
As the evening carried on the bar became quite lively as the TV’s showed live ice hockey, baseball, and NFL matches throughout the evening. Every so often there would be a roar of celebration as someone, who understood what was going on far better than we did, cheered for their team. It was a great evening and if it hadn’t been for needing to catch buses and sky trains back to our respective homes I’m pretty sure we probably would have stayed there even longer. It really was an awesome afternoon and evening.
Aside from having a great time making new friends another silver lining was how cheap the day was. After a considerable amount of alcohol, 2 bowls of poutine and a bowl of fried pickles my total spend came to just over $70, which converts to roughly £35. You’d be lucky to get lunch and a few drinks back home for that never mind a whole afternoon and evening of drinking, and food. I can’t wait to meet up with these awesome people again over the forthcoming weeks.
Today is the day Canada officially celebrates Thanksgiving this year and it was no different for me and my housemates. Coming from all over the world our Thanksgiving was like no other, a definite gastronomic trip around the world.
During the day we did our things but this evening we had arranged to cook for one another. It was a pretty big pot luck situation as we hadn’t really discussed what we were cooking so come this evening it was a great surprise. It definitely was not your “typical” Thanksgiving dinner.
We started our meal in India with homemade Chai Tea Latte (I have developed a real love for this). This was followed by at trip to the UK with a classic prawn cocktail. For main we were back in India with chicken masala and finally we finished in Brazil with Pavê (a gorgeous, sweet, creamy sponge finger pudding).
By the end of it we were all stuffed and couldn’t have been happier. We spent dinner talking about our different backgrounds and lives, as well as sharing stories of what we are thankful for. The resounding feeling was being thankful for one another’s company and we shall be making every effort to share more meals together before we move on to different homes throughout Vancouver. What have you done to celebrate Thanksgiving and what are you thankful for?
Around the world in 3 courses
Happy Thanksgiving from 4 very full and satisfied housemates 🙂 !