Home Sweet Home

The end of any journey is often anti-climactic. We had a great welcome home party from friends and family but once everybody had left, Jan and I stood in our quiet house with the luggage and bike boxes cluttering up the front hallway asking ourselves: “Now what?”

Our front door.
Our front door.

Instead of unpacking, we decided to go for a walk in the neighbourhood. Just like we’ve been doing for more than a year on the road, when we arrived in a town or city we would explore our surroundings and find a café or restaurant to have a drink or a meal, or go grocery shopping. It helped to orient ourselves in the new surroundings, looking for the things we would need to continue our journey.

Our overgrown front garden.
Our overgrown front garden.

Things have changed a bit around our neighbourhood. The changes are fairly subtle. Some new houses have appeared with old ones renovated or torn down. Not a big surprise as Vancouver has been undergoing renewal for 10 years as real estate prices have been rising steadily.

Old becoming new again. An old house down the street was raised and given a new foundation.
Old becoming new again. An old house down the street was raised and given a new foundation.

In our ‘hood, along Main Street and Fraser Street, new multi-level apartment buildings have popped up where there used to be one-storey shops, another result of the renewal and densification.

This apartment building at the corner of Main and King Ed was a hole in the ground when we left.
This apartment building at the corner of Main and King Ed was a hole in the ground when we left.

Some of the familiar shops and restaurants have disappeared while new ones have filled the gaps. Lots of new ones. We sauntered down the street, stopping often to look in shop windows to see what’s on offer, or trying to remember what used to occupy the space.

New restaurant. Can't wait to try it.
New restaurant. Can’t wait to try it.

Since coming home is about familiarity, we ended up at a well known hangout: The Reef, a Caribbean restaurant that’s been on Main Street for many years. We met a couple of friends there and sat in the waning sun drinking beer and snacking on Jamaican patties, yam fries and some Doubles, a fried flat bread with chana (curried chickpeas).

A bit of bike porn.
A bit of bike porn.

On this sunny patio, on a warm October day, we begin to catch up with each other’s lives while watching life go by: young couples pushing strollers; trolley buses droning by and overwhelming the conversation; hipsters zipping along on their bicycles; and across the street, a familiar face sits on the sidewalk in front of the credit union begging for change.

Art on Main.
Art on Main.

We will rediscover our city in the coming weeks as we settle back into urban life. We will rediscover relationships with our friends and family whose lives have carried on while we were cycling in a kind of suspended animation. Soon, snow will cover the wall of mountains that dominate the city’s skyline to the north and we will replace our bicycles with skis. It’s good to be home.

Fall is on its way.
Fall is on its way.
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10 thoughts on “Home Sweet Home

  1. Such a wonderful closure page to the exciting chapter of your life journey! Looking forward to seeing you in person!!

  2. Dear Jan, Dear Paul, We are so glad you made it home safe! We already miss your picturesque posts and your lifes on bikes! It was so cool to meet you and we really appreciate your help for staying in Vancouver. It was definitely a highlight of our journey (esp. meeting Ivona). Honestly, despite Hamburg and Copenhagen it’s the first city we’d move to straight away – if we just could. Enjoy this beautiful city and its polite people!

    Also, thank you very much for inspiring me (Christoph) for long distance cycling! This is a big change in my life, which I really enjoy and appreciate! You guys will be always in our minds! Please, let’s keep in touch and let us know if you are around.

    Disfruten mucho amigos y hasta pronto!

    Laura & Christoph

    mail@intothewide.com http://www.intothewide.com

    >

    1. Laura and Christoph, Amigos. Thank you for the message and your friendship. You are welcome here any time and I hope we will see each other again soon. Seguir pedaleando! Seguir sonriendo!

      abrazos y besos.

  3. Welcome home! I drove up Main on the weekend after taking a wrong turn on my way to the PNE grounds and passed the new restaurant. I remember thinking it looked intriguing, but wasn’t sure if it was opening or had closed.

  4. Hi Paul, Hi Jan, and welcome home!! We have just returned yesterday ourselves from three weeks cycling in Germany and Switzerland – followed a bit of your route on the Donau and then circumnavigated Lake Constance. Only a tiny fraction of the trip you have done, but it elicits the same emotions of freedom, simplicity and friendship. One of our most uplifting experiences was meeting a young paraplegic woman who was touring (and camping!) on a hand bike hooked to a wheelchair, what an inspiration!
    Thanks so much for your photos and posts, and compliments on the summary — so eloquent! I trust you will pay us a visit when you come to PG and we can share more stories.

    Dave & Melissa

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