This journey begins with a foamy nose and perhaps the best barista in Vancouver. Mario at Caffé Rustico has just made my day. On my own for a few hours between my brother’s departure and my friend’s arrival home from work, I have ambled to this café on my brother’s recommendation. I have approximately 24 hours to kill in Vancouver on a stopover from Saskatoon to Melbourne (via Shanghai, via Van), and this lovely hole-in-the-wall with a complementary shot of espresso and whipped cream seems like a more than adequate spot to kill a couple of them. I’m sitting here, on the brink of a year-long journey to Australia, finally beginning to think about what is in front of me. I had thought that the reality of this trip wouldn’t hit me until I had at least left Canada, but visiting Vancouver – a city I haven’t been to since I was a child – appears to have been just enough to remind me that it will be a long time before I have a solid grip on my surroundings again. Having mixed up my brother’s transit directions to the coffee shop (I blame the directions, not the traveller: you don’t need to cross the street, brother), I soon realized that I was travelling the wrong way down Main and jumped off to change direction. I happened to hop off the number 3 on the corner of Main & Hastings, a notoriously dodgy area of Vancouver. No harm done, I got on the correct bus and off I went, but it was a quick reminder of how easy it is to lose your bearings in a city that you aren’t familiar with.
In conclusion, I am actually more excited than I thought I would be at this stage. To me, that is what travel is all about – the confusion, getting lost, missing trains and finding creative places to sleep. The reminder that I can do this in my own country is welcome. It will just be all the more fun on the other side of the world.