Christmas Day

IMG_7577This year I spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Downtown Vancouver for the first time.

Surprisingly there were so many people outside, walking around. Compared to Kitsilano neighbourhood, where it seems hardly anybody is going out on the Xmas day. The only place that is open early in the morning is Starbucks.

The coffee shop we went to was right next to English Bay Beach. The place was packed. So I had to take some pictures..

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.. and a peppermint latte.

Everything  and everybody was calm and quiet outside. Fresh air at the beach, somebody was playing guitar.

We were sitting on the bench, enjoying our lattes, all of the sudden we saw a guy in a white bath robe crossing the street, going towards the beach. Confidently approaching the water, he took his white robe off. For a split second I thought that he is going to skinny dip. Oops, that’d be a wrong beach.

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It wasn’t sunny, actually it was about to rain. The guy calmly walk in the water, stayed in there for couple seconds and then returned back on sand. Without putting the white robe on, he continued slowly walking towards wherever he came from, making people look at the results of his working out.

Isn’t polar bear swim  usually on the 1st of January around here? It’s not a New Year just Yet. In Russia we do that when the water gets holy during Orthodox Christmas at -30 outside, we call it “Christmas frost” – Крещенские морозы. But that’s another story.

Well, I hope the guy is not sick, because it must have been really cold in the water! But Thanks for random Xmas surprise! 🙂

Here is some more pictures from Christmas time:

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The gorgeous tree is down 😦

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this is historical moment for me.. the scenery from my balcony is changed forever..

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choosing a tree

Little Xmas tree with raccoon instead of the star or angel..very Canadian, haha!

Little Xmas tree with raccoon instead of the star or angel..very Canadian, haha!

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My dear friends, Thank you for making holidays great! And I hope you had a fun and merry Christmas. xxo

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Merry Christmas

Happy Holidays, My dear friends!!

Have a warm and cheerful time with your family and friends.

Celebrate the time when you are together, that you can hug each other and you can just be next to each other. Family is the most important thing that you can have in your life.

And that way it should be all year round.

I’m away from my family:( Holidays are usually the times when I miss my Russian home the most. But the times when we are together are precious!

So live those Happy moments to the fullest! xxo

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The last picture of this gorgeous tree

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The view from my balcony in Vancouver

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My Sagittarius friends

P1090535My BFFs and me in Whistler this summer 2013 after White water Rafting.

Kozue is my friend from Japan. We have known each other since 2011. She’s just recently came back to Vancouver from her holidays in Niigata, Japan. She said it was very cold weather during her visit, even colder than in the west coast of Canada. But now the real cold kicked in, so I think she probably doesn’t mind to go back.

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Anyway, it was her birthday at the beginning of December and we were out for a celebration to a Japanese restaurant. P1090987

We had a chance to see everybody, catch up on things and enjoy delicious food with some drinks. Cold sake in bamboo glasses and cocktails Japanese style – unusual, crisp and bright like its names: Hello Kitty, Harajuku girl, Ginger Fizz.

 In Canada and Japan family and friends organize a special party for a Birthday person, as opposed to tradition in Russia, where a party planner is a Birthday person!

A Birthday person invites over friends and family for a dinner to celebrate his/her day and even bakes the cake.

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Lyndsey is my girl from UK. She is fun and witty and a dog lover.

She came back to Vancouver in the beginning of summer this year from Britain to share with me the experience living abroad again.

We have known each other since 2009. We have been living together for two years, during which we had so many tough, but funny life situations. We love to look back and laugh at them, because some of them were actually pretty funny.

So her birthday is in the middle of December. We had been planning to go to watch a rock band show, playing live downtown until they changed the date! Maybe we should celebrate it British way?

What is the British way anyway? Lyndsey?

Lyndsey:

“There is no one way we celebrate birthdays in the UK, but generally there should be friends and family, and cake! As I’ve spent several birthdays  here in Canada, some of my family have become really good at sending birthday cards in advance so they arrive in time. One of my aunties tries her best but usually her card turns up about three months late in March. One or two of my friends still send cards but mostly its sending birthday messages on Facebook now.

At home I would usually go out with my friends the night before (and count down until midnight!) and then spend my actual birthday day at home with my family and wider family members coming over to visit.”

Sounds interesting! So we should count down until midnight and have a celebration!

Here’s some astrological characteristics of a Sagittarius women that I think very close to be true. The Sagittarius Woman: November 22- December 21 by Susan Miller:

“The Sagittarius woman is vivacious, funny, self assured, and sophisticated. She probably had an opportunity to travel as a child, and will need to continue to do so throughout her life. She’s a woman who needs challenge and intellectual stimulation in all parts of her life.

Sag women are often highly successful at what they set out to do simply because they are so positive they will succeed. Since the sign also rules international communication, they are either known worldwide or deal with matters of global importance. “

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December in the city

December in Vancouver is pretty hectic. Because it’s so cold outside this year and you need to move fast, also because it’s the time to get ready for Winter Holidays.

It is a month when you make sure that all your shopping is done, that you have found that special gift for family, friends and for that special someone. As well as that you decorated your Xmas tree and your house or apartment. It’s time-consuming, not that easy and must be done before the Christmas Eve, 25th of December.

Meanwhile holidays decorations mostly appear in stores in the middle of November each year. But at Costco, the giant wholesaler, you can find all those necessary decorations even from mid October. And it would be smart to shop for presents during those months, but not a lot of people do that. So now in December we are experiencing shopping fever along with the “sea” of people outside. That’s a stressful part of the Holidays – no time to be indecisive, thinking of great presents, which come at a great price.

However it’s a season to be merry and to enjoy winter signature drinks: hot chocolate, peppermint mocha and gingerbread latte in the morning or during the day.фото 2 (1)

In the evening – Granville Island Winter ale, that can be found only during winter season, sets you in a right mood. It’s a month of parties, festive music and bright “ugly” Xmas sweaters.

All sorts of events are happening in December, calling up for Xmas spirit:

Santa Claus parade,

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Festival of lights, Xmas market with European, mostly German Xmas goodies.

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There are a lot of activities for families and children to enjoy. Go:

  • to the Peak of Christmas at Grouse Mountain to visit Santa and his deers,
  • to Stanley Park to catch a Christmas Train or
  • to Robson Square to have a wonderful time ice-skating in the heart of downtown Vancouver.
  • to Canada Place to find out what curling, one of the popular winter sports in Canada, is all about.

December is a month of festive Xmas music, which comes from everywhere! Even form a bus! No kidding!

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This bus was all decorated with lights and tinsel from the inside. Xmas song was playing and the bus driver in Santa’s hat looked pretty happy, even though it was quite early in the am. That actually made my morning!

Happy December, Everyone!

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Five years abroad

This time five years ago in 2008 I came to Canada for the second time in my life.

My first visit to Canada was back in 1998. It was exactly 10 years ago! And here I am again, this time on the West coast.

So it was cold November of 2008. Well, for local people it was cold, but not for me! Back home, in my home city Ulan-Ude, it was already pretty much everything covered with snow.

It’s weird to think that it was five years ago, because I still remember my thoughts and what I had felt back then, when I arrived to the country all by myself. I didn’t know what to expect, didn’t know what the future holds for me.

I fell in love with the humid air and nature – trees and grass were still green. Beautiful nature and friendly people are the first things that you notice upon arrival.

In my province/state Republic Buryatia we have gorgeous pine and fir trees, steppe and humid air around lake Baikal area.

 These pictures are not mine, but they are so beautiful.

Canadian nature is so similar to it, due to the same latitude, I believe. Which at that time reminded me about home and I thought ”I can live here!”

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That was an amazing journey since that very first day. I’ve immigrated, I’ve changed a bit, and I’ve met so many awesome people along the way. They are from different countries and I’m glad I had a chance to meet them here in Vancouver.

I wouldn’t say that five years is a long time to understand Canadian culture, traditions and habits. It’s not. I’m still adapting, still polishing my English and sometimes trying to recollect my French. I still don’t have much of an idea about culture and the way of living in other provinces of Canada. That needs to be fixed, I should travel more..

OHhh! that makes me want to go travel to my Mother Russia! Because I actually haven’t travelled in Russia much, just to close provinces and to Moscow. It would be just amazing to take Trans-Siberian railway, starting from St. Petersburg through Siberian cities and my city Ulan-Ude to Vladivostok. I’d love to stop for couple of days in different cities to visit my friends on the way to Vladivostok … ah, that’d be awesome!!

Anyway, the point is  – time flies so fast!

But it has been a great five years.

Take a look at this great article on Simple Vancouver, explaining what makes Vancouver living so unique and different compared specifically to Eastern European culture.

There are some interesting observations and I agree with some of it, noticing that I still have much of post-Soviet upbringing and education. And slowly, with time, that is changing.

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