Posts in vancouver
Light Ash Blonde

I coloured my hair. The box said Light Ash Blonde but it turned out a dusty, hay-blonde with hints of green and brown. Unsatisfied and sad, I told you lets go to the beach instead. We'll get burgers on the way and just eat on our blanket. So that's what we did. 

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I got mad at you for not taking any pictures. Why don't you wanna capture this moment with me? Then you started taking pictures, and I got mad again. No, not from that angle. No, not when I'm looking, please. I got mad at myself for being so mad at you, for ruining everything. I love you for always being there for me, mood swings and all. 

(But I swear to god if you don't come home soon and feed me I will kill you) 

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Six Months in Vancouver
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Wow. My titles are always so incredibly creative. 

Since last time I wrote, about a month ago, my dad visited which meant we went traveling a bit and I had some well deserved days off from work. I enjoyed having dad here so much; it pained me that he had to leave and I couldn't come with him! I miss Sweden like crazy. I miss my sister, I miss warm lakes, I miss eating outside and fika every hour. What I wouldn't do to move back, live in a little cabin with a dog right now. Go on forest walks, complain about the mosquitos. Eat Swedish berries and new potatoes. 

The worst thing about living in Vancouver is that I'm so far away from my family. Any other place in Europe would be closer. Now, if I had to go home, we're looking at a $1,200 one way ticket and around 10-11 hours. It's not just the family I miss about Sweden. Every day I long to be there; I dream of being there. Every place I visit here, no matter how spectacular, has me yearning for the north instead. I think it's time to come home. Not right away, I'm not "done" with Vancouver yet, but soon. 

I have so many pictures to post, but first I need to properly go through them. It never feels like I have time, for anything. Apparently I don't have time for blogging either. I've started so many entries, only to abandon them. I prefer to live in a sort of numb state, where I only work and watch Game of Thrones. But I accept that these moments in life need to exist too. That it's not better or worse, it's just where I am in life at the moment. At the moment I'm not social; I'm extremely introverted. I lack productivity and creativity. But that's okay. This too shall pass and all that jazz. 

vancouverEmma Carlsson
Thoughts of June

I write a word here and there. I start drafts, I edit pictures. Within minutes I get distracted, by a view, a thought, someone else's texts and pictures. I watch Netflix with Andrew. We go on car rides. I make dinners, I talk to my parents. I complain that my skin is always itchy, my muscles always achy, my brain is always over stimulated or under stimulated. I never open my computer. I clean everything with vinegar and I fold our freshly washed clothes into the only chest of drawers that we own. I read up about nutrition and how to best care for your pet. I dream of owning 15 different animals on a farm somewhere. I dream of writing, reading, cooking, caring, living. I live now, too. This is my life. This is the in between stuff. I rarely feel pretty enough, I rarely feel rich enough or smart enough or funny enough. But I'm getting really good at not giving those feelings as much power as I used to. There is power in just being. Just enjoying now. I give power to moments that brings me joy; waking up two hours before I have to leave the apartment, being on the bus listening to music or podcasts and texting loved ones, working with my body and mind every day doing something I love, having delicious home cooked dinners without a thought of diet and "good vs bad" food, watching tv-shows in my pyjamas with Andrew brushing my hair, falling asleep on the couch, sleeping for more than 8 hours every night (always). The list/life goes on. 

I'm also nostalgic by nature. So I want to keep on documenting, keep on romanticising. If anything just to pay respect to the now. There's no end-goal; you live and then you die and while you live there are ups and downs and they are all important. 

(Pictures are from Harrison's Hot Springs a couple of weekends ago) 

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2 Months In Vancouver
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It's hard to believe we've been here for two months by now. We're still in the same Airbnb apartment that we arrived at on that surreal night in late January. Our host coming down the stars, hugging us, welcoming us, spreading joy. We've been incredibly lucky with our host and our apartment. Our host even connected us with our new landlord, so all in all, we're extremely grateful for good people. 

It's proper spring now. There are more sunny days than rainy days. I'm on strong allergy medication which means most of the days are spent in some sort of drowsy haze. Still, it's not as bad as it is in Sweden. Or Santa Barbara. On my days off, we've been visiting parks instead of cafes. We try to save money wherever we can, knowing that we'll need all the money we can get when we move into our apartment. 

I still don't love Vancouver. I love how close the city is to nature, how trails are so accessible and well taken care of. But other than that, it's just like any other city really. Minus the history, there's a serious lack of history here. It's all wiped, you could take a street in Vancouver and place it anywhere else in the world (obviously another city) and it would fit in there. No wonder Vancouver is often a backdrop for other cities in films/tv shows. 

What I miss the most about Europe is good food. Nothing amazes me here, everything is bland and boring. The groceries don't even do it for me, I haven't been able to make something really tasty since I got here. I don't know what it is. It's not just the meat and dairy, it's the produce and even the snacks. Don't get me started on the bread. I'm already fed up trying to find something nice, so sad! The food that seems like it would be semi-ok is incredibly expensive as well. I constantly convert the sum to euros / Swedish kronor as a way of accepting the price (the dollar is really low at the moment), and that might comfort me while I still have euros and Swedish kronor - but what about when I'll only survive on earned Canadian dollar? So much of my weekly budget will go to food. Very mediocre food on top of that. Buhu. The food critic / lover inside me weeps! Europe, I love you! Cali, I love you too - you were blessed with incredible food. I don't know what Canadians are doing wrong! You don't know what you're missing living here. 

What else? Apart from working and getting used to my workplace and new routines, I haven't really involved myself in the community here. Haven't made a point to explore and meet up with new people outside work. Now, I'm a very private person anyway and don't need too many friends, but still. Would be nice to get some roots here. I guess it'll come with time. We're moving into our new apartment this week (oh my) and I work pretty much full-time hours in April, so a daily routine will be essential to establish. After that I'll carve out time for more adventurous and soul-growing activities. 

To summarize: This city is not a place I love, but it's got potential that I'm willing to explore. I've got a job, for now, and we're moving into an apartment. I miss grand historical buildings and good food = easily accessible things found in most other countries. I pet a lot of dogs, we watch a lot of Netflix, we've been out for brunch twice so I guess if anything Vancouver has made us a couple who brunch on Sundays. 

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vancouverEmma Carlsson
Postcards From VanDusen Botanical Gardens

Don't ask me why we went to a botanical garden in the middle of February. Or do, why not. Answer: It was one of the first days of spring, the sun was shining gloriously and the garden is within walking distance from where we live, so it was all a win-win really! Also, my allergies during spring are r i d i c u l o u s, so better hurry up and visit nature places before it all gets wild (ed. note: it's gone wild now)!

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Nothing was in bloom yet; the same hue of green surrounded the grass and the trees. The darker type, the one that survives the winter. The one that reminds you of witchcraft and fantasy novels. The type of green I want to surround myself with, always. 

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I love botanical gardens. I mean, how couldn't you; they're basically lusher, more luxurious versions of parks. With less trash on the paths, and people being quiet and respectful because they paid actual money to be there.

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VanDusen Botanical Gardens had lots of great stone art all over the place. The garden also has a maze (which we got lost in) and bees (most of them asleep during our visit). I can't wait to go back in the summer, to fully enjoy the vegetable garden and the big grass field. I'll wait till spring is over, I'll let the trees be done with their pollution and love making so I can spend time with flowers, bees, and roses in peace. 

Postcards From Capilano River Regional Park

After our trip to Grouse Mountain, we wanted to see more of North Vancouver, so instead of taking the bus all the way downtown we decided to walk downhill from the Gondola through Capilano River Regional Park. The views did not disappoint. 

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Capilano Regional Park is most famous for its suspension bridge. We didn't visit the suspension bridge this time but saved the experience for another weekend. Instead we stopped by Cleveland Dam overlooking Capilano Lake. After that, we walked through down through the River Park on one of the many trails through the green, deep forest. 

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Walking through the trees just made my heart so mushy of love and appreciation. It made me miss home; it made me realize how much I belong to this type of terrain; so much more than I belong on concrete streets. This trip really made us fall in love with North Vancouver for this very reason; the closeness to nature and the general calmer pace. 

One of the things Andrew and I discussed on the trails through the park was how pointless this all was without a dog. Just imagine how much better life would be with a dog? The very thought makes me just illogically annoyed at myself; I should be at a place in my life where I have a dog (or two) by now! Life, you are a mystery. 

Postcards From Grouse Mountain

Two weeks ago or so we went up to Grouse Mountain. It was our first trip "outside" the city, and we loved every minute of it. The sun was shining for the very first time since we got here, and we finally got to see some snow.

Grouse Mountain is very much still in Vancouver; you simply take the Seabus over to North Vancouver and from there take a bus up to the Skyride, the Grouse Mountain gondola. On a clear day, you're able to see Vancouver from the mountaintop. Even though it was sunny throughout our visit, we were unable to see the city due to a fog coming up around the mountain - but it didn't really matter. We were happy out taking a break from downtown! 

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The gondola up takes a couple of minutes (after standing in line for way longer). You can see the fog forming here. 

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No Smoking! Fragile Mountain Fresh Air. Where can I buy this sign for my future home? 

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Upon arriving, seeing happy families playing in the snow and in the sun my heart just melted. This was exactly what my spirit needed after two weeks of almost constant rain and grey skies in the city. 

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There are plenty of activities here for all ages. You can skate/play hockey, rent ski-gear and snowshoes. We did neither, which was okay too! We walked a bit along the mountain on the snowshoe trail and just relished the views + air. 

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We didn't complete the whole trail: there are some really steep parts where you really could use those snow shoes. Plus we weren't really dressed for a hike, so we decided to turn around. A mix of fog, sunshine and snow-cannon created snow generated such a magical effect around us. All I kept on thinking about was how much we needed this.

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Next up is visiting Grouse Mountain in the afternoon/evening time so we could enjoy the Light Trail and hopefully get a glimpse of a lit up Vancouver under a night sky. Can't wait to go back in the summer as well; to enjoy more of the nature surrounding the area. 

A daily ticket (including Gondola and access to area without a ski-pass) costs us around $46, and was well worth it. A great day trip if you want to get out of the city but don't have the resources to go too far! 

vancouver, travelEmma Carlsson
Postcards From Jericho Beach

Dear people at home, missed friends and curious strangers. I'm aware of how dreary I've been sounding lately, my apologies! It's not all misery; it's not all dressed in a desaturated green and blue. Some things are golden. 

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I have so much to write about, I'll tell you all about it later. Tonight is spent in front of the "fireplace"; there's a snowstorm outside and we spent yesterday in glorious sunshine doing the toughest hike here in Canada yet (not on Jericho Beach!! The pictures are just for show). More about that later. Hope you are taking care of yourself, hope you listen to some great music and take some time to think deep, meaningful thoughts while cooking delicious food or browsing the internet for motivation (make the definition between motivation and comparison, one is good and one is evil).

No guilt this weekend, let's shake on it. 

vancouver, travelEmma Carlsson
Count It All Joy - 1 Month In Vancouver

I'm sitting at my local Starbucks, located only two blocks from our apartment. It's snowing outside; yes, it's snowing.

I had written such a long text for this post, but now upon publishing it's all deleted. Someone out there must've realised the rawness of the text and decided the words weren't ready for the public eye. For someone who constantly dreams about hiding and throwing away all tools of communication, I'm surprisingly open in my texts. Lesson learned! 

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Did I tell you that we've been in Vancouver for over a month now? Seems strange and unreal. It both feels longer, and shorter.

What follows are some things I like and dislike about Vancouver. The photos might have nothing to do with the text, but that's okay. 

Photos are all taken in Stanley Park, on a day before the sun came but after the rain left. We thought it was such a glorious, bright day. Looking back, I realise how it's all about perspective. Looking back, the pictures look gloomy. But know we smiled in bliss on the actual day! 

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Like: There's a coffee shop wherever you go. This is by far my favourite thing about cities in general!

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Dislike: They say in general the quality of life here is high in comparison to other cities. And that might be true, but there is a lot of destruction here. A lot of people are not enjoying any of that statistical life quality. A lot of people on the streets. Sure there are lots of vegan cafes and yoga studios and dog walkers, but Vancouver is currently experiencing both a housing crisis and a drug crisis. 

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Like: When it's sunny and you see the mountains in the background, Vancouver is b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l. You notice things you didn't look at when it was raining: street art, beautiful buildings, smiling people. 

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Dislike: The rain, obviously. So far the weather's been 50/50. It was raining pretty much every day for the first two weeks when we got here. Then the sun arrived, and the whole city changed. We changed. Now it's snowing, so you get it all really. 

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Like: Cute boutiques with local art. 

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Dislike: The lack of plus size fashion stores, or stores with a plus size section. 

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Like: Walking trails! Not just in nature, but around the city as well. 

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Dislike: The lack of smaller parks in the city areas. You have to travel to just visit a park, they're mostly located in the outskirts. Queen Elizabeth Park is close to us, but I just wish there were smaller parks to have a coffee in on a nice day out. 

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Like: Public transportation. It's really easy to get to places, plan your trips and pay for them. We have a compass card, which we basically can travel wherever with. 

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Dislike: The fact that we have to use public transportation. Both me and Andrew are so used to driving. When you have your own car, it just means so much freedom to do whatever whenever. A big reason why we haven't explored outside Vancouver yet is because some days you're just too tired to take 3 different buses for 2 hours to get somewhere.

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Like: Stanley Park, Kitsilano Beach, North Vancouver! 

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Dislike: Downtown. I love a good city if it got character and history, but when it's just blocks of tall buildings with general stores it's kind of boring. Downtown is best experienced from a distance, as a nice view. 

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Like: Our AirBnB, it's a perfect basement apartment in a residential area that's still very local. We're one bus ride away from most things, we got a local pharmacy, local grocery store and a Starbucks. 

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Dislike: Not having our own place yet, knowing we're only here temporarily and can't make ourselves completely at home. 

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Like: Spending time with Andrew alone for such a long period of time, for the very first time ever. I love being with him, thank god. 

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Dislike: Missing my family and friends, the time difference makes it harder to keep in touch. My dad's coming over to Canada in April - June for some work and I can't wait to have him here, even if it's not in Vancouver! 

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Like: The conversion rate right now! 10 Canadian Dollars is only 6.4 Euros, which is crazy low! We're basically making money (no, not at all.)! It's really saving us right now. 

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Dislike: Traffic. Andrew says he's never seen drivers as bad as the ones here! Such a silly thing to dislike, but I'm getting to the end of my list and I'm scraping here, okay. Both me and Andrew really need to start driving here. The goal is eventually to get a car if we do well, but the traffic scares us, not going to lie. 

To sum it up, it's hard to feel home here. I'm not gonna lie. But then again I always knew it would be a struggle, it always is when you move somewhere completely new. In many ways Vancouver is just like any other North American city, what I like the most about Vancouver is how nature is so close by. You don't have to go far outside the city to get wilderness. My goal this year is definitely to try to stay out of the city as much as possible. That all depends, of course, on what type of job I'll get and how my economy looks like. It's all a guessing game at the moment, which is why I'm trying my very best to enjoy the moment exactly as it is. It's not easy, in fact it's very hard some of the times. But I'm cutting myself some slack; I'm doing the best I can with what I got. 

vancouver, travelEmma Carlsson
Granville Island → Kitsilano Beach

After our trip to Granville Public Market a couple of weeks ago, we decided to walk along the shore to Kitsilano Beach. The views were spectacular, and we loved watching the landscape change in colour as the sun was setting. The clouds were hanging over the mountains, and you could see downtown Vancouver plus the ski-hills on top of the mountains lit up. The air was crisp and the temperature was perfect. I'm getting cheesy now, but it's these types of walks that makes me fall in love with this city. Keep them coming!

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(Reoccurring thought whenever I'm on a beach / in nature / out for a walk in general: why don't I have a dog yet? My quality of life would improve so dramatically there would be no point in comparing before and after.)

winter, vancouver, travelEmma Carlsson
North Vancouver Getaways

If you were to ask me what it looks like exactly from where I'm sitting right now, I'd show you this picture: 

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Announcement: we've fallen in love with North Vancouver. Why? Well for many reasons. The slower pace, the cleaner streets, the mountains, all the trees. The trails. The way you can see the snow from here, and you can easily go up and roll in it if you want to. Just take the bus! (We did, over the weekend. I'll show you later; it was pretty magical)

You get to North Vancouver on the Seabus (ferry). It's honestly so convenient. Many people complain, how there aren't enough bridges here, but we love it. Who doesn't love a ferry? 

(ps. these pictures of us going from Canada Place to the Seabus are from my instagram stories. follow me here.) 

Anyway. Today's monday; me and Andrew are both sick with a cold but loving the sunny weather so can't resist being outdoors. The forecast is looking pretty good this week, believe it or not (we can't). It's such a completely different experience being here when it's not constantly pouring rain and all you see are dark skies over wet, cold and tired people.

We're going to start looking for jobs + accommodation in North Vancouver. I don't know if there's enough jobs, but I'd love to find something here, close to the mountains with the skyline of downtown as my view instead of my playground. You can take the girl out from the forest but you can't take the forest out of the girl and all that jazz! 

daily, vancouver, winterEmma Carlsson
Granville Public Market

A perfect sunday activity in Vancouver is to venture to Granville Island to visit the Public Market. It's probably on every tourist's top 5 list of places to check out when here, even for a shorter visit. Me and Andrew went a couple of weeks ago now, and we loved it. It was one of the first days here in Vancouver when it wasn't raining, which made the whole day + place seem more magical. We were just smitten with the place. It was perhaps the first time during my stay here that I felt a spark between me and the city. 

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(I love this picture of Andrew taking the exact same photo as the other visitors. I love that about humans? How we stop at crowded places and want the exact same picture as thousands before us? It says so much about us. I don't know, I'm rambling maybe)

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We had read / heard about how you can purchase bird feed and try to get the island birds to fly up and eat it straight out of your palms ala Beauty and the Beast. We didn't try it, but had to stop and watch this old man trying his best to befriend the birds. 

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While the island is filled with restaurants and cafes, we decided to go into the market for food. It's the type of market you look for in every city, where they serve local dishes and specialities, the energy is buzzing and everyone is enjoying themselves. 

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What we ended up going for says so much about us as people and as a couple: I went for butter chicken at Curry2U which was delicious (although a bit too watery) with four different types of dishes in one basically. Andrew went for the most basic thing he could find: a margerita pizza slice. Both happy and content with the choices! 

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Have to give this guy cred for being so patience. He also did a great job at defending our table to any outsides that also wanted to try their chances! 

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View from our outside table: the Granville Street Bridge. Granville was the name of Vancouver city before it got renamed to Vancouver. 

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The produce in the public market was amazing and the different stalls really did an excellent job in making you want to buy all the veggies and fruit! I swear, more than half of the staff were only there to stack up and polish the different produce into desirable piles! 

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There were also regular stalls of local companies. We tried the famous Lee Donuts, both being donut lovers. However, we weren't too pleased with the two different kinds we got. Andrew had a regular sugar glazed one because they were out of the sugar ones. To be honest glazed donuts never taste as fresh as just regular sugared ones. I had an apple fritter one, which was all gooey inside due to the batter not being properly baked. It was like eating fresh batter when baking. Too bad! I'd still go again though, trusting everyone else's great reviews of the place. (Pss, best donut in town that we've had so far: Lucky's Donuts from Forty Ninth Parallel Coffee Roasters on Main Street!) 

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Outside of the market in the beautiful sunset!

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Loved the views of downtown Vancouver from here! Love all the views of downtown more than I love being in downtown haha. Tall, modern buildings are pretty from a distance, not when you're a little tiny human walking next to them. 

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There, there, all finished! Ten out of ten, would recommend. Granville Island is so much more than just the Public Market; we can't wait to go back and discover some of their restaurants and shops as well. Or who knows, perhaps visit the theatre? There's something for everyone on the island, so we agree with Tripadvisor / Yelp / TourismVancouver etc.; put it on your to do list when visiting!

Ps: Andrew made a video of our visit there, have a look! 

winter, vancouver, travelEmma Carlsson