Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Some of my favourite things

In every city and town I've visited, I feel guilty about immediately scouting out the gentrified or gentrifying parts of town. Shouldn't I be tired of exposed brick and minimalist lighting sandwiched between down-and-out storefronts? It's been done, okay. I found that area in Victoria today along Johnson and Yates. At first I was all excited, you know, cause that coffee shop looks exactly like a coffee shop I would go to in Toronto. But I've done that a thousand times, shouldn't I be looking for something that's distinct to the place, rather than me? And it's not even about me anyway - there's an army of people around the world who like good coffee in sleek settings.

When I started planning this trip, my dad nay-sayed seeing big cities. They're all alike now anyway, he argued, while the smaller locales might still have some Canadian identity. As he put it, before World War 2, Canada used to have a distinct identity and I might be able to find it still in the smaller cities. He's probably right, but discovering my country's identity will have to wait until I get a car. There's no way in hell I'm waiting in Oba, Ontario or Viking, Alberta til the next train passes through three days later.

Anyway, so back to my whole proclivity toward gentrified 'hoods. I'd like to chalk it up to homesickness. That, no matter how far I travel, I'm still seeking out my old habits in a new setting. It reminds of the buildings in Vancouver's Chinatown, where whole blocks of Chinese architecture has been plopped down into a North American city. There must have been a lot of homesick people there. After I did my a 60 km bike ride along the Galloping Goose Trail to Sooke, I came back and rested in a cafe that felt just like I was sitting in Toronto. And it felt good. There was one slight difference in this Victoria cafe, which I think all Toronto cafes should adopt. There was a wall of magazines for sale, with one copy of every mag available for reading while you were in the cafe. Is that awesome or what?! I found this mind-blowing magazine from Manitoba called Geez that's alternative reading for Christians. The level of writing is truly thoughtful and a little intimidating. I know there's a lot of religion haters out there, but I knew there had to be a way to make religion cool again. They don't have me converted from my secular ways yet, but I'm willing to listen.

Stay tuned... I may be ending my trip a few days early as I've come down with a cold and sleeping in a hostel last night was horrible. Like trying to hold your coughs in during a lecture, but instead of an hour, it was eight hours! I'm a wimp, I know.

PS. the picture on this post has nothing to do with anything, it's only a dude I met in a grubby pub called Big Bad John's in Victoria.

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