Tuesday, February 12, 2008

So maybe I should tell you a bit of whats happened.

18 days in, I think? I'm in Banff.
I'll give you the basics of whats happened.

Sat 26th January.
Traveled to Manchester airport with mum and dad. Said the goodbyes with the inevitable tears from mum. Shes getting better at keeping them back though. Got through to the waiting area. Phoned Si and realised that it was Australia day and he was pretty much out celebrating already despite the fact it was only lunchtime. Good lad! I found a bar and tried to get an ozzie drink but no no avail so I did the next best thing, I chose a Canadian drink: Coors Light.
The plane was pretty cool. One step up from RyanAir. They showed us films but on the retro 'one TV per 5 rows' technique. I got to see Ratatoille so im not gonna complain. Plus they fed me often, so again, no complaints. Just a shame there wasnt any free alcohol.
Once I landed I finally found my right bus (after having to ask). The bus took me to a train station where I had to get an overcrowded city train/tram to a particular stop to where I had to walk 100 meters to the hostel. I was finally there.
I got my room then collapsed into a chair infront of a massive screen TV that was shared by all the hostellers. There wasnt much talk as it was a bit of a hostal environment. But thats when I made my mistake. After thinking everyone was cool, I took about three hundred dollars from my waist wallet and transfered it to my actual wallet which looks much cooler. I then took a walk in Calgary for some food as it had got to the equivelent of about 1am GMT. Couldnt find any fast food anywhere within a mile or so radius. I then got back to the hostel to real that my wallet which was in my pocket, wasnt in my pocket any longer. It had gone. Vanished. With $300, about fifty quid, and ALL MY CARDS! Boo. Eventful first day hey?

The day after, I searched the hostel and finally revealed to the parents that it had gone. Not happy. Took a walk into Calgary again to better luck. Walked past some filming where they claimed the production was called 'Snow II: Santa Who?'. I didnt believe it for a second, and IMDB backs me up. Calgarys nice and I hope to go back to watch some hockey.

The day after (Monday 28th) was COLD! About -40c cold! And I had to wait outside in that temperature for a bus for 20 minutes while my legs nearly fell off. Firstly I had to find a police station and report my wallet which took a little longer than I hoped. Finally caught the bus to catch another half an hour later (I could stay inside the warm bus depot though).
The bus then took about an hour to get to BANFF. I sat next to a guy I thought was Canadian but who turned out to be American. Damn.
I got off and took my first look at Banff. Damn it looked good. I got a map for free and walked to the hostel whcih was much further awa than I thought it was. It was actually a mile an a half plus most of it was on an incline. Not nice, especially as it was still cold there.
Now I previously thought the Calgary HI (Hostelling International) Hostel was nice, but this was 10 times better. There was a pub, a small restaurant and a very large kitchen for use for us all. Tres bon.

The day after I went for a walk to see the sights. The air was crystal clear (apologies for the pun), and the sights were amazing. I'll upload some photos soon. Sadly, while I found a walk, I carried it on further following what i thought were human tracks. They actually turned out to be deer tracks (again, some good photos). At this point, I couldnt be arsed to look at the map and followed the path for a ride. After about 2 miles of wading through snow to my knees, walking up and down step hills, I reached a frozen river and thus a dead end. I looked at my options which were basically walk across a frozen river which could break any minute to a road which was miles away, or walk back.
I had to walk back.
Long day, cold legs!

The rest of the days have pretty much joined together. All I've done is wait for a new card to come from England which contains much more money that I brought. I have finally met up with Joe a few times and am getting to know his mates. Who are all a great laugh. Ive been out for a few nights tasting the local beers, etc...

Anyways, the card SHOULD be here tomorrow so I should be able to pay some more rent and actually buy a pass and gear. The pass itself is about 3 times more than I believed it to cost. Damn.

Will is also booking his flights over and we should be taking the same flight home which is cool! Anyways, more later.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

30th blog! waaaay

13 days to go.
We went into Dalescrest to buy the insurence but ... holy hell, it had gone up over £150. I went home and found their original quote was a month short! boooo.
So it looks like I will be going into Canada and around Europe with a Dogtag around my neck! Waaaay!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Not long now

So its Tuesday the ... 8th? Yeah the 8th. I fly on Saturday 26th.
I Make that 18 days till I fly.

Joe Parker has already flown. He's there now the lucky bastard. Making snow angels as you do. As is Ellie Carter although she's in Fernie. I've also found out that Amy Askew will be there throughout February aswell. Joy.

I need to finish looking for travel insurance. What is important is: 1) how much is costs initially, 2) making sure it covers what I need (snowboarding, bungee jumping, and ice skating), and 3) that it has little or no excess charges.
Dalescrest (the tourist peeps I bought my flight through) have quoted me £287 with no excess charges for the Canada trip. No idea about Europe; I would need to go back in.
Dogtag quoted me £376 for both Canada and Europe. However, they have excesses. The cover looks to be pretty much the same cover as Dalescrest. However, when using Dogtag, all I need to carry on me is a dogtag (hence the name) and no papers where everywhere else needs papers.
The Post Office were fantastic! £644 for 90 days max boarding holiday (pretty sure I'm going for 91/92) and that is before I add any bungee jumping, etc...
AXA were wierd. For the Canada trip it would be just over £224, but add Bungee jumping and it jumps to well over double that. That price also contains excess prices of £100 per time. No thanks. Although, they might be good for Europe.
confused.com were TERRIBLE too. They automatically tried to sell me annual insurance despite the fact that I gave the exact dates of departure.

Looks like I will have to go with Dalescrest for Canada. W00p.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Long Time, No Blog!

Honestly, I thought I would post sooner. Alot has happened since September so I will have to try and remember 3 months worth of info.

I waited and waited and waited for a reply for the pub but non came. So I asked for help through my Canadian links, mostly Bret who worked at the Traddock this year. She gave me a few links such as a hostel in Banff. I emailed them with my CV but received no reply. Great.

Next I joined up on Canadian job sites such as jobincalgary.ca and banffjobs.com . Luckily I got a responce from The University of Alberta which is in Edmonton from the catering department. Great news! So we talked over email and I explained about the 6+ week wait to get the VISA sorted and flights booked. Then she was going to send me a letter of confirmation. So I waited, and I waited, and I waited.... dammit.

I tried to get help through Bret's family and asked if they could get a letter from anyone offering work but it didnt happen due to it being to risky. The Canadian Government is VERY strict on these issues and they could have got into a lot of trouble. It's ok.

At the start on November, while I was just waiting for more replies, it hit me that I could go back to the original plan and go through BUNAC. I sent off my UCAS and hoped that a reply would return in time. Then, sadly I found out of a closure date a week from that day. So that went out the window. I still dont have a reply from Universities now, but they will come soon.

Recently I've reconsidered the whole year. In May I will be travelling round Europe in a VW Camper with some friends in May and June. That's going to be great but a little costly so we've all set aside £1k. Then, for more ideas I looked through travel books such as 'things to see before you die', and 'places to go before you die'. Just trying to get this holiday sorted was killing me...
In one of these books it mentioned Mexico City which took me back to dreams from when I was young to go see the Aztec Piramids. I thought it was great so I put Mexico onto my plan for April May.
This is where it got complicated/annoying. For enough money for January through April for both countries, I would need a job in Canada. I cannot say at all that I will be able to get a job there so ... looks like no Mexico for now. Not until summer 08 anyway.

Today I booked my flights. I leave 26th January, Mexico to Calgary, then return 26th April, Calgary to Manchester. £450. One of the best, if not the best price I got. Its through Zoom airline so its kind of like a transatlantic Ryan Air. I get food, etc so its not like I'm being starved for a cheeper price.

The Canadian Dollar
Last time I blogged the dollar had dropped from a great $2.25 to $2.08. Since then it dropped and dropped to $1.90. Thankfully, in the last month it has risen again to $2.05 and hopefully it should rise even further thanks to Christmas. Lets see.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Gap Year delayed - but not by much

OK, the latest.
I worte out a letter and a CV to send to the Pump and Tap. Over the last few nights we have tried to fax it to them but the fax hasnt actually worked.
So, for about the fifth time of calling the P&T, and asking for the manager, I to the home telephone number of one of the senior staff. So I called him and gained his email address. Then I went to the pub! Hazzar!

I've emailed 'Warren' the letter and CV so its all in his court now.

Once I get the reply, I should be able to apply for the VISE, then rebook my flights. I'll get to talk to Beth again, which will be nice. Never a problem!

I've transferred my lfe savings nover to my HSBC current account so it now holds over £1700. I had never held such a large ammout at once. It was a check and not cash so it wasnt as cool as it could have been.

The Canadian dollar is down, and has been for a while if yo check out the pic. Boo! Things wont be as cheep as I thought they were going to be!

Friday, August 24, 2007

3rd October 2007 - The countdown begins

STA Travel were awesome today. I was served by the lovely Beth who helped me get things sorted. Most importantly, my flights were booked. Im flying fully British Airways so hopefully the flight will have a heap load of films.
Heres my itinerary (without the needless details):

(3rd October)
Manchester > London Heathrow > Vancouver International

(8th June 2008)
Montreal > London Heathrow > Manchester

I actually get back on the 9th June because the flight from Montreal to Heathrow is a night flight so I can annoy everyone while theyre trying to sleep by laughing out loud at the latest Will Ferrel film they have on board.

Right, the VISA is a bit complicated. As always, theres the option of trying to get a job there first and doing it through the Canadian Embassy but there may be an easier way. STA Travel have an affiliate company who may do work Visas for Canada. Beth is calling me back on Tuesday (Mondays a bank holiday so she gets a day off), to give me the news. I've got some forms to fill in so far).

STA Travel do insurance but I will still look around for the best deal. I have to go for pretty much a full deal ith travel insurance because not many cover Snow Boarding and, well, you can get serverly messed up while snowboarding.

Beth showed me that there are alot of websites on the internet for people like me who want jobs in other countries. Some even, as an incentive for you to work for them, actually give you the forms for a working VISA. Lets just see what happens there, hey?

Last of All
I found an option which Blogger gives. थिस टेक्स्ट इस अवेसोमे! Can you read that? Hey?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Post-Results Update

I got my results. Nothing special, four straight Ds inc. Gen Studies.
ANYWAYS, I withdrew my UCAS application a while ago because I wouldnt get a confermed place at university with the course that I wanted to do. So BUNAC is no out the window (for now).

My current standing is that I have applied for a talk with a studnet travel agents in Preston called STA Travel. They were reccommended highly to me by my friend Matt Wright; good on him!

With VISA applications taking about 6 weeks, I wont be going to half way through October. Thats OK, the ski-season doesnt start till November anyways.

I'm getting bored sticking around here now. My cousen is going on another travelling trip round the East side of the world, while I have friends in Kenya and others setting off soon. Then everybody else goes to university or starts school again in September so its going to be pretty boring in a months time! *sigh*

Monday, July 16, 2007



Now I need two things before I can officially regester:
A Police Check and confirmation from the university that I will be attending in September 2008. Now this has to be a full confirmation and not just a 'conditional' offer through the UCAS system. Looks like I can now officially withdraw my Ucas Application now as I know I cant twist my way through with the conditional offer I allready have.

The major bad point. It looks like I wont be going out till about November. Grand f*cking tastic, hey?

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Quick Thought

DofE voluntary work + living on the streets = Soup Kitchen.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Sleeping on the street

While I wait for BUNAC to actually get on with theirs jobs and open the damn Gap Canada website, a thought came to me of a life changing project that could really do things for my spirit.

What if, just for a week, I left all my possesions in the hands of either my employers, or friends, and I go and sleep rough for a week. Maybe in Calgary. Of course it will be dangerous, of course I will probably get ill, but damn will it make me realise how lucky I am to live like I do.

Best of all, maybe if I had one of my friends meet me once every day and film a mini-interview and maybe I could make a minifilm for YouTube. It could even help me to get onto a film course at univercity.

I dont know, its only an idea. What does everyone else think?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

May Update

I can't believe it.

I've been waiting for ages for Gap Canada to open in its 'May 07' launch so I kept checking back every single day.
However, today it has been changed to July 2007.


Sunday, April 22, 2007

Snowboarding Gear

After finding that with the current exchange rate is £1 to $2.25 CAD, I started to look around at gear on Canadian sites.

Check this out: SourceBoards.
I could do with someone helping me pick out items.

Also, while on the talk of exchange rates, I'm going to be quite adult and keep my eyes listening to what the Bank of England is doing. As the US Dollar has hit a new low (£1 to $2) the BoE is supposedly going to bring in a new interest rate... or something. I don't know. Anyway, it will change the exchange rate not being in my favour.
So if I am to buy my money, I will have to do it before this change comes in.

Mmmmmmmmmmm .... money.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

April update

A very quick update on all things gap-yearable....

BUNAC's Gap Canada program opens in may which means I didn't miss it. I thought I had and was getting very worried.

I now have my DofE gold book. Scary. Needs to be filled.

Also, every photo I upload is now available for view in my Picasa page.
Gap Year of a Lifetime!
(Watch that coding mess up the blog).

Annnnnnnnnd nothing else.....
(nothing comes from nothing)

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Duke of Edinboughurahrahrah

Or DofE for short!

I've taken part in DofE in the last few years and despite the fact I went for ... what seemed like a lifetime, I only got bronze done. I wanted to do silver but without sounding like a loser, I could never get silver because there was no team work! Just felt like it was me and one or two others.

Anyway, my group leader could see this and suggested that despite the fact I left, I should do the gold award in my gap-year!
And so I made the first step today and bought the correct gold book. £15 it cost me!!! £15! I could have spent that on snowboarding stuff or... or... 7 pints! Well the money is now out of my hands so I'm going to have to make it worth it.

My friends (or readerless blog, you decide), I am going to get my Gold Award and have tea with the royal family so put that in your spliff and smoke it!

Saturday, February 24, 2007


It's days like this which show I really didn't look around properly. Damn my laziness!

Somethin real interesting came up in conversation while talking about the GY with my mum. She said Si had looked at a service called BUNAC which gives a great relief to not only Gap Year students but all those wanting to travel to North America (between the ages of 18 and 30) for a year.

One thing they help out with is my VISA which will take a whole heap load of stress off my shoulders (especially as I'm still waiting for a reply for the Rose & Crown). They also help with flights as they have a special relationship with Air Canada. This means that I will be on the flight with other Bunac members who I could hopefully travel with for the first month. Also insurance is included. As its an insurance policy for GY students, its most likely going to be the best I can find.

Here's the PDF booklet!

Obviously it costs. Joining BUNAC is £5, registration fee to 'Work Canada' is £160, insurance =£....., etc...

Tomorrow I'm going to re-read this and most likely sign up. This is going to be the first batch of the flood of money seeping out of my life savings *sigh*.


Also, I read about this a few months back but forgot to post:
Ski-pass for Banff (as of the picture):
C$689 + C$41.34 (Goods & Services Tax) = C$730
Current exchange rates: C$1 = £0.44
Current Season Ski pass price = £320.98
and thats only if I get away with being a student. If not, its £399.95!

... balls.