Finals and the start of Winter Break!

I have finally got some spare time to write this! Life has been extremely busy, especially in finals week.

Bearcelona, or the football team that I captain, had a great run in the indoor season. We got through to the playoffs and won our first playoff game convincingly. However, in the second playoff game we played the team who beat us in the group stages. We did go 1-0 up but eventually lost 4-1. The loss was unsavory, as despite being called God’s Children, the opposition were basically hooligans. Our battle wounds were numerous, with Ben even breaking his jaw as a result of an elbow! They were probably the better team but that is no way to play a game that essentially doesn’t matter.

On the Friday night, I had the Aiesec Christmas party. It was a top night and everyone enjoyed the fancy food that the Finance team purchased (including shrimps). However, I didn’t leave until 12.30am and had to get up at 5am to go skiing with Ellie and her friends. I was certainly not entirely with it as we set off for Copper Mountain, but a large Iced coffee soon sorted that out. We were on the slopes at just past 8am, and subsequently went up a lift. The others are all snowboarders, so it was always going to be hard to teach me. I think they misjudged my athleticism as they sent me down a blue run for my maiden skiing experience. As you would expect, I was terrible! It was not the nicest experience feeling not in control with skiers whizzing past you. Eventually I made it to the bottom, but soon learnt that a member of our party, Rachel, had broken her arm. She was certainly a tough cookie, so the others went off to make the most of the day. I stayed and attempted to get some lessons but this was not possible. Overall, the day was great fun. In that evening, we had a birthday gathering for Ellie’s flatmate, Nora. So tired, but it was great to meet some more Americans.

On the Friday evening, I went to the Natural Hazards center Christmas Party. It was such a classy event with sophisticated conversation and canapés. What more can you want!
James and Liam arrived in the Saturday afternoon, amid freezing conditions. After settling in, we planned to go to the Denver Christmas market. However, I somehow lost my buffcard en-route to the bus stop, so I could not take the bus and lost my key to get into the accommodation! To make matters worse, the replacement card office is not open at weekends. We did wait for Emile, Mathilde and Saori to return, and consequently had a nice gathering. On the Sunday and Monday, they largely left me alone as I had loads of work to do. Early on Tuesday morning they rented a car and went on a road trip to Utah and the Grand Canyon. In a way it was handy that they did go, but it was nice to talk to them. The rest of the week involved revising for exams, coursework and various essays. Fun times. Eventually they returned on Monday evening with numerous tales to tell. If only I could have gone with them! My exams and coursework went really well, albeit in the last exam I almost went mad as I swear the girl next to me was attempting the loudest chewing gum record. So irritating! But on that Tuesday, at 9pm, I finally finished. I went to Saori’s and Mathilde’s, where I was greeted with sushi and cheesecake. What a combination! Along with Emilie, we played cards and chatted the rest of the night. James and Liam were also meant to join us, but they were somewhat occupied in Denver.

On Wednesday, freedom started in earnest. I still had loads of errands to run though, so it was anything but relaxing. Temperatures of -9 Degrees C also made life more challenging. In the afternoon, I finally got to see the Hobbit though. Such a good film. Despite already seeing it, Saori went with me in exchange for seeing Monsters Inc in 3D afterwards. After the films (or movies in American English), we ended up running back from the cinema, as the buses were proving elusive. Running 2 miles in those temperatures was certainly interesting. Meanwhile, James, Liam, Emile and Mathilde left for Denver airport to fly up to Portland, Oregon for our Christmas plans. I spent the rest of the night packing and sorting stuff out for my flight the next morning. I didn’t go to bed until 12.30am and was planning to get up at 2am to catch the bus to the airport.

When I rolled over to casually check my phone, expecting to see 1am or something along those lines, I was mortified to see it was 4am. Not a good situation. I’m not sure if my alarm failed or whether I slept through an alarm, which would be a first for me. In a state of panic, I had no choice but to call a taxi. Thankfully, I was picked up at 4.30am. The cabbie, Mark, was a great guy and calmed me down as we talked about football (in particular the merits of Messi) all the way to the airport. Feeling a little more confident about making my flight, I waltzed into the airport to be shocked yet again by the queue to check bags in. Despite being 5am, it seemed that every man and his dog was taking a flight. Luckily, I was carrying James’ skies as I had 2 free checked in bags. This got me a queue jump and without it I wouldn’t have made my flight. I was that guy running through the airport, almost knocking people over. Thankfully, I just made it. What an emotional rollercoaster!

The flight over to Portland, Oregon was spectacular, especially the early morning sun over the Rockies. Upon hitting Portland, the clear skies disappeared and the rain was belting down. It felt strange to see rain as I think I have probably had 3 very mild rain days since I have been to Colorado. I joined James and Liam in their hotel and we subsequently met up with Emilie and Mathilde. Conveniently, James was spending time with a friend who picked him up and our bags with them, so the rest of us could explore Portland.

Portland is certainly a very strange place. There are no real attractions as such, but the bohemian feel and the people certainly make it. We wandered around in the rain, occasionally diving into buildings to get some warmth. On our travels, We ran across an old man dressed up as Santa playing the drums on the street. He beckoned us over to help him with a few songs on the plethora of percussion instruments he had. Such a random experience, but fun nonetheless. We met James later in the evening to check us into the Hilton. What a luxurious room! We were on the 19th floor on the corner with great views of the city. After marveling at the splendor we got some food and of course the infamous voodoo doughnuts. They were so tasty and really reasonably priced at less than $1 each. We rounded the evening off with a swim, sauna and steam room experience followed by reading the bible in various languages ( It was pretty random but fun).

Emilie and Mathilde left at 6am to go to Vancouver. Liam and myself spent a lot of the morning swimming and then we picked Saori up who flew in that morning. We all met up, in addition to Kayleigh (An Oregon friend of James and Liam) to get the 2pm bus to Vancouver. Even thought the bus took 8 hours it went really quickly. The French girls checked into the apartment earlier, so when we arrived they had cooked dinner for us. Spectacular!

We were all pretty shattered on Saturday morning, so we didn’t really get going until the afternoon. When we did set out, we went to Granville Island, which is sort of a counterculture island with a public market on it. We found a lovely brewery over there and had some tasters. It was really strange to be able to buy alcohol again. Upon our return in the early evening we cooked a nice meal with all the food we had. We attempted to go out in the evening but the clubs were really expensive so we abandoned that idea and had a quiet drink in a nice Irish pub. Unfortunately, alcohol and food is really expensive in Vancouver.

On Sunday, and with the rain never seeming to end, we went our separate ways. James, Liam and Kayleigh went to Calipano suspension bridge, whilst the rest of us caught the sea bus to North Vancouver and went to the free Lynn Valley Canyon. It was a really nice place and felt like I was in the wilderness. On the way home, my group stopped in Stanley Park to see the Christmas lights and returned to the apartment at 7pm. We couldn’t wait for the others as we were so hungry so we had an amazing meal and played this random French card game which I cannot remember the name of. Good job we didn’t wait as the others didn’t return to almost 10pm.

Christmas Eve, and sadly Emilie had to go and meet friends in San Francisco.

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