A year in Whistler

This working holiday year was different from all the others I have done. Instead of moving around, I ended up staying in one place for the full year. I needed this. I needed a place to call home again, for longer than just a few months. Staying here the full year gave me a chance to see all the best Whistler has got to offer and I still managed to travel in between. Whistler is an expensive place and I am sure I could have saved a lot more money in other places. I could have done more. But I wouldn’t have this beautiful place to call home. I fell in love with Whistler and I still admire the mountains every day. I am so sad I’ve got to leave this place, so let me look back at all the wonderful things I have done during the past year.

Before I started my job in Whistler, I had some time to kill and decided to explore the area around Vancouver. Even though Vancouver was rainy for most of my stay, I managed to explore quite a bit on foot and even joined a free walking tour. I explored Stanley park on foot and by bike and admired the autumn colors and the gorgeous views over the water.

Riding my bike through Stanley park

Riding my bike through Stanley park

Walking along the sea wall in Vancouver.

Walking along the sea wall in Vancouver.

Even though it was the off season, I had a blast exploring Vancouver island with an awesome girl I’d met in Vancouver. We were lucky the sun came out in BC’s capital Victoria and stayed with us for most of the time.

When we arrived in Tofino, it was so cloudy that we couldn’t even see the landscape. The next morning we had breakfast in the hostel and just stared out of the amazing panoramic windows. What a beautiful place this is when the clouds disappear! Tofino was a surprise to me. There is so much more I could have done there, but I made the most of the time I had. I went out to natural hotsprings by boat, surfed while the Planet Smashers song was playing in my head and I managed to make my way through the mud at Lone Cone.

Crawling underneath falling trees at lone cone

Crawling underneath falling trees at lone cone

Before getting the ferry back, we had a quick stop in Nanaimo and it turned out that without a car, a quick stop is definitely enough. We took a ferry to a small island nearby, Gabriola island, where I could take some really nice photos. Of course I also had to taste a Nanaimo bar!

With the time I had left I decided to take the Amtrak train into the US. First up was Seattle, a city that had a lot to offer. I made a day trip to the Boeing factory and enjoyed the Pike place market and some of Seattle’s museums. Then the train took me all the way to Portland, a completely different city. This city didn’t really have any attractions. Portland is all about the experience, about wandering around and sipping on coffee or eating donuts. I met some cool guys and we ended up finding a stunning waterfall and dancing the night away at a soul party.

Exploring the waterfall

Exploring the waterfall

Then it was time to take the bus to Whistler. I dragged my massive ski bag, backpack, small backpack and camera bag towards the Greyhound bus. The drive along highway 99 was just incredible. I was so nervous, hoping I had made the right choice. A taxi took me to staff accommodation, which of course was a huge disappointment as soon as I stepped into the building. But it was something I got used to pretty quickly after meeting my housemates. All winter I was sleeping in the top bunk and I felt this was the college experience you see in movies.

At our staff accommodation

At our staff accommodation

Living in a ski resort is strange. Pretty much all us bums work for minimum wage, or close to that, and yet prices for everything are sky high. At least I worked for the mountain and could therefore enjoy all the skiing and training my heart desired. I thoroughly enjoyed my Friday training sessions and morning sessions before work. Although I was probably the worst skier in the sessions, I noticed my skiing improving and did things I never thought I would do.

A group of instructors ready to start the day with some powder

A group of instructors ready to start the day with some powder

Of course I also took all my mini skiers out on the mountain. I started with a group of three year-olds and a group of four year-olds that had never skied before. Especially the three year-olds were a challenge. Why would you want to make this pizza shape with your legs when it is so hard? They just didn’t get it. But eventually we all learned and for most of the season I spent my days on the big mountain. I loved skiing with these little guys. It makes me proud to ski down with five excited kids behind me, that get upset if you miss a certain jump.

Playing at the tree fort on the mountain

Playing at the tree fort on the mountain

In April it seemed like summer had come. We had some amazing days where you could combine skiing in a T-shirt with chilling at the lake. Great, because now I could get a bit of a tan before going to sunshine filled Cuba. At the end of April I left the Whistler bubble and arrived in this paradise, where I spent 3 weeks travelling all over the country. Cuba was amazing in so many ways. I’d been studying a bit of Spanish in the weeks leading up to it and it was great to be able to communicate, however little, with the locals. I thoroughly enjoyed the Cuban lifestyle and the worryfree life of not having internet or phone connections.

The colorful streets of Trinidad

The colorful streets of Trinidad

Since my new job wouldn’t start till June, I had just enough time to explore the Rockies. I decided to book a tour with a hop off possibility in Banff, where I ended up staying for a week. This little trip was filled with mountains, amazing lakes, and most of all a lot of hiking. I met some amazing people and had so much fun I did not know whether I wanted to go back to Whistler.

Blue lakes in the rockies

Blue lakes in the rockies

But as soon as I stood on top of Whistler mountain again, I knew this was where I wanted to be. Summer came with so many activities. Whistler has so many hikes and walks, lakes to chill out at and eventually even some nice weather.

Rediscovering Whistler mountain

Rediscovering Whistler mountain

My summer job as a ziplining guide turned out to be challenging physically, but also a lot of fun. Every day I get to go outside and zip from mountain to mountain. I remember the first time I had to break myself was pretty scary, but now I hop onto a zipline as easily as I hop onto the bus. It is still fun to see so many different people get excited about something that is now so normal to me. And the muscle building is just an added bonus!

 

Not a bad office!

Not a bad office!

I worked incredibly hard throughout the busy summer months of July and August, working two jobs. In September my second job stopped and the masses of tourists disappeared. Suddenly there was this huge amount of time available. Luckily the weather allowed me to enjoy the valley trail, the lakes and quality time in the mountains. And the rainy days are of course great for planning the next adventure.

I’ve recharged my battery in Whistler. I wish I didn’t have to go, but I’m going to hit the road again. This time I won’t have a home base for a while. I’ll pack my bags to explore South East Asia. While everyone here is talking about skiing, I’m thinking about scuba diving. I’ll miss winter, but I know the beauty of summer will keep me distracted. And then hopefully I’ll have time for a quick ski break when i get back! Whistler has been amazing and stole my heart, but unfortunately it’s time to go. The rest of the world is waiting.

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