Almost ten hours flight from the UK and eight hours behind in time, jet lag is an inevitable part of any trip to Vancouver from Britain. After two days of 4.30am wake-ups, I decided that as an alternative to lying in bed, furious and unable to sleep, I’d try and turn this bitter lemon of an experience into lemonade instead.
Getting up and heading out before the sun has poked its head above the horizon always brings back memories of childhood holidays. We’d set off in the dark, bundled in our pajamas into the back of the car, sleepy and confused. The journey’s motion would inevitably lull us back to sleep again and waking on the back seat, far from home, seemed like one of the most exciting feelings in the world. This time I decided to spare any of my insomniac new neighbours my pajamas. Instead I dressed in layers to stay warm in the chill of the night and headed out into the dark, my excited dog at my heels.
I’d Googled late night/early morning cafes and there was a 24-hour bagel place just ten minutes walk away. Siegel’s make Montreal-style bagels, which are boiled and then baked in a wood-burning oven, to make satisfyingly chewy-on-the-inside and crisp-on-the-outside bagels. Coming from the UK, where I’d be lucky to find perhaps 5 different varieties of bagel, to discover a great 24-hour place that had 21 different kinds had me gurgling with delight. I went for the Rosemary and Rock Salt breakfast bagel special: eggs and cheese with coffee – just $4.75 – bargain.
I stowed my freshly-made and wrapped breakfast in my bag. Freddie and I trotted down to the beach, me to feast on my bagel (just as good as I’d hoped), him to sniff out all those exciting new smells. Slowly the sun appeared and I watched it rise, the rays twinkling on the high-rises, turning Vancouver into the golden glittering city of my dreams. There I was, on a sandy beach, sitting on a driftwood log, full of hot coffee and eggy-cheesy herb-y fresh bagels, watching dazzling nature meet stunning architecture to create something new and wonderful.
This wasn’t suffering from jet lag, this was a precious moment that I’d never have experienced without it. I vowed next time I couldn’t sleep, I’d do the same; not waste time fuming at my lack of shuteye, but seek out something to make me feel lucky to be alive. Preferably with a decent bagel to hand…