There and back again (Journey to Canada 2014.)
I've come back from an epic journey to Canada which I started 9/13/2014. Still I am fighting with my metabolic adaptation to the time difference - so annoying jet lag. In truth, this journey began a decade ago, and perhaps a year or more when I was still in the time of too slow dial up connections, searching on the Internet for any Star Wars inspired tattoos. Here I encountered a web site, Tattoos and Toys, by Shane Turgeon who was at that time a complete stranger to me from the other side of the planet. Today he is nothing less than my brother who doesn't speak Croatian. Incredibly, just one click was enough to gain one of my best friends.
Shane was the spark that triggered a whole sequence of events; connecting geek tattooists which are Star Wars and pop culture fans in general in a great community, from which arose Marc Draven's Ink-Fusion Empire community and Chris 51's Epic Ink tattoo reality show (which is similar to other TV shows of this type, but at the same time completely different), to the organizing of smaller tattoo conventions at major events such as Lucasfilm's Star Wars Celebrations and various Comic Cons and Expos. In September of this year, over two consecutive weekends, I participated in two such events: the Saskatoon EXPO and the Edmonton EXPO. In the meantime, I was introduced to Canadian culture, visited the Rocky Mountains, was a guest tattooist at Shane Turgeon's Shades Of Grey tattoo studio in Edmonton where I met up with old friends and made new ones. Mainly, I have spent three unforgettable weeks with people I care about. I had enough time to learn their personalities, faults and virtues, and now they all have a special place in my life.
Rocky Mountains - Jasper
"Australia, Canada and Croatia. Amazing international trip to jasper with John and Marin yesterday! If anyone ever asks why Star Wars is "important" to me, it's because of photos like this. It has NOTHING to do with movies or toys and everything to do with the amazing people from all over the world who have come into my life because of it. Amazing adventures with amazing friends are better than movie adventures any day!"Shane Turgeon
At the second day after my arrival in Canada we went, as the Canadians says, to the short day trip to National Park Jasper, “only” 350 km in one direction. The National Park was named after trapper Jasper Hawes. Jasper Hawes was led there a trading post in the early 19th century, Jasper Forest Park was established in 1907 and was granted national park status in 1930. This park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984, together with the other national and provincial parks that form the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks, for the mountain landscapes containing mountain peaks, glaciers, lakes, waterfalls, canyons, and limestone caves as well as fossils found here. The headquarters of the park is located in the eponymous town of Jasper where lives about 4000 inhabitants. Is it worth it, yes it was. There the nature showed all its greatness and beauty in untouched form. Huge mountains as far as the eye can see, bare peaks, wooded foothills with glacial rivers and lakes.
Now I know how looks authentic landscapes from Winnetou and I can say that once in Sixties Croatia was even well acted out North America in German's screen adaptation of Karl May's novels, although Canada could do it better.
Shades of Grey | Tattoos, Toys, Comics & Art | Edmonton
The ambiance from a dream of every geek. Sanctuary, temple, I've almost smashed my head on the pillar in tattoo studio because of all these geeky distractions. The first few days was almost impossible to walk through tattoo studio and looking ahead. I have seen many tattoo studios and I was worked in some of them but Shades of Grey is the most special of all of these. It is not uselessly tawdry with fiddlesticks to left impression of cool place to customers, it simply has a soul. It is obvious that this place is the mental projection of tattooists whom tattooing is not a job but a way of life.
Warming up before the Edmonton Expo in a Saskatoon city. Van ride on a 500 km straight road through the valley of nowhere. Experience almost same like in the Fanboys movie. Saskatoon is the largest city in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan with about 250000 inhabitants. Located in the middle of a vast valley, founded in 1883, center of mining region in which is mined potash and uran and draw large amounts of oil and gas. Industrial city in which there is also a large number of colleges and research institutions. Experience of Saskatoon is somehow weird. Deserted streets where in the early morning hours blowing cold wind and occasional passer create an atmosphere like in a some Stephen King's novel, just slightly ominously. Whatever of the first impression Saskatoon EXPO can be cited as an exemplary example to other events of this kind.
City at my own, about 800000 inhabitants area slightly larger than Zagreb but much more developed. Edmonton was the center of all the events of my residence in Canada. Most of my time I have spent in that city, unfortunately, due to guest appearances in Shades of Grey tattoo studio and participating in the Edmonton EXPO I didn't get to see everything that this city offers. I succeeded catch the daily routine of its inhabitants in which systems without problem I can be integrated. Even to me in many ways is more comfortable than the Zagreb's daily routine. Less stress, doesn't getting older by waiting. Kindness is one of the main characteristics of Canadians even when it is artificial but makes that you feel good and that's a what missing here.
One of the more impressive things in Edmonton to me was West Edmonton Mall. The shopping center where between the all shops are located the hockey rink, water park, amusement park and even hotels for shopingoholics. Otherwise shopping centers gets on my nerves, and while my wife buys food and other items at these monstrous places I waiting her in front of my laptop in the car but Edmonton mall can be incorporated into the world's wonders and should be visited.
If I had to choose between the Edmonton EXPO and last year's Star Wars Celebration Europe II in Essen I would be placed in a difficult dilemma. The level of experience and fun almost identical, slightly smaller number tattooists in Edmonton EXPO but much better organization of tattoo booths, thematically more diverse and more visitors than at the Star Wars Celebration Europe II. Means +3 for Edmonton but Star Wars is Star Wars, +5 for Essen. Edmonton as a city has a better offer of everything than Essen, still more +2 for Edmonton. Well, Edmonton EXPO vs. Star Wars Celebration Europe II, 5: 5.