Canada’s Natural Beauty Was Mind Blowing
1) But.. Let’s Start With The People
I wheeled my bag behind me as I walked back across a Toronto train station, trying to decipher the signs that apparently explain the intricacies of ticket purchases, all written of course in a semi pictorial language not unlike ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. Unfortunately for me I’d left my Rosetta stone at the Museum of London and had no idea what the hell it was trying to say..
To make matters worse, one group of men in skates had beaten another group of men in skates at hockey an hour before and so most of Toronto seemed to be trying to squeeze into the same station as me.
Homeless guy to the rescue.
I’m 100% convinced that Canada is home to the nicest and most helpful people on the planet. Not only did the homeless man decipher the hieroglyphic sign for me but also explained exactly which line/train to get on, when to get off and how to catch the street car, then he wrote out the directions for me and drew me a map.
Even the homeless guys are super nice!
In Australia if I don’t give someone 50 cents I run the risk of being shouted at if I’m lucky or chased down the street if I’m not… on top of the bad karma. In Canada he stopped one step shy of holding my bags for me and walking me to my front door.
Welcome to Canada, home to the friendliest people in the world.
2) Of Course.. The countryside
Apart from the super friendly people: maple syrup, mounted police, grizzly bears, ice hockey, curling, stunning forests, mountains and natural beauty that looks like it’s right out of a Hollywood movie set. The tourism board of Canada don’t exactly have the toughest job in the world in trying to lure foreigners to venture into their gorgeous country. Canada is stunning with nice people and lots to do and see; so basically go there, immediately.
In fact this is all the Canadian tourism board need to do at advertise Canada.
TV Fade’s in
Stunning green forests cover the bases of snow-capped mountain peaks across the screens background. Centre screen, a Grizzly bear wrestles with a mounted policeman in the tub of Canadian Club whisky. The words: ‘Canada, aye!’ appear on the screen.
TV Fade’s out.
Luckily I’m not in charge of Canadian tourism’s advertising, but you get the idea.
Canada is Bi-lingual with English and French being the two national languages. This also creates the situation where you feel very much like you’re in Europe and North America at the same time.
From the rocky natural beauty and outdoorsman’s wet dream that is British Columbia and Alberta to the hustle of Toronto or the different yet intriguing European appeal of Quebec City and the festival capital of Montreal, there are enough interesting and different places across Canada to keep anyone happy, no matter your traveling style or interests.
3) the Always Entertaining, Canadian Pass-times
Why are we here? What is our purpose? Is there a God? The great mysteries of life pale in comparison to the big question of: What the hell is this Curling thing all about? (Apart from the Norwegian national curling team’s pants, which as far as I’m concerned should be a religion, a political doctrine and planet earth’s most valuable asset all at once).
What’s curling for the un-initiated? It’s like lawn bowls on ice with brooms and overly tight pants. I gave it a red hot chance, but after watching several hours of the sport I still don’t get it… no idea, none whatsoever, zero, zilch.
The other sport Canadians are mad for is Hockey (Ice Hockey). Now here’s a game I could get into, for those like me who had never watched a game of Ice Hockey before, it’s as fast paced as you like and is a bit like rugby with sticks except you have knives strapped to your boots. (I’m all for supporting Boston as apparently they’re the most likely team to actually be criminally insane).
Then there’s the skiing of course, some of the best in the world in the more Western regions of the country, as several winter Olympic hosting gigs can attest.
As summer rolls around the outdoors orientated Canadians enjoy a ludicrous number of cool activities, including mountain biking, hiking, fishing, hunting, camping, rock climbing and kayaking to name only a handful.
If your things is more city based Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal will cater for every taste, interest and activity you might be looking for. Amazing bars, festivals, people and culture permeate the Canadian urban way of life with a hint of European flair and some of the most integrated multicultural communities I have ever seen. Not to mention the historical value of Quebec city, which made me double take a few times just to make sure I wasn’t day dreaming I was in 17th century France.
4) The Tasty Canadian Food & Drink
Poutine’s not a dirty word. It’s a wonderful thing. It might be the best tasting (and worst for you) gastronomic sensation available legally and it comes from Canada, specifically French Canada. Think fresh hot chips, with thick gravy, smoked meats, cheese and almost any combination of other delicious toppings like olives, jalapenos, bacon etc… It just might be the best hangover food in the known universe.
Rye whiskies dominate the drinking scene but there are good arrays of beer if you look for them.
The other thing to make a priority if you have a sweet tooth is to try the maple syrup. Ensure that it is real maple syrup as there are more fakes out there than Gucci bags in Bali. You’ll know its real Maple Syrup as it’s so sweet that your teeth immediately rot and fall out, but damn it’s great on pancakes!
5) The Weather
Pick a season and go with that, summer is fantastic for the festival side of things and to see the country really come to life, while winter is best (obviously) for the snow and ice based activities.
Unfortunately I happened to be in Canada in March/April which is the beginnings of spring, meaning that a large portion of Canada seemed to be melting. It’s not snow, it’s not water, it’s like the ground is covered in Slushy style Frozen Coke (it’s also the same colour..).
Essentially the weather’s very variable so make sure it’s conducive for what you want to achieve/do while there when you go.
That’s a tiny snapshot of why Canada is worth a visit. Great people, food and atmosphere in the cities, there’s so much variation between Quebec and the rest of the country that it’s fascinating to see. The natural side of Canada is almost beyond belief and is something truly awe-inspiring to witness and experience. What else is there? Canada is great as I said before, go there, immediately.