🇨🇦 The Great White North I

“Oh Canada. Our home and native land! True patriot love in all of us command. With glowing hearts we see thee rise, The True North strong and free!” Our Canadian tour guide Kat (Cheers to the most humble, funniest and best tour guide I’ve ever had!)  sang the national anthem on the bus ride to the Rockies. Followed by each of us singing our country’s national anthem – Sorry to all those who had to endure my horrible singing voice yelling the French anthem 🙂 Whilst we were driving through Canada, I noticed something. There is a reason Canadians are so fond of their picturesque, diverse and wonderful country. In short: they absolutely rock.

A long weekend spent in Meaford, Ontario

I personally found Canada not to be too expensive. In comparison, it is cheaper than Australia, the same as the US, a little more expensive than Germany. A hostel dorm room will probably cost you around 30 CAD, expect to pay more in the Canadian cities. An average hotel room is priced at 80 CAD. AirBnB is, as always, a perfect solution as well. But…well, a friend and I wanted to spontaneously stay in Victoria overnight and it did not work out because it was too much at short notice. 🙂 Conclusion: In high season, be smart and book in advance. A meal with a drink is priced at 15-20 CAD. To-go places and fast food are rather cheap as I found and you will have a full tummy (and a happy heart!) by spending about 10 CAD.

The Canadian Parliament at night, Ottowa, Ontario

Canada is a large country, the second largest in the world in fact, so it is hard to get around. Within city limits, public transportation is your friend. It is well organised and easy to use – most cities use a card-tapping system. But as soon as you want to discover remote places and see the outback, you are dependent on cars. Getting from one major city to another, such as Toronto to Montréal is easily achievable by train (VIA rail) but a little expensive. For the following day a ticket costs 100 CAD and takes approximately 5 hours, but if you book a month in advance it will only cost 45 CAD. And be sure to book the ticket on the internet (even if it’s just an hour before departure) or at a counter because when you buy the ticket directly on the train (which works), it is at least double the price.

The country with 37 millions inhabitans  is very safe. The pickpocketing, crime, terrorist and transport risks are very low. Nevertheless, wildlife encounters are not seldom and can become very dangerous. When you see a cub, you should never ever (!) start running, screaming or do anything common sense advises you not to do. If you are planning to spend a lot of time in nature, be sure to talk to a ranger or somebody before entering an area which may become dangerous due to animals.

Vancouver Waterfront, British Columbia

Canadians are, until now, the friendliest people I have ever met. Sorry lovely Irish or sun-kissed Aussies, but to me, the Canadians are taking the trophy home. One thing which I really had to get used to was that for example when a bus arrives, people do not run to the door and start pushing in to get a seat, but they form a line and enter the bus one by one, without any hectic or pushing. This shows their respect for their fellow-men. And when a bus is full, it does not only say “Full” on the display, but “Sorry, bus is full”. You Canadians have my heart – finally a nation which knows how to properly take care of values and respect for each other. Canada is the best example for when the inhabitants make a country even better.

One symbol, a thousand influences: Distillery District, Toronto, Ontario

Tipping:

  • Restaurants: 15 – 20%
  • Taxi: 10 – 15%
  • Guides/Staff: 3 – 6 CAD

Do’s:

  • Canadians are very punctual – be on time.
  • As in every occidental country, proper table manners are expected.
  • Politeness, honesty and especially friendliness are highly valued in Canada. They are always friendly, so you might as well just give it back 🙂
  • In Québec, friends and family kiss both cheeks as a greeting. They start with the left cheek.
  • Be aware of the fact that buying and smoking weed is now legal.

Don’ts:

  • Politics concerning the US can be a very delicate topic. Try to avoid talking about it in public.
  • Do not naturally go buy liquor when you are 18. Canada has different states with different legal ages for drinking, smoking etc. Inform yourself first about the state you are in – in most of them the legal drinking age is 19.
  • Do not smoke directly in front of a door or in a room. Smoking is only reluctantly seen in Canada and there are rules taht you have to be a certain distance from any entry in order to smoke.

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