We're the kids in Canadia!

Trip Start Apr 30, 2009
Trip End Jun 05, 2009

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Flag of Canada  , British Columbia,
Thursday, June 4, 2009

We're the Kids in Canay-di-ah - Woh-hoh

It's hard not to love Canada don't you think? As a nation, they don't really offend anyone. They don't invade anything or ruin anything. They have a lovely country, full of snow and (supposedly...) moose. They're not a world super-power, even though they have to live next door to one.  For all of our combined years, we have to admit that before visiting we didn't really know much about Canada either really. Come on... you try! What's the capital? How does the accent differ? What does the money look like? We do know that they're very good at those Winter Olympics sports, like... you know... skiing and that strange sport with the big round thing on the ice. Perhaps the reason Canada hasn't become a world superpower is because stuff is written in two languages, English and French and often announcements are in both languages as well. It takes twenty minutes to welcome passengers onto an aeroplane!

Mostly, even although we had ignorance written all over us, Canadia has come through for us in the most impressive way. Still no bloody moose ("they're north"... yes, we know... they're FAKE aren't they!! There's a LOT to see in Canada so we don't even hope to do it justice by only visiting Vancouver; however, here's a run down of what we're lovin' about the 'Couver.

BUT FIRST, and let's just get this out of the way... it is EXPENSIVE here. The Canadian and US dollar are almost 1:1 right now, so you'd think things would be, like, the same price as in the U.S. No, no, NO. It's like you step out of the airport and you just haemorrhage money from then on. There are taxes and charges for everything. One single smoothie cost us over $7 today, and that's not even taking into account the exchange rate. Being at the end of a six-week trip, this made us even more determined to be frugal...tight even. The feeling is exacerbated by spending time in the U.S. beforehand where everything's dirt-cheap. The main challenge for the week: cost-cutting in the 'Couver!

So, here's what we're lovin':

* Getting into Canada is a breeze. Oh, as long as you declare if you are travelling with antlers or other bounty (yes really). Fortunately our luggage hasn't allowed for a large antler collection, so we breezed though customs. The lady just sighed and stamped the passports. No health declaration. No baggage opened. No fingerprinting or snapshots. They're getting the place ready for the 2010 Winter Olympics, so the airport looks unreal. A waterfall, native artwork, clean surfaces (we note the difference from San Francisco airport that's for sure!), travelators, free FAST internet access... sigh...It's not quite up there with Changi Airport in Singapore, but close (note to management: free alcohol samples would help). But even after several trips in which we pretty much mastered U.S. customs, we can still see why people would rather enter North America through Canada.

* Everyone's happy. We are staying downtown at the Sunset Inn & Suites (http://www.sunsetinn.com/), which is nicely located in a very happy and bohemian part of town with so many different sights to behold. A couple of our favourites are the homeless air guitar playing busker and the lady taking a teddy and a stuffed duck for a walk in a twin stroller. There's these cool little open community vegie and flower gardens on some corners where locals can go and 'grow'. We gather that they like to 'grow spiritually' rather than actually grow a lot vegetables because the plots are quite small. But it seems that no one vandalised them or randomly walks in and harvests stuff that isn't their own, so we think that's pretty cool.

The scenery. It's just gorgeous. Each morning we wake up and say, "oh look... snow-capped mountains!" (that one never gets dull), and then at night we can watch the sunset over the water. Vancouver's beautiful. Oh, and there's squirrels all over the place! Love the little critters!


The 'heat-wave' (as described by the local news). OK Aussies, prepare yourselves... it was 'hot' this week, peaking at 30 degrees Celsius. Yep. Heatwave. Ok, so we weren't actually expecting warm weather in Vancouver and it hasn't actually rained either. But really, is 30 degrees really classified as a heatwave?

The flowers. It is spring so there are flowers. EVERYWHERE. Brad's like a kid in a candystore walking along identifying all the different flowers (FYI, his favourites here are the rhododendrons...huge. HUGE.) We'll be walking along and suddenly Brad will stop, pick a leaf or flower, smell it and name it. It's funny when he gets to a plant he doesn't recognise. Perhaps I could make a reality show... 'Brad's Pretty Flowers'.

People. We've had friends here, which has been really good. Our friends John, Nancy & Adam drove up from Oregon for a few days (thanks heaps guys!). They took us to Costco, which is a discount warehouse grocery and 'other stuff' chain in North America. It's coming to Australia. YES!!! We bought another suitcase. Sigh.  My colleague (and friend) Michelle & her husband Paul and their friend Cath (an Aussie working in Toronto) are also here. We've all been staying at the same small hotel on the same floor, so it's been a bit like a uni dormitory! There's been brie, bourbon, wine, chicken wings and vegemite everywhere. Noice oi! It was a new experience for the Oregon-ites hearing a mob of Aussies all in the same room talking over each other and 'oi-ing' across the room and getting excited at the banana-cream-pie icecream. No... we didn't hold them down and force feed them vegemite & timtams. We did give Adam a Canberra Raiders jumper to wear though. The lime green is pretty huh?

Lovin' the Canadian accent eh? Finally we reckon we can pick a Canadian from a yank. When faced with picking the accent ask the person to say: "I'm going out and about today". A Canadian sounds like "oawt and aboawt". They also tend to say 'eh' at the end of a sentence sometimes. Needless to say, at the conference Michelle & I have been at this week, we've been hearing a lot of 'oawt and aboawt'. I still just love it when people ask where we're from, like it's not bloody obvious. Here's some attempts:

  • England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales. (of course). Don't be daft!

  • South Africa

  • New Zealand (the lack of sheep should give that one away!)

  • 'Not from here'. Obviously.
Love when we say Australia and people ask "which part", then we say "Canberra", just about everyone looks at us blankly and asks "Where's that?" We say "south & inland from Sydney". They say "Never heard of it". We say "oh really, it's the capital of Australia". They think we're joking. Ok, so we understand that Australia doesn't make the news in North America, but really...does no one know anything about Australia except that Hugh Jackman's hot? We feel like international ambassadors for the understanding of Australian culture. Thank god for vegemite. That really breaks the ice!

So, all in all, the kids in Canadia have had a great time and it was a fitting end to a big adventure through several countries and a cruise ship (all of which are swine-flu infected...snort snort). We're goin' home now, happy, wiser, rested and wrinkle-free. Noice eh? Oi!
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