Americas

The first few months….

It would seem that around February I seem to get itchy feet and feel the need to get out of England! Every spurt of travelling I have done seems to start at this time of year. I normally choose to head to hot destinations but this time I decided to try out the cold.
I know close to nothing about Canada! Sitting back on the plane, I took a moment to consider what I actually did know about it….

…Canadians are very proud people
…They are all obsessed with ice hockey, which because ‘ice’ is such an integral part of Canadian life, they just refer to as ‘hockey’
…The majority of people living in Canada live along the boarder with America.
…They invented the ‘zipper’
AND…it’s cold.

Landing in Canada, 3 of my above mentioned ‘knowledges’ of Canada were proved true probably within the first 5 minutes of arrival. Walking along the airport corridors huge posters advertising the country and its natural beauty and culture adorned every space on all the walls, and the first thing I happen to catch sight of on a TV….hockey-they really do love it! And stepping out of the airport terminal proved that yes indeed, Canada IS cold!

I was fortunate to arrive in Canada about a week before the Vancouver 2010 Olympics opened.

As I mentioned-Canadians are exceedingly proud of their nationality, and the Olympics brought such unity across the country that even the Canadians were surprised by it all!
Since arriving I have slowly been compiling a list of my best ‘most Canadian’ moments. Witnessing Canada win the Gold medal in the hockey (making Canada the only country to every win as many as gold medals on home soil) and the celebrations that followed has to be top of the list so far. Everyone gathering in front of parliament waving flags while standing in the eternal flame and singing ‘oh Canada’ is a great lasting memory.

Life continued on after the Olympics, although the unity the country experienced quickly finished along with the Olympics, but it was time for me to concentrate getting my work visa issued and finding a job. I had to attempt a Visa run,western style. A year earlier, along with my travel buddy Marianne, I had successfully completed a visa run from Thailand into Malaysia and back again. It is a very common thing to do in Asia. I didn’t doubt for a second it would be so easy in North America. Expecting lots of questions and no back pocket money, I approached the America border. I have a number of American relatives and I mean no offence when stating….some Americans can be mean! (At least at immigration ports anyway!) The time spent questioning/gruelling me and taking my finger prints (and they still took $6 back pocket money!) took longer than the entire time I spent in the states, before quickly turning around and re-entering Canada and consequently having my work visa issued. (I had been a little hasty in booking my flights here and therefore had to arrive as a tourist initially and wait for my visa)

I have now been out in Canada about 4 months and worked 3 of those months in a busy bar downtown, before moving on to working on one of the boat companies who offer short cruises along the Ottawa river pointing out the major tourist sites.
Over the summer in Ottawa there are constant events and festivals on pretty much every week. So far, I have been able to enjoy the Tulip Festival where a million of tulips are planted all over the city as a memory of a present from the Netherlands after Canada played host to Princess Margrieta during the 2nd world war.
Coming up they have a variety of arts and music festival as well as slightly less ‘regular’ events such as the ‘dragon boat race weekend’.
I have been fortunate to be able to go on a holiday from a holiday and am currently half way through a 2 week holiday back home to England to catch up with friends and family. When I return to Ottawa I will return back to my job on the boat and settle back into Canadian life. It’s funny how quickly you can become settled in a place. Having been in England a few days now it feels like I never left here, but I also know as soon as I get back to Canada it will feel like I never got my mini holiday either!

Time can be a funny thing sometimes…!

Claudia Guest
A traveler all her life, Claudia was born in Germany and raised in England. She regularly visited various countries around Europe and the Americas, but it was when she was 18 that she really discovered her own overwhelming lust for travel. As soon as she finished school, she and two girlfriends backpacked through Italy, Southern France and Spain. Five months later she was back on a plane for a two-week sailing holiday in the Caribbean and a week after returning from that she was on another plane bound for Australia, where she traveled for three months, before going to teach English in Ecuador for four months. From there, she studied at university in England, traveled to Thailand, Cambodia and Laos, and then headed to Canada on a work visa, where she is today. This summer, Claudia is working on a tourist cruise boat in Ottawa…yet constantly feels Asia calling her back. Try to keep track of where she goes- or just look up in the sky, where she’s most likely bound for somewhere new!

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