We did get home safely on Wednesday. Unfortunately our flight back from London to Cape Town was delayed as Heathrow has a shortage of workers to do things including loading the baggage. We sat on the plane for over an hour while they loaded the bags and eventually took off at 11:45pm just before Heathrow’s midnight curfew kicks in.
As you may remember from pre-Covid days, I like to finish off with a series of thoughts about the country we have traveled. This is the first time we had visit Canada on holiday (I have been there numerous times on business) so here are our reflections on Canada:
- Canadians are very friendly. There is a stereo-type that Canadians are friendly but in this case it is not without justification. Everyone we encountered was friendly. The check-in clerks, the waiters and waitresses and just the people you met in the street. We had random people ask us where we were from while walking on pier, standing in the road waiting for a shop to open etc. They inquisitive about where you are from. They make you feel welcome.
- Canada is diverse multi-culturally. It is probably the most diverse country in terms of race and people groups that I have visited. I suspect it is because they are welcoming that they have managed to become so diverse. Through some quick googling, I found out that Toronto is officially recognised as the most multi-cultural city in the world.
- Their food portion sizes are closely tied to US sizes i.e. BIG. They don’t have much in common with the US but their food portion sizes is one commonality. Obesity isn’t as noticeable as it is in the US but they still have a problem with it.
- Service at restaurants is good but you pay for it. An average tip is 18% of the bill.
- You literally can find maple syrup and maple products everywhere. Maple smoked bacon (one of my favorites), maple whiskey, maple syrup, maple liqueur … you name it and you can get a maple version of it!
- We realised that we don’t know much about Canadian history. Where did the people come from, why did they go to Canada, who are the indigenous population etc. We never really studied any Canadian history at school or afterwards and so we felt we very little connection to the country.
- A small handful of Canadian families are ultra wealthy. In fact, 25% of the country’s wealth is held by 1% of the families. You can basically take any business you see in Canada and trace it up to its ultimate owner and it will turn out to be a Canadian family. We did it a few times with supermarkets and drug stores and it held true each time.
- Canadians are generally conservative when it comes to their health & well-being. It had one of the lowest amount of COVID related deaths. They were very concerned about it and took every precaution to ensure the health of their people was protected. As an example, many people are still wearing masks in stores even though there is no legislation requiring them to do so.
- You can definitely see the British influence in Canada (as they are part of the Commonwealth) but it is also clear to see the US influence (as they are their neighbours). For instance, many of the packages in stores have measurements in both metric and imperial (grams and ounces). The speed limit is in km/h but they measure height in ft.
- In Toronto, you can smell people smoking cannabis on a regular basis. Cannabis sales are legal and there are numerous stores around. We didn’t notice it that much in the smaller towns, but in Toronto it was noticeable.
We definitely all rated Niagara-on-the-lake as the best experience of the trip and definitely worth visiting if you visit Canada. A trip to the Niagara Falls and then spending time in the town and doing wine tasting at the vineyards is definitely worth it.
Until next time …
P, H, S & K