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Well, lo and behold! We’ve just heard from another good friend of the hostel’s! Bjorn from Denmark!
He was here with us for quite some time last summer as he was here on a working holiday visa.? Bjorn is quiet and unassuming and he was well liked by all. He is also one lucky sod! He’s the kind of guy who could plunge headlong into a sewer and come out smelling like a rose!
As an example, while he was here he read in the local paper about a famous Danish rock group that was due to play a concert at an intimate? venue? here in Torontro. (Nobody else in the hostel ever heard of them.) He ran out and bought? a ticket!
When they heard him warbling away in Danish, the Danish Consul who was in attendance invited Bjorn to a soiree hosted by the Consul in honour of the band! Good things seem to happen to Bjorn!
He had to cut short his stay in Canada. His old employer was very, very busy and called him with an offer he just couldn’t refuse! All I’m at liberty to say is that it was an attractive offer indeed!
So good to hear from you Bjorn! We won’t bother wishiing you good luck in ’08 – as we have said, you already have it!
We’ve just heard from? two old friends of the hostel! Curtiss Jones and Kerstin Spring, two nurses? from Germany. We don’t hear from them too often as neither will make the leap into the 21st Century buy a computer and use email!?
And yes his name is “Jones” and he IS a German? – it’s a long story.
Curtiss and Kerstin have been with us several times and we are looking forward to hosting them again in? 2008! You see, Curtiss is a rabid basketball fan. Specifically, he’s a Toronto Raptors fan!
Curtiss supported the team even when they were the laughing stock of the NBA! (go figure?) But times have changed. The Raptors have become quite competative and can now give any NBA team a run for their money on any given day.
We really expect Curtiss to show up at the hostel – especially if? the Toronto Raptors make the playoffs – but Kerstin might be another story! She’s not a fan and merely tolerates his lunacy!
If Kerstin reads this, come on over! There’s lots for you do with your friends at the hostel while he plays “rabid fan”.
Actually, there is very little chance of her reading this blog entry. They don’t even use email, let alone own a computer!
Genesis arrived at the hostel last night. She is the? gorgeous Mexican senorita who was our guest for more than ten months last year while she was studying English.
Genesis is also one of the two female charter members of the legendary Canadiana “Lager Louts”. Except the ladies were referred to as the “Animalettes”. They’re affectionate terms for a wild and crazy group that formed here at the hostel about a year ago. They loved to party and they still do!
The group consisted of a half dozen guys from diverse backgrounds – Scotland, England, Germany, Mexico, South America and Oz. They have been the subject of quite a few (heavily censored) blogs over the past year.
THe female charter members were the lovely Madeline (“Madders”) from Germany and Genesis. All? were our guests for an extended? visit and all have come back for a visit at least once!? Madders came a few months ago? with Jonno (another Charter Member) and they have left for Oz.
So Genesis is the last of the original group to pay us a return visit and also back are three others of the original group; Pearcey, Aussie Matt? and Simon.? It’s going to be a heck of a wild reunion because they? all came? here? to ring in the? New Year!
? ? ?
“Animalette”? Who me?
“Madders” and Genesis with “Lager Louts” (Charter Members) Simon, Pearcey and Jonno.
As the title of this entry suggests, our hostel guests are spending Christmas far from home; often for the first time in their lives. Shops, restaurants, clubs and pubs all close while the city shuts down and goes home.
It seems to be a recipie for a rather depressing time for those who are travelling alone; however, we at the Canadiana do our very best to make the day quite festive.
It really begins at midnight Christmas Day when Teresa (our head of housekeeping and resident superwoman) arrives to begin cooking for a Christmas Day meal. It begins with half a dozen very large turkeys, roasted to a golden brown perfection.
Add a delicious stuffing, veggies, mashed potatoes and an assortment of desserts, it all combines to make a pretty fine Chrismas Brunch/Dinner. It begins at 2 PM sharp!
We cook a lot of turkey. Nothing would be worse than running short of food at a Christmas meal. We set up a buffet styled self serve table – an eat-whatever-you-like affair – and we planned it just about right! (We’ve done this before!)
When all was said and done, our more than eighty dinner guests were well sated while leaving food still on the buffet table; just the way it should be.
A special time was created by quite a number of “non hostel guests” in attendance. These are foreign travellers who temporarily reside in Toronto on “work/travel visas” – usually for a period of up to one-year.
Their first stop upon arrival in Toronto had been Canadiana Backpackers and many were guests of ours for weeks or months before finding accommodation closer to their workplaces in apartments and flats. But in the time they spent with us, they became more than just “guests”, they are our friends; all former residents were more than welcome to attend. It is always so good to see them again!
Our motto is “It feels like home” and it is a real pleasure to try to provide one for lonely travellers at Christmas.
We wish all of our guests and friends the very best for the holiday season and a wonderful year in 2008!
“Superwoman” Teresa with Thiago from Brazil.
Christmas Eve at the Canadiana is virtually indistinguishable from New Year’s Eve, except perhaps, it’s on a much smaller scale. There is an awful lot of revelry on the night before Christmas.
After 6:00 P.M. on Christmas Eve, stores and businesses close, including the major chain stores that had been open 24 hours for? the six previous days!? The normaly busy down town streets become virtually deserted and you can almost? shoot guns down the city’s main thoroughfares and not hit anyone.
THe hostel becomes the center of every guests’ entertainment but it’s merely a preparation for the big celebration on Christmas Day.
The Winter Solstice arrived yesterday. It is the time of the longest night and the shortest day of the year. In Toronto it’s cause for a bit of a celebration.
The city held an evening parade that began in Little Italy and moved along College Street to Chinatown on Spadina Avenue. It was a procession complete with lanterns to shield us from the night, I suppose.
The festivities wound up in the ethnically diverse Kensington Market where streets were closed to vehicular traffic and a pedestrian mall took over.
The hostel made a small “event” out of the solstice and took along several of our residents to watch the parade and participate in the street fair.
I suppose that the city NEEDS excuses for celebrations during our long and chilly winters. But the beauty of it is, we find them!
It has been said that people who hail from Perth in Western, Oz are friendlier and more down-to-eatrh than their eastern counterparts. I won’t take sides on this issue; however, I will say that I’ve made a lot of good friends with folks from Australia’s wild west!
We get a lot of great people visiting from Downunder. Aussies travellers can be found virtually everywhere and anywhere and constitute an inordinately large proportion of our hostel guests.
When Aussies travel, they tend to go for long periods at a time. A three-month trip is considered very, very short for an Australian. It’s such a long trip to go virtually anywhere that many of them travel for years!
Right at the moment we have, at least, seven guests from Western Oz staying at the Canadiana. Our plan was to get a photo of the all together for this blog but we can’t seem to get them all in one place at the same time! As I said, they’re real travellers!
We always go on and on about the fact that we are “in the middle of the entertainment district” – because we are! There are about a dozen nightclubs within a block (literally) of our front door and at least as many bars within a block and a half.
But our “local” is exactly one block from our front step. It is a two story pub called the “Fox and Fiddle” a.k.a. (affectionately) “The Pox and Piddle”.
The “Pox” organizes special theme nights. Monday is “Karaoke” where both the talented and the seriously delusional can strut their stuff side by side. Tuesday night there is a house band with the most gorgeous female lead singer! Other nights have comedy and music etc.
If you don’t happen to be interested in any of their “events” you can stay on the first floor and just have a quiet drink and conversation or play pool.
But for me the best attraction at the “Fox” are on Sundays and Mondays: On both days they offer ten dollar jugs of domestic beer (a little over 3 pints) for 10 dollars and delicious chicken wings at half-price!
You’ll find a lot of Canadiana staff members there on those nights. Join us when you visit!
It’s only 10 days before Christmas and a lot of our long-term residents are going home in time for Christmas. It’s kind of sad to see them leave.
Blanca is a foreign student from Seville, Spain who had been with us for more than six months. Blanca studied hard and partied harder. But her English skills did improve markedly over the months she was with us.
Blanca would tell us that her English skills improved in direct proportion to the amount of alcohol she consumed. It really did better the tipsier she got. We think it was because her inhibitions were lowered and she didn’t worry as much about making mistakes.
Blanca left this morning (one step ahead of an anticipated severe snow storm). She was always a kind, gentle and thoughtful person popular with all.
We really will miss this beautiful senorita!
Blanca with a fellow student Daniella (who leaves for home in Mexico in a few days).
and so its time to say goodbye to our french and spanish friends.
Lesley our resident Kiwi staff member from Waikikamukau (or some such place) New Zealand is leaving us after almost two years and we’re sure going to miss her!
Actually, the name of the town she hails from is Te Puke (really) and it is a booming metropolis of less than 7000 souls on New Zealand’s North Island. It is world famous for its’ delicious Kiwi fruit that’s grown there in abundance. (Everybody pause here, to exhale in awe!) It has also been alleged by other Kiwi’s that they cultivate other substances in Te Puke – but we won’t go into that!
All of us at the hostel will aver that Lesley is, quite simply, the very best! She has been a friend to all and a bright ray of sunshine on dark and cloudy days. And this lovely lady is possessed of the best sense of humour of anyone at the hostel.
Lesley has the travel bug pretty badly and it has been fully four-years since she’s been home to roost at the bottom of the world. Her parents had to come to Toronto to see her! We met them here last summer and they are a lovely pair! Her dad’s name is “Fuzz” – I kid you not!
Knowing Lesley these past two years has been a unique experience and in so many ways such a gift. You can always count on her to be upbeat, positive and happy. From Lesley we have learned that with end of a storm comes the promise of a rainbow. So Lesley, wherever you go, in all that you do, we at the Canadiana wish you that rainbow.
Lesley is the one on the right, with her hand in her pocket. (With Lesley are old friends of the hostel l.to r. Nilesh, Sarah Jane, Andrew and Harry)