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Canada Music Week 2008

Friday, February 29th, 2008

Brad Cole is a singer/songwriter visiting from Australia. He came to Toronto to participate in Canada Music Week.

This is the 26th year of the festival that is similar to the summer’s North By Northeast Music Fest (NXNE) but you might say a little more Canadian, being held in the freezing weather of early March.

Th 2008 Canada Music Week will consist of over 350 Canadian and International bands and solo musicians playing in more than 40 music venues city-wide.

Brad is one of the International acts invited to perform. He’s doing a gig at the Cadillac Lounge in the trendy Queen Street East area where Ashley Flynn, another hostel guest played (see NXNE blog entry). It’s a small intimate venue that holds perhaps a hundred or so patrons.

Ashey had the entire crowd hooting, howling and foot stomping when she did a edition of the country classic “Will the Circle Be Unbroken”. Since Brad’s music genre is similar to hers we anticipate a similar reception for his gig.

A lot of performers from out of town stay in hostels during music festivals. Many of them choose our hostel because of its’ location (most centrally located in he city) in the heart of the Toronto Entertainment District.

We also try to organize backpackers to attend various music venues – particularly those where our hostels guests are playing.

Check the Canada Music Weeks website for Brad Cole’s date at the Cadillac lounge. We’ll try to have backpackers there in force to support him.

(For more info about Brad and his music see his website: www.bradcole.com.au)

Brad Cole - Canadiana Backpackers Inn Toronto Youth Hostels

THE KALGOORLIE KID

Monday, February 25th, 2008

It was quite a surprise yesterday morning when I went into the hostels common room and saw a strangely familiar face.

Allan, a young lad from Kalgoorlie, Western Australia was sitting there as if he had never left and it had been almost a full year since we last hosted him here at our Toronto hostel.

In the intervening months he had crossed Canada working in different places from Vancouver to Quebec City. It was really nice to see him again. He is on his way back to Oz and his last stop, appropriately, is the Canadiana Hostel where his Canadian adventure first began.

But this time he wasn’t alone coming to the hostel. He had with him a friend, a lovely lady by the name of Marie-Claude. whom he was lucky enough to meet while he was working in Quebec City. A great gal she is and a charming couple they make!

One of the perks working in hostels is to see friendly, familiar faces after long absences. Allan was a pleasure to host and his future looks pretty bright. Marie-Claude is planning a six month trial sojourn to Western Oz – to test the waters, so to speak.

The hostels staff wish them both all the very best. It was really wonderful to see Allan again and to meet Marie-Claude – an old friend, and a new one and we hope you both stay in touch with us.

Kalgoolie Kid - Canadiana Backpackers Inn Toronto Youth Hostels

Canadiana Backpackers Inn Toronto Youth Hostel

The Norwegians

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

This is the kind of blog entry I really like making. It is about four young ladies who arrived at the hostel last week from Norway.

They are medical students in thier homeland and are in Canada for a week of intensive work (14 hour days) at some of our best hospitals. But that isn’t exactly the point of this entry.

What then is the point, did i hear you say? Funny you should ask.

Our hostel hosts a lot of medical students on exchange programs and a lot of other students whose studies are in related medical fields. Right now we have also have some Dutch students studying to become Radioligy Technicians.

Oh yes, back to our four Norwegian ladies, soon to be doctors. They are all intelligent, adventurous, vivacious and absolute stunners!

When they finish their exchange studies here in Toronto they will be leaving our Toronto hostel for some hostels in Cuba – combining a study trip with a little fun in the sun.

Then they will be back in Toronto to head off in search of other adventures. A few are heading west to B.C. and Alberta to do some “off piste” (which in Canada can be a little risky).

These adventurous beauties have also asked about indoor rock-climbing and possible ice-climbing opportunities – I told you they were adventurous!

OK. Now to the real point of this entry. There are so many good things I can say about this group of Norwegian students. But the whole idea of this entry is to provide an excuse to post their photos on our blog!

Then you’ll be able to see why we think that of all the hostels in Toronto, ours is, by far, the most beautiful!

(To see a pic of the lovely ladies, check out the entry two places previously “A Maori from Oz”.

The Norwegians - Canadiana Backpackers Inn Downtown Toronto Youth Hostel

Francois Le Lapin

Monday, February 18th, 2008

There’s a new guy in the hostel named Francois Le Lapin. He’s very popular with the ladies and has his own “Facebook” account! He’s very, very popular with the ladies and hangs around the hostels front desk – day and night!

When he first set up his, account no one at the Backpackers Inn knew who he was was or what he was doing. However, once they saw his pic and profile on Facebook. he had made more than 40 friends on the first day!

He really loves the ladies and they seem to love him back but he’s a bit of what the Aussies call a “chick magnet”! He’s not very tall and a little pudgy but the chicks still really “dig” him! Nobody in the history of the hostel has had his photo taken with more beautiful women.

He has his own gmail account too so if you’ve met Francois and have been taken in by his wiles and charm and want to become “friends”. You can contact him and invite him to be friends!

Why is he called Francois Le Lapin? Well, it’s because he was named by an Aussie (Rick) and an Irishman (Ray) who thought “Le Pain” was “Rabbit” in French – it’s some kind of “inside” joke! But it seems that both the Aussie and Irish twits’ French is even more egregious than their English!

Take a look at some of the beauties that are hooked on Francois. Then eat your hearts out lads!

He is popular; but, I also have to admit that Francois really is a bit of a bear.

Francois - Canadiana Backpackers Inn Downtown Toronto Budget Accommodation

A Maori From Oz

Sunday, February 17th, 2008

Kiri Te Kanawa, the great New Zealand Opera Diva certainly has the name to connect her to her Maori “roots”. A lot of Kiwi’s proudly claim Maori heritage.

Take Simon from Oz who is currently traveling around the world staying in hostels. Simon was a soldier in the Australian Army who is currently on extended leave from his job with the Government of Australia. Although he was Aussie born and raised he has a strong connection with New Zealand and the Maori culture.

Simon sports a contemporary Maori tattoo that covers his left shoulder. As far as tattoos go, it is nicely designed and very well executed. But why a Maori tattoo?

Glad you asked.

According to Simon a “pure ethnic Maori” is a thing of the past. They have assimilated with other cultures; nonetheless, the Maori culture itself, is strong and thriving into the 21st Century. It s a rich culture with strong traditional ties and ancient values.

It seems that anyone who can claim Maori Heritage in NZ does so with great pride – such as the great Diva herself does.

Simon’s mother hails from New Zealand and was of Maori heritage. It is on this firm foundation that Simon claims Maori roots for himself and for his future offspring.

The next time you see an “All Blacks” Kiwi Rugby or Soccer Team doing the traditional Hakka (the Maori Intimidation Dance) in the face of their opponents. Look at some of the blond-haired, blue-eyed players performing the traditional Maori ritual. And guess what? A lot of them actually are Maoris!

Simon - Canadiana Backpackers Inn Toronto Youth Hostel

A lonely Maori lad with only four Norwegian beauties.

Colin the Coffee Man

Saturday, February 16th, 2008

Scottish Colin left the hostel at 4AM this morning heading west. I dragged my carcass out of bed and hurried down to the hostels main building to say so long. Missed him by five minutes!

Colin had been with us for about 10 months and in that time he became one of the hostels best liked and most respected guests. He’s kind, thoughtful, even-tempered and generous with both his time and labour.

He also supplied me with my morning coffee which has made him “the best” in my book! (I can be pretty shallow) You see, Colin knows a lot about coffee! He does everything with coffee except drink it. He doesn’t like the taste!

Colin spent his time in Toronto working for Starbucks where he learned all about grinding, brewing and preparing a perfect cup of coffee. As an employee he is entitled to a free pound of coffee a week. As I said, he doesn’t drink coffee. So what did he do? He gave it to me!

As a coffee drinker, I suppose I qualify as an addict. Absolutely nothing is better in the morning! I use a “French Press” and have learned to make a perfect cup – taught by a non-coffee drinker of all things! (He doesn’t like booze or meat either; but we won’t hold that against him!)

Colin headed out to catch the airport shuttle in the wee hours of the morning. Pearcey, our events guy walked him to the bus stop and it was pretty chilly out there (-8C).

Colin is headed to the beautiful town of Banff in the Canadian Rockies. I’m sorry I missed him this morning; however, he has promised to return this summer.

See you then Colin (and don’t forget the coffee!).

..

Colin - Canadiana Backpackers Inn Toronto Youth Hostel

Colin with a bevy of beauties! (What a mover!)

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MORE SNOW!

Friday, February 15th, 2008

This is getting ridiculous! Nine days before Christmas Toronto was savaged by 30cm of snow in a 24 hour period. Yet, for the past several years December has been a month completely devoid of snow!

Then January came (traditionally a deep-freeze month for Toronto) and lulled us into a false sense of security with above normal temperatures hovering in the low plus figures.

The weatherman had predicted the worst snowfall in years for Toronto this winter. Thus far, this winter season, we have had more than 130cm of the white stuff with the accompanying train, plane, public transit delays and hundreds upon hundreds of traffic accidents.

This is a mere 6cm below the 1971- 1972 winter storms that crippled the city and moved the mayor (Mel Lastman) to call out the army for assistance – much to his eternal ridicule! But it’s a far cry from 1937 – 1938 winter that saw the city buried under more than 207cm of snow!

The snowfall this year has been particularly bad; but, not as nasty as it could have been. The actual ground accumulation is only about 50cm because above average temperatures in January have melted more than 78cm of snow from earlier storms.

Still, the snow this winter has been (so far) more than he last two winters combined and more than 13cm above the average winter snowfall for Toronto and winter is far from over.

The anticipated snowfall will likely put this winter into the books as the second snowiest on record (since the 1937 – 38 savaging the city received).

The forecast is that more snow is on the way. Pray for spring!
..

Snow! Canadiana Backpackers Inn Toronto Youth hostels

This car isn’t going anywhere for a while!

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Too much snow - Canadiana Backpackers Toronto Budget youth hostel

Looking out our front door!

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Spicing it up with “Salsa”

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

Question: What do Chris, Mika, Pearcey, Jennyfer, Evert, Marfa, Colin and Constanza (the Canadiana Hostels Gang) have in common with Tom Selleck, Glenn Close, Lou Diamond Phillips, Gloria Estafan, Forest Whiteaker and Jennifer Love Hewitt (the Hollywood Gang)!

Answer: They’ve all been seen Salsa dancing at Babaluu’s in the trendy, upscale Yorkville district of Toronto!

Salsa is the latest dance craze and is to the new millennium what Disco was to the ’70′s or what Line Dancing is to Country Music Fans.

“Salsa” translated literally from the Spanish means, “Sauce”, which suggests its’ style is a little spicy and a little hot! It has its roots in a fusion of dance styles of largely Caribbean origin (Cuba and Puerto Rico) with a strong African influence in both the music and dance.

Every Wednesday night, the hostels event is Salsa Dancing at Babaluu’s. Yorkville is the “in” place of Toronto and the haunt of the rich and famous; so don’t expect cheap drinks and dress smartly for the occasion. But there is no entrance fee and Salsa dancing lessons are included free of charge!

Our lovely Latina ladies Marfa, from Mexico; Jennyfer, from Peru and Constanza, from Chile, all took to Salsa dancing like ducks to water. It is as if it is in their blood! Aussie Sally and Mika from Japan weren’t too shabby either according to reports.

As far as the guys were concerned, the Chilean’s, Patricio, Rodrigo and Alejandro seemed to have the moves as well. As for the rest of the men, Babaluu’s is what might be termed a “target rich environment”! Enough said!

So remember, join us every Wednesday and sign up for Salsa Dancing at Babaluu’s. It’s a heck of a lot of fun and you might even spot a movie star or two!

Salsa dancing - Canadiana Backpackers Inn Budget Toronto Accommodation

The gang getting ready to Salsa…..

Instructor - Canadiana Backpackers Inn Toronto Youth Hostel

On the left is our instructor, Anna, originally from Cuba. She makes learning Salsa a lot of fun…..

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The Canadian Flag

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

How dare they write things all over our flag?! Well, actually, backpackers do it all the time at our hostel in Toronto.

Travelers who have stayed here for any length of time often get involved in a ritual that involves the “desecration” of our national banner. (In a manner of speaking)

Canada has a very simple and distinctive flag that is readily recognized the world over. It has been raised proudly over virtually every United Nations’ peacekeeping effort since its’ inception – peacekeeping is a Canadian concept, I might add!

Our flag is a unique symbol of not only our nation, but also embodies the nature of our values as a people. Our soldiers have monitored and at times enforced the peace in conflicts the world over. They have an enviable international reputation of doing so evenhandedly; with justice towards all, and malice towards none.

Thus the regular hostel ritual of purchasing a Canadian flag at the end of their stay and have all of their new found friends sign it with wishes and memories. A souvenir to be proudly displayed on bedroom walls upon their return home.

So, would we like to sign your flag? You bet we would, with pleasure.

Signing the canadian flag - Canadiana Backpackers Inn Toronto Backpackers Youth Hostel

Happy (Chinese) New Year

Friday, February 8th, 2008

If you were born in the year 1912 or 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996 or after yesterday this year, you are a rat! (sort of)

According to the Chinese Lunar Calendar this year is the Year of the Rat. The Chinese use a Lunar Calendar that operates on a 12 year cycle. Each year is represented by a different animal. This year it is the rat; last year it was the pig; next year will be the rabbit and so on.

In China, it is no shame to be associated with the rat. It is deemed an honor to be born in the year of the rat and it is considered a privilege even to be associated with a rat. The Chinese say rats are self-reliant problem solvers with an instinctive power of observation that makes them most likely to survive in difficult situations.

People born in the Year of the Rat are considered calm and perceptive, but also require a lot of physical and mental stimulation. They are blessed with among the finest intellects but tend to take on too much at once. But add to their intellect an abiding curiosity and and bright imagination and rats seem as sharp as needles.

So how does this all affect the hostel and Toronto?

Toronto is, without a doubt, the most multi-cultural city on the planet! There are other large cities with sizable ethnic minorities (London for example); but, none with quite the blend of ethnicities as Toronto. And the real factor is that we all seem to get along!

So when you visit Toronto, you may be treated to a number of ethnic festivals. Toronto’s Chinatown is all decked out for the Lunar New Year. There are actually about 5 “Chinatowns” in the Toronto region and about half a million people of Chinese descent.

Toronto is justifiably proud of its’ reputation for tolerance. It makes this city a pretty good place to visit!

Gung Hei Fat Choi! (Greeting’s and Prosperity)

Chinese New Year - Canadiana Backpackers Inn Toronto Budget Accommodation

A dancer at a New Year’s celebration

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Year of the Rat - Canadiana Backpackers Inn Toronto Youth Hostel

Dragon - Canadiana Backpackers Inn Toronto Downtown Budget Accomodation

A Dragon Dance at Toronto’s New Year’s Parade.

Chinese New Year - Canadiana Downtown Toronto Budget Accomodation

A ra…..oops, (an honest mistake!)


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