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Archive for July, 2014
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When he tells you is name is Socrates (like the founder of Western Philosophy) you just have to believe him. Who would tell you his name was Socrates if it were not?
He was born in Dusseldorf, Germany (to Greek Immigrant parents) which is likely a fortunate happenstance for him.
Had he been born in North America, he would have had to have been (simultaneously) very bright and very handy with his fists. (They call him “Soc” for short.)
In Germany he works in Information Technology (IT) which is Geek Speak for “Computer Specialist”. He’s visiting Canada because he is an avid outdoorsman and loves the “wilderness” and there is plenty of that here.
He does have a remarkable facility with languages and could easily pass himself off as a native speaker of German (which he is) or Greek or even English (the North American variety.)
I have managed to inveigle him into replacing the keyboard on my laptop. So, if you don’t read anything in this blog for some time, you’ll know he screwed it up.
And if he does that, I’m going to take him out and buy him a drink – of Hemlock, of course.
(Update: August 7th. I spoke too quickly and too harshly! Sorry “Soc”. Computer fixed; working perfectly. I bought him beer!)
Roberto hails from Torino, Italy and is a very recent graduate with a degree in Aerospace Engineering.
He might have been merely another young, qualified young grad who is entering the job market in the middle of one of the most devastating Global economic collapses ever. Europe has been severely affected which accounts for the staggering number of young professionals coming here with one-year work/travel visas.
Toronto hostels are full of young grads seeking employment in their chosen disciplines. The problem is that most North American firms are reluctant to hire qualified professionals who only have a visa for one-year.
Fortunately, Roberto’s position in unique. He was born and bred in Italy to an Italian father, but his mother was born an American. She moved to Canada and became a citizen just before she left for Italy.
This fortunate circumstance entitles him to Canadian citizenship and opens up a lot of possibilities. He also speaks English with the facility of a native speaker. (Actually, he has a bit of an American accent.)
He investigated job opportunities both here and in the U.S. and accepted a position with a manufacturing firm in California.
He is waiting for his U.S. visa which he found was much easier for a Canadian to obtain.
Jules is a Jewel from Germany.
She left the hostel a week ago, heading for a farm near Hamilton, Ontario to work for room and board. She wanted to experience life in rural Ontario.
Jules has been sorely missed by all who knew her here. But there is good news.
Jules has booked back into the hostel and will arrive back here on August 1st. That is in just three days.
We are going to plan a little “home coming” celebration for Jules on the back patio. So to all of her many friends, we’ll see you this Sunday evening for drinks.
We can’t wait to see her again. This young German miss is as wholesome as “Mom and Apple Pie” (or should we say., “Mutter and Apfelstrudel”?)
Jolonta and Marta are two young and successful female visual merchandising specialists from Poland.
The formation of the European Union as an economic/trading bloc has expanded trade and employment opportunities in the 27 member union.
However, one thing the massive economic union lacks is a common language. As you would expect, English is the de facto language of European commerce.
Both JolanTa and Marta speak English, but as business professionals, recognize the advantages fluency brings to the negotiation table.
Also, Jolanta has received an internal transfer from the Warsaw office to Amsterdam and the Dutch are legendary for their facility with the English language.
The transfer made both ladies aware of the necessity of upgrading their English skills and were her for an intensive course. We were fortunate that these two charming young ladies picked our hostel to live in during their stay in Canada.
Marta and Yalonda,
Her name is Zoe. That’s a name that could refer to a Byzantine Empress; or an Amazonian Native; or the Greek Goddess of Life; or a no-nonsense British trucker.
To the best of our knowledge, the last Byzantine Empress named Zoe died about a thousand years ago in 1050. Members of the Zo’e Tribe deep in the Amazon Rain Forest all have a poturu which is a wooden plug piercing their lower lip. That adornment is conspicuously absent on our Zoe and as far as we know, she speaks not a word of Greek.
But it is for certain that she is a no-nonsense lady. So, were going to have to go with trucker to describe Zoe.
She is in fact a truck driver (or Lorry Driver to the British) and does long-haul transport on heavy 18 wheeled semi-trailers. She has just returned from Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories where she went to check out possible employment as an ice-road trucker.
The truth of the matter the Greek Goddess of Life describes our Zoe most accurately. This ginger haired girl has lots of life and lots of friends.
She arrived here in Toronto during the G20 Summit and has rapidly become one of the most popular ladies at the hostel.
We’re betting that she gets her driving job on this side of the pond. We’ve learned that there is very little that can stop this lady.
Aoife. If you can’t pronounce it, no big deal. Neither could we. But Aoife (pronounced Ee-fa) is an Irish feminine given name.
There are a lot of Irish feminine names that are difficult to pronounce and virtually impossible to sound out phonetically.
Sadhbh etc …
(Try to get your tongues around those proto-Celtic derived names).
The etemology of Aoife has become a little obscure; however, it is likely derived from the Irish word aoibh meaning “beauty”. (Don’t ask us to pronounce that word because we haven’t a clue.)
Better yet, don’t take our word for it. All you have to do is to take a look at the pic ture of our Aoife. She’s a gorgeous young coleen from Eire.
Just one look at her and you’ll realize that the name couldn’t possibly mean anything else.
A lot of Toronto Hostels claim to be “a few blocks” from the city landmark CN Tower. So we are just one of the hostels in this city to make that claim.
The difference is, we actually are only three blocks from the tower.
The imposing sutructure has always loomed large over our hostels doors and we are, quite literally, in the shadow of the imposing structure. Go out of our front door, look to the right and voila there’s the tower.
There has always been a spectacular view of the tower from the hostel and you can look down on the hostel’s buildings clearly from the observation deck.
Unfortunately, that will soon no longer be the case; the view will be a thing of the past. We can thank the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) for that.
The 35th year of the Festival has seen the construction of a new home for the world renowned event. The Toronto Film Festival will now be housed about one hundred meters south of the hostels front door.
The new headquarters will have five cinema halls, two galleries, three studios, a three-storey public atrium, a centre for film students and scholars, staff offices and a restaurant, and a lounge in the heart of downtown Toronto. Comprising over 153,000 square feet of space, it will have a total capacity of 1,300 cinema seats.
But that’s not all.
As part of this one square block Toronto Theatre Festival Centre, three imposing, upscale high-rise condo towers are to be constructed. One is already up. They have already broken ground for the second.
The second tower will supplant the Corned Beef House. The 50 story residence tower will impose itself directly between the hostel and the CN Tower.
When it is completed, we will no longer be able to see that magnificent structure immmediately to the right of the hostels front door.
We aren’t moving. The tower isn’t moving. But the magnificent view from our front door will soon be gone.
That, as they say, is progress.
Soon to be lost view of Tower from our front door.
She is Australian, of course. (With a name like “Bindi”, where else could she be from?) Back home they call her “Farmgirl”; but, we prefer “Outback Bindi” – it has a bit of a ring.
In Bindi’s case, both monikers are pretty accurate. She lives on an isolated “Station” (what we’d call a “ranch”) hundreds of kilometres from the nearest town.
The Station, owned by her parents is enormous. It covers many thousands of acres and stretches almost 90 kilometers between boundary lines.
On this station in the middle of the State of Victoria halfway between Melbourne and Adelaide, they raise cattle, sheep and wheat.
Here in Canada we’d call Bindi a “Cowgirl” because she can often be found riding and roping cattle. The only ways to get around her property are on horseback or by Land Rover or on scrambler Dirt Bikes. Bindi is at home on all of these modes of transport.
But there are a lot of hazards in the “Outback”. It is not an uncommon occurance to run into predators like a Brown Snake (among the world’s deadliest of reptiles) so she probably feels underdressed without her rifle or shotgun.
She has just completed a six-month sojurn across Canada from coast-to-coast. She avers the Rockies and Banff National Park was her favorite.
As we said, she is a “cowgirl” and there is the obvious lure of the west – Canada’s cattle country.
She has left for Calgary to attend (what else?) the Stampede – the world’s largest Rodeo.
She plans to purchase a pair of “snakeproof” riding boots which cost less than half of what she would pay back home.
But the last 6-foot Brown Bindi stepped on got blown to pieces by her shotgun. “Outback Bindi” can take care of herself.
OK. I’ll start by admitting that I stole the following info from today’s issue of the Toronto Star. (Canada’s largest and well respected newspaper).
Then I spent some time surfing the internet for corroborating information. (Being faithful to the old adage that you shouldn’t believe everything you read from any single source.)
You can take a little time to surf and confirm what you read here; in fact, I encourage you to so so.
As all of our backpackers/travelers to Toronto have discovered, we are in the midst of an oppressive heat-wave.
Toronto is infamous for it’s summer humidity and dirty beaches.
The humidity is a fact. Dirty beaches are a very bad rap. In fact, seven of Toronto’s beaches are rated among the cleanest in the world.
That assessment was bestowed by the International Blue Flag Program. The blue flag is an eco-label awarded to beaches that conform to strict environmental and safety standards.
“It’s not easy to get a blue flag,” says Toronto Water spokesperson Cheryl San Juan. “These are world-class beaches.”
Ontario has the strictest recreational water quality standards in North America. If a beach measures above 100 parts E. coli in 100 ml of water it is classified not safe for swimming. The national standard is set at 200 and the U.S. standard is 235.
There are eleven beaches in Toronto. Seven have earned the coveted Blue Flag Certification.
The city’s goal is to score blue flags for all 11 beaches. Next year they hope to add Scarborough’s Bluffer’s Beach Park to the list.
BLUE FLAG BEACHES IN TORONTO
- Ward’s Island Beach
- Hanlan’s Point Beach
- Kew Balmy Beach
- Gibraltar Point Beach
- Centre Island Beach
- Cherry Beach
- Woodbine Beaches
Go on in. The water’s fine!
For the full list of standards: http://www.blueflag.org/
This is a part of back-to-back blog entries that serve to show why we are (at the very least) the luckiest of all Toronto hostels.
The previous entry is “Julia” a gorgeous, blond German miss who has returned unannounced after a five-year gap since her last stay. (Some backpackers, like Julia, are absolutely stunning).
In case you think that the return of a beautiful lady is a rare occurance; well, it is, sort of…the rarity is the long five-year gap between Julia’s visits.
Christine (another gorgeous blond) just arrived from Las Vegas in the middle of Toronto’s first heat wave of the summer.
She is used to Nevada’s 40C plus temperatures and her comment was; “What heat? You call this hot?”
We have bestowed Christine the title as the hostel’s “Honorary Canadian”. (She really likes it here.)
Unfortunately, Christine’s visit is only for a week. She has to get back to the casinos in Vegas where she earns a pretty good living as a dancer and model.
It is a bit of a pity because she is one of the very few visitors from hot climes who enjoys Toronto winters. She spent all of last winter with us (November to February) and endured the worst our winter can throw at her.
Anyhow, the point of this and the previous entry is that backpackers like Christine and Julia are what makes the Canadiana the most beautiful of all the hostels in Toronto.