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The hostel has been able host two lovely young senoritas from Madrid for the last three weeks. Christina and Raquel were here to study English as so many Spanish travelers have done of late.
The two girls are quite inseperable, leading to some speculation they were possibly sisters. The are not.
Red-headed Christina and brunette Raquel are, in fact, first cousins.
Most evenings, the pair could be found on the hostel patio, enjoying a drink and the summer evening breeze. They use the time to practice their language skills with native-speaking backpackers.
These young ladies have made the most of their time here in Toronto and their English has shown a marked improvement during their all too brief stay with us.
Ana, Jane and Miriam are three young Irish coleens who met during their days studying at the University of Maynooth. They are in Canada only technically as part of the much discussed Irish Diaspora of 2009/2010.
All three ladies were gainfully employed back in Erie but decided to join the massive employment exodus because it was a grand adventure.
Ana, is known to her travel companions as “Smokey” because she likes cigarettes. That moniker is an example of outright hypocrisy as they all smoke!
Jane, is called “Trudge” (for some unfathomable reason) even though she seems to walk with a fairly normal gait.
Miriam, is known as “Fanny” because it is a homophone of her surname. That’s reasonable.
Suffice to say that Smokey, Trudge and Fanny have all settled in to the hostel social scene and can usually be found with fellow long-term backpackers on the hostels patio having a drink – and smoking.
The season of 2009/2010 has been one of a lot of “returnee” backpackers to our hostel in Toronto.
It really started more than a year ago, when Brett King, from Oz, popped into the inn unannounced. He had been here a few years before and was to be among the first surprises from old friemds.
(Brett has now relocated to Toronto, taking advantage of the ease that backpackers from Oz and New Zealnd can extend working/holiday visas.)
Then Katy (Katuiska) from Venezuela a language student and resident of the inn for 9 months in 2005, came to Toronto to visit her younger sister who arrived last year to take the same course.
This year two old and dear friends returned after long absences. Dr. Davey, a surgeon from New York arrived after an absence of four years. He has just spent several years in Honolulu working at the University of Hawaii.
Among the first of his side-trips from Manhattan has been a ten-hour drive to Toronto for a reunion we have all long anticipated.
And just last evening, Sigrid, a staff member from six years ago pitched up almost out of the blue from her home in Southern Germany. As a former staff member she knows how fully booked we usually are and thus (unlike the others) gave us ample time to find her a bed.
One of the most telling incidents involving the return of old friends to the Candiana Backpackers Inn, happened when Sigrid, exhausted after a long flight from Germany arrived.
The first person she met at the inn was Julia, from Hamburg, whom she met as a guest here in 2004! (Julia is now a hostel staff member.) The Canadiana is where friendships are made.
So to all those plannng “surprise retuns” pleasse tell us in advance. We love surprises; but it is no fun scrambling to find beds for old friends (whom we would never turn away). And although we always manage, it involves a lot of unecessary work!
This entry will likely be the last regarding cyclists this season. After the distance and terrain our last two backpackers have covered, it is doubtful if any bicyling backpackers stories can compare.
Emanuell and Noella are cycling physician friends of Paul (the first of the cyclists to arrive in Toronto all the way across Canada.) The two riders left Bangkok last year and rode through Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and through China to Beijing.
From there, Noella and Emanuell flew to Seattle to ride across North America to Quebec and Montreal. From Montreal, the two physicians will fly to Argentina and cycle the length of South America to Bolivia.
As a previous entry mentioned our cross-country backpacker, adventurer/cyclist Paul spent all summer riding his trusty bike most of the width of Canada – Vancouver to Toronto, so far. More than two and a half months and 4,500 kilometers spent alone on the road, camping in the wilderness.
He left yesterday headed for Montreal via Algonquin Park and Ottawa. He’s pretty excited about the Quebec leg of his trip. He’ll be able to speak French (his native tongue) in that Province.
However, the next few thousand kilometers will not be as lonely as the first four thousand. Two of his closest friends arrived in Toronto with bicycles to accompany him on the Quebec leg of his oddessy.
The new duo of backpackers has somewhat limited facility with the English language and rely on Paul to translate for them. His friends Candace and Guillaume are a well-known singing duo in France called “Tabernak”. (And no, the word does not have the same connotation in France as in Quebec.)
They couldn’t understand why people here in Canada found the name of their group so irresitably funny!
The “Tabernak” (lol) backpackers intend on biking as far as Quebec City then circle back to Toronto by early September to fly home.
We will be very glad to see them again, Tabernak!
Paul (rt.)avec ses amis Guillaume et Candace, TABERNAK!
Our previous entry was about the first trans-continental backpacker/cyclist to arrive at the hostels door.
This is the time of year (August/high-summer) when backpackers on bikes arrive in droves! A surprising number of long-distance riding backpackers (between hostels) are frrom Europe.
According to them, our roads are better, or perhaps merely better suited, for backpacking bikers. In addition, our vast areas of government-owned or “Crown Land” (hundreds of millions of acres) means you can camp in so many places and you are not trespassing on privately owned property.
Four backpacker/cyclists from Spain were seen in the sidewalk in front of our hostel making adjustments to their trusty bikes. They are at the end of a six-week tour of Northern Ontario and Quebec. They camped in the njorthern bush and booked into hostels when they could locate one.
The Spanish adventurers, had very nice things to say about kindnesses and hospitality extended to them by Canadians they met along the way.
It is that time a year again! It arrived quite early this year too!
Every summer we see the arrival of a usually somewhat exhausted bicyclist who has just arrived in Toronto after riding all the way from Vancouver on the Pacific Coast.
The first arrival to our hostels door, this year, is Paul from near Marseilles who pitched up just before midnight last night.
He’s a real adventurer/backpacker and has cycled from France to Israel via several Arab states like Syria and Lebanon. The “adventure” (not to mention “dangers”) involved in such a trip are pretty obvious.
A trip across Canada may be accomplished without the threat of violence; however, it is not without inherent dangers.
Paul, like most bicycle traveling backpackers, operates on a somewhat limited budget. He carried his camping gear and camped in the middle of nowhere surrounded by lakes and forests. He battled headwinds of the prevailing Westerly Winds across Canada’s interminble prairies.
But his camping is the “wild” part of backpacker adventures. As we said, he would stop in the middle of nowehre, build a fire and pitch his tent.
Canada is a vast sparsely inhabitied country. He spent months on our roads camping in the bush. Canada has wild animals – lots of them! He carried no weapons – not even “Bear Spray”! Frankly, we are a bit surprised he didn’t end up as bear scat.
His trip was often longer (as in farther) than it would have been by car. His arrival at our hostel was slightly delayed by a police officer whyo stopped him from riding his bike on Highway 401. It’s a high-speed thoroughfare of up to 26 lanes of traffic. That about as crazy as bicyling on the Autobhan!
His journey is not yet over and he plans to head east to Quebec and then onto the Atlantic Coast. He’s already got about 4,500 kilometer behind him and by our calculations, he still has, at least, 2,000 more to go!
“Martin (a.k.a. Marto) was an early member of the “Irish Coup” of late 2009. (That’s when the Irish began arriving in droves and became virtually 1/3 of the hostels capacity.)
He’s a plumber from Eire and skills made him an invaluable member of the hostels maintenance crew. But after several months here, he left with fellow tradesman/plumber Domo to check out employment opportunities in Western Canada.
That was just before last winter’s Olympic Games. They found work at the Olympic Games however, jobs for tradesmen seem to have dried up out west.
Domo is still slogging away in Vancouver and Marto decided to take a tour of the U.S.A. When he found himself in New York City (a mere 500 miles down the road from Toronto) he decided to call “home” for a week.
Marto left for South America (via New York and Miami) but he promises to return and see us next summer or next spring.
This boy is always running away from home!
Toronto is a City of Neighbourhoods. Don’t confuse this with other cities and their “Ethnic Enclaves”.
The operative and accurate term to describe this area must reference the many “Neighbourhoods” that make up the culturally diverse, multi-ethnic city that is Toronto.
Our Toronto hostel is right in the middle of the “Entertainment District” which is a “Neighbourhood” itself. Areas of Toronto that can be described as “neighbourhoods” with distinctive character traits number in the hundreds.
(The southeastern portion of the downtown area known as South Hill seceeded from Canada as a 1967 Centennial Project and now calls itself -The Republic of Rathnelly, albeit unofficially.) They have a bi-annual street celebration marking their “independence”.
One of the hostels most unique “events” are organized dinners in various restaurants in their respective regions of the city.
We’ve been to Chinatown; Little India; the Corso D’Italia; Koreatown…etc. We normally keep these dinners to groups of at least six and a maximum of fourteen (the passenger capacity of the hostels van.)
This week we went to Greektown on the Danforth to eat lamb, fish or chicken on one of the outdoor patios the area is known for.
This group comprised eight of our backpackers and was led (unofficially) by Socrates, a German born gentleman of Greek Heritage who speaks Greek fluently.
We will be organizing a meal at Lahore Tikka House next. It is an excellent Pakistani Restaurant in the heart of Little India in Toronto’s East End.
Maximum number of diners is fourteen (our Van’s capacity). Cost between $15-$20 depending on what you order.
Quite a number of our guests are not exactly what you would call traditional backpackers.
There are quite a number of business professionals who choose to stay in hostels in their travels and expense is not the sole motivating factor.
A lot of business travelers find traditional hotels not only expensive, but sterile and less convivial. On extended business trips or conferences or at trade shows, they find their “down time” pretty lonely.
If you have ever read this “blog” before, you will find that here at the Canadiana Hostel, people make life long friendships and connections. Some of our hostels guests return after years between visits and find the experience like a homecoming.
A lot of lifelong frienships begin her and we’ve actually lost count of the number of marriages between couples who first met here. (Definitely more than fifteen!)
Our motto here is “It feels like home” and to a great many travelers, it actually does.
A lot of past guests have not yet managed a return visit to Toronto; but, we wager that on any return to our city, the hostel will be high on their list of places to revisit.
So if you are a past hostel visitor/guest/friend and catch this entry, drop us a comment and give us your take on the matter. (And by the way, we look forward to your return.)
Come on backpackers and business travelers. Call home!
Noriko (Japan) and Albain (France) met at hostel and later wed.
Lourens from South Africa and Hailey (ex-hostel staff) now engaged.
Big Stew (from Oz) and Little Katie hostel friends recently wed in Venezuela and now living Downunder.