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“It’s quiet…”

Friday, April 18th, 2014

“It’s quiet”….”Yeah, too quiet”. We’ve all seen and heard that classic western-movie cliche.

Today is Good Friday, 2014. Easter is arguably the most important Christian Holiday of the year. It even tops Christmas. So a quiet weekend should not be too surprising. But here are the hostel, it is a bit of a shock.

If you’ve followed this blog, you will be familiar with Angel and Aine. The “Mad Due”; the “Party Animals; The “Noisy Ones”. Angel is a Kiwi and Aine is from the Emerald Isles. Neither one of this infamous hostel pair can do anything quietly.  And when they got together (which was often), the noise level doubled!

Aine finally moved out of the hostel to her own apartment and Angel seemed to take up the slack in the noise department by picking up the pace.

But yesterday, Angel also left the hostel, bound for Sydney, Down Under. She landed her “Dream Job” with a Cruise Line as an “Entertainment Co-Ordinator” on a cruise ship. To those who know her, this seems like a job she was born to do.

We trust Angel will tone it down somewhat; but also convinced that cruise passengers will be in for some fun times. Angel is as gregarious as she is noisy. We are confident that she will behave as Maritime Law has strict penalties against “Mutiny”.

There were a lot of tears last evening when Angel left for the airport. Nonetheless, the hostel is noticably quieter today. But it isn’t over.

Aine doesn’t live far from the hostel and visits regularly. She isn’t here today (at least yet) because we can’t hear her. We’re pretty sure she’ ll drop by shortly.

The truth is many of us miss both of them. We wish Angel all the success in the world and we are now bracing for the arrival of Hurricane Aine.

To Angel from all of us at the Canadiana:  We wish you, “Fair winds and following seas.”

A CANADIANA CLIQUE

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

Everybody thinks they understand the word clique” (the term has a virtually universal negative connotation). 

In the case of our hostels “cliques” that negative connotation is not only wrong but sometimes unfair. You’ll have to look up the dictionary definition to understand why it is wrong.

The dictionary says: Clique: n. “A small, exclusive group or friends or associates.”

Let me tell you why it is unfair.

The negative word is “exclusive”.

Firstly, I would be hard pressed to name the current hostel “clique”. It is such an eclectic and ethnically diverse group. And virtually anyone can join. So much for “exclusive” because they “exclude” no one from group membership.

Ali Skandri, a Lebanese language student had been here for about 6 months and gravitated to the hostels current clique. Ali was known for his good humor and pleasant manner.

Yesterday, there were tears among the hostels “clique members”.  Ali left for home in Beirut.

Ali was the only Lebanese member of the current “Canadiana Clique”.  (That’s because he was the only Lebanese resident in the hostel.)

As a polyglot (fluent in Arabic, French and English), he developed a close relationship with many of the hostels French language students.

The “CLIQUE” held a farewell party last weekend at a nightclub and from all reports it was a raucous affair.(It’s a miracle that it didn’t become a “Police Report”). With the usual ringleaders, Aine and Angel (see earlier post: The “CHARACTER” of Hostels) trouble is normally close at hand.

So the Canadiana hostels clique is open to all comers.  If you see them making noise  in the hostels “Quiet Room”, join in.

Sit down and enjoy the company of Aussie Elise (see earlier post: “Miss Popularity”), English Jonny, Japanese Jun or the famous “Mad Duo” Irish Anie and Kiwi Angel.

Ali did and made a lot of likely lifetime friends who know him as “Ali Baba” or “Camel Jockey” (how original?). They gave him a pretty nice farewell!

Miss Popularity

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

In a hostel, there are always certain guests whom virtually everyone likes. So, it begs the question: “Why”?

The answer is relatively easy once you have seen a number of people to whom others are naturally drawn. Elise Bolling from Sydney, downunder is the latest example that comes to mind.

We all like her.

Back home she is a specialist in Early Childhood Education but has decided to take a “Gap Year” to work and travel. We’re glad she chose Canada.

Her popularity is easily apparent and it is something which she has gained honestly. You could apply virtually any positive  adjective to describe her; but, the most appropriate would be “kind”.

That is the quality that is sadly lacking in much of today’s youth.  Many (if not most) have become self-centred and self-indulgent in the fast-paced lifestyle of the 21st Century.

Their mantra, it seems, is Me! Me! Me!

But Elise seems to have learned the secret of friendship. Quite simply put, “If you want to HAVE friends; you must first BE a friend.

Anyone (and we DO mean ANYONE) who has met this remarkable young lady must know that she is the type of person whom you could count on in a crisis. Many of us have witnessed her spring to action when a friend has encountered extreme difficulties.

When her birthday came, many of the hostels guests planned a surprise party which kicked-off the instant she arrived home from work.

We can’t say enough good things about Elise. There is little to add except that no one here as ever heard her utter a bad word about anyone.

How many people can you say that about?

They ALL adore Elise!

Her surprise birthday party.

People posting their sentiments on our notice board!

SANDRA – A WORKING HOLIDAY

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

Travel today is definitely youth oriented.  In the 21st Century, there is an enormous infrastructure in place to facilitate young backpackers. 

The “Working Holiday Visa” program involves reciprocal  agreements between developed nations to provide young (normally 30 or younger) tourists a year-long visa that allows them to seek employment and thus subsidize their travels. A cultural exchange if you will.

Virtually every hostel hires young working holiday travelers to assist in day-to-day operations. In our experience, they have proved to be friendly, hard-working and honest employees.

Every once in a while a working-holiday backpacker we have hired whom we would describe as “exceptional”!  That word would particularly apply to Sandra Davis from Ireland.

The Canadiana Backpackers Inn has a pretty stellar reputation as far as hostels in Toronto go (in North America, in fact). Teresa our Head of Housekeeping demands excellence among her staff. She described Sandra’s efforts as, quite simply, “perfect”. (We had never her use a term above “excellent” before).

Unfortunately, Sandra succumbed to the lure of the ski hills in the mountains near Banff. The attraction of clean-air, peaceful life style and scenic beauty of the west beckoned. Go figure?

Sandra left last week for the mountains Alberta. (We have spoken with her and apparently, she likes it!) Too bad; our loss.

She was so popular with the hostels guests, that before she left, they posted a “Farewell Tribute” to her on Youtube. (In the history of our hostel, this is a first!)

It’s here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPJ_9NfGXRI

She has taken up a similar position with some ski-resort in or near Banff, Alberta. We can only hope they don’t realize what a prize they have hired. Sandra, being Irish has the option of another year’s working visa.

A personal message to Sandra from all of us at Canadiana Backpackers:  Don’t get too comfortable out west. You can always come home. We’ll take you back! Anytime!

Sandra - Canadiana Toronto Hostels

Sandra tried her hand at making a living as a Pool Shark….

Sandra -Canadiana Toronto Hostels

….after abandoning her dream of joining the National Ballet.

Sandra - Canadiana Toronto Hostels

….then decided to travel west (in true voyageur fashion) to the Canadian Wilderness.

HALLOWEEN 2013

Sunday, October 27th, 2013

Halloween, (short for “ALL HALLOW’S EVE”) in many countries is an ancient feast day of either Celtic Pagan or Christian origin. It depends on whom you ask.

We tend to go with Pagan roots as today, most Evangelical Christians eschew the celebrations as a trifle demonic.

There is some evidence that it might be so if you were to see what many of our hostels guests get up to on the last weekend of October closest to the 31st.

It is easily the most eventful evening for backpackers with the possible exception of St. Patrick’s Day which celebrates drunken revelry (as well as the life of an Irish Saint).

As anyone who grew up in North America may know, it is the time when children dress up in fancy costumes and go door-to-door asking for “trick or treat” and obtain a “treat” of sweets and candy.

For many (if not most) of the hostels guests, it is a time to “dress-up” in fancy costumes and party!

An overwhelming costume theme are of ghosts, goblins, demons, vampires and zombies, small wonder why the Evangelicals object.

But behind our hostels doors here in Toronto, what takes place is merely good clean fun fueled by copious amounts of beer and spirits of the non-ghostly kind.

Check out some pictures of our hostels guests celebrating the 2013 Halloween Festival:

Canadiana Toronto Hostels

Canadiana Toronto Hostel

Canadiana Toronto Backpacker Hostels

Canadiana Toronto Hostels for backpackers

HOSTEL UNIONS

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

Yes, it is true. There really is SOMEONE out there for EVERYONE! 

Literally.

Of all the hostels in Toronto, we think we provide the most convivial atmosphere. Hostels are supposed to be a place to meet people in a strange city. We do that very well.

As proof, consider that we have had countless hostel “unions” of backpackers who first met at our hostel. And the numbers speak for themselves.  It is no exaggeration to say that virtually thousands of couples have formed long-lasting friendships from hostel meetings.

But it is the marriages that result from meetings at the Canadiana that are really telling. How many have there been?

We don’t know precisely. We lost track and stopped counting after the first 20. At present, we are fairly certain that there have been closer to 30!

The latest union (that we know of) is the union of Yuka  (from Japan) with Mark (from Ireland).

Yuka, is an attractive (mid thirties) experienced world-traveler who has spent year-long working holidays in Australia, New Zealand, the U.K. and Canada. Mark, was a portly, young, inexperienced man (early twenties) on his first sojourn away from home.

In spite of being shy, Mark managed to make a lot of friends here among the hostels guests.  And fortunately, Yuka had a distinct preference for the endomorph type of physique.

Mark followed Yuka to New Zealand after her year in Canada. We have just learned that the two were married with a Japanese Ceremony in Yuka’s home village on Shikoku Island.

We wish them well for the future.

SIGN LANGUAGE?

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

Anyone lucky enough to work at one of the hostels in Toronto, gets to interact with interesting travelers from all around the world. They also get to witness many cultural idiosyncrasies fist hand.

For example. What does this signify?

Most would say it is the Peace Sign. And they would be right. Then again, it could be a secret code sign.

Why would we think that? Good question. Glad you asked.

Here at our Toronto hostel, we see thousands (literally) of photographs of globe-trotting, backpacking guests every year. That’s why we noticed something a little unusual in pictures of Japanese backpackers. In order to confirm our supposition, we randomly selected a dozen past guests from our facebook contact list.

That’s when we discovered it was confirmed.” In EVERY case our Japanese backpacker friends had been photographed making the “Peace Sign’.

Here is a collage from the facebook pages of a dozen Japanese former guests:

So? What does it mean? and Why do they do it? We have no idea. (and likely, neither do they!)

GO LEAFS GO!

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

HOCKEY is Canada’s game! (In this country, saying otherwise, can lead to a fight!)

The most popular team and the most valuable franchise are the TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS.

LEAFS? Any native English speaker will tell you the plural of “Leaf” is “LEAVES”.

Still, diehard Hockey Fans have a convoluted explanation for the egregious English error. It’s a beautiful example of “sophistry”.

A lot of our hostels guests want to take in a real ICE HOCKEY game (but in Canada the “ICE” part is redundant). 

Unfortunately, tickets to a “Leafs” game in Toronto is about the most expensive anywhere in the league.

Why? Who knows?

Toronto boasts the most loyal, rabidly supportive fan base in the sport. The hapless “Leafs” can do it all – except win! The last time they won hockey’s Holy Grail (The Stanley Cup), was way back in 1967. Toronto fans have been supportive through a 43 year drought – and still counting!

Every Toronto “Home Game” is always sold out. The only option is to but a ticket from a “scalper”  which is both expensive and illegal. (Perhaps $130 and up).

An alternative for budget minded backpackers is to take in a game of the Toronto Marlboroughs (a.k.a. the “Marlies”).

They are also members of a professional league the AHL (American Hockey Leaguewhose players are all subject to “call up” to the NHL  (National Hockey League) in the event of player injury (which happens virtually every game!).

A ticket to a “Marlies” game will run about $12 and you can virtually count on the game to be a brutal spectacle!

Every Marlie game is prowled by NHL “Scouts” and every aspirant to NHL paychecks plays his heart out for their benefit.

One of our hostels events is to organize a trip to Ricoh Coliseum  to catch a Marlies game. The Coliseum is at Exhibition place only about 15 minutes from the hostels doors.

THE “CHARACTER” of HOSTELS

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

Anyone familiar with backpacking knows that the “character” of hostels is determined largely by the “characters” who stay there.

Backpackers are by definition a transient group; thus the “character” of a hostel changes constantly. Nonetheless, it is always a rather interesting mix (and that’s putting it mildly).

Starting below, we will introduce you (randomly) to two of the characters currently in residence. This might give you an idea of the tone and tenor of a hostels daily life:

AINE and ANGEL:

We have chosen two attractive young “ladies” as an example of the hostels current Zeitgeist.

AINE (pronounced AWN-ye) hails from County Sligo in the west of Ireland. ANGEL (ironically named, as you will see if you meet her) is a Kiwi from the North Island. Both have come to Toronto with Working/Holiday Visas.

Why did we choose these two?

To begin with they have both been here for some weeks and virtually everyone in residence knows this pair. The two are often seen together on our patio or in our common room “holding court” as it were (i.e. they are the centre of attention).

These two young “ladies” are, at the same time, pleasant but boisterous (again, putting it mildly). They are both capable and interesting and can do many things – but nothing quietly.

So when you visit hostels in Toronto (particularly our hostel) you will be able to ascertain very quickly the movers and shakers in residence.  Aine and Angel you will likely hear before you see them!

Aine “channeling” Gene Simmons.

…and Angel not to be outdone.

CHANGES

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

Traveling today is much, much easier these days in a world shrinking because of technology.

When young backpackers first started traveling in the 1960′s (mostly Hippies) there were virtually no facilities (no hostels, student fares or youth discounts). 

Everything was strange and new.

Today, as travelers get younger and younger every major city and tourist destination is set up to serve them. But it seems that instead of seeking new cultural experiences, today’s young traveler/backpacker wants what he/she had at home.

For instance, apparently we don’t have ”proper” Heinz Beans here in North America. I don’t know what they taste like but I have been assured by an Irish girl they are better. (Apparently, thy are spelled with a “Z” as in “Heinz Beanz” – I’ll look for them)

Australians, it seems are always traveling; but, they also constantly complain that there is no “Vegemite” (a foul spread of beer barrel “Yeast Residue” eaten ONLY by Australians) or the difficulty of finding “Tim Tams”.

Tim Tams are chocolate covered wafers. They are actually pretty good; but, nothing to rhapsodize about. Paul (the young Aussie pictured below) insists they are “not the same” as back home.

Aussies are also fond of meat pies; but we won’t mention those. I’ve tried them downunder and they are pretty nice.

Finally, there is the famous Guinness BeerPersonally speaking, I am very fond of the “Dark Nectar” and have sampled it all over the world (Including Bruxelles, a superb Irish Public House just off Grafton Street in Dublin).

In Canada, I have been told usually by Irish WOMEN that Guinness outside of Ireland is “not the same”. (As I said, told by “women”, the majority of whom don’t actually drink it!)

Any truly experienced Guinness Fan will tell you that the quality often differs from Pub to Pub even in Erie.

Our best advice to young backpackers who want things to be the same as thy were back home, is stay home!

It takes so little to make some Aussies happy!

Bruxelles Pub (Dublin) for a “real” pint of Guinness!


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