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.”
It’s¬†that¬†time of year again! It arrives just two days following the Ides of March, on the 15th;¬†the date Roman senators told Caesar (in no uncertain terms)¬†his time was up.¬†¬†(He got the “point”).
Every year on March 17th the Irish people¬†everywhere¬†(as well as the “wannabes”; descendants¬† of a prior Irish diaspora and those of any creed or ethnicity ¬†who just like to party and drink)¬†celebrate a day in honour of their “Patron Saint”, Saint Patrick – a 5th Century British Christian missionary and Bishop of Ireland.
Many cultures and religions have celebratory days in honour of the birth of a political or spiritual leader. I seems somehow ironic that the Irish choose to celebrate the “death” of their Saint¬†on an anniversary (plus two days) of Caesar’s death by knives. (It seems rather fitting; after all, isn’t Limerick known today as “Stab City”?).
Saint Patrick’s Day is a boon to bars in North America as it is one of the busiest nights of the year. Major cities¬†(Toronto and Montreal for sure)¬†will hold Parades on Sunday the 16th.
The Grand Marshall of the Toronto parade with be Irish Boxing Champion¬†(and Olympic Gold Medalist),¬†Katie Taylor, from Bray, County Wicklow. She’s a world-class fighter and holds virtually¬†every¬†major title there is -¬†Irish, European, Olympic and World.
The presence of a world-champion pugilist to leading the parade is well chosen. We’ll wager that many of our hostel’s guests will see¬†someone¬†punched in the nose before the day is done. All in good fun, of course.
Everyone remembers the Friends storyline with Ross and Rachel ‚Äď will they get together? Won‚Äôt they? Will they?! This was how many guests at Canadiana in 2012 felt about two guests Mary and Mossy. Both from Ireland, Mossy arrived in Canada around the same time as Mary‚Äôs best friend Sandra. Mary was due to join Sandra a few weeks later, and during that time Sandra posted a photo on Facebook of a young man who Mary declared to be utterly gorgeous. When she arrived, there was much flirting, much drinking, the occasional ‚Äėmoment‚Äô but these two just didn‚Äôt seem to ever be going to get together. Then finally, one cold Christmas Eve just as the snow began to come down in a scene fresh out of a romcom, these two shared a beautiful kiss and MarBear was born. Every celebrity couple these days is given a single name derived by merging the two lover‚Äôs names and Mary and Care Bear (aka Mossy) are no exception. This couple went from strength to strength and had moved in together by the following Christmas. They are currently enjoying domestic bliss, along with 4 other roommates in Toronto, all of whom met at Canadiana Backpackers Inn!
MarBear are looking to apply for permanent residency together to continue living the dream in Canada, with several trips abroad planned along the way. Mary is one of our stellar employees at Canadiana, and Mossy is studying to become and accountant. These two are just one of many couples to have met at the hostel ‚Äď love is in the air!
MarBear: A Love Story
MarBear took part in a fake wedding to raise money for charity. The weather was gorgeous and the happy couple had¬†a brilliant day getting ‚Äúhitched‚ÄĚ in Nathan Phillips Square.
Fabulous Christmas sweaters for this fabulous twosome.
A romantic getaway to Niagara Falls in the summer.
Harri is a wonderful young lady from England who has a farmer‚Äôs accent and changes the colour of her hair on an almost daily basis. She arrived in Toronto in June 2013 and one of the first things she did, after checking in, was to get herself a job at Canadiana Backpackers Inn. She‚Äôs a treasure and has made a real difference at the hostel ‚Äď working hard and playing harder! Harri has had a jam packed time in Toronto so far, making sure to do everything from snow boarding and going to IglooFest in Montreal, to canoeing on Lake Ontario and partying in Kensington Market while attending baseball games and ice hockey matches along the way. She often leads pub crawls from the hostel on Saturday nights but somehow always manages to be up and at work the next day.
This lovely lass is very open and able to befriend anyone. She has become an important part of the Canadiana family and is close friends with many guests. Harri has actually made travel plans with several of the friends she has met here; soon she will be jetting off to Iceland with fellow staff member CJ in search of the Northern Lights, and following that she plans to do a road trip across Canada with a few people from Ireland. After that will come the necessary trip home to work and save (and remind her friends what she looks like) hopefully leading to an epic trip around Australia (then the world!) with several of the Aussies she met at Canadiana.
The fabulous Harri.
A chilly trip to Niagara Falls.
Harri frolicking in High Park in the height of summer.
A Sunday canoeing trip! The hostel organises canoeing trips on Lake Ontario most weekends in the summer months.
Here at the Canadiana, we have many Italians come to stay with us. Every now and again one or two of them really stand out ‚Äď this is the case with Marco. He first came to stay with us in March 2013 and has rarely left us for long since! Marco is a great character and we are proud to have him stay with us. He is warm and welcoming, making friends easily and always encouraging people to join in the fun. We were recently delighted to offer our congratulations as he became engaged to his girlfriend Lori who has frequently stayed with us too.
Marco‚Äôs best friend from back home in Italy recently moved to Canada and naturally came to live with Marco at Canadiana Backpackers Inn. It was an emotional and joyous reunion as these two had not seen each other for almost 2 years! The pair is now inseparable and can often be found cooking up large Italian feasts for themselves and the many friends they have made here. Obviously much wine is included in these meals, followed by special Italian coffee for afters (which is then often followed by more wine‚Ä¶).
Marco works in an Italian restaurant in Toronto where he has gained sponsorship to stay in Canada ‚Äď this is great news for Marco and great news for us!
Marco on one of his many nights out with just a couple of his many friends.
Here is a pair truly in love ‚Äď Marco and Lori.
Another pair truly in love ‚Äď Marco and his best friend Niko, reunited at the Canadiana after years apart.
One of our newer staff members is Helen, a self confessed cat obsessive. Helen can speak Greek, likes cats, and has an exceptional singing voice (she sings in a style not dissimilar to a ‚Äėcaterwaul‚Äô) which she showcases weekly at our karaoke nights, belting out many 80s classics. Helen came to us in summer 2013 after returning from travelling in the UK for a couple of years. She has worked in hostels in London (England) and Inverness (Scotland) and now Toronto! Originally from Scarborough, Toronto she knows all the right places to go for a good night out (she will always tell you to go to the Village), although she can more often be found at home with her girlfriend and their 10 pets playing video games. Helen is also one of the more accident prone people to work at Canadiana ‚Äď we feel at ease when she is sitting safely behind the desk.
Helen has made many friends at the hostel ‚Äď her relaxed attitude and complete failure to take herself seriously combine to give her a magnetic personality. Her habit of drawing little cats everywhere brightens the days of all at the hostel. She is a generous soul and often comes bearing coffee for whoever is working when she‚Äôs passing by Canadiana Backpackers Inn. We‚Äôre lucky to have Helen as part of the team ‚Äď at least for now, until the lure of adventure takes her to the next destination.
Here‚Äôs a shot of Helen when she was in Scotland ‚Äď she looks like she‚Äôs¬†having fun but we‚Äôre sure¬†she was dreaming of the Canadiana¬†the whole¬† time!
Here is Helen along with another one of our¬†staff, Nicole. Helen appears to have discovered her true identity.
Helen recently met Mila Kunis; she shook her hand and decided¬† that this was the greatest moment of her¬†life thus far (Helen‚Äôs life that is, although we‚Äôre sure the¬†moment must have been special for Mila too).
Helen at one of the many Karaoke nights, rocking the mic as only she can.
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!
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.
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!
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!)
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 tried her hand at making a living as a Pool Shark….
….after abandoning her dream of joining the National Ballet.
….then decided to travel west (in true¬†voyageur¬†fashion) to the Canadian Wilderness.