My trip to Canada – Part I: The Canadian people

Yesterday afternoon I was almost run over by a car which was speeding over the crosswalk. Well I wasn’t really in danger, but still, he (those drivers always are male) sped although he must have seen me standing there. It only took two days back in Germany to get into mortal danger while crossing a street. Thus this first entry has to be about the totally unbelievably wonderfully nice and friendly and welcoming Canadian people, which would never put a pedestrain crossing a street in mortal danger. The Haligonians at least wouldn’t…

I really felt so welcome in this country unlike anywhere else before. The Candians are warm and friendly and considerate and still keeping a distance without really keeping a distance. They’re not like for instance Italian who also are warm and friendly and caring but who also can be too cheerful and too loud and sometimes invade just a tidbit too much into your personal space, if you know what I mean. It’s part of the Italian culture, so I totally understand it, but it makes me feel a bit awkward sometimes. But Candians also aren’t as reserved as for instance the people in Sweden. In Sweden you can’t just strike up a conversation (even if it’s just small talk) with anyone you just meet on the street (or at a hockey game). Maybe the people in Halifax just went out of their way talking to us because of the hockey fever :-)? Whatever the reason, I really really liked meeting and talking to them.

I felt welcome everywhere. Which might have something to do with the way we were greeted with “Hi, How are you today?” everywhere. It might be the usual ordinary greeting and the person might not really be interested in how I was doing, but it still felt nice. Although I still haven’t figured out what to reply really. Just “I’m fine, thanks”? Or “I’m fine, thanks. How are you?” Anyway it felt really welcoming.
We had some really nice young tour guides on our hop-on-hop-off busses in Toronto. One girl was literally on her first day as tour guide and had a supervisor on the bus. Which sounds kind of awkward, but it wasn’t. They were really nice. And she did a great job for her first “real” tour. We also had some great waiting staff everywhere, friendly and considerate, but not too obstrusive. At least I didn’t feel annoyed by their regular reapperance at our table. Unlike I sometimes feel in Germany.
And most of shop assistents we met were awesome as well. Wether it was the guy in “The World Largest Bookstore” in Toronto helping me to fill out a online order form and helping me to get the book delivered to a store in Halifax, because they didn’t have the book in stock in Toronto. Or the lady in the souvenirshop at the Halifax Harbourfront who would have loved to sell me the Team Canada scarf, if she hadn’t needed it for the display a while longer. But who also thought about calling another store and have them save the last available scarf there for me. I think that was the highlight of my last day in Halifax. She was sooo sweet.

We also met a really nice and helpful gay shop assistent in a gay (and lesbian) bookstore on Yonge Street, Toronto. We went there after our visit to Church Street because my friend Heidi  was looking for some books about the TV Show “Queer as Folks” which was shot in Toronto (on Church Street). And what is a shop assistent supposed to think when two women walk into a gay bookstore together? Right. We didn’t notice at first, but when he started to recommend all sorts of bars and clubs we could go to on Church Street, we finally realized what he was thinking. Didn’t feel the need to correct him though, I just really had to keep myself from laughing out loud.

On the flight from Toronto to Halifax I also met a really nice and funny flight male (!) attendend. Don’t ask me why, but my friend and I didn’t got seats next to each other, although we checked in together. She was glad to get a seat at all, as the flight was obviously overbooked and she had to wait for her name to be called at the gate. And then there were couple of free seats in my row, even one beside me and I still don’t understand how that could have happened. Anyway I asked that flight attendend if the seat really was free and told him about my friend sitting 20 rows ahead and if she could move back to the seat next to me. “Do you like her?” [That was the day after the visit to the bookstore, so I was a bit startled by the question *g*] “Yes.”  – “Well if you don’t like her, we could always move her up front even further away from you.” “- No, I really do like her.” :-)

A rather strange thing (for Germans) in Canada are the silent taxidrivers. We took a taxi several times and only twice the driver said more than “Where do you wanna go?” and “That’s 8.50 $” In Germany a driver would have told you his lifestory on the 30 minutes tour from or to the airport. Or his wife’s lifestory. Or anything, but he would definitely talk. I didn’t mind the taxi solitude, but it was something getting used to.
We had a really cool taxi driver on our last day, when we took a taxi from the last souvenir shopping stop to the MetroCentre. It was the game against Canada and he was a hockeyfan and still not sure if he should try to get a ticket to watch the game. Or if he should continue working. We talked hockey for the whole time of the short drive and when he dropped us off he even showed us his Boston Bruins wallpaper on his cellphone. :-)
The last-but-one taxidriver was flop though. He probably was the father-in-law of the cousin of the girl at our hotel’s front desk. Or any other sort of relative because she definitely didn’t order him through the taxi company directly, but talked in an asian language on the phone. He had to stop at the gas-station on the way to the airport. Unusual, but ok, we had enough time. But then his car didn’t start up after he got gas. He turned the igniation and … nothing. So he had to call another taxi for us and we got a rather talkative driver again. Who couldn’t really understand how you could stop at a gas station with customers in the backseat :-)

On our first night in Halifax we all went to a sportsbar, where the Candian hockeyfans from the table next to us paid for several pitcher beer for us, just because we were hockey fans. What a great welcome to Halifax. And then there were the Candian hockeyfans in the MetroCentre who had so much fun just hearing and watching us crazy German fans cheer for our team. They even tried to join in, but of course they only managed to do it phonetically, But it’s the thought that counts, right :-) ? After the first game two guys (about 50 years old), came up to us and were so excited that they had the chance to witness that game. And they thanked us for creating such an atmosphere and for making this game an unforgettable memory. And they felt the need to hug us, which was sooo cute. I think that was my first experience that the Candian indeed are “a hugging people” :-)
During the game against the US we met one of the guys again, this time he was with another friend who desperately wanted to buy my Germany scarf. He said, he had so much fun that night and his grandparents immigrated from Germany and he was literally begging me. I hesitated to give it away at first, because it’s a great scarf, but I also felt bad selling it. I would have exchanged it for a Team Canada scarf in a heartbeat, but that guy didn’t have one. And he looked at me with puppy eyes so of course I gave my scarf to him after all. I didn’t really wanted to take any money for it, because really, the canadian hockey fans all have been so nice to us, but he insisted to give me some money. And to buy me a drink, which I couldn’t decline, could I :-)?. And of course he hugged me. Multiple times!
Our really nice female tourdriver on our private Peggy’s Cove tour hugged me when we said goodbye. And funny enough even the really nice extra on the film set at the harbour front felt the need to hug us, when we said goodbye after our 10 minute chat. I have to write about the film set in extra post and I’ll definitely have to keep a close watch on all the extras in the background, when the US-German film “Seawolf” will be aired on German TV next year.

I guess I should conclude this post with my praise of the considerate drivers in Halifax. If any pedestrian in Halifax stops on the sidewalk close to the crosswalk the drivers stop. Wether you stand on their side of the road or the opposite. If there was any chance you wanted to walk across that crosswalk from either side, they’d stop. Just like that. I’ve never seen any driver speed over or even slowly rolling towards the crosswalk. They’d just stop and wait. Which was something getting used to, but it was a really really nice thing to get used to. As a pedestrian though you had to remember to not just stop at a street corner and start discussing with your friend if you want to cross the street to your left or to your right. Because as long as you’re standing on the corner, the drivers in both streets will stop and patiently wait for you to cross any street. Which might stall traffic for a while. But that only happened just once to us, really :-) And like I said above: it only took me two days to return to the gruesome pedestrian german reality…

Sorry there haven’t been pictures yet, but there will be with the next post. Which probably will be about the sights. And I’ll have to write one about coffee shops (staff) and desserts as well. And about hockey of course. I guess that’s what I’ll be doing this weekend. Besides watching TV shows. And ironing. And sorting stuff which is so overdue to be sorted.


  1. Great post, I enjoyed reading it. I enjoy seeing how people from other parts of the world view Canada. I put a link to this post on my blog, hopefully some people will check it out.

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