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Tam’s Travel Diary

Wednesday, 06 Apr 2005

Location: Canada

MapCANADA

I was in Canada a couple of years ago and travel back and forth between the US and Canada for about 1.5 years. So I'm not going to write about all my travels and where I went etc, I'm just going to mention a few tips and places I thought is a must.


WORKING HOLIDAY VISA

A very popular option for Australians heading over there and the one I chose too. There are heaps of information available so check with the official site for any changes. There is a quota every year and it works as a first come first serve basis. Once you have your visa then you have a year to get to Canada. Once you get to Canada you have to apply for your social security number and like any government office there is always a long queue, be aware of that.

Official site: http://www.whpcanada.org.au/
A good site for an overall look at the visa and information: http://www.workingholidayguru.com


WORKING AT THE SKI HILLS

Another very popular work for Australians. If you want to go to another Australian city then head to Whistler or Banff, otherwise skip these places. If you can find a job before hand, fantastic. If you can't, not to worry but competition is very fierce.

I can't talk about Whistler because I never got to go there but I landed in Banff and they have a fantastic center designed just for us so we can look for a job. They have computers, printers, faxes and telephones. There are people there to give you resume tips, check your work and a noticeboard with job openings. However, heaps of people go to these places and apply here, a lot of jobs want you to sign a contract for the whole season and you have to go for like one or two interviews, just to work behind the bar. Like I said, competition is fierce so employers can be picky.

I found that the center was a great help but I got my job by going to the tourist information center, getting a copy of all the hotels and then sitting down and ringing every single one of them. I landed a job over the telephone and left the next day to Lake Louise to work at Deer Lodge as a Front Desk Agent.


WHERE TO GO

I was one of those strange Australians that only spent 3 months on the ski hills and the rest of the time on the East Coast. I stayed in Toronto for a month (I recommend just to visit, not to live or work) and basically travel for about 3 months solid.

Niagara Falls is a must and you have to do the Maid of the Mist however, don't stay there. Stay at Niagara on the Lake instead. Its much cosier and nicer town without all that tacky look that Niagara has. You can also do a wine tour in the region.

I use the Greyhound Discovery Pass to get around East Canada and when I brought the tickets you can get a one month, three month etc and you can have just East, West and CanAM Passes. I think they have changed that now so double check. If you have an ISIC card, you can also get the student discount. I thought it was a good deal because you just had to rock up and they put you on the bus. The only thing is that you can't use this pass in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.

I went to Montreal and its a great city but I thought Quebec City was even better. I also went up the Gaspé peninsula in Quebec and visited places like Perce and thought it was really neat. It was out in the woods, I met some fantastic people and it was interesting trying to communicate with the locals because most of them don't speak English.

Another place I would recommend is Prince Edward Island. I love this place and not only because Gilbert in the Anne of Green Gable musical show was really good looking, but it was just so relaxing and scenic. The annoying thing is there is no hostel and if you are by yourself then it makes it expensive to hire a car. Otherwise the only other way of travel is with a tour group.

I met a girl in another part of Canada who said that she landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia and groups were formed in the hostel. So everyone pitches in and hire a car/van and travel around Cape Breton Island (which I heard is a must to see but couldn't because no buses) and PEI.

I travelled through 3 towns in New Brunswick and didn't think too much of it. I would use it more as a stopping point so your not on the bus for too long. Also skip St John the capital city, its not worth it. If you go anywhere then its either Fredericton or Moncton or if you have a car then you can see some fun stuff.

I would also recommend to see the Prairies in Summer. Its amazing the difference in landscape from the Rockies to a very flat prairie land and then forest and ocean in the East. Saskatchewan and Manitoba have a real lay back and outdoor attitude. The people are fantastic and you get yourself into a few unexpected adventures in this area.

Greyhound: http://www.greyhound.ca
Canada Tourist Info: http://www.travelcanada.ca