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Currently living the dream of moving to Toronto for 12 months for a Firefighter Exchange!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Some Observations

Last night we were invited to Jim and Helen's house to meet their family.  They have four daughters and five grandchildren (oh and the husbands).  The kids range from 4-8yo and are really great (four boys and one girl).   Jim and Helen are wonderful people who are quite well travelled.  Jim is Irish and is great for a yarn.  I hear a bit about their drunken nights of fun, so I am looking forward to experiencing some great drunken stories sometime soon.

Anyhow, we headed over to their house (two doors away) in the early evening with a packet of Caramello Koala's which we bought over from Australia.  Handing out the Caramello Koala's was a great ice breaker for Jack, although the kids didn't really care about the point of them being from Australia, they just enjoyed the chocolate!!!  Troy was not happy to see the beautiful cadbury chocolate from home being 'wasted' on kids!  Anyhow, the kids loved the treat from Jack and that was enough to get them all chatting and they took off outside to play.

Troy didn't stay long as he was going into his Fire Hall for a second time to meet a guy who has been keeping in touch with him via email for the past month or so.  He was away when we first visited the hall, so Troy went in to introduce himself and meet him in person.    I stayed with Jack at Jim and Helen's house for an hour or so and Jack ran himself ragged!  The family get together reminded me very much of home with so many people, lots of food, conversation, drinks, noise and kids running in and out every two seconds.  There were balls and bats and frisbees and nets etc etc all strewn in the backyard which was very nostaglic also.   Jack was sad to leave but we all made assurances we would catch up again very soon.

Troy had work again today (his last week of training) so Jack and I had a lazy day at home.  We went for a bike ride to his school, testing out another way to get there rather than the other route we took last week.  Jack rode his own bike the whole way but complained that I didn't remember to take water for him.  I must remember to ensure his highness has water in future.  How silly of me that a 10 minute bike ride would require a water break. 

Here are some observations from an Aussie living in Toronto:
a)  almost every price is without tax included.  So if you see something for $1.99, when you go to pay for it, they chuck on approx 13% tax (called hst).  Some items only have 7% hst, but we are yet to figure out which etc. 
b)  the coins here are messed up - the five cent coin is bigger than the 10c coin.
c)  shopkeepers openly laugh at you if you say, "do you take Amex?"
d)  Canadians like to say, "good for you" but they aren't being a smart arse like we are.  So, if you come over to Canada and want to pay out on someone, don't say "good for you" as you will be paying them a compliment.
e) Canadians randomly stop and talk to you if you are out the front of your house.  They are friendly.
f)  When you meet a Canadian, they seem really fake nice at first.  But they aren't being fake....they really are just nice people.
g)  When you are a pedestrian and want to cross at the lights, they have different pictures to indicate when it is safe to cross.  When the crossing signal is going to change to a 'hand' to indicate not to cross, it gives you a countdown to tell you how much time you have left to get across. 
h)  There are no roundabouts in Toronto (that we have seen....)
i)  Adults don't have to wear bike helmets
j)  There are heaps of stop signs.  And in really weird places.... like at a T intersection, you will have to stop when you are going straight through (normally the car who gets to the T has to stop).
k)  When you get to a cross intersection with everyone on stop signs, the system "whoever gets there first gets to go" instead of giving way to your right.
l)  a flashing green light means cars can go straight AND turn left
m) you can turn right when you have a red light, but you have to give way to the traffic
n) most speed limits in residential areas are 40kms, well that is what the signs say but I have noticed people ignore them
o) buses have bike racks on the front of the bus for you to put your bike on (like on the bull bar)
p) Canadian's don't swear much from what we have seen
q)  The service is better here in restaurants and shops etc.  They are nicer and more helpful.
r) Canadian's don't know what rissoles are.  Or arvo. 
s) Their beer is great.
t) on a bike, the hand brakes are the opposite....found that out the hard way when I nearly went over the handle bars today.
u) Tim Horton's is a place for coffee here - it has great coffee but has a complicated way of ordering so you can't just ask for a Latte or a Cappucinno.  I was told that if you want a white coffee with sugar, you ask for a 'double double'.  Anyhow, I thought I did that but ended up with a some flash vanilla drink which was actually really nice.  Pity that I don't know what it actually is, so I can't order it again.
v) You can't stay in the country if you don't like hockey.
w) The Canadian side of Niagra Falls is better than the American side (they aren't just biased....)
x) They have this cool chip dish called a "poutine" which is chips with stuff on it, like cheese and gravy etc.  You also have to leave the country if you don't like these)
y) Taco bell is often in the same shop as KFC .... weird
z) They don't peel their potatoes before they make chips - sorry, fries.  Even at McDonalds, the fries have skin on them.  ewwwwww.


  1. I need a Poutine and a double double stat!

  2. Of Course the service is better - they are counting on their TIP! I never felt that I got it right...you don't know if you are paying too much or not enough - they show no reaction to it! But you know inside thay are thinking "Stupid Aussie Cheapskates!" Having lots of fun reading your blog! Have to live vicariously through you here! Love to all xx