Planning a Canadian vacation

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Daaska
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Planning a Canadian vacation

Postby Daaska » 31 Mar 2014, 02:16

Hey guys,
It's been an awful long time since I've had a vacation and with university coming to a close mid next year, there seems like no better time to avoid becoming a functioning member of society go on vacation.
And so, after looking at literally no other places, I've decided to go to Canada. Mainly because it looks pretty and if the people are even half as nice as the stereotype/what I've seen whilst being in the LRR community then it'll be an absolute blast.
I'm also about 50% sure that LRR is sponsored by the Canadian tourism board...
Anywho, having very little experience of the Canada I appeal to you, the LRR community, for any information that would help me survive a two week vacation. Any recommendations for cities to stay in/hotels you know to be affordable would be greatly appreciated.
Current plan is Calgary and head to the expo while I'm in town however I'm not married to the idea so feel free to suggest anything.
Thanks! :D
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Re: Planning a Canadian vacation

Postby empath » 31 Mar 2014, 02:34

Calgary's a nice town (or at least it was in the 90's - Rocket might have more current intel on her hometown.

Though they'd be more expensive, the hotels IN the downtown core would be very convenient, as there's many attractions (Science Center, the Core Shopping Center and the +15 skywalk system that extends from it) there and can serve as a handy hub on the C-train system to take you to more distant places like the Calgary Zoo.

I'm not sure what LRR's con schedule is, but they've attended the Calgary Expo in the past, so you might even be able to meet them!
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Re: Planning a Canadian vacation

Postby Jamfalcon » 31 Mar 2014, 07:59

empath wrote:I'm not sure what LRR's con schedule is, but they've attended the Calgary Expo in the past, so you might even be able to meet them!

They were asked in the last LRRcast and said they've had no contact with the con people, and probably weren't going. :|
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Re: Planning a Canadian vacation

Postby My pseudonym is Ix » 31 Mar 2014, 07:59

Despite my dad assuring me it's a boring oil town, both a friend and a branch of the family who live there tell me Calgary's a nice place. I believe, however, that the most recent LRRCast said they weren't going to the Calgary Expo this year.
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Re: Planning a Canadian vacation

Postby Master Gunner » 31 Mar 2014, 14:28

Calgary is a fine place from what I've heard, though I am biased against it.

I'll just toss in suggestions for Toronto and Montreal. Their leadership aside, the cities are massive tourist hubs, and you will never run out of places to see or things to do there.
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Re: Planning a Canadian vacation

Postby Daaska » 31 Mar 2014, 15:49

Just to add a little more context, the proposed trip is to be next year, so while LRR might not be at Calgary expo this year I can still catch them next year! (hopefully)
Glad to hear that Calgary is a nice place. It's re-assuring that people haven't started rattling off where NOT to go in Canada, fills me with slightly more confidence.
I had planned on doing a bit of travelling between places once I got to Canada anyway to try and visit as many places as possible but seeing as I can't drive and I'm not certain on how viable relying on public transport is, I may have to just pick a city and stick to it.
Hockey was another thing on my 'touristy list of touristy things that tourists would do'. Given the complete lack of exposure hockey gets here in the UK, I always wanted to see a game, although I may have skewed mental image of hockey, (a short and incredibly violent game which I can watch and get served beer at the same time) although I don't have much evidence to the contrary...
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Re: Planning a Canadian vacation

Postby Tapir12 » 31 Mar 2014, 16:03

I haven't spent much time in Calgary, but it seems nice enough. I assume you know they have a stampede?

Hockey usually runs around Sept/Oct to Apr/May-ish (sometimes a bit later) so if you are going in the summer there probably won't be much hockey. However, Calgary has a Canadian Football team, which might also be interesting to you? I'm sure there are baseball teams in Calgary as well, though not major league level.

The only big city reasonably close to Calgary is Edmonton, which is about 3-4 hours away I think. You can take a bus I'm sure. In Alberta, there is also Drumheller, which has an amazing dinosaur museum if you like dinos.

With regards to other options, I think it depends on what you are most interested in. You won't find as much historical stuff if the west as in the east because of how the country was populated and developed. So Montreal, Quebec or Toronto would be better for history. Toronto is also close (relatively at least) to Ottawa and Niagara Falls. If you like outdoorsy stuff BC is the place to be. Or if you are super adventurous, the North is amazingly gorgeous.
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Re: Planning a Canadian vacation

Postby MinniChi » 31 Mar 2014, 16:21

Canada is huge. So pick a type of location, and possibly a type of sight-seeing. I.e. History, nature, Fun, Informative etc.
But since you say you don't drive, then I suggest sticking to urban sight-seeing.
I know very little about anything west of Ontario, except that there is a huge dinosaur museum somewhere in Alberta not to far from Cold Lake. Also the West Edmonton Mall.

In Ontario there are a lot of wine tours you can take in the Niagara region (you sign up with a group and they bus you around to various wineries in the area where you get to taste the local wines, sometimes paired with local foods). Toronto is a large city with a fair bit to do. We just got an aquarium which I hear is really cool. Plus the Hockey Hall of fame, CN Tower, Royal Ontario Museum, Ontario Science Center, Canada's Wonderland, and the Toronto Zoo (We have Pandas now). Plus other sight-seeing things I still haven't done.

Montreal is really nice as well. There are some places to visit there. I've only been to Old Montreal and St. Joseph’s Oratory located on Mount Royal itself (the city was named after this landmark).

Quebec city is beautiful as well. Lots of history and beautiful architecture. Take a tour around the old city walls. It's amazing.

Nova Scotia has lots of beautiful campgrounds and historical locations you can visit. My favorite as a child was Port Royal (or Annapolis Royal, I forget).

As you can see, lots of choices, and I've only provided a couple.
As for travelling between cities, public transit varies a lot between cities and provinces. Though we do have our CN rail line on which our countrywide passenger train travels. VIA rail offers various packages for different parts of Canada if you would be interested in any of those.

As for Hockey, every city/town in Canada has Hockey. It might not be NHL, but we have good players everywhere. And if you can't get out to a live game, if you travel during the playoffs, you can always find a pub/bar/restaurant playing the game on a big screen.
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Re: Planning a Canadian vacation

Postby Master Gunner » 31 Mar 2014, 16:45

If you're planning to visit several different cities in Canada, you're going to be flying, Daaska, unless you enjoy spending possibly multiple days in busses. While we technically have a rail network, passenger rail service is notoriously lackluster in Canada.

Depending on how long plan on staying in the country (and what you want to do), Calgary could certainly offer everything you want out of a vacation.

If you want to see the widest possible range of things though (particularly touristy-type things), I do have to recommend the Toronto-Montreal area. There is somewhat effective rail service between Toronto and Montreal so you can get from one to the other, and there are tour busses/groups that go to Niagra Falls and the like. You can experience a very wide range of cultures in the area (particularly as you move from Ontario to Quebec, but also in the significant minority populations of both Montreal and Toronto).

If you do come during Hockey season and want to see a game, be warned that ticket prices can be $100 and up (and just forget about Maple Leaf tickets). However, minor league games can provide an excellent hockey experience at a far more affordable surprise.
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Re: Planning a Canadian vacation

Postby d3fr0st5 » 01 Apr 2014, 18:54

Well it was mentionned earlier but Canada is massive, so depending how much you want to be traveling might influence your choice greatly. I'm currently living in Ontario though I've lived in Quebec (just to put my opinions in perspective).

Ontario, southern ontario (niagara area) might honestly be the place you'd want to hit up if you come around. As much as I like Toronto there isn't much to see the zoo is cool and all but it's mostly a metropolitan city. Niagara has a bit more to see there's the falls which are neat and it's where they cultivate peaches (yummy local peaches). Also wine is a big part of the region if you're into that. Anything ~hour north of Toronto is either smaller cities or cottage region so if you want to do camping or something like that it's... interesting. I would avoid Ottawa there's some really interesting museum and the parliament but kind of a meh city in my experience.

Quebec, if you don't speak french I honestly wouldn't recommend leaving Quebec or Montreal. I honestly love the province as a whole but not speaking the language will get you treated fairly poorly if at all outside of those cities. Montreal is a nice city, depending the time you plan on coming to Canada there might be a festival of some kind you could checkout, which are usually awesome. Except for that montreal has a bunch of interesting sites to see such as the vieux port(Old Port) and the Mont Royal, both of which are nice for a couple of days. Quebec is also a really cool city to visit, well the old city is..., as it is one of the oldest european settlement in Canada, lots of sights around and overall a great time. If you do speak french I'd recommend Lac St-Jean around the time of blueberry picking (man I really love fruits >_<), and Gaspe which is a much different place since it's on the opening of the St-Laurent and the ocean (There's whale and stuff) so if you like ocean navigation, and fishing it's a good place to visit. That's my recommendations though there's a bunch of neat cities around the St-Laurent, but I don't know if there's enough in there to be worth the trip, though if you want to do Montreal and Gaspe stopping and checking the cities in-between could be a cool experience for you.
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Re: Planning a Canadian vacation

Postby MinniChi » 01 Apr 2014, 19:09

Quick note about the French. If you speak France French, some Quebecers won't understand you. Quebecois has become its own.
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Re: Planning a Canadian vacation

Postby d3fr0st5 » 01 Apr 2014, 22:03

Honestly, you'll be able to get through with France french though you might need to repeat yourself once in a while. I've had more difficulty understanding an Englishman/woman than I've ever had with a Frenchman/woman. Plus unlike what has apparently commonly been associated with Quebecers(I think that's how you spell it in english...) they are probably some of the most welcoming people I know as long as you show that you're trying to speak french.
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Re: Planning a Canadian vacation

Postby Daaska » 02 Apr 2014, 18:01

Visiting the falls sounds like a great idea, especially if the surrounding area is as nice as it sounds, Ontario sounds like a great place :3
Just how essential/useful would it be to learn a bit of French before my trip? Because I don't mind learning a bit of French in order to improve the quality of the trip if it's going to be worth the effort.
All of the suggestions so far have been excellent and I'd like to thank everyone for their suggestions, however you guys really know how to make it hard to plan a trip! How am I supposed to pick between all these awesome places? :c
*sigh* This vacation might end up costing me more than I had imagined...and lasting about 3 times as long.
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Re: Planning a Canadian vacation

Postby Tapir12 » 02 Apr 2014, 19:50

Not essential. The only place you would really use it is in Quebec and even then the bigger cities like Montreal and very bilingual. I have visited Montreal and didn't have any trouble. Sure, it might be handy and kind of cool to know a bit of French, but it's not essential. The rest of Canada is predominantly Anglophone and most of us don't even speak French!
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Re: Planning a Canadian vacation

Postby empath » 03 Apr 2014, 06:47

Well, we were taught it in school, but for most it tends to melt away like snow in the April sun (or around this corner of the country, June sun :P )


That's another factor to consider: local climate vs. time of year for visit.

For example, as much as I love Newfoundland, I really would NOT recommend you stop by any time after maybe October or before May; winter around here is NOT picturesque, it's not crisp and refreshing; it's wet, cold and usually slushy. :(

Gros Morne National Park on the island's west coast (just a shortish drive north from the ferry to-from the Mainland) would be my top selling point...I really gotta take the wife there sooner or later. :/


But yeah, other regions have 'better' times of the year to visit - some might be too hot and stifling (and fly-infested) in the height of summer, for instance. Keep it in mind.
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Re: Planning a Canadian vacation

Postby My pseudonym is Ix » 03 Apr 2014, 07:18

Newfoundland is sounding more and more like Britain. I should come & visit some day...
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Re: Planning a Canadian vacation

Postby Master Gunner » 03 Apr 2014, 12:54

Well, they are both islands jutting out into the North Atlantic, and Newfoundland is largely populated by Brits (40% of the province claims English ancestry, 20% claim Irish, and 6% claim Scottish - more people identify themselves as British/Irish than Canadian). Also, the original Newfoundland colony was also the founding of the British Empire.
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Re: Planning a Canadian vacation

Postby Lord Chrusher » 05 Apr 2014, 17:35

My pseudonym is Ix wrote:Newfoundland is sounding more and more like Britain. I should come & visit some day...


One of my Irish friends was watching a news item about Newfoundland and thought the accent sounded like the county over from where he grew up.

Although it is a bit of a challenge to do with out a car, I do suggest getting out of the cities and seeing some of the Canadian wilderness. For instance if you were visiting Calgary, go see the Rockies. Coming from British Columbia, I am biased towards telling people to visit British Columbia.
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Re: Planning a Canadian vacation

Postby empath » 05 Apr 2014, 17:47

ZOMG YES; if in Calgary - take a day trip up to Banff and back!
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Re: Planning a Canadian vacation

Postby My pseudonym is Ix » 06 Apr 2014, 00:26

Lord Chrusher wrote:
My pseudonym is Ix wrote:Newfoundland is sounding more and more like Britain. I should come & visit some day...


One of my Irish friends was watching a news item about Newfoundland and thought the accent sounded like the county over from where he grew up.

Although it is a bit of a challenge to do with out a car, I do suggest getting out of the cities and seeing some of the Canadian wilderness. For instance if you were visiting Calgary, go see the Rockies. Coming from British Columbia, I am biased towards telling people to visit British Columbia.


I don't think I'd forgive myself if I visited Canada and didn't spent at least three days hiking across some unidentifiable wilderness. I like my hiking :)
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