Month: December 2015

Me and doors

The recurring theme of this holidays seems to be how I am unable to open the door at the first try. Like pushing versus pulling. Combine this with a few times of walking into doors and I’m wondering if someone’s pulling a hidden camera prank on the tourists visiting Toronto.

Phone plans

After the ease with how I moved through getting a social insurance number, a visa and a bank account, I naively thought that getting a Canadian phone number and plan would be a breeze as well. Ha.

Canadian phone plans aren’t as cheap as Dutch ones. At home I pay €20 for 500MB, 500MB wasn’t an option here, you start with 2GB. This can be between $35 and $60 dollars, depending on your provider. Yes, I know.

Being a cheapskate that doesn’t know when she’ll have a paying job, I went for the cheapest option. It being Boxing Day, I got a discount for ten months (pretty much all plans go for two years, and you pay for two years, even if you cancel before the end of it), and a discount for a phone. Instead $149, I would – only today- pay $49. Not bad, not bad.
Then the saleswoman added a deposit of $150. Deposit? On a phone?

It being Boxing Day, it took us about two hours to get me a number and a phone. Activation is still impossible, but I’m going to keep trying. Either way, I have a phone! And a phone number! To give out to all the potential employers, of course. The future is bright.

 

Niagara Falls

The super cool thing about having a blog and being its sole writer is that you can change the rules whenever you want. But don’t worry, it’s going to be an one time thing (she says, now).

Pictures, I mean! Behind links, because keeping to a certain idea of an aesthetic is so pleasing. Maybe all those hyper-links are bright blocks in the walls of text I create?

Bullshit aside, Niagara Falls is definitely something. Where with certain tourist traps you might struggle to enjoy what’s in front of you because so many people present, water cascading from rocks somehow gave me enough of a personal bubble to soak it all in. Okay, enough aqua related “funny” comments. I can be severely impressed with a beautiful, grandiose, very old building, but when it comes to nature, it’s on a whole other level. Maybe this is what people call a religious experience.

Combine this with a street leading up to it that belongs on a German fun fair, you could draw conclusions about how the human species exists out of short lived entertainment seekers that can’t handle the beauty of nature, but I don’t like to draw conclusions with only empirical evidence present.

I thought the Niagara Falls were absolutely, absolutely beautiful and no picture or video can replace the experience.

Poutine

This article is about the fast-food dish. For the Russian President, see Vladimir Putin.*

Being a regular visitor of England, I’m not easily shocked and/or surprised by any kind of greasy food. If you’re familiar with the people that think “Just deep fry it” is a perfect way to prepare anything, you won’t be all too worried about adding gravy and cheese curds to your fries. Would you?

Today I had my first poutine experience. For the Dutch people reading, it reminded me of kapsalon, also several meal components just stashed on top of each other. The traditional poutine is a gravy-like sauce over fries and cheese curds. But you can also add pulled pork, bacon, tacos, minced meat, basically: anything you can come up with. I don’t think you can pass as a poutiner when you add vegetables and make sure the gravy is fat free. It’s not that kind of meal.

Both a Canadian source and an English source (quelle surprise) told me that it’s heaven on earth and that I would love it. I mostly got very thirsty because of it.

Don’t I understand its appeal? Of course I do. But for now I rather view it as a touristy experience than a new addition to my diet.

 

*= this is a Wikipedia line

The Result

Who cares about a couple of plane complaints when we all knew what it was good for (not everyone knew, nor is starting a piece with a question much supported in writing-ville)?

Long story short: I’ve got the Work Holiday Visa. I’m allowed to stay in Canada for the next 22 months. Can someone please show this to the USA and laugh in their face? I’m already banned for life from their country, but I don’t want them doing something veto-y and throwing me out of another North American country. I just want them to know that there are countries out there that don’t suspect me of anything that could hurt anyone/anything just because I badly want to enter their country.

That wasn’t a very short story. Let’s make it even longer.
After asking every airport person where I had to be to get my visa interview, I finally ended up in front of a young man who asked me if I knew if the 23 months thing was possibly a typo because he had never heard of it before. Turns out New Zealand is the one country that wants you gone less than two years.
I was asked if I had had medical screening (no), and knew that because of that I would be unable to work with children, sick people, and so on. Fine, it’s not like I hang around those on a regular basis anyway. Next he told me to wait because he had to print my visa. And hey, put all the paperwork away. Maybe ten minutes. If it wasn’t for the sheer exhaustion that was weighing me down, I would have laughed hysterically. So very nervous, and so quickly fixed.

Today we went looking for a Service Canada Centre, to get a social security number. I was told it could take up to two weeks to get one sent home, so I had both hotel and farm address at the ready.
I filled in a form, got called in five minutes later and in another ten I had my number. We don’t send anything any more, Michael said (he introduced himself, he wished me all the luck and Merry Christmas), we just give the number out directly.

I’m still flabbergasted about how quickly and efficiently this happened. Will I wake up tomorrow with an e-mail from Border Control that all this was a fuck up and that I have to leave the country immediately? Let’s not check my mail until Sunday, just to be sure.

The Trip

To start with a cliché: I’m not fond of goodbyes, the uncertainty about who hugs whom first, how long to ignore the tears just to keep your own in control and inside your face, the semi forced jokes to add some lightness, the arguments and promises to make it hurt less. A goodbye is a goodbye, it’s up to you and those you say goodbye to to cancel it out by returning/connecting again. Until then, you walk away with that little light cloud in your chest, untethered.

Good thing that Icelandic Air delayed it’s flight for about an hour, so I could have some extra time at the gate (in the second paragraph, add sarcasm). Inspired by the Dutch Railways, no-one gave us any reason for the delay, only sharing -after being asked- that it “wouldn’t be long, now”. But I shouldn’t worry about my transfer, planes from the same company usually wait for each other (add a visual of two friendly planes wing-nudging each other before taking off in different directions).

I didn’t need to worry about my transfer, but I did worry about my passport. The Icelandic border control man wasn’t fond of my stamp-free kiwi passport, scolding me that no-one could discover where I came from without any stamps (port of entry, stay in European countries). After some mutterings from him that could have been Icelandic or his stomach acting up, I was still allowed through.

To a flight with slow stewards and overheating personal screens. Fine, I’ll entertain myself the old fashioned way and read. Pros of flying with Icelandic Air: prize, clean, small airport, neat stop in the middle of your trip. Cons: only sodas are free on board, and elbowing stewards don’t apologize. I’m a pro, just an impatient one. As soon as you get out of the plane and off the airport, you can forget about the flight. At the least I can say that I finally watched Me, Earl and the Dying Girl and Chef. Don’t bother with the second one: it will make you slightly hungry and very frustrated by dumb people you’re supposed to root for.

Soundtrack

 

Beyoncé
Britney Spears
Carly Rae Jepsen
Christina Aguilera
FKA Twigs
Janelle Monae
Kelis
Kwabs
Lady Gaga
Placebo
Princess and the Frog OST
Robyn & Royksopp
Scissor Sisters