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Monday, 25 November 2013

Missing Hostel Life?...

I've been home for nearly 3 weeks after living in a hostel for...well, I don't feel like I should admit how long, but it was a lot longer than I would advise anyone else to do it for! There have been a few changes that I have had to adjust to, most of them extremely pleasant I must admit.

Wait, that whole bed - just for little old me? And I get wardrobes? Well, that is luxury. But how many people am I sharing with? None...that doesn't make any sense. So I can come home drunk and eat a sandwich in bed and watch Sons of Anarchy/The Office/Game of Thrones on my laptop without my earphones in and I won't bother anyone? And I cannot begin to tell you how wonderful it is not stumbling around in the dark either trying to get dressed or trying to get your clothes together to get dressed in the bathroom (whichever causes the least disturbance). This I can get used to!

Being able to leave my toiletries in the bathroom and the only thing I really have to worry about is my sister using my shampoo/shower gel. Which, let's face it, is a general fact of life anyway with siblings. Not having to wear flip flops while taking a shower is an freedom everyone should be allowed. Except prison folk...they probably deserve to be punished in this way. I also had my first bath in a year and a half, lovely stuff.

I open the fridge, see something I like and I can take it. Without having to search under a pile of unidentifiable crap for the bag with my name on it, open it and realise that someone stole my eggs (this happened TWICE). The first couple of days, I kept asking the family if it was OK for me to take things and why wasn't anything labelled with their names, room numbers and departure dates. Then I remembered that that's all irrelevant here!

The kitchen is occupied by a maximum of 3 other people at any one time. And only one, if any of those people will be cooking. We have 8 working hobs, 2 ovens, a grill, a microwave, a dishwasher. I have 5 different sized pie dishes to choose from and knives sharp enough to actually chop things with. I have not had noodles since I've been home, I don't even think there are any in the press!

Not going to lie though, I do sort of miss the constant stream of strangers coming through. It made every journey from your room an adventure - who would you see on the way back from the bathroom in just a towel? Which kitchen hogger would be using 9 pots and pans while you're trying to boil an egg? Who is talking really loudly on their mobile on the patio/in the common area? Which crazy/creeper is going to be freaking people out in the bar? And that brings me to the main thing I miss. The good old Departure Lounge, where everybody knows my name. And 2 of the most attentive bartenders I've ever had. No one makes a Gin Caesar like Buckethead and I doubt I will ever find a better karaoke partner than Staples O'Neill. Miss you boys!

Moral of the Story - next time you go travelling, make sure to stay in a hostel. All of the above points will make you glad to get home but you will never be able to replace the memories that will be made.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Things I will not miss about Canada...

Lived in Canada for 2 years and as much as I did enjoy it, there are several things I will not miss at all! Some of these I know I have bitched about before, so please bear with me. I have been getting weepy and nostalgic and needed something to take my mind off it...

Milk in bags - I stopped being so pissed about the percentages once I figured out which one I liked (2% for anyone that cares) but I still find it completely bizarre to have milk in bags. I've wiped up too much spilt milk to believe it's in any way practical, it's not even easier to transport. It is cheaper though (not when you take into account the spillage) and it does seem to be the choice for many Canadians. No idea why, suggestions welcome on a postcard.

Drivers/stupid road rules - for what are rumoured to be a very friendly and laid back people, Canadians are certifiably mental once they get in a car. In terms of the actual rules of the road, the most dangerous one that I've had experience of is being allowed to turn right on a red light - in Ireland. we have what we call a filter light for these situations. Pedestrians are still taken care of. Here, I have actually hit a couple of cars that veered around corners and got a little too close to me. Scary stuff.

L.C.B.O. - Complained before about the lack of regular off-licences in Canada. Having travelled in the province of Quebec also, I now know that this is just Ontario as I found several stores that sold convenience store stuff, beer, wine and cigarettes. Fun Fact - I also recently found out that Quebec had the shortest prohibition time in Canada also. They may be French but at least they've got their priorities right! I also take issue with the 2am closing time which is standard across the province. Only place to get a late drink is at illegal after hours bars. Very expensive and dodgy as all hell; I only went once...

Poutine - I've got to admit, as often as I've eaten it, I'm really not a fan. It's far from cheese curds I was reared, I tell ya. There are certain places that I will eat it from - I enjoy the chicken curry poutine at the Firkin, pulled pork poutine from Smokes but in most other places I pick the curds out or, if Useless Ben is going for me, he will ask for chips and gravy (and get some weird looks in the meantime). Proper bastardisation of a Canadian dish and I'm sorry. Looking forward to a proper plate of curry chips!

Shovelling Snow - I will also include the general cold as f#*k winters here. And I was only in Toronto, not real Canada where it gets proper cold. Working in the city centre, we had a responsibility to clear and salt the sidewalk and knock out any icicles that were hanging off the side of the building. I will not miss that. Starting a shift at 7am, especially if hungover, popping out to shovel snow, drop some salt and half an hour later you'd have to do it again. Maybe I wasn't very good at it. Standing in the street, halting pedestrians while someone hung out a window knocking icicles from the drain pipes with some sort of shovel or brush. OK, I'll almost miss that one.

Tim Hortons Coffee - I don't care if it's cheap, it is actually pretty horrible. Those jalapeno bagels were my favourite though, and apart from the odd dodgy speciality flavour (those pumpkin ones were dire) a box of Timbits were always guaranteed to elicit a smile.

Smoking Laws - whatever about a smoking ban, which I can obviously deal with, but the weird stuff like having to smoke 9 metres away from an entrance always felt strange. Certain places would not allow you to smoke on their patio if they had an awning that belonged to another part of the building. Some bars had patios that you could only smoke on if you were sitting down, etc. Give me the glass box in Fitzgeralds anyday.

Moral of the Story - sometimes it can be easy when you leave a place or situation to look back and see it all through rose-tinted glasses, if you will. The annoying things will stick out for a bit but the good memories will last a hell of a lot longer.