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  1. #1
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    Looking to spend some holiday time in Canada...

    1 or 2 of you here may recognise me from the E34 forum...

    Ok, so I'm seriously considering spending at least 2 weeks in Canada in late March/early April.

    I'm visiting in lieu of maybe relocating - wanna check the country out. But this is primarily holiday time, not job-search time.

    What I eventually do may be determined by where I can get cheap (or free!) accomodation. I think I could manage to stay with some family friends in the Toronto region, but I'd really like to check out Vancouver as well.

    I'm toying with the idea of flying to Toronto, staying there for like a week, then trekking across the country to Vancouver, perhaps by train. The other options are to fly (how boring) or hire a car for the trip.

    While the car option seems kinda romantic (in some way) I think train or plane are more practical. Train would probably be more fun.

    I'd then stay in Vancouver for a week or so then fly back home (Cape Town, South Africa). Maybe I'd even stay a bit longer than a week - would depend on finances.

    These are all just thoughts up in the air at the moment, but I'd like to tie them down soon! Time is running out!!

    Any input or suggestions from locals would be greatly appreciated. An idea of cost for the train and car could be useful. Also public transport costs around Toronto and Vancouver, as well as what a decent but inexpensive meal would cost. Or pointers to websites that have any of the above costing would work too :)

    All of this is going to cost a packet, I know, but I've never been out of my country and I really want to get out into the rest of the world. I plan on doing 2 weeks in London UK either before or after Canada. Most flights from here to Vancouver/Toronto seem to go via London anyway, so I'd include the London leg as a 'stop-over', which works pretty well financially ;) I have to look out for my soon-to-be flat wallet, you know. At least I get youth-fare airtravel prices since I'm 25.

    A great adventure awaits! (I can hope, right?)

    ps - Don't try to talk me out of it on the count of the weather :p
    I'm pretty much set on this timeframe. but out of interest, what will the weather likely be like end March early April?

    Thanks!!
    Jerome
    1992 525iA
    Cape Town, South Africa


  2. #2
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    Re: Looking to spend some holiday time in Canada...

    weather not too good as its early spring, if you come in May you can bear hunt with us in Alberta. Weather much better. you can spend about $30can. per day on food, if you eat out. Try doing your own shopping for food, less costly. Train is a really good thing to do, flying sucks, driving OK. Don't miss out on vancouver, its number one.
    toronto sucks........

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    Good choice!

    You'll have a great time in the Great White North! Your itinerary is a great opportunity to see first hand a little of what life is like outside of South Africa.

    I am actually in Johannesburg right now, on a three month project. This is the first time I've been here and it's been wonderful living here, getting to know people, learning about the country's history and seeing the optimism people have about their future. There are some big challenges here, but I see determination in the eyes of people here to overcome them and forge ahead.

    But enough about your country. First you'll be in London. That's really exciting. Big city life, traffic, congestion, all those wonderful things! The city does not sleep and there is just so much to do there. You simply will be overloaded with the places and things you can do there. I lived there for 7 years and still there is so much I didn't see or do. Beware though, London is one of the most expensive cities on the planet. The Rand does not go very far there at all!

    Next stop is Toronto. I actually have never visited Toronto (shameful, I know), but from what I gather it is another big city. It is considered a very clean and safe city and you'll enjoy your first experience with Canadian hospitality (though the greeting is warmer the more west you travel). Try to stay with your friend's family as you'll get a much better feel for what day to day life is like.

    Travelling cross country is a wonderful way to see the country, but it is not a fast way to get to the west. If you have the time, take the train, stop along the way and visit the cities, towns and countryside along the way. Better though would be driving cross country as you have the freedom to travel as and when you wish.

    You must then stop into my hometown, Calgary. Spend about a week here to enjoy the mix of down-to-earth country living and busy city life of soaring skyscrapers against the backdrop of the majestic Rocky Mountains. Traversing through the Rockies for the first time is an unforgettable experience.

    Finally off to Vancouver, nestled between the Pacific ocean and mountains, it is a beautiful city. As with all these places, try to spend time with the locals. As a tourist you only see a subset of what Canada has to offer.

    Cost wise, Canada is much cheaper than London will be. Right now, R5.00 is equivalent to CDN $1.00. Bring some warm clothes as it will still be chilly.

    Have a great holiday and hopefully you'll be able to decide if Canada is right for you.

    Okay, now your turn. I'm going to Cape Town in three weeks, any recommendations? :)






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  17. #4
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    Re: Looking to spend some holiday time in Canada...

    Thanks for the input.

    Whay don't you like about Toronto?Jerome
    1992 525iA
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  18. #5
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    Re: Good choice!

    Thanks for the great post!

    Yeah - there are a lot of positive things in our future. Not everyone has the same opinion, but that's life.

    I've heard that a lot of the people who moved to 'greener pastures' are returning. I don't know how prevelant that really is, but the more 'worldly' people that return to the country the better, I think.

    Back to Canada... The train trip won't exactly be cheap ($955CDN) but that's with a 50% discount (available until end March). That's for a trip from Toronto to Vancouver using Via Rail (www.viarail.ca) in a single bedroom sleeper compartment. The trip will take just over 3 days. Sounds pretty good really :)

    I used www.onetravel.com to check out car rental prices. It claimed that 3-day rental collecting in Toronto and dropping in Vancouver would range from US$111 to US$128 (and upwards) using Europe Auto. Of course I don't know what fuel costs would be, or accommodation en route. And it might stretch longer than 3 days as well, if I decide to dally along the way.

    I'd need to weigh up the financial differences before I could make any kind of decision. If it all becomes too pricey I'll probably just drop the whole Toronto side of things and go straight to Vancouver. I *would* be nice to trek across the country though, I think.

    As for London, yeah I know about it's cost. Apparently the 2nd most expensive city in the world to live in (after Tokyo I think). I'm purely going there for the tourist attractions - interesting museums and all the sights etc.

    So, you're coming to Cape Town (for how long?). You'll find it very layed-back compared to Johannesburg. I'm not exactly a well-spring of tourist info, so I don't know if I can make any blanket recommendations. You'd have to tell me what sort of stuff you're interested in and I can see if I have any info. Mail me at jerome[@]inner-ant.com (remove brackets). Might even be interesting to meet a Canadian bimmer-nut before heading that way :)

    Cheers
    Jerome
    1992 525iA
    Cape Town, South Africa

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    Re: Looking to spend some holiday time in Canada...

    its just a big city, nothing more. and the peo0ple i've meet seem to thing the plant earth only has one place on it (toronto )

  20. #7
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    Re: Looking to spend some holiday time in Canada...

    Check into VIA Rail (see link) for times, schedules and costs for travelling from TO to Vancouver by rail. To give you an idea of the distance you will be travelling Toronto to Vancouver is over a three day journey by train. I drove straight through from Thunder Bay, ON to Vancouver with a 2 hour sleep in Calgary and it took me 32 hours.
    Of trivial interest I worked on a lot of the rail line between Sioux Lookout, ON through to Edmonton, AB in my youth.
    If you decide to fly WestJet typically has the best fares and flies from TO to Abbotsford (74 km east of Vancouver).
    I live minutes from the Abbotsford Airport and you are more than welcome to spend a week here. Unfortunately travel into Vancouver from Abby is abysmal at best but once in Mission or Surrey there are trains available.
    I was in TO last year for the first time and it is a very pleasant city. A completely different flavour than Vancouver's European charm but very interesting and exciting: street parties, a true subway, street cars or trolleys, very culturally diverse.

    Shayne
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  21. #8
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    Re: Looking to spend some holiday time in Canada...

    Thanks Shayne.

    I did find VIA Rail already. They have a 50% off special until end March for that trip. Still not cheap, but it really sounds like a great journey.

    I'll check out WestJet to compare costs, thanks.

    Driving was my first thought (since I thought flying was rather unexciting), but then a friend suggested I check out the rail possabilities. Probably cheaper to drive? But I really don't know what the extra costs would be along the way. And I've also never driven in Canadian conditions before. Even though it won't be the depths of winter anymore, it's probably still more wintery in mid/late March than I've ever experienced before :p And besides, do I really want to drive across Canada in a Toyota Echo or Pontiac Grand Am? Not that I'm familiar with either, but I can imagine...

    Jerome
    1992 525iA
    Cape Town, South Africa

  22. #9
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    True flavour of Canada.....Maritimes....


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    Grand Am is fine...

    But definitely not a BMW by any standard... :) The Echo is tiny and you'd get exhausted very quickly.

    For a cross country trip, you should consider the cost of gas (what you know as petrol). I'm paying R4.20 per liter right now. In Calgary I paid about R3.99 (CDN $ 0.80) so very similar to what you're used to.

    The roads are regularly cleared of snow especially highway 1, aka the Trans Canada Highway that runs coast to coast.






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  37. #11
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    Re: True flavour of Canada.....Maritimes....

    I'm doing Moab, Utah this year, Tuktoyaktuk winter 2006, then Montreal and Maritimes in 2007.
    I've only been as far as TO by plane and Geraldton/Longlac, ON by car so it should make for an interesting, if not very long, journey.

    Shayne

  38. #12
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    Re: True flavour of Canada.....Maritimes....

    wow, holidays planned for the next 2 years. I'm having trouble planning my holiday and it's starting in about a month! My first 'real' holiday of my own ever. Only been around South Africa a little bit with my parents in the past, and gone nowhere for 2 years.

    I'm *so* looking forward to this trip. Now if only I could let myself get really excited about it. I think I'll get excited once my plane tickts are bought! It'll be a bit more real then.

    Jerome
    1992 525iA
    Cape Town, South Africa

  39. #13
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    driving may be almost as expensive as the train...

    tell me if I'm wrong.

    I've just done some sums and using a very rough estimate of about 4500km from Toronto to Vancouver by road (using a tape-measure on an atlas!), and assuming a ball-part fuel consumption of 10L/100km and a fuel price of $0.80CDN (thanks CellMan) that comes to (4500*0.8)/10 = $360 for fuel.

    It'll probably take me at least 4 days to drive, but lets say 5 - so I can take in some sights. That means 4 nights which I'll have to spend somewhere en route. Am I wrong to think about $50 per night? That makes it $200 (which may or may not include some food). Then for food I've been advised to consider $30/day for food (thanks Dean), so that's $150 for 5 days (could maybe get away with only 4).

    Now we add about $42/day for car rental (don't know if they charge for distance travelled too), yielding $210 for 5 days.

    And the total: 360 + 200 + 150 + 210 = $920 Have I missed anything? Got any figures way off? I'm trying to see a realistic picture here, and assume no bargains.

    Compare that with $945 for the 3 day train trip and the train trip looks even more attractive. Not that it wouldn't be interesting to do the drive, I just don't think it'll be as enjoyable.

    I guess some of my figures are over-estimates, but even if the drive would cost $820, the train still seems a nicer option.

    On the flip side, a flight could cost as low as $175 (incl. levies/taxes) using WestJet (thanks Shayne).

    Hmm... choices, choices.

    Jerome
    1992 525iA
    Cape Town, South Africa

  40. #14
    Scott
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    how about this...

    Driving from Toronto to Vancouver will be a long, and for parts of it, quite dull.
    Yes there is some great stuff to see, but parts of Northern Ontario and Saskatchewan are pretty bleak once you're on your 17th hour of it :)

    If it were me, I'd fly from Toronto to Calgary, then either take a train accross the Rockies (try to get a day trip - you can't see much at night) or rent a car and drive from there to Vancouver.

    Also, I would count on $70 - $90 per night for motels/hotels along the way.

    Scott

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