In previous daydreams I’ve hung out on the beaches of Tenerife, had a debauched boys weekend in Las Vegas, explored the ancient wonders of Egypt, and escaped the hustle and bustle in the Lakes District.
This week I’m taking a slightly different path as I pay a mental mind-visit to the Great White North that is Canada. Despite having an abundance of friends from Canada (including Byron of Byron & His Backpacks fame) and having been perilously close to Canada during my visits to northern Idaho in 2009 and Seattle in 2012, I’ve yet to make the jump across the border to the US’s friendly northern neighbor.
Given I’ve just committed to another year in China, I’ve got two visits to Australia on the horizon, and I’m expected to play groomsman at my best friend’s wedding in England next May, I daresay Canada’s going to have to wait a bit longer before I can pay it a legit visit. So I guess I’ll have to make do with closing my eyes, channeling some of the cold outside, and taking myself on a mental visit to Canada.
A Bucket List Journey
My recent visit to Thailand and Cambodia allowed me to check eight items off of my bucket list, and Canada’s certainly a place where I could check off a few more. With that in mind, my list below is part daydream and part bucket check-list.
And no visit to Canada would be complete without visiting my many friends scattered across the country. While some are living in less visited places like Saskatoon and Prince Edward Island, many live in bigger centers like Vancouver or Toronto. I daresay I’d start with a Toronto tour package and then go where my heart (and free couches across the country) took me.
See the northern lights in Churchill, Manitoba
Never heard of Churchill? I hadn’t either. But with seeing the northern lights (aurora borealis) high on my life’s to do list, I did a quick search and this came up as one of the best places to take in one of nature’s most stunning shows.
It’s also the polar bear capital of the world according to its website, so seeing one of the largest predators in the world is a very real possibility while visiting the quiet town on the shores of the Hudson Bay. Visiting in March would also let me attend the Aurora Winter Festival, which would be a good chance to have a romantic fair date and check off another item on my bucket list.
Canada’s part of America, right?
Learn to ski at Whistler
I’m sure there are better places to ski in Canada, but Whistler Blackcomb is as synonymous with skiing in Canada, as Bondi Beach is as synonymous with Australian beaches.
I didn’t see snow for the first time until I was 13, and in the sixteen years since I’ve not once seen snow deep enough to cover my ankles – let alone deep enough to prompt me to throw myself down a mountain at high speed. And so, the dream of learning to ski or snowboard has been on the back-burner.
But if I’m going to learn, what better place to do it than at one of the world’s most famous ski resorts?
Go dog-sledding in Alberta
Dog-sledding might raise a few eyebrows from the hippies out there, but I’ve always wanted to shout ‘mush’ and ride behind a small army of beautiful huskies. Companies like Snowy Owl Tours make the experience accessible even to novices such as myself, so there’s no need to train your own team up from scratch.
See Niagara Falls
You can’t really go to Canada without visiting Niagara Falls. I mean, you can, but I’m pretty sure that makes you a bad person. It’s like visiting the United States without seeing New York or visiting China and not going to the Great Wall of China.
Whether I just gaze at the wonder of one of the world’s most impressive waterfalls or get up close and personal with a cruise on the Maid of the Mist, taking in the sight would just leave me Iguazu Falls and Angel Falls to check off from my list.
Rough it camping in Nunavut
A big chunk of the ‘manly’ items on my bucket list revolve around roughing it in the wilderness – catching and cleaning my own meal, seeing animals in the wild, spending weeks away from my precious internet… Nunavut in Canada’s icy north might just be the best place in the world to don a flannel shirt and be the manliest ginger bearded man on the planet.
Eat poutine in Montreal
I’ve sampled poutine in Sydney, in South Korea, and even as recently as last week here in China – but I’ve yet to try the real thing. With French Canada possessing a culture all of its own; a visit to Quebec would also offer me a chance to see a totally different side of Canada. With a number of competitive Montreal packages, it’s not likely to be a trip that would break the bank either.