Tourist season is now well and truly upon us. I spent many years working in the hospitality industry, so here are a few tips to help those visiting us make their stay that much more enjoyable.
Driving: First of all, welcome to the Interior! I congratulate you on your decision to vacation here, as we really have a lot to offer. Just look at those spectacular views around almost every corner; but not if it means slowing your car or camper down to a pace that an arthritic tortoise could probably manage. You’ll notice that we have thoughtfully provided picnic areas, pull-outs, and parks in places with the most incredible views. Please do make use of them, if only to prevent you being overtaken by a succession of drivers making rude hand gestures and mouthing obscenities. (Seriously, local drivers, don’t do that. Repeatedly honking your horn is sufficient.)
Currency: Our banknotes certainly are colourful, aren’t they, especially when compared with their drab American cousins. However tempting it may be, though, please do not make references to “Monopoly money” or “funny money” when handing over Canadian cash. Anyone who has worked for more than about a week in a business that caters to tourists has already heard these comments, many times over, and the polite smile they attach to their face when hearing them yet again does not mean “I, too, share your opinion”; it means “I am seconds away from lunging across this counter and shoving Sir John A. MacDonald where the sun doesn’t shine.”
Language: English and French are the two official languages of Canada, but if you speak French then about the best you can hope for around here is to meet someone who remembers a smattering of high school French, along with phrases picked up from cereal boxes, which isn’t terribly helpful unless you want to know if something is faible en gras, gratis, or a source très élevée de fibres. Also, to avoid disappointment, please do not expect any Canadian to pronounce the word “about” as “aboot”. Most people who pronounce “about” that way live in a country called Scotland, and if you expected to be there instead of here you really need to switch travel agents. We will, however, say “eh” if you ask nicely.
Food: You will quickly notice that we really, really love French fries. I worked as a server for a local restaurant that switched off the deep fryer because the fumes were causing health issues for one of the owners. An array of delicious salads were offered as accompaniments instead of fries; but there were still customers who walked out when informed that potato wedges fried in oil were not an option (this despite the fact that almost every restaurant within 50 miles, including one which specializes in Chinese food, offers them). By all means try poutine during your stay, however; whether you try it more than once depends entirely on how healthy your heart is. Know your limit, stay within it.
With that, happy travels; and I hope your time here is incroyablement délicieuses!