First Thoughts on Canada

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Saturday morning I left Kansas City, headed for Cleveland. Sunday was Cleveland to Montréal. Google estimated this would take 22 hours if we didn’t stop.

Well we did stop.

A lot.

All told, excluding hotel time, we took 34 hours. This is not actually a bad thing, as we played about 14 different pinball machines, drove through downtown Chicago and Toronto (which were NOT in Google’s directions), and had a total blast. I’ll talk more about pinball in a later post.

This one is to share the observations upon crossing the border.

For one, crossing the border was eerily easy. Handed a guy my passport, answered a few questions about why I was coming in to the country, and declared there were no weapons, tasers, or bear traps (?).

After waiting an hour to cross bridge and border, we stopped at a rest stop for the usual reasons. Approaching the vending machine full of American Coca-cola branded products, I noticed a slight difference from home: there was no bill slot. But the price showed $2, which I assumed was Canadian. What an oversight! Someone’s gotta bring 8 quarters with them to buy a drink from your machine?



My hands went searching through my pockets impulsively, nevertheless. I happened upon some Canadian coins I had brought from home. Behold! A weird $2 coin! It all made sense in a flash.

The dollar and two dollar coins confuse me briefly. When I paid cash at a convenience store later, I was expecting a couple singles, he hands me coins, and I just stare at my hand for a second, wondering what it is I’m expecting. Then a second later I remember there’s big coins here. Real big. Worth whole dollars.

And no pennies!!!

Lastly, let’s talk about the units. If I see something in kilometers, I can quickly convert. If I see a temperature, I can quickly convert. But ratios are not kind when they start stacking.

Two times when I went to buy something, I realized how much I expect to have the ability to gauge if something is relatively expensive. Because once the soda bottle was $2 (Canadian), for 500 mL, I had no idea how that stacked up.

And when I paid 89 cents a liter for diesel, in Canadian cents, it’s like:

Uh… 4 liters to a gallon or so, USD are about 3/4ths CAD, uh… That’s expensive? I think?

Lastly lastly, now that I’m in Quebec, the prevalence of French is a blast. English is on a lot of signs and printed goods, but it’s second. And on the highway there was no English anywhere.



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