Monday, January 11, 2010

Survival Guide to the 2010 Winter Olympics

On Friday Jenny and I went to Canada (Vancouver BC Area) for the day while the kids were in school. While we were there it occurred to me that the 2010 Winter Olympics are only a month away and it may be helpful for others if they had a quick survival guide for the Vancouver BC Canada area from a visiting American’s perspective.

Speeding on Highway 99
Before entering Canada you drive on I-5 with a speed limit of 70mph. Once you cross the boarder into Canada the road changes to Highway 99 and the speed limit also changes to 100kpm (62mph). Not wanting to cause an international incident I kept my speed just a smidge above that. Holy Cow, it felt like I was driving 5mph with the speeds that people were passing me at. I can only think of two possible explanations for this.
1. Canada’s speed limits aren’t really laws but merely guidelines sort of like the code of the pirates in Pirates of the Caribbean.
2. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), still ride horses and therefore can’t catch speeders.

Shopping carts
We stopped at a grocery store and since we had a lot of items on our list we started looking for carts once we got into the store. To our surprise there wasn’t a stack of carts inside the front door. We peeked outside the front door to see of there were any stray carts in the parking lot but didn’t see any there either. Do Canadians use shopping carts? We were wondering. Well, after we carried our bags of catsup potato chips, dill pickle potato chips, and caffeine free Mountain Dew to the check out stand and made our purchase we spotted a safely secured line of shopping carts all equipped with locks and they were locked to each other. We looked at them further and found that they charge 25 cents to use a cart. Once you’re finished with your cart you can return it to the shopping cart quarantine area and after you have safely locked it to the other carts you get your quarter back. So, if you’re traveling to Canada keep a quarter in your pocket for shopping locking and unlocking.

Chinese food
It’s been said that the best Chinese food in Seattle is in Richmond BC which is a suburb of Vancouver and I agree. While we were in Canada we stopped at a Chinese restaurant and were the only people of non Asian decent there. It was quite the weird but fun experience and the food was excellent. There wasn’t a single fork in the entire place either. There’s so much to say about our experience that I’m planning on writing a separate post about it. I’m still laughing about it. So, if you get to Richmond you’ve got to try out some Chinese food. You won’t regret it. That is unless you have a history of poking your eyes out with chop sticks.

In Canada it is legal to sell Codeine over the counter in pharmacies if it’s combined with two other ingredients. So, they sell it with Aspirin or Acetaminophen and Caffeine. It’s like the perfect trifecta of headache killers. It’s sold in low doses but it really does the trick on just about any headache. So if you’re in Canada go to a pharmacist and ask if you can get some AC&Cs or 222’s (Those are the secret code words). They will then pull out a couple of bottles and ask you if you would like 100 or 200 in a bottle. It’s like magic.

Grocery Store Doors
Normally in the US if there are in and out doors heading inside and outside of a store side by side the in door is on the right and the out door is on the left. This makes perfect sense because this is how are roads are routed. In Canada not so much. For some reason they are located on opposite sides. To get into a store the in door is located on the left side. I must be a really slow learner because I always headed for the out door when attempting to enter a grocery store. I’m not quite sure why they have their doors this way but I’m pretty sure it has something to do with the metric system.

Bathrooms are called washrooms

If you ever see this sign trust me don’t bring your laundry into this room. You won't be doing any clothes washing in there. That’s right washrooms are to Canadians what bathrooms are to Americans. I think both of these terms are quite misleading but it’s what we are used to.

So there you have it. Canada isn’t very different from the US but there are subtle differences. You just can’t find a friendlier group of people either. I’m really looking forward to the winter Olympics next month. If it were the summer Olympics you can bet that I would be camping out for all of the road races.


Jeff said...

Good to know about the codeine. Do you think the shopping cart deelie will take American quarters? Or is it like when you try to use a Canadian quarter in a vending machine here and it just spits it back out at you?

JoLyn said...

Awesome post. Next time you go, get me some of that headache potion. And I'm looking forward to your Chinese food story!

Jenny-Jenny said...

And... Loonies are the 1 dollar coins and Toonies are the 2 dollar coins. So when you see a store called Loonie Town, don't expect cartoon paraphenalia... It's a dollar store!

jeff said...

Canada's like a long-lost sibling, separated at birth: like you in a lot of ways, but very different due to the upbringing.

Lizzylou said...


Dawn said...

You make me laugh. And the comments. I'm going there next time I'm up that way. (remind us!) Will that potion help hurting knees? I also want some Chinese food but I'll bring my own fork! (And one of those ice cream cones!)

Buttsy said...

Love Lizzylous comment.....Eh? very Canadian.

I have been to both US and Canada and Canada has a lot of similarities to Australia.....three things happened in the states to me. I told someone in Hungry Jacks that their "Rubbish Bins" were full only to hear them laughing at what I called the "Trash Cans". I asked in a supermarket where to find the lollies only to be told where the Candy was......and you dont "open the boot" of the "pop the trunk"...You yankees speak another language....Canada has better chocolate than the US.....I loved both though

Touring Motorcycle Bike Exhausts said...

Chinese food! oh! I want to hear the story too. How the Chinese food went. I hope you know how to use the sticks..