Timing perfect for Canadian travel
FUEL prices are dropping, the Canadian dollar is dissuading travel to the United States, and the Euro and other currencies seem to be experiencing a rebound of their own. Perhaps this is the year to visit one of the greatest countries in the world. Yours! Having travelled to more than 65 countries and nine Canadian provinces, I can state wholeheartedly what Canada has to offer ranks among the best tourist destinations around the world. From a scenic standpoint there can be little argument. Mountains? Ours are as good as you will find worldwide, with trails and ski options that bring international visitors to see us. Our federal and provincial parks system helps protect the environment while allowing mixed experiences. And they are maintained and supervised in ways that allow families to explore them in safety and comfort. Lakes? Take a weekend drive around Manitoba or travel to Ontario and Quebec, just two provinces in addition to ours that offer such a wide range of options that one could not possibly ever visit more than a small percentage of even the best ones in a lifetime. History? You say not as old as those of Europe and other continents. Dig deeper into the stories of our aboriginal peoples. Finding the trails they blazed is as exciting as those antiquities we crave on other travels. Or pass a few centuries in a visit to Quebec City. You don’t have to take my word about its uniqueness and power to satisfy. The cruise industry will tell you it is one of the highest-rated itinerary stops annually, a reason more ships are going there each year and why its port is becoming one of the busier ones. Culture? Few countries have been able to duplicate what Canada has done. There are other immigrant nations, but few have allowed people who arrive from different nations to keep and celebrate their heritage, while still integrating into the broader Canadian society. Cuisine? It is a highlight of a Canadian tour of tastes, built upon an integration of what our fusion culture really stands for. In the major cities especially, you will find world class restaurants, with chefs who are admired around the world and have won the culinary awards to show testament to achievements that needed no proof to begin with. Move a few degrees above the 49th parallel into our Northern regions, to experience a lifestyle that brings you as close to nature, and a resilient people who will welcome you with open arms, proud to show you why this country’s less populated spaces are the envy of the world. Nunavut is still on my list, but having spent time in Churchill during the summer watching whales and dancing northern lights, it too is as good an experience as you will find anywhere. North or south, some of the best attractions and events are played out beyond the urban centres. Manitoba’s own National Ukrainian Festival is just one which is close at hand. Add the Stratford Festival, the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-thelake, along with Montreal’s annual Just For Laughs comedy extravaganza, and you really have the start of something very big. From coast to coast to coast, we are a country whose people change with the dynamics of their geography, but who still strongly identify themselves with the Maple Leaf flag without having to display it ostentatiously on garments and flagpoles. For those who love camping, a family trip across this country is, for the most part, an exercise in convenience. While there are commercial campgrounds our national, provincial and regional camp systems are located in such a way that preplanning a motor vehicle trip is quite easy. For those who prefer commercial accommodation while still travelling within budget guidelines, the hotel and motel properties in the communities a few kilometres beyond the major cities are mostly up to date and reasonably priced. If you are thinking my enthusiastic words about the country are just hyperbole, I am not alone in my positive assessments of Canada. It is shared by citizens around the world. Just last week in Davos, Switzerland, at the World Economic Forum where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was pitching the wonders of Canada, his words were also strongly backed up with the release of a major international study at the conference. It rated Canada as the second-best country in the world. Why were we placed so high, second only to Germany, and above the United Kingdom and the United States? As I have suggested above, the survey highlighted that we welcome immigrants, celebrate diversity, have a high standard of living in a wideopen expansive country, and are a high-tech nation that still encourages world class creativity in artists and writers. This may be the perfect year to plan your Canadian vacation. While our Canadian dollar may discourage travel south of the border, there is a good chance you will be rubbing shoulders with our neighbors to the south more than ever. It is the buying power of the American dollar that is likely to motivate them to come to the country multitudes have dreamed of visiting, but now have added economic motivation. Most of us did not need a study to conclude we are a great nation. Even though we may feel that internally, we often don’t follow through with the decision to travel outside our own hometowns to see the rest of Canada that we too have dreamed of visiting. This may well be the year. Over the coming weeks I will drill down on some of the regions you might like and try to highlight some of the attractions beyond the obvious which might interest you. Follow Ron’s blog at www.thattravelguy.ca
Walk through 400 years of history on the cobblestone streets of Quebec City.