JANE HILL EXPLAINS WHY SHE AND WIFE SARA CHOSE CANADA FOR THEIR HONEYMOON
Flying the flag for Canada
I remember reading stories in the press in 2012 about a relative fall in the number of weddings being booked for the following year – apparently because people didn’t want to get hitched in a year with the number 13 in it. Seriously! Sara and I threw caution to the wind, and had a fabulous day for our civil partnership that autumn. Seventy-five friends, town hall, the Pink Singers, gastropub and lashings of champagne. Perfect.
We loved organising it; of course the table plan threw up a few diplomatic issues, but the lists, the timetables, the endless Post-it notes, were all fun. That said, a task that is enjoyable can still be tiring. So my message to anyone planning a wedding? Have a proper honeymoon afterwards! I don’t mean you have to spend a fortune, you’ve probably already paid for the big day (we’d have loved to go to New Zealand, for example, but that has had to remain on our long-term wish list). However, a decent length break is a must, to decompress after a lovely, but frantic, period.
For us, that element of the nuptials was as important as the main day itself – because we felt very strongly that we should spend our money in a country that was gay-friendly. In an ideal world, wouldn’t we all love every holiday to fall into that category, but Sara and I felt particularly strongly about this precisely because it was our honeymoon. So where to start? We’re not particularly intrepid travellers, or, to be honest, I’m not. Sara despairs that I won’t entertain the idea of camping (I go away for a rest, I always say, not to sleep somewhere cold and have to tramp across a field to go for a pee). So we had to find something to satisfy both of us – I love beautiful landscapes, but also need interesting architecture, galleries, good restaurants; Sara prioritises scenery, particularly mountains. After some research, we found the perfect place – Canada.
Same-sex marriage was legalised there in 2005, and the country has a history of supporting LGBT rights. We plumped for Vancouver, a wonderful city on the water, which frequently reminded me of San Francisco. It’s the most densely populated city in the country, but doesn’t feel busy; it’s ethnically diverse with a good food scene; Stanley Park is perfect for cycling, and there’s a gay area centred around Davie Street. A short ferry ride takes you to Vancouver Island – head to its west coast for stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. Or a drive in the other direction (a long one, to be fair – British Columbia is 365,000 square miles, and we only grazed it) takes you to the towns of Jasper and Banff; you might know them as ski resorts, but outside the skiing season there are excellent walks – though watch out for the mountain bikers whizzing past you through the trees.
Canada’s glaciers are some of the most awe-inspiring sights I think I will ever see, and when you pull up at a beautiful lake to take photos the next one a few miles down the road will be even more stunning. We saw bears! And a salmon run! I promise this column isn’t sponsored by the Canadian Tourist Board, but really, what’s not to like? Because on top of this rich variety of landscape and experience, it was also one of the most welcoming countries I’ve ever visited.
We stayed in all types of accommodation – B&BS, through to larger guesthouses and one high- end hotel, and were able to be completely open about who we are and why we were there. I’ve only recently discovered that the first Canada Pride is being staged in August in Montreal – the idea being that a different city will host a national Pride festival every four years. How I’d love to be there this summer to continue our Canadian love affair; I’ll just have to put 2021 in the diary.
We were able to be completely open about who we are