Last week, I talked about my whirlwind dream training tour, and part of that took place in Canada. Now, I’ll retrace my steps through my Canadian journey with UFC middleweight powerhouse Elias Theodorou as my tour guide.
I’m from New York, and no matter where you are, the burbs or the city, you know that New Yorkers are a no-nonsense, cut straight to the chase kind of people. We’re not overly friendly to strangers and we don’t go out of our way to roll out the welcome wagon for tourists. We’re a tough bunch, and some might even say we’re “difficult.”
Canadians are an entirely different animal. They’re nice. Super nice. They’re nice to the point where you wonder if they’re human beings instead of some sort of ultra-polite androids. It was such a noticeable difference from home that it ended up being the thing that stood out most in my mind about my trip.
Now, when I think of Canada, a fuzzy feeling sweeps over my mind, and I’m transported to a magical land where everyone says hello and starts polite conversation, even if they don’t know you. It was unsettling for me at first, and it took a day or two to get used to the fact that this was the way things are, that they weren’t a bunch of subjects in some massive social experiment.
The food was also great. The quality was outstanding, and it seemed like a lot of effort was put into the preparation, even when we had “fast food.” In the states, we eat a lot of processed food, but Canada seems to keep that to a minimum, at least from what I could tell.
I tried something called poutine, and let me tell you, that is how you do French fries. I know it’s not the healthiest thing, but it is delicious. The first time I had it, I thought to myself, “Who makes a dish out of French fries and gravy and cheese?” I’ve never even heard of a combination like that. Somebody told me to try it with ketchup, and it turned a great dish into an amazing one.
Elias took me to a Toronto Blue Jays game, which ended up being way more fun than I’d anticipated. It was a random, spur-of-the-moment thing. We got tickets in the nosebleeds at the Dome, but ended up running into some guys that were leaving the game early, who gave us their seats that were down on the third base line. It was pretty intense, and the seat change made that game so much better.
We also visited the CN Tower, which was pretty awe-inspiring. That thing is huge, and I almost want to say it might be bigger than the Empire State Building. I’m not sure, but it seemed like it at the time. I’d have to look it up to be certain, but being there next to it, I’d lean towards it being the bigger structure.
New York nightlife is hard to beat. You can go anywhere, even the smallest hole in the wall, and it will still be better than most places outside the state. That said, Canada has a decent nightlife scene. Elias had just come off a win, so there weren’t any restrictions on him that a training camp might impose. He earned his relaxation time, and we hit a couple different clubs while I was there.
The first spot was called Spin, which was a ping-pong spot where you could drink. I know that sounds weird, but it was a pretty cool place to start off. They had good music, drinks and a great atmosphere. From there we headed over to a night club called Lost. That was a basement club that was very reminiscent of New York. They had the bouncers outside checking everyone in, and then you had to go down this stairwell to get to the club. The music was great and we had a good time there. The only thing that threw me off about Canada’s club scene is how early they close. Everything shuts down in New York super late. Closing time is typically around four or five in the morning.
My travel experience is pretty limited, especially international travel, but I’d recommend Canada in a heartbeat to anyone. There is such a tremendous upside that you’d be hard pressed to not have a good time there.
Oh, Canada, I’m really glad I got to know ya.