Visiting British Columbia, Canada
Currently visiting British Columbia
Pardon me for the inactivity lately. The reason being the title of this post as I’m currently visiting British Columbia, Canada, because my girlfriend lives here. I was lucky enough to get enough time off from work and school to make the visit 26 days long. It’s expensive to fly over here all the way from Finland (let alone time-consuming!), so I like to make my visits as long as possible. So far, this is my third time visiting British Columbia.
This post is slightly off-topic, but since visiting British Columbia for their famous bike parks might be on many mountain bikers’ bucket list, I thought this could be somewhat relevant.
Good to know before traveling to Canada from Europe
Canadians take their border security very seriously. That’s why there are some things you should know to avoid extra hassle at the airport.
- eTA, aka electronic travel authorization. Get it done before coming to Canada or else you’re guaranteed to get in trouble. Easy to make online and costs less than 10 CAD. You can apply here.
- Know what you can bring over to Canada before packing your luggage. Also, if you need to declare something do it right away. Lying and being caught will result in a hefty fine and your entry to the country might even be denied. Learn more about traveling to Canada here.
- Make sure you have plenty of time at the airport before your next flight departs (if you have connecting flights). Because you never know if you are the one who gets questioned and whose luggage is searched. Canadians are super friendly and as long as you have done nothing illegal, you will be fine. It just takes time.
- Unlike the USA, there’s no “6-month-rule” in Canada. That means you can visit Canada even if the passport is going to expire in less than 6 months. As long as the passport is valid for the duration of your visit you should be fine. On the other hand, I have also heard it may cause some extra hassle at the airport because normally they grant you with a 6-month long entry to Canada. If your passport expires in less than 6-months, you obviously can’t stay in the country after it expires. I got through the border control just fine with my passport expiring in a bit over 5 months, but it might be wise to play safe here.
I think Canadian airport staff is generally speaking very welcoming and friendly. The high-level of border security might sound intimidating but it will be alright, as long as you play by the rules.
Traveling inside British Columbia
Since I was staying with my girlfriend, I had the luxury of having a car in our use. This made traveling much easier since Canada is a very large country, British Columbia alone is larger than Finland! Therefore, distances between cities are long and a car is almost a necessity. Unlike in Europe, passenger trains aren’t really a thing in most of Canada and flying is expensive, which leaves you with very few options for transportation. Greyhound buses are available, but I personally found them quite expensive, infrequent and slow (like all busses). Public transportation works in bigger cities but gets significantly worse in smaller cities. In my opinion, renting a car is totally worth it especially if you want to explore a little bit.
Note: If visiting in winter, avoid driving during blizzards. The roads will be very slippery and accidents tend to happen.
Culture and food
Let me start by saying it out loud; Canadians must be some of the friendliest people on Earth. They are very laid back, welcoming and easy to talk to. Especially if you have a bit of an accent, you are guaranteed to be trapped in conversations with total strangers in the most everyday situations. So learn your small talk, especially if you are from Finland (or any other country where small talk doesn’t really exist). Of course, every country has their bad apples, but generally speaking Canadians are very nice people and the whole culture seems to be about being polite. Well, as long as their favorite hockey team didn’t just lose!
Food is good, and you got to try Poutine. Fast food poutine is pretty meh, soggy fries with gravy and cheese curds. But once you go to an actual restaurant which serves proper poutine, it takes a very special person not to like it. I’m not very into fine dining, so don’t expect any advice on that matter from me. But for fast food and casual food, Canada has got their fair share of restaurants. Red Robin is awesome BTW.
Since I have stayed over at my girlfriend’s and her relatives’ places, I can’t really comment on whether the accommodation is expensive or cheap. It’s obvious that it’s going to be more expensive during the best seasons though.
Nature, wildlife, and trails
British Columbia offers some of the most breathtaking views you have ever seen. With thousands of mountains, lakes with crystal clear water, lots of untouched nature, this place is something any outdoor enthusiastic needs to see.
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