Awesome Tips Traveler's Toolbox
No matter how much fun you might be having on your international jaunt, there are times when, as Dorothy, weary of all those munchkins, witches, and Technicolor, put it: “There’s no place like home.” Which brings us to the question: where are homesick Canadians to turn when they find themselves nostalgic for moose and maple leafs? The fries might not be so bad, but let’s face it, McDonalds is for Americans. Here, thus, are ten outposts of Canadiana, scattered across the globe, where you’ll find a cure for those homesick blues.
1. Canada Lodge; Campos de Jordão; Brazil:
Only two hours from Brazil’s megalopolis of São Paulo, Campos de Jordão is the highest town in Brazil. Lodged in the lush Serra da Mantiqueira mountain range, it’s also one of the coldest places in Brazil, which explains why flocks of fur-clad, fondue-eating Brazilians descend upon it during the winter months of July and August. One of the hippest hotels in Campos is Canada Lodge, a luxury “theme” lodge whose theme is Canada! Modeled after an authentic Mont Tremblant ski resort (with decorative accessories from the “Rockies region”), the hotel features weekend brunch, hockey paraphernalia, and, on the front lawn, a seven-meter-high, BC-inspired totem pole, apparently one of the largest ever made outside of Canada.
2. The Maple Leaf Bar; Covent Garden, London:
Located in the Covent Garden, on the truly atmospheric centres of London, the Maple Leaf’s rustic Canadian atmosphere (complete with hanging antlers, hockey sticks and a bar scene that you could only find at home) comfortingly conjures up national pride. Drown your homesickness in Moosehead Lager, Sleeman’s or enjoy the nippy outdoor air warmed by some mulled cider all while watching your home town NHL team on a big screen.
3. Abbey Bookshop; Paris:
Hemingway’s old haunt, Shakespeare and Company, is the more famous of Paris’ English language bookstore. However, just around the corner, tucked away on a Left Bank side street, France’s only Canadian bookstore, the Abbey Bookshop, is more charming and less touristy. Housed in an 18th-century Rococo townhouse, it’s a friendly place to sip free coffee while stocking up on second-hand Laurences and Atwoods or splurging on an up-and-coming Nova Scotia author. Whenever Canadian writers are in town, they inevitably stop by for a reading and book signing.
4. Tim Hortons; Kandahar, Afghanistan:
As any Canadian cop worth his/her badge can tell you, there’s nothing quite like the perfect marriage between a Tim Hortons donut and cup of coffee. Is it any wonder that Tim Horton is Canada’s largest fast food operator (sorry McDonalds) and its top seller of coffee (too bad Starbucks)? Of course, there are no shortage of places to pick up a box of Timbits in Canada, but it’s nice to know that if you happen to get a muffin craving while cruising around Afghanistan’s second largest city, you’ll find a Tim Hortons (owned by NBA player Derrick Coleman) close to the military base.
5. Papipa’s Deli; West Jordan, Utah:
A strip mall in a far-flung suburb of Salt Lake City might be the last place you’d expect to encounter family-style, Canadian comfort food, but Papipa’s – headed by 79-year-old Quebec expat Philippe “Papipa” Dumouchel – serves up “famous Canadian favorites” such as smoked meat sandwiches, homemade butter tarts, and maple syrup pie. After pigging out, work off the calories at the nearby K-Mart.
6. Mile End; Brooklyn, New York:
There are Jewish delis (as in New York) and Jewish delis (as in Montreal) and never the twain did meet – until early this year when two Montreal newlyweds (who met in a Judaic studies course at McGill) opened up Mile End Brooklyn’s first Montreal deli in hip Boerum Hill. The smoked meat for the signatures sandwiches follows strict Montreal deli rules: the brisket is cured for 11 days, smoked for eight hours, and steamed for another four before being served on rye. The poutine is gorgeously goopy. As for the bagels, they’re sweet, chewy and delivered daily from Montreal by two of the owners’ childhood pals.
7. Ska:ná Spa; Verona, New York:
We all love covering our pancakes, waffles, and fingers with maple syrup, but at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino’s Ska:ná Spa in upstate New York, you can have the national syrup poured all over your body during special spa treatments based on Oneida indigenous rituals. The Oneida have traditionally used maple sap – a source of nourishment as well as a natural body cleanser – for its medicinal as well as nutritive properties. The delicious treatments offered this spring include maple and pear antioxidant facials as well as maple and green apple body treatments, manicures, and pedicures.
8. Redondo Beach Café; Redondo Beach, California:
Although the sign atop this casual California eatery, outside of Los Angeles, advertises All-American and Authentic Greek cooking, it’s the Canadian menu that’ll attract the eyes (and stomachs) of those who’d willingly trade their surf boards for snow shoes. Owned by two Montreal-born and bred Greek brothers, the Redondo Beach Café, is the only place West of the Rockies to get authentic poutine (with real curd cheese from Wisconsin) and smoked meat (imported from Montreal) – the latter not only stars in the classic “Rachel” sandwich, but makes a concession to California tastes by showing up in an egg white breakfast special. A wide screen TV broadcasts all NHL and CFL hockey games (Canadian beer is also on hand) and, every year, Canadian parties are held to commemorate important dates such as Stanley Cup Finals, Grey Cup Finals, and Canada Day.