Canada, The Netherlands

The things I miss about Europe while living in Canada + giveaway contest!

I always knew that one day or another, I would move to Canada. When I was as young as 4 years of age- or I should better say as far as my memory goes back – I remember telling everyone over and over again that I would one day live in this country. Six months ago, at the age of 22, I finally went and did it: I made the move to Montréal together with my boyfriend. My time here has been a wonderful experience and absolutely met my expectations (see, the 10 things I will miss most about living in Montreal). However, I have also missed Europe and started to appreciate certain things about it more. In this blog, I will name a few of these things. Also, in this blog post I am holding my first giveaway contest! More info about this at the bottom of the page.

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City trips
The thing I definitely missed most about Europe is it’s vast diversity and the short distances between places. To be able to drive for a few hours and be in a completely different country or region, with it’s own particular culture and history, is something I didn’t give enough credit to before. I was used to being able to go see my friends in London, go to Brussels for a weekend or spend the summer in Paris. After living in Canada, I realise what a great privilege this is. Canada is almost as big as the whole European continent. The distance between its two coasts is larger than the distance between the east coast of Canada and London, England. In Europe, you will find great differences in relatively short distances due to the diverse areas and cities that lie close to one another. For example, between Amsterdam and Paris – similar to the distance between Montréal and Toronto- you can pass through Rotterdam, Antwerp, Brussels, Wallonia, Luxembourg and Lille. Each place being very different and worth visiting. You can try different foods, hear different languages, and meet people from different backgrounds, all within a weekend. A popular thing to do among young people is to go ‘inter-railing’. This means that you buy a train ticket that allows you to ‘hop on and hop off’ trains for a certain amount of time within 30 European countries. Due to all these different cities and villages, you can’t really get lost in Europe either (with the exception of the forests in Scandinavia perhaps); if you go for a hike and get off route, you know that when you continue walking, you will at some point come across a populated area again. If you lose your way in a Canadian forest on the other hand, you are in big trouble. This is however also what I appreciate about Canada; it’s vastness. The feeling that the nature extends to infinity and that you can continue to walk endlessly if you would want to. The Netherlands misses proper nature and wildlife. I can’t think of any impressive animals back home, whereas Canadians literally live among bears…

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Leiden, The Netherlands

                                   

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Berlin, Germany

                                                              

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Syfnos, Greece

 The rich history
Europe breathes history; everything you encounter is permeated by a sense of history. You’ll find the foundations of a Roman bathhouse, an early medieval church, a university dating back to the Renaissance and contemporary (post)modern architecture all within an incredible short distance. In Europe, almost every little town is historical. I lived in Amsterdam, which canals date back to the Golden Age, in Leiden with its remnants of the Roman Empire and in York, an old Viking town. Canada does have some charming historical places such as the old city of Montréal and the centre of Quebec City. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help but giggle when Canadians (or Americans) would point out an ‘old’ place of merely a few hundred years old ; )

Dutch water
Canadians are rather proud of their water, and it’s probably quite ‘good’ in the sense that you can drink from the tap and not get ill. However, being a Dutch person – the Dutch are very fond of their water too- I thought the Canadian drinking water tasted incredibly chlorinated. It took me a long time to get used to it. The first two months I only drank tea and all my European visitors only bought water from the supermarket. Coincidentally, I met a Canadian who worked in the ‘water-business’ and I asked him to compare the Canadian and Dutch water. Indeed, he said that the Canadian water had more chlorine inside, but not enough to make you feel sick. He advised me to buy a filter that would erase the taste. This worked in terms of taste, however, the shower water still made my hair and skin incredibly dry. At some point I had a little panic attack thinking I’d had to completely shave my head and start growing it again in Europe! I had to buy many hair products to make my hair look somewhat okay.
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Affordable food and alcohol
Canada is a lot more expensive than I initially thought. Not in terms of rent or going out to a restaurant, but in terms of buying food at a supermarket. Specifically meats and veggies are rather expensive. In the Netherlands, I would eat as healthily as possible and as a snack I usually had blueberries and nuts. However, these types of foods are unaffordable here, a bag of nuts is easily ten bucks…
Even worse is the price of alcohol. It’s sold primarily in a state-owned corporation called the SAQ. Alcohol is taxed so much, that the cheapest bottle of wine is around 15$. In the Netherlands, you can easily buy three cheap bottles of wine for that amount of money. A glass of wine on a terrace is around 8$. To be honest, it is possible to find cheaper places, but you have to make an effort to find them.

Awareness of healthy eating
The trend of eating super foods and being aware of what you put into your body, hasn’t really had it’s breakthrough here yet. In the Netherlands, I had an almost sugar-free diet. Which wasn’t hard, as there were plenty of healthy and tasty options in every regular supermarket. For example, every supermarket has a super food section, gluten and dairy free-products section and a diabetic section with lots of sugar free products. Also, most cafés have soya or almond-milk options for in your coffee. I missed the vegan, vegetarian, paleo options and restaurants in Canada. Even in Montréal, which is one of the trendiest cities, you have to go to the few specialized vitamin stores to find good health products.

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Biking
More than a European thing, this is a Dutch thing: I missed my bike! Although the public transport system in Montréal is quite good – it’s easy to get by in the city either through metro or bus -, I wasn’t too keen on travelling this way. Especially because it was too crowded and there was never a chance of finding a seat on the bus ride from my home to my internship. One of the things I love the most about the Netherlands is that everyone just hops on their bikes all of the time and isn’t reliable on public transport. There are more bikes than people actually!

The weather
I would probably have said weather if it had been any other year. Everyone told me beforehand that Canadian winters are really tough and a whole new experience. I was quite looking forward to a snowy Canadian winter, and expected to be ice-skating every day from the first of November. I was hoping to go skiing and built snowmen. However, this winter has been really warm. Our Christmas was far from white at around 10 degrees. The same week, we experienced 15 degrees as well. My colleagues told me that this has never happened in their lives, as December is usually around -20 degrees and January/February can get up to -40. I really wonder what -40 degrees is like. Someone told me that I should put my hand in a freezer for a while, and then decide whether I really want to experience a proper Canadian Winter. Yesterday was our coldest day so far, at -12 degrees. I dressed up as warm as I possibly could, but still did not feel protected from the cold. Our car was completely snowed-in and it took us at least fifteen minutes to dig it out. I am a little scared of what’s to come during my last weeks here in Canada…

And last but not least, my family, friends and the loves of my life: my cats.

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Giveaway contest!
I love to go for city walks: sometimes with a tour-guide, but at other times on my own pace. For my next trip to NYC I already planned to go on walking tours around Greenwich Village, Soho, Little Italy and China Town! GPSmyCity makes apps that feature self-guided city walks in over 470 cities around the world. It includes a map of the city, points out interesting places, and some tours also provide audio narration. This makes your travels a lot easier =)
Therefore, I am distributing 20 promo codes of one of their full-version city walk apps to be given away to one of my blog readers (of the city by your choice!).  Each such code allows a free download of the app, which normally costs US$4.99 at the App Store. You just need to do one thing:

  • Comment on this article by telling me about the number 1 European City you would like to visit next. Don’t forget to tell me why, because I might get inspired!

p,s, the contest runs for 4 weeks.

 

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50 thoughts on “The things I miss about Europe while living in Canada + giveaway contest!”

  1. Ljubljana in Slovenia! I don’t know why, but the city attracts me in every single way. It’s not discovered by mass tourism yet, it’s so close to nature, it’s a cheap country and so much history. I’d love to go there!

    1. Woa! I just checked out pictures on google images and it looks beautiful! =D The fact that it’s not discovered by mass tourism yet is probably what makes it charming too! 🙂

    1. True! I went when I was very young (with Sam 😛 ) but I can’t really remember. Would love to go back some day 🙂

  2. Lublin, Poland. I will be going there on an exchange wth school. I really don’t know what to expect but the pictures are beautiful. Oh, and Barcelona, where I will be going with my family 🙂

  3. ISTANBUL for sure. Connects Europe & Asia in means of culture and geography. The capital of East Romans and Ottomans. For instance to build a new metro station in Yenikapi stop took many years because of new archeological findings ( ruins of a Byzantine palace and a Harbiye)

  4. Lovely list! Kilkenny is at the top of my long, lonnng travel wish list! I was lucky enough to spend a short time there over 15 years ago and have always craved a re-visit. I loved the medievel look and history and wish to explore it.

      1. I hardly remember it except for some snapshots in my mind of some of the streets, street-side shops (where I spent my allowance on 2 candles) and the restaurant I ate in with my parents. I think it’s a worthy re-visit that I hope is in my future and I hope you get to visit there someday too and love it just as much! =)

  5. Budapest, Hungary!

    Hungary is a country with a history I have always been interested in. It has strong gothic elements and has had a strong impact on the current world that we live on. Not to mention, I hear the baths sound like so much fun!!

    Btw, I hear visiting Budapest would be so much better with a close friend…maybe someone you’ve lived with before and miss very dearly!

  6. Budapest, Hungary!

    Hungary has a rich history which I have always been interested in. It has strong gothic elements and the politics of Hungary has influenced much of our current world. Plus, the baths just look wonderful!

    By the way, I hear travelling Budapest is best with a close friend… Maybe someone you’ve lived with and miss dearly! Xxxxxx

  7. Valletta,, the capital of Malta. A beautiful historical town on a mediterranean island. It has an unique blend of european and arabic influences, both in architecture, cuisine and language.

    1. Berlin is special I think 😛 some people hate it, some people love it. But definitely a must-visit to figure that out! xx

  8. Wauw, hoe tof dat je naar Canada verhuist bent. Kan ik ergens lezen waarom en wat je daar doet? Ik ben zelf erg aan het kijken om in een ander land te gaan wonen. (België tot nu toe). Ik reageer nu in het Nederlands, maar als je liever een Engelse versie hebt laat je het mij maar weten 😉 Dan doe ik dat ook nog.

    Ik wil nog heel graag naar Wenen, Berlijn, Valencia en Lissabon! Klein lijstje toch 😀

    1. Yeah London is super nice 🙂 I go up there quite often because some of my best friends live there. It’s never boring 😀

  9. I love this! As a Canadian it’s interesting to read the perspective from someone abroad living there (I’m also currently living abroad but in Thailand) and I know how to feels to miss some normalities. I never even thought about our water or how behind we are in health food. Definitely something Canada can make better 🙂

  10. It’s great that you finally lived your dream of living in Canada. I always had a dream of visiting Australia when I was younger and it was so amazing to step outside the airplane the day I finally went there.

    And it’s funny how you miss all these things when you visit other places, the ones you take for granted back home.

  11. Europe tops my holiday list always. My fav. Has been Luzerne in Switzerland. But somehow I though Europe is the most expensive continent. So I was surprised that Canada is higher.
    A great post into the love you hold for the place you were born at

  12. Hello Anna!

    Choosing just one city in Europe is pretty tough, but if I have to choose which one I want to go right now, that will be Stockholm, Sweden. For me Stockholm has everything, the fast pace of a capital city, the history and beauty from the past, the amazing canals to see how beautiful it is from afar and the amazing combination of sightseens, with a really strong winter and a beautiful summer. I believe is a city where you can experience the emotion of many other places in the world but with an essence of its own. Being a multicultural city in the Scandinavian spectre, makes it totally special and welcoming. I am sure those are the main reasons why I never get bored of that amazing city.

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