Monday, 24 September 2012

6 month Canadian anniversary

I'm like, basically Canadian now.

6 months ago we arrived in Kamloops. They'd just had a late snowfall, so there was still snow on the ground and it was really cold. We got phone numbers, a bank account and had some lovely friends help us through the jet lag by taking us to a hockey game.

Just to mix things up, I've got 6 things I miss about Cobar. Australia would have been way too easy...

  1. The fact that everyone knows everyone. This surprisingly makes it so much easier to completely relax and be as much of a dag as you like
  2. The Camels. Who would have thought!? The Kamloops rugby team are boring and mean. Well at least some are mean
  3. The amazing temperatures in Spring and Autumn
  4. XXXX. The beer here (while delicious) makes me drunk and fat. I need to switch to light
  5. The free gym and pool (thanks Peak). Mostly the pool. Ahhhh the pool
  6. Wednesday Chip Day

So if the Cobar kids could just move here? That would be swell, thanks! I miss you!

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Hello to Autumn

Today is the the first day of Autumn (or Fall, if you don't know the correct names for seasons). I can't work out if I'm excited or completely terrified.

I'm excited because:
  • I like Autumn clothes
  • Scarves
  • Pumpkin spice flavoured EVERYTHING
  • Pumpkins in general
  • Halloween (bursting!)
  • We're closer to being able to use our snowboards
  • The sun doesn't wake me up at 5am
  • Ice Hockey has started
  • Gumboots
  • You can buy this seasons apples (Australia take note!!)

And terrified because:
  • Will I freeze to death?
  • I don't have enough socks
  • Boot camp will have to go inside
  • Driving. Uggghhhhh
  • I need warm boots
  • Power bills
  • My skin is peeling off. My elbow actually bled the other day. HOW!?
  • People keep BOASTING about warm weather in Australia. Go. Away

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Credit Cards in Canada *shudder*

In Australia I've had 4 difference credit cards, all except one I was kinda obsessed with. So overall, my credit card experience in Australia has been positive. I honestly have no idea how people in Canada keep track of their finances. So far I have failed pretty badly. Online banking here predates the dinosaurs which I think is my biggest issue. Without immediate information I'm hopeless. So Gen Y.

It took us around 3 months to get a Canadian credit card, and when we did it had to be 100% prepaid (but don't worry, we still pay interest if we don't meet our payments!!). My feelings towards my current credit card gives me rage. Elevated blood pressure, sweats, goosebumps, banging my head on the wall (literally) type of rage.

My anger reached it's maximum (I hope), after the Labour Day weekend. I went to fill up the car only to have the credit card declined. This happens often with our shitty $1500 prepaid limit so I wasn't too concerned. However, when I logged into our account it said I had $0 available limit, and I actually owed $2000? WTF, $500 over my limit. Fantastic. I obviously panicked a bit and paid the $2k cursing about how that had happened. Important note: when you pay off more than your credit card limit, with TD it still tells you your "available limit" is $1500*. The * doesn't help. So I have no idea how much is on my card until 3 business days later when it's itemised. Yay! The next day I log on again to make sure everything is ok.... low and behold my credit card went down to -$4000 over the weekend. Yep, $2500 more than our limit. I'm crazy by this stage, only to be greeted the next day with our card showing I had over paid by $1300. Joy.

Seriously it's 2012, TD you need to catch the F up! Who would have thought Australian banking would be superior. At anything.

In Canada EVERYTHING is based around your credit history... in Canada. They can't use the internet so history from anywhere else is redundant. Providers will also use this as blackmail when you have a dispute over a bill. Fantastic!

Canada, pretty sure you didn't go into full recession in 2008 because you have a resource based economy. Just like Australia. Not because you have these stupid rules. Also from what I've heard, the States is similar for credit. Everyone knows how good their economy is....

If anyone plans to move to Canada (and as much as I hate the credit scenario with a passion - I would recommend it):
  • DON'T apply for a credit card right away. Get some money in your account and wait a few months. Then do it online, not at the bank!
  • DON'T apply for more than one card if you get declined. That just damages your credit rating further (true story).
  • DO ask a bunch of different places when trying to get a car loan. We went to 4 different Toyota dealers and only one said we wouldn't have to pay in full. You'd think they'd want your money, but some people are just lazy.
  • DON'T rely on online banking to track finances (with TD anyway)
  • Pay bills on time (this seems like it's obvious, but in Australia because we have a half decent interest rate earning interest>paying bills early - I think)
Update: Our credit card has now started blocking our credit card everytime it gets to zero - like having to call customer service and be on hold for 30 minutes to get it unblocked. Then we get charged for overdrawing it. Fantastic, I think I preferred it when they just let it run up to -$4000.

Update round 2: At least we aren't in the US. My old BOSS who lives in NYC only just got a credit card after 18months.... It totally explains why their economy is going so well......

Update round 3: OHH EMMMM GEEEE O'Hara finally got an unsecured credit card! Miracle! It's through Presidents Choice (which is like a home brand of one of the supermarkets). So excited! Byyyeeeee TD!
Do you like our sweet coin table? It's awesome!

Saturday, 8 September 2012

LA Weekend and Wedding!

I've been meaning to write about this weekend for a while, but have been too lazy to transfer photos across computers. Terrible excuse! In early August, we were lucky enough to be able to travel back to LA for Andy and Rachel's wedding.

Rachel and Andy had an absolutely beautiful wedding! We busted some serious moves on the d-floor, Sweaty Girl obviously made an appearance. I may have avoided getting my face so pink it matched my dress... but I can't confirm it.
We were staying right near the beach which was perfect as we've been lacking sand and salt water in our lives! One morning we borrowed some bikes from our hotel and rode along the Strand to what I thought was Venice Beach. Turns out we didn't really get close... but my butt was sore and we were getting sunburnt so turned around too early. Next time!
On the Friday night we managed to see a baseball game in Anaheim!! Something we can finally cross off our bucket list. Melissa (ours and Rachel's wedding photographer) and her hubby Ryan took us to an Angels game against the Seattle Mariners which is conveniently the closest team from Kamloops.

It was awesome and I caught a baseball!! During warm ups (still cool!) a foul ball bounced over a bunch of peoples heads right to me. So excited. It ended up being a really good game with 3 (I think) home runs and it finished with a walk off. I'm still not 100% sure what a walk off is, but it' was obviously an exciting thing in baseball!

I'm impressed by how big Anaheim is. I always assume it's only got Disney Land, but there's actually loads of people who live there. They manage to support a baseball and an ice hockey team, and there was a decent crowd at the Angels game! Blows. My. Mind.
Lady and the Tramp ;)
I always love visiting LA and the Fragners. It makes me happy that we're living so "close" while in Canada! Mel and Ryan we still owe you guys a visit. One day we will make it further east than Nevada!

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Vancouver Island (it's not just part of Vancouver)

I'd like to think that Vancouver Island is similar to Tasmania, except that it isn't it's own state, and Victoria is the capital of BC. Apparently Tassie is more like Newfoundland. I'm not sure if people are being kind or not.
We were on the Island for the Labour Day weekend, which I thought would mean it would be WILD with people. Luckily for us this wasn't the case, but unfortunately we still failed at the ferry. On the way over we had a reservation for 5pm on Friday, but O'Hara got stuck in Vancouver traffic so didn't arrive until 5. We'd heard that it can be impossible to catch the ferry on a busy weekend so in panic we reserved the 9pm ferry as well. When we arrived we slotted straight onto the 6pm.... On the way home we arrived an hour and a half before the ferry left. Fail squared.
We spent Saturday in Victoria, cycling to a castle (yep Canada has Castles?!), visiting some markets, eating oysters and checking out the waterfront. In the last week I think I've eaten more oysters than ever before. This is a great thing!

On Sunday we made the drive up to Nanaimo which is small town on the east coast. The drive up was impressive as we took most of the scenic sea routes along the water. We stopped for coffee and to pick up lunch in Cowichan Bay which is a cute coastal town half way between Nanaimo and Victoria.
We finally saw some giant trees in MacMillan Provincial Park. 5 months in Canada before we did this. Slack! They were pretty big, I want to say the ones at Tahune Airwalk are bigger but I have nothing to back that up. Anyone? The kayak managed to get a bit of a spin, but I've decided kayaking is a lot more fun when it involves drinking. I'm not great at just paddling for the sake of paddling.

We got barked (yes human barked) at from a moving car, and some Canadian bogans on a boat yelled at us. Brilliant! We were also lucky enough to see the WORLDS LARGEST HOCKEY STICK! If that's not a bucket list item right there. We couldn't get far enough back to get in in the photo. That. Big!
It was a successful long weekend, avoiding most of the crowds until the drive home (uuggghhhhhh I HATE driving on long weekends here. Awful). Next time we'll be testing out the west coast, and seeing some whales!!

Sunday, 2 September 2012

3 Australians, a Canadian and an American walk into a bar...

What happens when you put 3 Australians into a car with a Canadian and American? Obviously trouble!

We set out from Kamloops to Vancouver around 3pm. This drive is usually around 3.5-4 hours if you take the Coquihalla. As we were going through Whistler, the drive would have always taken longer than normal. TWENTY FIVE hours later we arrive in Vancouver. Pretty sure that's some kind of record.

So what were the learnings from this adventure?

  • Belieber hysteria has nothing on three girls seeing a bear. Or when driving on the sleep bumps too close to a toilet break
  • Call Me Maybe cannot be played too many times on one road trip
  • Someone from Texas and Cobar can have EXACTLY the same taste in music
  • A shotski is not just a word for shots (like brewskis) but instead shots all lined up on an actual ski
  • If you start singing Shots, you will have to do one of these
  • Whistler is busy as hell during summer
  • Ordering half the menu will result in me lying in foetal position wanting to die from being so full
  • Epic traffic on the Sea to Sky on a nice day is completely bearable (and a good opportunity to tan and paint your nails)