(EDITOR'S NOTE: This column was written by a REAL CANADIAN. Seriously! I think he lives in Toronto, but that's probably exactly the same as Vancouver, right?)
So you're heading to Vancouver for the Winter Olympics? How exciting! Between the spirit of international camaraderie, the world class displays of athleticism, and the gorgeous surroundings, you're sure to have a fantastic time. And that's just in the local brothels!
And while Vancouver is a relatively safe, easy place in which to get around, a little extra knowledge never hurt anyone. So here's a handful of travel tips taken from the Government of Canada's official website (www.fraughtwithbeavers.blogspot.com) to help you make the most of your visit to the Great White North
's West Coast:
>>> Canadian airports operate on the honor system, and there is nary a metal detector or bomb-sniffing dog to be found. By way of an official polite-but-firm decree from the Prime Minister's office, visitors are asked not to abuse this trust, "terrorists especially".
>>> While the official currency of Canada is the travelers cheque, most businesses will also accept U.S. dollars, Euro, or thoughtful compliments.
>>> Speaking of commerce, at some point during every purchase, the clerk will ask you, "did you find everything you were looking for today?" This is your cue to guess which member of the 1987-1988 Edmonton Oilers he or she is thinking of. Guess right, and it's an extra 2 per cent off your purchase!
Regardless of where you are traveling, it never hurts to bone up on a place's background if you want to curry favor with the locals. So here are a few factoids you can relate to Vancouverites to show them that you have made the extra effort to learn a little bit about them.
>>> Vancouver is located in the province of British Columbia; "Columbia" is Latin for "place where drugs drive all economic activity", whereas the modifier "British" means "but we're talking about pussy drugs, like pot and shrooms."
>>> The capital of British Columbia is victoria which, ironically, is always spelled with a lowercase "v".
>>> Contrary to popular opinion, Canada has two official national sports hockey and lacrosse. And it was just lacrosse up until the mid-1990s. The unofficial national sport, however, has always been threesomes.
>>> All Vancouverites are left-handed. Keep note of this when shaking hands, offering them gifts of baseball mitts, or lining up for table hockey games. Subtle recognition of their mild form of disability will go a long, long way.
>>> IMPORTANT: If you see a moose standing outside of an Olympic park, DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT ask him whether the park is closed. It is not his responsibility to have told you. This is a common myth perpetuated by Hollywood that costs dozens of tourists their lives every year.
>>> All questions about venue opening and closing times should be directed to the nearest grizzly bear.
>>> The gorgeous mountain town of Whistler will be hosting the skiing, bobsled and luge events. And while it is two hours from Vancouver by car, there are several other ways to get there. The most convenient is probably the free local helicopter shuttle service, with pick-up stops in front of all methadone clinics and mental health institutions. It runs fairly frequently, so it's best to just stand outside one of these buildings and wait. And if an employee/orderly happens to ask you what you're doing, simply reply, "I'm waiting for the free helicopter to come take me away". They'll make sure you get where you need to go.
>>> Vancouver is an environmentally-friendly city that takes its commitment to being green very, very seriously. The city-wide rule governing public toilet use is, "If it's yellow, let it mellow; if it's brown well, you should let it mellow as well."
>>> It is acceptable to bat around the pom-pom on top of a stranger's toque, but it is considered polite to ask permission first.
>>> Lastly, and most importantly, have fun. Seriously. It rains 300 days a year in Vancouver, and the locals are so sickly with Seasonal Affective Disorder that the addition of one more gloomy galivanter could be enough to provoke mass suicide. Nowhere is the fragility of the local psyche on better display than in Vancouver's civic motto, "We'll Have Fun When the Sun Comes When the Sun Comes When the Sun Comes ", which is always said while sitting with arms around knees, rocking back and forth.
Enjoy your time in Vancouver, everyone!