Travel

A Canadian In Berlin: Rediscovering A Country I Left Behind

A canoe is parked outside Ron Telesky Canadian Pizza. i i

A canoe is parked outside Ron Telesky Canadian Pizza. Tam Eastley for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Tam Eastley for NPR
A canoe is parked outside Ron Telesky Canadian Pizza.

A canoe is parked outside Ron Telesky Canadian Pizza.

Tam Eastley for NPR

Last Friday, July 1st, Canada celebrated its 144th birthday.

Here in Berlin, I was determined to celebrate it. I wanted to do something Canadian, experience my culture, and be patriotic.

But what exactly is Canadian culture?

A recent article in The Guardian stated that Canada suffers from "mass insecurity, just this side of a fully fledged personality disorder," and that Canada "searches for a way to define itself."

When asked about Canadian culture, Canadians (myself included), need time to think before stating that it's a mixture of nature, multiculturalism, friendliness, camping, hockey and bilingualism.

This year, I decided to find out what Canadian culture was for myself.

My first stop was the German-owned Ron Telesky Canadian Pizza by U-Bahn Schönleinstrasse. With a canoe parked outside, skis lining the walls, Quebec license plates hanging in the bathroom, and an enormous stuffed moose head hanging on the wall, Ron Telesky takes on the feel of a small and cozy cabin in the woods. The fridge is stocked with Moosehead beer (brewed in New Brunswick), Canada Dry Ginger Ale, Dr. Pepper (a rarity in Berlin), and A&W Root beer.

A moose heard hangs inside Ron Telesky Canadian Pizza.

A moose heard hangs inside Ron Telesky Canadian Pizza. Tam Eastley for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Tam Eastley for NPR

Pizza is not traditionally Canadian, but the heartfelt sentiment behind it is. While studying in Canada, Sebastian Hunold, the owner, was inspired by a Canadian friend who became very creative with his pizza recipes. Four years ago, Sebastian opened Ron Telesky in honor of such creativity. The pizza titles are an obvious nod to Canada: Wayne Gretzky, Curling Curry, and Flaming Quebec. To top it all off is hot chili maple syrup, the restaurant's invention, with a sweet and spicy taste that will make any lover of Canada smile.

Next was Tim's Canadian Deli. This Canadian cafe is hiding in Erwin Shrödinger-Zentrum at the Humboldt Univ. campus near S-Bahnhof Aldershof. It is somewhat reminiscent of Tim Hortons, Canada's incredibly famous and loveable coffee chain.

Beware Canadians: This is no Tim Hortons, but there's something so typically Canadian and peaceful about a simple coffee shop with a linoleum floor, metal tables and chairs, a variety of coffees, bagels, and croissants, and a maple leaf on the window.

Canadian native Tam Eastley says Tim's Canadian Deli is reminiscent of Tim Hortons, Canada's famous and coffee chain. i i

Canadian native Tam Eastley says Tim's Canadian Deli is reminiscent of Tim Hortons, Canada's famous and coffee chain. Tam Eastley for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Tam Eastley for NPR
Canadian native Tam Eastley says Tim's Canadian Deli is reminiscent of Tim Hortons, Canada's famous and coffee chain.

Canadian native Tam Eastley says Tim's Canadian Deli is reminiscent of Tim Hortons, Canada's famous and coffee chain.

Tam Eastley for NPR

Sitting down for a coffee made me nostalgic for my university days back home when I would say "Let's meet at Timmies." It made me wish that I was enrolled at Humboldt just so I could once again utter those magical words.

Finally, no Canadian experience is replete without some good music, good friends, and beer. On July 2nd, Lido held a "Canada Day" bash in association with the Embassy of Canada and Canadian Blast, a "one-stop music import/export portal" for Canadian musicians around the world.

Through the ticket counter, and past the dance floor, the wet and rainy outside patio was decorated in Canada flags. Embassy officials in business suits and red ties mingled with music-goers ready to start the festivities. Waiters, weaving through the unlikely crowd, served Bison rag.

"Lido" held a Canada Day bash in association with the Embassy of Canada and Canadian Blast. i i

"Lido" held a Canada Day bash in association with the Embassy of Canada and Canadian Blast. Tam Eastley for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Tam Eastley for NPR
"Lido" held a Canada Day bash in association with the Embassy of Canada and Canadian Blast.

"Lido" held a Canada Day bash in association with the Embassy of Canada and Canadian Blast.

Tam Eastley for NPR

At about 7:45 pm (early by Berlin standards, but perfectly suitable by Canadian standards), a string of Canadian bands took to the stage. Bonjay, a duo from Toronto, was soulful and inspiring, with its "dancehall reggae-meets leftist soul" beats and some covers of Canadian bands like Feist. Rich Aucoin, an electronic-experimental pop singer from Halifax, enticed the crowd with confetti and an extremely high energy performance which demanded audience participation. Mocky, from Saskatchewan, finished off the night with their odd but exciting mix of violin, cello, rap, and puppets.

So what is Canadian culture? Was The Guardian right?

The beauty of Canada is that there is no one thing that defines us. Canada is weird, quirky, different, and itching to be explored.

To me, Canadian culture is doing something you love, feeling a sense of pride in one's country, and grasping a cold beer in one hand while throwing the other up in the air to some good Canadian tunes, which is exactly what I managed to find here in Berlin

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