Through the centuries many countries have had an extreme rivalry that has been so emotional that it has spread out across the globe and generations. England V France (actually England V the rest of the world) has had such an effect on the English and the French that most Englishmen no longer know why they must win against France in any and every sport (as well as anything else that they may deem competitive) AT ALL COSTS!
This is a rivalry that has been built up after centuries of wars, famines, dead kings and queens, rugby world cups, gold, champagne, and food. Don’t get me wrong the French and the English don’t hate each other – they just want to win against the other – always!
But there is another rivalry that is popping up across the ocean with their younger brothers or maybe I should say estranged cousins: Canada and the USA.
For the month of June I will be dipping a toe into each of these vast countries. I don’t have the time or the luxury at the moment to fully explore all that they have to offer so I am just seeing a few places really well and seeing some old friends along the way.
Over the course of my trip I am going to score both countries to see which is better (to my mind). I consider myself impartial as I am starting with a great impression of both places, I have been to the USA before and had a SMASHING time and my best friend is Canadian and so for the last 6 years I have had a constant subliminal and some not so subliminal messages sent to me advising that Canada is in fact AWESOME eh!
Review number 1: The Visa Situation.
When I last went to the States I went on a student visa (which was very pretty and I loved having in my passport… until I accidentally washed my passport and all the colours ran – heartbreaking) so I wasn’t sure what sort of visa if any I would need on my upcoming tourist visit. When I doubt – turn to Google!
The first few hits were adverts for immigration lawyers. The next one was for the Australian embassy information page – score! The information was immediately apparent but scroll half way down the page and you get this paragraph:
Riiiiiiiiiight – so I need a visa waiver program? What does ESTA mean? How do I know if I meet the conditions?
Ten more minutes scrolling through Google and Yahoo answers and a phone call to my sister (yes I can be a little thick sometimes – but screwing up my American Visa and ending up on the American version of Boarder Security is not my idea of a holiday) I determined that the Visa Waiver program was ESTA and I had to apply for an ESTA online with a credit card and it would cost me $14 – not a great sum but it kinda feels like I am actually purchasing a visa.
In Short: As an Australian Tourist you do NOT need a visa for the USA – you just need to go to the ESTA website and purchase a visa waiver which allows you to enter the USA for three month stretches for the next 6 years.
The ESTA website looks like it was built ten years ago which gave me a little freak out that I was getting scammed. One more text to my sister who confirmed that the outdated site wasn’t trying to steal my credit card details before I began the process of entering in all of my personal information.
The whole process took me 30 minutes total (may have taken me less time if I hadn’t been watching Law and Order SVU at the same time). I had conquered the American visa system with relative ease – or so I thought.
At the next advert break I decided that while I seemed to have the energy and wasn’t appearing to be procrastinating I should also work out if I need a visa for Canada. Back to Google I go.
The first website that comes up is titled “Find out if you need a visa for Canada” – this looks like it may contain the information I need eh!
The page opens and right up the top of the page is this quick and easy to use drop down menu.
And then when I searched for Australia it was stated nice and clearly that I do not need a visa or a visa waiver program or anything else to enter Canada.
In short: No visa required for Australians entering as a tourist to Canada!
In my first encounter with the two North American countries Canada comes out on top – not only because it didn’t charge me $14 to not have a visa but because of how easy it was to find out this information.
SCORE: Canada: 1, USA: 0