Leaving England, Newmarket Ontario, Toronto and Niagara Falls
06.09.2012 - 10.09.2012 24 °C
The adventure has finally begun! We stayed in a Premier Inn near Gatwick to eliminate the stress of getting there on time and so we were able to wake up at a reasonable time and get some breakfast etc. We packed up our bags and went to get the shuttle bus that would take us to the airport and we met a guy at the bus stop and got chatting to him, he was so excited when we told him we were off on a round the world trip that he gave us high fives and we talked to him throughout the whole bus journey swapping travel stories so it was a great start to the trip, already meeting new and interesting people!
We did all the usual boring airport stuff and got on the plane which was very old, it only had drop down TV’s so we had no control over what we could watch and therefore ended up watching The Lucky One (Zac Efron, was ok), Hoot (seriously rubbish, Luke Wilson what were you thinking) and Mrs Doubtfire (always a classic!) and then a couple of TV programmes like the Simpsons etc. The food wasn’t great and after 8 hours we were feeling pretty crap!
Luckily I have some family in Canada (my Mums Aunt, Uncle and cousins) so we had a place to stay for a few days and they very kindly picked us up from the airport too! We were staying with Claire, Adam and Cecilia (Claire is my Mums cousin) and they really were the most amazing hosts! We were really made to feel at home and we got a good feel of what it’s like to live in the Canadian suburbs. We arrived at around 3pm local time but to us it felt like much later so staying awake was going to be a challenge! Cecilia kept us entertained showing us Adams Star Wars memorabilia collection and we had some dinner and then took a walk through the park and into the local town to get some ice cream. We pretty much went to bed when we got back though and ended up sleeping for almost 11 hours! The next day Claire took us to a local Canadian art gallery which was really interesting, the grounds were beautiful too and the weather was lovely. Jonny drove us back and did very well in an automatic car on the wrong side of the road, stopping for all the stop signs too! Later on Claire and I took Cecilia to the Mall to get some shoes for school whilst Jonny stayed behind to drink beer and play games on the Wii with Adam! The next day the rest of my Canadian family came over to see us which was lovely and we went out to a local event in the town followed by a trip to the pub and the English Import shop where Jonny was already missing English biscuits so ended up buying some chocolate digestives! On Sunday we drove up to Hardy Lake to hike one of the trails there which was absolutely brilliant! Claire and Adam hadn’t been before so it was a bit of an adventure for all of us but the trail was really nice and the views were just breath-taking.
Monday morning we thanked Claire and Adam for an amazing weekend and had to say goodbye as we headed to Toronto! We arrived in the city late morning and dumped our bags at the hostel as we couldn’t check in yet and wandered off to find some food. We ended up finding a Canadian Pizza chain and got some cheap and unhealthy fast food (which I’m sure is just the beginning of a long trend throughout our travels!) but it tasted good! Once we had properly checked in and everything we went to the Easton Centre Mall and explored all the shops until we got tired. We found a shop called Dollarama which is pretty much the equivalent of a pound shop so we went in there and got some disgusting chicken pot noddle things for dinner (healthy again!) before crashing at the hostel. This is certainly one of the top 3 worst hostels I have ever stayed in so anyone starting to feel jealous of us will start to feel a bit better when you see this picture of our room! In fact the pictures I took don't really show just how awful it was! It is generally recommended to wear flip flops in showers in hostels anyway but this was a case of try not to touch the walls or any other part of the shower – eurgh!
On Tuesday we had booked a tour for Niagara Falls so the tour guides came and picked us up from our hostel and we jumped on the bus and got going. Our tour guide was called Alex and he was very enthusiastic and informative, he gave us a running commentary about Toronto, Niagara, and Canada in general all the way to the falls which was really interesting. We got to the falls late morning and they really were amazing. We were also really lucky to have such great weather – 24c and blue skies! Alex dropped us off right by the falls for an hour so we could take pictures and enjoy the view. I managed to take quite a few pictures but then the batteries in my camera very suddenly ran out and I didn’t have any spares on me (I won’t be making that mistake again!) but Jonny still had his camera so not all was lost! Alex then picked us up and dropped us further down the road so that we could get our Maid of the Mist tour boat that takes you right into the mist of the Niagara Falls where there is lots of spray and you get very wet so they provide you with free rain ponchos! We really enjoyed it and after that we wandered off to get some lunch. It was quite strange because on one side you have the amazing natural wonder that is the Niagara Falls but then as soon as you cross the road and head up Clifton Hill (the “fun of the falls”!) it gets seriously loud and tacky! There were amusements and all sorts of things you would expect to find in a touristy beach town. We didn’t want to get ripped off by the nearby restaurants so we decided (a healthy choice again, wait for it!) to go to Wendy’s and get some bacon cheeseburgers! It was pretty much like a McDonalds or a Burger King but I think this burger was tastier than any other fast food one I’d had! Then we headed down the road where there was a big Hershey’s store full of all the Hershey’s chocolate and Reese’s Peanut Butter stuff so popular on this side of the pond! So I went to the Hershey’s store and got some hugs and kisses! After that we headed back to the bus and the next stop was the whirlpools and after that we went to the village Niagara on the Lake which was so beautiful. All the houses looked amazing and the lake was so serene, it was a picturesque little town. After that it was back on the bus and on to the last stop of the day which was at a winery to taste some Canadian Ice Wine. To give you an idea of what it tastes like, it was described to us that on the sugar scale - table wine can be anywhere between 0-10, dessert wine between 10-20 and Ice Wine is 20+. I’ve quite got in to wine in recent months but I wasn’t too keen on the ones we tried (they didn’t even taste as sweet as dessert wine to me!) and Jonny didn’t like them either although he generally doesn’t like any kind of wine! Once we got back into the city we got some dinner (from Subway, but I got a salad, honest!) and came back to the hostel.
On our last proper day in Toronto we checked out the cool views at the CN Tower and explored the “underground city” that Torontonians use to get around when the weather is really bad in the winter but we didn’t spend too long down there as the weather was really nice and warm again. For lunch we were determined not to get fast food so went into a little café but when we sat down with the menus we soon realised that it was a vegetarian/vegan place with all sorts of weird super foods that my Dad is fond of but we decided to stay and eat something there anyway as it was definitely a healthy choice! We then went back to the hostel and got to work planning the next few legs of the journey. The hostel we had wanted to book in Washington DC didn’t have the availability on the nights we wanted to stay so we had to pick a different hostel and this made us decide to be a bit more efficient and get our accommodation booked for Orlando as well. We also had to sort out our bus tickets for the journey from Toronto to New York which was a bit of a nightmare but we got there in the end! Later on we decided to head out for a little bit of food. A popular fast food dish in Canada is something called “poutine” (pronounced poo-teen!) which is chips with cheddar cheese curds and gravy! Now I’m pretty sure that chips, cheese and gravy is popular in England, more specifically northern England I believe, but the cheese part here is slightly different because it’s almost like a soft cheese like Philadelphia! Surprisingly it tasted quite nice and Jonny finished them all up!
The next morning we had to be up very early to get to the bus terminal just before 7am for our 12 hour bus journey to New York departing at 8am. We were relieved to be leaving the hostel (we woke up to the sight of sick in the sink in the washrooms!) and had our fingers crossed for a better one in New York! We have really enjoyed our short time in Canada and hope to maybe come back one day in the future to check out much more of the country but for now we are heading to New York City!