Getting my head around being in the Northern Hemisphere
Time has flown since my last post and we are rapidly heading into autumn. The days are noticeably cooler and long boots and jumpers are not out of place. Whilst we receive the odd ‘blue bird’ day, the clouds have firmly settled most days and its more a case of spotting a patch of blue, than it is of spotting a cloud. Rain is almost a given and with my hairdryer resting in electronics heaven after Pete used it to defrost the freezer, frizz is almost inevitable.
I am very much confused about the time of year. Not only did summer not really feel like summer (a mediocre spring perhaps), to take a summer holiday in August felt well deserved, but just a little odd. To be back at school, starting the year in September is certainly more befuddling. I keep on looking for February in my diary (as that is the first full month back at school in Australia), and feeling an innate sense of annoyance my class don’t understand sentences because in my mind it is Term 3 and not the 3rd week back.
While those in Australia are gearing down towards Christmas and the summer holidays, I find myself battling the urge to maintain the pace whilst dreading the imminent onset of 6 hours of ‘sunlight’ a day and the inevitable way my skin becomes so pale I look like a white walker. Yes folks, the ‘Game of Thrones’ winter is coming, well at least it feels like that to me!
A wedding invitation
Our most recent trip was to Canada. We headed over to Toronto for Pete’s friends’ wedding. With an Irish lass marrying a Canadian lad, it was certain to be an international affair.
I’ve always loved Canada, so a wedding was a great opportunity to plan a trip. Pete struck gold with our accommodation, and we were comfortably situated in down town Hamilton (half way between Toronto and Niagara Falls) in a quirky turn of the century house with a spa in the back yard and a resident black squirrel.
There are many things to do in Toronto. Some of Toronto's hidden gems include the markets and a cafe we were promised sells 'Australian style' coffee. Deciding early on to embrace Canadian culture, we bought tickets online and headed off to the baseball to see the Toronto Blue Jays vs. the Oakland athletics. We quickly decided to follow the Blue Jays with gusto and being surrounded by die-hard fans quickly realised that Canadians are awesome hecklers. Luckily, we were far enough back the players probably couldn’t hear.
Niagara day trip
Whilst Hamilton itself is very working class and a place on the rise, it is very well situated for exploring. The roads were very easy to drive on, and in a short 45-minute trip in the car we were at Niagara Falls. I knew to expect the Canadian side to be more impressive than the American side, but I wasn’t expecting it to be a mini Vegas. For me, I would have loved it to be in the middle of nowhere with nothing to detract from the falls. Mini Vegas aside, the falls were simply spectacular.
The Canadian version of the Maid of the Mist is called the Hornblower, and alongside climbing a glacier and sand dune four wheel driving, it rates as one of the best things I have ever done. You can’t truly appreciate the power of the waterfall unless you are situated at the front of the boat feeling the surge of the water around you.
A dash across the border into America
For the sheer novelty of it, we decided that we couldn’t get so close to America without ‘crossing over’. I am sure that the US customs officer was thrilled when we told him that we were planning on staying for 30 minutes, but not wanting to change our money into USD, it was a fleeting lap around Goat Island to see the American side of the falls before we headed back onto Canadian soil.
The best thing about going overseas for a wedding is the lead up. With so many guests coming from overseas, there were family dinners and events during the week that really made us feel like home. In addition to that, the food in Canada is much more similar to that in Australia, so we really felt at home.
One thing that shocked us though was the sheer number of take away outlets (anyone spot a Tim Hortons in the last 100m?), including a dilapidated building that was actually a KFC, and how this area of Canada was far more ‘American’ than most people would picture Canada to be.
The wedding, and reason we went, was of course the highlight of the trip. It was held in a marquee at a golf club, and after an ominous afternoon and a forecast of rain, turned out to be warm, calm and lovely. These two Aussies certainly appreciated a warm evening! With a final ‘Oh, Hey’, we said farewell to our Irish and Canadian friends and flew back to England knowing that there are so many incredible destinations in Canada, and that we'd definitely be back to explore further.
The round up
This trip we: Found an Asian supermarket! (I have missed Asian food so much!), said 'oh hey' a lot of times, dashed across the border to America, vowed never to travel Air Transat ever ever again, enjoyed warm weather, attended a wedding, caught up with friends, drove on the wrong side of the road, went inside a waterfall, enjoyed quite a few spas, watched the baseball, drank real coffee (well Pete did), picked the rainy day to drive 2.5 hours to go swimming in a lake, made sure a drunk lady who was asleep on the sidewalk wasn't dead....
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The best of Toronto and Niagara