I had been to Canada once before, for less than 24 hours. Four years ago, a group of us flying in from Nevada, California, Virginia and New York flew into Detroit…rented a car and drove up to London, Ontario. We begged the border patrol guy to stamp our passport. Pulled into the hotel, got ready and made it to our friends wedding ceremony just in time to see her walk down the aisle in her beautiful princess gown. That night we danced the night away, drinking Malibu & pineapple the way we once had done in Costa Rica together. We drove back the next morning.
This time I was able to spend 5 whole days there, visiting with the now pregnant – then bride! I had the best time. I flew into Toronto airport into a crazy thunderstorm that kept our plane from docking? parking? what’s the correct word? While I took advantage of the movie selection in my air Canada flight, Alisha (my friend) almost got a ticket for leaving her car on the – pick up only – area of the airport. She had been circling around 2 or 3 times by now, and for some reason thought it would be a good idea to run in there to use the restroom. Luckily the police let her off because she was pregnant, haha.
We spent the first night in a fancy downtown hotel – Fairmont Royal York. Did a lot of walking around and sight-seeing, which included the CN Tower…this used to be worlds tallest free-standing structure and world’s tallest tower! (Beat out by a structure in Japan in 2010). The skyline was pretty breath-taking. Toronto seems like the New York of Canada, much cleaner though.
I was happily surprised by the food in Canada, they have lots of options of ethnic foods that were delicious, like Indian…and a lot of interesting European influenced dishes that were so good, I’ve been craving them now that I’m back home!
Tim Horton’s is their big chain coffee/pastries store…we read in Alisha’s Canada book that it’s popular to order a “double double” ( two creams, two sugars) so I did a long with some Timbits…which is what they call donut holes. I fell in love with poutin fries! I didn’t even know what they were, but I am currently craving them now…they are french fries covered in gravy and cheese curds. Yum!
The rest of the time we spent in my friends town or Waterloo and surrounding towns. I was pretty clueless about the Amish and Mennonite population there until I started seeing them riding around the highways in horse and buggies. We actually ended up going St. Jacobs a cute little town with very unique shops. One which made straw brooms, sold delicious maple syrup, & bakeries with tiny butter tarts that were sooooooo good! In that same town they had “The Mennonite Story” which was a museum where you could learn about Mennonites.
We went in there (it was Alisha’s first time, since she didn’t want to be a tourist alone). It was so interesting to learn about them, I knew some things about the Amish, but didn’t know anything about Mennonites… we ended up going a bit crazy on the learning and watched a “Taboo” episode on tv about the Ex-Amish, and downloaded “The Devils’ Playground” which is a documentary on their “rumspringer.” If you’re as clueless as I was, that’s the period when they turn 16 that they’re allowed to go into the world and choose to stay there or eventually choose to join the Church. A lot of partying seems to happen during that time.
Another trip highlight is Niagara Falls. It is absolutely indescribable, pictures or words don’t do it justice. The weather was hot and humid while we were there. We went on a boat ride in the “Maid of the Mist” and they hand you blue ponchos as you walk in. I felt like I was in a sauna wearing it, and contemplated not wearing it during the ride. The U.S.A. side is basically a long flat waterfall. It’s a good thing I kept the poncho on though, because once you get to the Canada side which is in the shape of a horse shoe you feel like you are in a down pour of rain. We were laughing the whole time as we got drenched!
We spent a little bit of time in Niagara by the Lake, which I would peg as the Hampton’s of Canada…fancy shopping and big big houses by the water.
On my last night there we headed to Stratford…a Shakespearean town (named after the town he was born in) and watched “Much Ado About Nothing” at the Stratford Festival. It was so cool seeing a Shakespeare play in a big theater, especially at the festival since it is one of Canada’s biggest and longest running art festivals.
I had one last stop at Tim Horton’s at the airport and then I was on my way home!
I’ll miss you Canada.