Canada has been super, just what we needed and how I imagined it would be, it hasn’t disappointed. We spent our first few days in Toronto, adjusting to the western world. Something as simple as going into the supermarket was tricky, (Mitch and I had forgotten what we used to eat/cook before rice and beans!). We both wandered around, eyes boggling at the choices on offer, too many choices we had no idea what to buy. For a few weeks each meal was savoured, we appreciated small luxuries; tap water that won’t make you ill, showers that don’t electrocute you, toilets you can flush paper down, comfortable beds and a cooler climate. Then we began to miss Cuba, feeling guilty that we had gotten to experience a land with little, knowing full well that we can easily come back to the land of plenty. But then, like everything in life, we became accustomed to it, and Cuba seemed like a world away.
We took it easy in Toronto, staying in a little house and nursing better our Cuban tummy aches. We took Freda to a playground, where she was amazed everyone spoke English, so she ran around desperately saying “hi my names Freda’s, can we be friends” to any kid she clapped eyes on. We found Toronto to be a really pleasant city, we enjoyed walking on pavements, not being hassled, stopping for coffee and cake……I’m sure you’ll get the picture, just normal western life stuff. Highlights were a very big picnic table
and this dog fountain.
Well, all that normality got a little boring after a while, and so we moved on. Niagara Falls is just around the corner, so it would have been rude not to go. I prepared myself, as I knew the town around the Falls was meant to be horrific. When we arrived we were pleasantly surprised, the falls are an amazing spectacle. We went on a trip behind the falls with the yellow poncho crew, it was much better pressure than the showers in Cuba.
We then took a wrong turn and ended up on the street from hell, Clifton Hill, the ugly sights of consumerism were here for all to see and after being in Cuba only a few days before it was a little hard to stomach, it felt like we had been on a different planet!
Freda, however, was in heaven, poor little mite didn’t know where to look. She got to pick an attraction and after steering her away from Frankensteins house of horror, she picked Dino golf!
We then went up on the sky wheel to see the falls at night!, which was pretty.
Making a hasty retreat the next morning from our cruddy inn, we left the madness behind us. We did stop at the famous flying saucer diner, where Freda’s kids breakfast consisted of 6 pancakes! Not even she could eat that much! Portion sizes here are insane.
After the tack of Niagara we needed a little sophistication, so stopped to do some wine tasting! I know, Canada does make wine, it was news to me, and it’s not too bad! In fact some was very nice. After a few bottles were bagged, we made our way to a place called Fergus. Reminding us strangely of a little Scottish village, it felt like we were slowly easing our way back to the UK. We spent our days enjoying beautiful parks, walking and stumbling across lots of playgrounds, fun for some in the group!
Next up, Owen sound. My friend Kate has a cousin there, so she got in touch with him and cheekily asked if we could stay. Paul kindly agreed and we ended up staying for 4 nights, it was their fault for making us feel so at home. I did experience the worst hang over of our trip, after our first night. Neither Mitch or I could leave the house the next day, Freda luckily was very happy to watch TV, in English, which she hasn’t done for a long long time, while we recovered! After our slow start we managed to get out and explore the local area, we went up to the Bruce peninsula, which is stunning. We did more walks and hung out by Lake Huron which boasts crystal clear, bright blue water.
Freda marvelled at the beauty of nature, on her whale rock, until seconds later she fell in! It’s pretty cold and to be fair her unfortunate plight was pretty funny, although she didn’t seem to think so!
We sadly left Paul and Mikes, especially after they made us feel so at home, we could have stayed forever but had to leave in the end because all of our livers needed a break!
Freda was distraught, not only had she become best buds with Paul, the neighbour had also taken her under her wing and let Freda have free range of her house, toys and biscuits! Here Freda learnt she could dip her strawberrys straight into a bow of sugar! She was in heaven for a few days, I guess its probably the most homely she has had it it a long time. Amazing hospitality, thanks guys.
We went on to have a truly miserable night, in a town called Bracebridge, in a god awful hotel. The town itself is a great stop over when making your way up north, with lovely waterfalls, rivers and lakes. We had our first go on a Canadian canoe, which was very cool, until it started to rain, a lot! Freda was not happy!
While in Canada I really wanted to try and get up to one of the northern national parks and experience the kind of wilderness I’ve always imagined of when I think of Canada. The Algonquin park didn’t disappoint. After struggling to find accommodation, that wasn’t disgusting, we nearly gave up. But Mitch hit the jackpot and found us a beautiful eco lodge in the forest. Only small problem was the mosquitoes, I have never seen anything like it. Not only them, but black flies that bite your skin and blood just starts running down your neck, lovely! Well it wasn’t going to stop us, when there’s rivers like this to canoe on……..of course now we were experts.
The next day we went in to the park in search of moose, bears and beavers. We meet a lovely couple at the canoe jetty, from Bristol, and gave them a lift into the park. Freda was very happy to have new people and talked for the entire day!
We hired bikes, which is a good way to keep the mozzies off, and ended up seeing moose and a beaver! No bears though. But we really enjoyed our time in the park and it was a very special place.
Mitch found a new admiration for the beaver, after seeing this truly amazing dam! Can’t believe how hard this little furry creature works!
Our last few days in Canada were spent in Ottawa and Montreal, both lovely relaxed cities, a bit like Canada’s whole ethos.
It is a little odd though being in Montreal, with everyone speaking French. Mainly because most of them look like Americans, big burly guys with Harley Davison tatts, then French comes out their mouths……I don’t know it’s just the weirdest thing!
We then drove to the border, bought a cuddly moose for Freda, and headed into the states, for our last leg! Oh nooooooooooo.