A Travellerspoint blog

new york city... the end

will eventually write about the end of our trip soon ! it's only took me 3 years to realise that i must finish my blog !! :/

Posted by mico82 08:40 Comments (0)

barry's bay

snow

we awoke to the most amazing surroundings on our first morning at barry's bay. because we arrived so late we had no idea what the place was like.

our accommodation was a log cabin. it was a 5 minute drive away from barrys town, surrounded by a small forest with only a few log cabins dotted around the place. it was so quiet and peaceful, we felt like we were the only ones there. it had a hot tub on our porch, our garden was where we would sit and make fire and the garden led on to carson lake which was completely frozen.

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paul standing on carson lake and our log cabin in the background

vietnam is definitely our fave country of the whole trip, but looking back, barry's bay always seems to pop up in conversation because we loved it so much.

the town itself isn't much to write home about, a bit of a ghost town, small place with only a few shops and cafes. i can't even remember seeing a pub there, because i'm pretty sure if we had found one we would have been in it at some point lol. there is absolutely nothing there to do, even the log cabin wasn't exactly great when it came to the interior... but it had a bed, bathroom and kitchen and that's all that was needed.

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view from our porch

it was the location, surrounded by trees and feeling like the only ones there and having the hot tub outside on the porch and the garden to build a fire every night. it was perfect. we had 7 nights there and although we were doing nothing practically, the time flew in as we were enjoying it so much.

it's pauls birthday on the 31st december, and his birthday at barrys bay was his 30th. all he wanted was to be in a log cabin in the middle of nowhere in canada and that's exactly what he got :)

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the perfect night... snow, fire, alone & a hot tub!

the weather was freezing cold, the porch was covered in snow, so getting to the hot tub was always amusing especially when you're running to it naked and trying hard not to slip whilst at it. we would dunk our head under the water and after a few seconds our hair would be frozen with ice because it was that cold.

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we visited a few areas around the national park, some sight seeing and some fun in the snow but mainly chilled out and enjoyed the tranquility at our log cabin.

Posted by mico82 10:32 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

eastern canada

overcast

an update is long overdue. we've been home for over 2 years now, how time flies (!!) and just haven't found the time to sit down and write about the last month of our trip. that's one thing we miss about travelling - having time!

since my last entry we spent just over a week in toronto. the place was full of snow and full of shoppers frantically rushing about to grab last minute presents for christmas. us being one of them. we agreed on just a few small pressies so we had something to open on christmas day. buying small pressies for girls is easy. having to get something for a guy is tough! especially when travelling as we also couldn't buy anything too big or heavy as we'd be carrying it in our backpacks. we agreed to meet at a certain time in a shopping centre, and there was paul with bags of stuff and me with nothing lol. i hate shopping when i have no clue what to get... but i eventually got there. paul done great and got me lotsa lovely wee pressies.

on christmas day we woke up early and managed to chat with all my family on the webcam for the first time since being away. it was brilliant to see them all and catch up. we then exchanged gifts, pauls first pressie that he opened was a bar of chilli chocolate. he loves his spicy food so i saw that and thought of him lol. that kind of gives you an idea of how much i struggled buying for him.
we then had christmas dinner at the fairmont hotel. the setting was lovely. huge buffet in the middle with a whole load of stuff to munch, a choir walking about singing away and santa claus was there giving out pressies to the kids. our 6 course meal was finished with some drinks at the bar and then a short stroll to our hotel.

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once back at the hotel, we grabbed our champagne and 2 glasses and headed for the roof top jacuzzi. we were the only ones there so we sat, bathed, drank, yapped and admired the views of toronto city at night. our first christmas together and it was perfect. completely different to the norm back home.
and although i missed my family so much, there was something about this christmas that appealled to us. we felt away from all the madness, we didn't have to dash about buying presents for everyone, we weren't preparing and cooking dinner or tidying up after it, not having to rush about and see folk on christmas day... it was just a very chilled out day and i loved every minute of it.

boxing day we went to see chitty chitty bang bang at the theatre. not the best of performances i've seen but it was still great. the star of show (the car) was being a diva though and refused to fly (it had mechanical problems) so a bunch of people left to get a refund. they obviously managed to fix it because come the second half the car took off and was flying about with everyone cheering and clapping. it was pretty cool to see it.
we also went up the cn tower, our 6th and last tower of our trip but the views were pretty crap as it was was snowy and grey. the views from calgary tower were definitely the best. apart from that we were just lazying about in toronto, walking about in the city, eating out and getting a feel of canada life. and once again we were in a lovely suite hotel, so spending time indoors was pretty easy :)

we left toronto on the 27th dec and were heading north of toronto to spend hogmany and pauls birthday at barrys bay.

we hired a car for 8 days so instead of heading straight to barrys bay we decided to get up mega early and drive south first to see niagra falls. it was about a 3 hour drive and once we got there it was peeing down, the weather was so bad. we had nothing to keep us dry and we got absolutely soaked to the bone. it was about a 20 min walk to the site and normally for most of the walk you could see niagra falls but the place was thick with fog. it was miserable lol. luckily by the time we got to the popular bit, the fog had calmed down and we could see niagra falls :)

we spent some time there and then followed the toursit trail to stand underneath the falls, we were inches away from the water which was pretty cool to see... it was going at some force! something like 6 million cubic feet of water falls per minute. on the way back it started to pee down again so we got even more soaked and had to endure a 4 hour trip in the car with damp clothes. a 4 hour trip that ended up taking us nearly 9 hours.

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i've learned so much on this trip, one being that the roads back in the uk are a blessing. it makes us both laugh when the uk comes to a stand still because of the tiniest bit of snow. it was nothing compared to the likes of canada and alaska. and yeah i know, they're used to it and get alot more snow than us, but we still get it every year. it's crazy.

anyway, the drive to and from banff in alberta was tough but the drive to barrys bay was the worst drive i have ever experienced in my life. the last hour or 2 i was so tired that i was in tears at the wheel lol. the sore head didn't help.
instead of looking at our directions, we were certain that we were going the right way. it wasn't till after 6 hours of driving that we looked at the directions and realised we had took the longer route. barrys bay is east of the border of algonquin park and we were driving up the west side of it which meant driving through country roads through the national park to get to the other side. the sensible route was to drive on the motorway straight to barrys bay avoiding the park altogether lol.

that day involved 12 hours of driving. the roads in algonquin park weren't lit at all, it was pitch dark, full of snow and thick with fog. i couldn't see a foot in front of me and the fog lights weren't helping. i was driving at 20 km (at the very max) in the park. it was terrible. and when tired your vision is all over the place. at times i was certain the road was going straight but in fact it was a bend. i couldn't see anything. it helps when there's a car in front, as their back lights sort of lead the way...but we were the only daft ones driving in the park! we saw about 2 cars the whole way. the road felt like it was going on forever. paul kept suggesting to just stop at the next hotel or b&b but i was determined to just get to our place as we had drove so far already.

we eventually got there about 11pm and just collapsed in our beds. the following morning was another mission as we had parked the car on a hill which was black with ice. paul was out with a spade and pushing as i was revving very gently trying to get out. it took us a good half hour to eventually get moving.
that day we made a point of getting salt for the roads, and made a pact not to drive so much whilst there!

Posted by mico82 10:15 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

snow everywhere

snow

after about 6 months of hot and humid countries, half the contents of my backpack have been binned (i have no clothes!!) and it's now thermals, layers and woolies from now on. i have never experienced cold quite like it. we had to go back to the hotel one day as my legs were numb and freezing. that was when we were in banff (canada)... we were in for a shock when we got to alaska... anchorage was frrrrrreeeezing!

so, after a very long flight from new zealand we arrived in vancouver and managed to go back in time and gain a full day practically. tired from our flight we got to our hotel and once again, in true backpackers style, had a suite room with ocean view, seperate sleeping area, full kitchen and our own laundry facilities. it was raining in vancoouver when we arrived... and it pretty much stayed that way for the whole time we were there. it was a bit annoying... vancouver is supposed to be a great city, lovely views, good atmosphere etc... but a city that rains constant is just miserable to me. we had a few days where it was fairly dry and we got a glimpse of what the city would be like in better weather. we took a walk to stanley park and spent most of the day there walking about and visiting an aquarium.

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view from stanley park

we also went to granville island which had an indoor market selling all sorts, and a brewery where we learned all about how it's made and sampled a few beers, one tasting of white chocolate.
we also went up the tower and got some cool views of the city. apart from that, just walking about and chilling out in our wee apartment. we also went to the pictures a couple of times... it makes us laugh, we're travelling around the world, seeing the sights of all these places and in the last 4 weeks we have been to the pictures about 7 or 8 times. there's only so much you can do in a city ;) go and see seven pounds starring will smith. so sad but sooo good.

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view from granville island

whilst in vancouver, we hired a car for 6 days and drove east to the alberta region. i have always wanted to go to banff national park so we drove for about 13 hours to get there. the road conditions were unreal. the last few hours of the drive it was pitch dark, no road lights or cat eyes... and the roads were getting thicker and thicker with snow making it hard to see any road markings. not to mention i was driving an automatic, drivers seat on the opposite side... and driving on the opposite side of the road. we eventually got there and we were both in awe with the town all lit up with christmas lights and all the snow. first time i've ever seen so much snow! banff is beautiful... the town just screams christmas and it got us well in the festive spirit. paul built a snowman for me on our first morning there.

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paul with his snowman lol

we had a few days in banff and drove around the national park checking out some sights. the roads got even worse, some roads were closed so we had to be super duper careful when driving. one day we saw 3 cars at the side of the road that had skidded out of control and drove past a car doing 360's all over the place, luckily on the opposite side and far away from us.
we saw the largest lake of the national park and also drove to the popular lake louise, which i've saw many pics of... clear blue lake with snowy mountains in the background. all we saw was a lake full of snow, but it was still gorge.

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lake louise

whilst in banff we drove further east to calgary, one of the 2 big cities in alberta. i loved calgary... it was frrreezing cold but fresh and clear blue skies. it was what i hoped vancouver would be like. it was a lovely city... we walked about for a while and went up to now our 5th tower on our world trip. the calgary tower was our favourite. great views and away in the distance you could see snow capped mountains bordering the city.

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calgary

being in banff was definitely our highlight, we could have spent a lot longer there but we had to get back to vancouver for our flight to alaskaaaaaa.

we're mad going to alaska in the winter but no regrets at all. we arrived with about 9 days to sight-see. we phoned a few places and went to a couple of tourist information offices to get told the same thing every time... closed for winter. it turns out that all tours, museums and general sight seeing stuff only run from may to september. one guy at the tourist information office gave us an itinerary of stuff to do but with no trains running or buses, we would have to hire a car.

we had to hire a car. anchorage is so spread out that we had to get a taxi to places because it was too long and too cold to walk. anchorage was a bizarre city. it was like a ghost town, eerie, people staring at you, lots of homeless people and nothing at all to do but eat and drink. a few times, paul would get out the car for something and i'd find myself locking the doors because i just didn't feel safe.

in the winter alaska only gets about 5 hours of daylight, so anything we were doing, we had to plan our time and make sure we were making the most of it. in the summer it's the complete opposite... the place hardly ever sees dark. they go out clubbing and it's light, come home and it's light.
we drove south one day to girdwood. the drive was stunning... driving right next to the water that was solid frozen, broken at parts with mountains in the background. we're loving the snow. we stopped at a ski resort hotel and took the tram up to the top of one of the mountains to get some cool views.

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views from the car driving to girdwood

we also stopped at an animal sanctuary hoping to see a big grizzly bear but because it's winter they're all hibernating. we did see some reindeer though and moose.

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the following day was our highlight of alaska. it's pauls birthday on hogmany so this was his early birthday present. we went on a snowmobile tour around the chugach mountains near girdwood. we were extremely lucky with this one. going by previous decembers the tours don't normally run because of the weather. but our luck was in. the park officials opened the park and we were snowmobiling for about 3 hours checking out some glaciers and driving through some scary terrain.

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it was just us 2 and our guide matt and we had soooo much fun. these snowmobiles can do up to 70 miles an hour, they're fast and pretty dangerous. the first hour or so we were speeding through trees and driving on frozen lakes and i was getting pretty confident with the thing. we stopped at an ice cave and had some hot tea and then started making our way to the glacier. the terrain got bad, matt had to stop a few times and get his spade out to make the track a bit better for us. a few occasions my snowmobile was close to toppling over and paul and matt had to help me get the the thing moving. we were then on flat surface again and i was speeding through it having so much fun, matt on front and paul behind me. i then drove over a bump and was flung in the air, i managed to keep a hold of the handles but the rest of me was all over the place and i was flung towards the bonnet and whacked my head off the windscreen... thank god for the helmet and goggles.

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it made me a bit more cautious lol. we drove through even worse terrain again but it was all part of the fun and we were loving it. we were driving next to a train track a few times and a main road which was a bit scary but we all survived lol. matt was speeding on ahead checking out the path as we were dodging small trees and branches and bumps and dips all over the place. i went round a corner too fast and was heading right for a tree. they're not the easiest to maniouvre, i managed to drive right into the tree bending in backwards... i was pissing myself laughing and tried to do a sharp turn to get back on to the path but failed miserably. paul turned round the corner, saw me lying in the snow and paniced, but i was fine. then came matt wondering where the hell we were.

we then saw the glacier. we were a few feet from it but we weren't allowed to get too close to it as the ice below could crack, the glacier would move and we'd be trapped under it. scary huh! of course, he told paul that when he was close to touching the thing. it was then a half hour drive back to where we had started. loadsa fun and if not for the back pain (and price!) we would do it again lol.

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we're now in toronto. we should have been in toronto last night but due to delays our 2nd connecting flight decided to leave without us. we left anchorage on saturday night and come sunday night we were stuck in newark, new jersey. the whole trip was a shambles but i wont bore you with the details. after an hour in the customer service queue, we had no choice but to arrange a hotel for the night and take the next available flight the following day.

we are soooo glad to be back to canada. we've lost a day but hope to fit in as much as possible. we've got dinner booked for christmas day. we're having a festive dinner at the fairmont hotel with a choir, santa and scrooge for entertainment.
3 days till crimbob, eeeeeek ! this one will definitely be different... i hope you all have a lovely time and i'll be in touch before hogmany. lotsa love, have a good one... mico xx

Posted by mico82 23:04 Archived in Canada Comments (7)

5 months ago

i've been wanting to share this video with you for some time now but upload limits and file versions wouldn't allow me! finally, i've managed to convert it, compress it and upload it.

a video of some amazing people with beautiful voices...

Posted by mico82 22:54 Tagged volunteer Comments (5)

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