Saturday 26 March 2011
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.
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.
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!