animal lover, gardener, knitter, and gourmet cook

oh, canada

Due to the new passport requirements that are kicking in soon, we decided to go to Canada for our vacation this year. Niagara Falls and Toronto, to be specific. Brian and I went to Niagara Falls before (nine years ago) and hated it–it was way too touristy and everyone was rude. But we figure that since we live so close to one of the natural wonders of the world, we’d be doing an injustice by not taking Jake there.

Today started off with vacation preparations. I had to take the dogs to the kennel in the morning. I felt bad taking Alice there because we’ve only had her for a month. I didn’t want her to think that I was returning her to the Humane Society. But, I’m sure she’ll figure things out when I pick her up. We went to Brian’s parent’s that afternoon because his sister was in from NY for her birthday. After we got back from that, it was time to pack. As usual, I didn’t get done packing until minutes before bedtime. I’m not sure why, but this always seems to happen. I should start packing earlier in the day, I guess. Brian’s mother was aghast to hear that we weren’t already packed. Apparently she likes to pack early.

We left home around 10am and arrived in Niagara Falls around 4pm. It was a pretty nice drive–we didn’t run into any traffic or other issues. After getting here, we walked through the throng of people and went to check out the falls. Jake was enthralled by all of the kitschy tourist attractions along the way. At first he wanted to check out one of the haunted houses, but the one he really liked said there was “no turning back” once you entered, so that kind of freaked him out and that idea got nixed. I hung out at the hotel for a little bit while Jake and Brian went through the “Mystery Maze”. We had supper at a place called Kelsey’s Neighbourhood Bar and Grill. It was pretty good. It was very hot today, but I guess it’s that way back home, too, so at least we’re in air-conditioned comfort here. That night, we got to see the biweekly fireworks over the falls. They only lasted about 5 minutes, but they were spectacular.

Today started off with a trip to the Butterfly Conservatory. It was really cool. We also checked out the grounds of the Botanical Gardens the conservatory was located on. We didn’t go here the last time we were in Niagara, so it was a nice change of pace. After that, we checked out the Classic Iron Motorcycle Museum. They had quite a collection of bikes there, mostly Harleys. We then grabbed some pizza for lunch and intended to go back to the hotel room for a few hours and cool off. Unfortunately, housekeeping hadn’t taken care of our room yet. So, Jake put on his trunks and we headed down to the pool. Brian and I read while Jake goofed off with some kid. The pool was only 3 feet deep on one end and 4 feet on the other, so it wasn’t really worth going in if you were an adult. That night, we had supper at the Rainforest Cafe. It was OK, but one time there will probably be enough for me. The food was decent, but the ambiance wasn’t quite what I expected. After supper, Brian made us walk all the way over to the horseshoe falls. That was a haul, but the mist that was coming off of the falls cooled us down a bit (it was still very hot today). We hung out in the hotel for the rest of the evening. I am pleased to say that no one has been rude this time. I guess we’ll have to chalk the previous rudeness up to the fact that the last time we were here it was Labor Day weekend and things were probably even busier than usual.

We got up early today and headed out to the African Lion Safari. Brian and I went there the last time we were in Niagara, but thought it was worth visiting again. It wasn’t quite as cool as the first time, but it was still fun. I was disappointed that no baboons crawled on our car this time–with my moon roof, we could’ve gotten some great shots. After the safari, we headed to Toronto. Till we got there, it was late afternoon, so we didn’t do much but walk around the city. For such a large city, it is very nice–clean and easy to get around in. We took a long walk to the local Harley Davidson Dealership. Jake got a hat and a shirt and I got a shirt, but Brian couldn’t find anything he liked in his size. On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at a pub and had dinner. I guess we’ll spend the rest of the evening relaxing in the hotel room because we have an early day tomorrow.

First thing today, we went to the Hockey Hall of Fame. Seeing all of the historical hockey stuff was pretty neat. After that, we walked to the Harbourfront and sat and watched the water for a little while. We also took a stroll through the St. Lawrence Market. While I’ve never been to the food market at Pittsburgh’s Strip District, I have a feeling this is very similar. It was pretty cool. I only wish we had a place like that around here for food shopping. They had everything–meats, cheeses, fish, breads, etc. And it was all reasonably priced. I could go wild in a place like that. But, I guess I’ll have to stick with Giant Eagle for now. Between all of the walking we did yesterday and today, I think we must’ve seen every major tourist attraction (if only from the outside) in the city of Toronto. Brian and I really enjoyed the city, so we may end up having to get passports after all so we can go back and experience everything it has to offer.

Unfortunately, due to a family emergency, we had to cut our trip short. We arrived home this evening rather than tomorrow afternoon. But, we didn’t miss out on too much since we stayed through the afternoon–we just didn’t plan enough time to begin with.

I’ll be posting a link to some pictures in the next day or two. Stay tuned.