Arrived in Toronto last Wednesday, and hadn`t even got out of the airport before taking the first wrong turn as managed to completely miss where the bus to town was. You can see why I am supposed to be serving a lifetime ban from navigating (for trying to take us the wrong way up a one way street in Sydney once). Anyway, you have to ask for downtown as they don't know what town centre is! Was in the airport that I also saw an English stag do - anywhere you go in the world....
Anyway, checked into hostel and had a 4 bed dorm all to myself, at least until 10 minutes after I`d gone to bed when three more guys from London came crashing in! The joys of shared sleeping arrangements. And one of them snored pretty loud. The recently purchased iPod was already coming into its own.
Spent my first full day away doing a few attractions in Toronto. CN Tower, Ice Hockey Hall of Fame, Steam Whistle Brewery Tour and a boat trip round Toronto islands. Canada with ice hockey are much like England with football and cricket - they invent it, but then cease to be very good at it. Brewery tour was good. Unlike Guinness in Dublin and Heineken in Amsterdam, you actually get to see the brewing bit and the bottling etc. Also got to taste beer that had literally been bottled 2 minutes ago, so pretty fresh. Its a far cry from Fosters.
Also went to a baseball game, Toronto Blue Jays v New York Yankees. When I bought the ticket I asked to sit somewhere rowdy and wasn`t disappointed. Thanks to Rich from Calgary who I was sitting next to for explaining the finer points of the rules to me, and for starting a "Bring Pete a beer chant" to get the attention of the beer sellers who just wonder round the seats - no going to the bar.
The game itself was ok (8-2 to Toronto - go Blue Jays!) but the most entertaining stuff was everything but the game. Some observations:
- chilli dogs are possibly the messiest thing I`ve ever eaten and you shouldn`t have them if you are trying make your clothes last a while whilst travelling
- beer at baseball is a fiver a pint and even the light beer costs the same - outrageous
- instead of using just the phrase "in your face", you can use "in your face with a can of mace, if you`re feeling the burn you`re starting to learn". Might have to try and use that
- during breaks between innings the cameras focus on different random members of the crowd and a gurning competition ensues. They should do that at football in England
- randomly free t-shirts will be given out and by the mad scramble Canadians will seemingly do anything for a free t-shirt
- someone actually proposed via a message on the big screen. I never thought that actually happened in real life. (She said yes for those of you wondering)
Then I did a 3 day tour with Moose travel, going into Algonquin Park. Was a good bunch of people on the tour, with people from France, Switzerland, Germany, Japan and even as far afield as Huddersfield. We saw some beavers which is almost unheard of apparently despite it being called the Beaver tour! Stayed at a hostel in Madawasca. The guy who ran the place had the best song ever on his iPod. Please check out "Rock'n'roll McDonalds"
Next day canoed to a waterfall where you can then climb up the sloping rock bit and slide down the waterfall in a rubber ring. Now the weather has actually been pretty hot, but Canada in September is starting to get cold so hitting the water was bracing to say the least. But had to go in twice as did another English person - we Brits love the cold water, just like being at home in the summer! In the afternoon hiked up to Booth Rock get a view of the park. Fall, sorry autumn, is here and the leaves are changing colour and its pretty amazing. Whereas at home everything turns brown and goes mushy, over here the leaves turn these bright reds and oranges and yellows, and when that's all you can see for miles its pretty spectacular.
Sunday was back to Toronto via a swim in another even colder lake in Algonquin Park. Came under more pressure to sign up for facebook so everyone on the tour can share photos. Am still resisting...for now.