A new week began and it was time to explore some more of local Ottawa. We headed down on foot to the bottom of Parliament Hill on the boardwalk beside the canal. The canal is still frozen in parts but not safe for skating. Here's a day view of where we had dinner at the Chateau Laurier castle building.
Check out the staircase and the park bench!
We trekked to the Confederation Love Lock bridge and I surprised Ryan with a pre vivided padlock to add to the thousand others. Its similar to the padlock bridges in Paris and Rome. By the looks of it, some people come back year after year to add a new one to their collection!
We visited the Loft Board Game Lounge http://www.theloftlounge.ca/ during the week, within walking distance of our apartment. Walls filled with every single board game you could think of and even ones that you didn’t know existed! No one wanted to play the Crazy Cat Lady game so we chose a few others and ordered some food. A good way to spend an evening!
Thursday arrived and it was time to set off on our little Easter Adventure. Ryan picked up our rental car like the good little house husband that he is, and then picked Gem and I up from work. The forecast for Thursday was snow, and of all the days to snow while Ryan was here, this could have possibly been the worst. It was coming down hard! We got a little white Fiat 500. It was cute, but we could hardly fit the suitcases in the back (and Ry wished it had a bit more grunt).
We are going away for the same amount of time. Any bets on which suitcase is mine???
The windscreen had frozen over while we were upstairs for about half an hour. Heres me getting the aircon sorted while Ry does all the hard jobs!!
Ry was so excited and it was his first time driving in snow. He did awesome!
First stop for our Easter long weekend: Toronto. It was meant to take about 4 hours to get there, but with all the long weekend traffic and the snow, it took over 5. Ryan wanted to stop at his favourite restaurant for dinner, KFC - he really knows how to treat a lady. Since he was doing such hard work driving I obliged. Here he is in KFC heaven - I think he wishes he was with his KFC crew, Alex and Cody, but had to settle for me!!
Do the taps in the KFC bathroom look like a moose?
I was doing some transport study on the way there. Looking at bridges and intersections and classes of roads and describing them. Even Ry started getting into it "wow look at that awesome bridge". Here are some examples of such excitement.
The highways were long, grey and boring. It quickly turned dark and it felt like we were never getting there. Cars (and trucks!) on the highways were crazy. Everyone drives 120-130km+ and is always in a hurry. We kept a speed of about 115km, but were passed by everyone. The cars here are huge, spesh the large dodge utes, who would get very annoyed when a small little Fiat passed them. I think Ryan got out his need for speed soothed on the trip!!! Apparently the police dont ticket you unless you are going faster than 123km.
We arrived in Toronto! Our hotel was gross and smelt like cigarette smoke. Friday was a day for exploring Toronto. We had breakfast at the hotel and first went to the Royal Ontario Museum https://www.rom.on.ca/en downtown. We got some sweet military discount, and headed in. Some good exhibitions but not a patch on Te Papa.
0 to 100 real quick.
We drove around the city and out through the suburbs, the city was cluttered and dirty. Lots of rubbish and debris out the front of houses. We drove around the waterfront and downtown. Parking downtown was expensey, the first park we found was $30 for 2 hours or $50 for 8.... we quickly found a new park.
A delicious lunch at the Loose Moose http://theloosemoose.ca/ Bar and Grill. Heres Ryan with his girly strawberry beer. I liked it better than my drink and wish I had of chosen that instead!
We had a squizz around the Eaton Centre, a huge mall, but it was totally packed and full of annoying people everywhere.
Check out our small carpark win!
We had dinner up the CN tower http://www.cntower.ca/intro.html in the revolving 360 restaurant, continuing on our tradition of dining at these restaurants and similar to the Auckland Sky Tower one that we visited earlier in the year.
The views were great and it was good to get an overview of Toronto. Always keen to get a bit of study in, I was busy breaking out the Billy Bishop Airport as our mains were arriving. We learnt more about Toronto Island from our waiter who told us about the underground pedestrian tunnel to the airport. There are no cars on the island, and you can only get there via ferry or tunnel! https://www.portstoronto.com/The-Airport/Pedestrian-Tunnel.aspx
Next stop: Niagara Falls. Our next hotel was awesome, had a pool and a spa, and opposite Hooters so Ryan was happy.
Niagara was amazing. The first thing we did was go and see the falls. SO MANY TOURISTS! We got sick of the tourists. And the overpriced carparks. Here are the expensive hotels overlooking the falls. Note the Tower Hotel – literally on a stalk so it can get a view!
The spray from the falls was insane. We got drenched. It came right up and over two sets of roads. You could see the cloud from up above. Everyone else seemed to have umbrellas!
We did all the touristy things. It was my idea to go on the Niagara Skywheel, why – I have no idea. It was terrifying! The lady at the bottom told us it would go round three times. It went round about 8. I had had enough after loop 1! On the first rotation the capsule stopped right at the very top, coupled with it swaying in the wind, me noticing the rusty inner mechanisms of the wheel, and then Ryan deciding to rock the boat, I was not in a good place. A few stern words were had! The views were apparently good but I was too scared to look out for most of the ride. I made Ry do photos but he had to do them from a seated position as to not sway the capsule even further!!!!
The Skylon Tower http://www.skylon.com/ in Niagara was great. The best views from up here. Apart from the rickety yellow lifts that go up the tower on the outside. We really saw the falls from all angles. We even went and had a look at night where they have the falls all lit up with pretty colours. The spray clouds at night were just as impressive. A guy from course told me that they capture 30% of the falls water at night and pump it through the falls during the day to make them seem more impressive. Cunning!
The shopping was really good at the outlet shops we found. Our favourite: the Nike Shop. Lots of bargains but once again Ryan walking out with far more bags than me!
We saw these other crazy shoes that had a little mini air pump attached inside. Strange!
We had to try the new Nutella donut from Tim Hortons.
Clifton Hill is the go to place in Niagara http://www.cliftonhill.com/ - dinosaur mini golf, Frankensteins haunted house, and heaps of food places. The street is packed with people hustling and bustling. We looked in a few souvenir shops but there was sooo much tackiness, including these bling jean hats and Niagara water bottled up.
We visited another souvenir shop and had a token moose photo. This place had a glass blowing factory inside, with people working! Here is the guy making an animal of some sort. I treaded very carefully in the shop as not to break anything.
More dodgy hotels feat holes stuffed with tissues.
The Casino’s were another highlight of Niagara. There were two, so after picking the brains of various staff that we met throughout the day, we decided that we would go to the newer one, Fallsview Casino Resort. It was like going to Hollywood. The casino had a mall, food court, fountain and restaurant! https://www.fallsviewcasinoresort.com/ After a bit of shopping we went inside and Ryan taught me how to play a few new games.
Heres Ryan caught playing Kitten Caboodle.
We got dinner at the buffet restaurant – the Grand Buffet.
And grand it was. I have never eaten so much in my life. Really reasonably priced at $25 with no tip needed – this included drinks, pizza, curries, sushi, salads, lasagne, roast meat cut fresh off the bone, cheeses, pasta.. you name it! Coupled with an excellent choice of desserts. It was food heaven.
This was how much dessert I could fit in. Stuffed!
In true Emma style something crazy was bound to happen on the holiday and looking back – this was it. Our Niagara style crazy taxi chase. We came out of the casino and jumped in the first taxi we saw that was dropping people off. Apparently, this wasn’t etiquette and what we didn’t realise was that the taxi had pushed in just dropping people off and others had been waiting in line for hours. Cue angry driver: who started yelling at me and banging on his windows, demanding we get into his taxi. Not the best way to attract potential customers I thought, so we got in our taxi. He then rammed up the side of us, blocking us in and so we couldn’t leave the casino! Arguments in English and other languages were yelled between the two drivers.
We drove off and he chased us along the street, pulled into our hotel behind us and starting coming up onto the footpath as we were getting out. Very scary! We wanted to get out of there ASAP. All this arguing for a $7 fare to our hotel. As we departed we didn’t get the number plates of the guy unfortunately as they sped down the street chasing each other.
We went to the second casino the following night, Niagara Casino. Less busy, but less fun. I seemed to be doing much better that night and made a profit of $22! This time we drove so we didn’t have any more crazy taxi escapades like the night before.
Buffets seemed to be the theme of the trip and this time it was a breakfast buffet!
Check out our cute matching supporters outfits. Was a great conversation starter with everyone we met. This, and Ryan’s Air Max shoes. The guy in the Reebok shop asked if he had worn them for ‘Air Max day’ – who knew there was even such a day! Another guy up Mont Tremblant told Ry ‘nice kicks’.
We went for a drive around the Niagara Parkway and out to Niagara on the Lake, just 15 minutes out of the main town. It was such a beautiful day, we couldn’t have asked for better weather.
We had 2 recommendations for wineries to visit from my new friend, Emma Davis. The first one we drove to was closed because of Easter Sunday. But it was meant to be as the second one we went to was a real gem. Caroline Cellars - http://www.carolinecellars.com/
Here we ate the most reasonably priced and best meal of our trip here. French onion baked soup and a steak sammy with real NZ type aioli. The crème brulee was $5!!!!
Ryan let me have a little drive on the other side of the road. Safe to say no one was injured! We drove round to this little beach – on the other side of the water is New York.
We stopped at the floral clock which was meant to be harvesting energy from the power station adjacent but didn’t seem to be working. We stopped and I did a bit more study of this power station … homework never ceases.
Another bridge to NY!
It was time to head home and on the way, we stopped in to Mississauga for lunch (near Toronto). I googled ‘best place for lunch in Mississauga’ and a little place called Jessie’s came up with some good reviews so off we headed. We turned off the main road, and it was down in an industrial area. Looking a bit dodgy, in between a vacuum cleaner and an air conditioning shop. Keeping an open mind, we opened the door and saw a picture off a movie – 6 policeman sitting and eating lunch inside.
The owners were Greek, very authentic Greek, and as soon as they heard us speak they said ‘you must be a long long long way from home’. They loved the accent, they loved NZ, they loved new people coming in and they loved us. They were so kind and over the top, kept pushing food onto us, ‘would you like soup or salad?’ we had to decline as the sandwiches and wraps they made were humongous! They wouldn’t take no for an answer, and before we knew it we had vegetable minestrone, chicken turkey soup and crackers delivered to our table. The owner told Ryan as he went to pay ‘the best thing in life is to keep your woman happy, she looks like a very very nice one’.
The lunch was delicious and we were stuffed. Just as we were about to leave, a huge container of fresh grapes was delivered to the table. The owner told Ry, ‘your wife will make you beautiful babies, make sure you feed her these grapes and keep her happy at all times’. Amen! If you are ever heading through.. Make sure you pay them a visit! http://tastyburgers.ca/tag/jessies/
I wanted to stop at the Air Force Museum on the way home but since it was Easter Monday most things were closed. We took the back roads home and stopped by this frozen lake in the middle of nowhere called Rice Lake.
Boys will be boys and Ryan was literally skating on thin ice as he dragged his big stick out onto the frozen surface and had a little play around.
We got back to Ottawa after about a 6 hour journey and it was the first time that Ottawa and my little apartment has felt like home.
It was good to be home.