So it's December and I haven't posted in months. But in my defense, I have been busy. I've seen a lot of this gorgeous country in the past few weeks and I think I'd like to write up a little of what I like best about each place I've been. And this is more for myself when I am thinking back on the past 6 weeks of whirlwind traveling I've been doing....(and there's probably more I'm already forgetting about)
Niagara: the fantastic signs on the railings demonstrating that you should not climb over them and into the falls. And the cute little Italian restaurant I found on a side street made a decent pasta for a good price.
Ottawa: the adorable old french farmers that set up in Byward Market to sell their apples and veggies and berries and squash despite it being really very cold. Also going for drinks with Lisa was really nice. I like seeing people you haven't seen in years and remembering why and how much you like them.
Toronto: the Gladstone Hotel. And Shanghi Cowgirl. And Queen St West. And seeing OCAD. And the sushi....... and so much more
Rural Ontario: most of my driving in Ontario involved intentionally taking back roads and side roads and roads that ended up to be dead ends in swamps and forest. I love that. I love seeing the lift locks and the "corners" at every intersection and the just barely still fall colours.
The Kerby's: Two years before I left Toronto before Patrick's parents came to visit for the weekend. My fear of meeting them was the only reason I left. This year I found myself spending a couple days with them without Patrick....and it was wonderful! I feel like I got to know them better for who they are as individuals, not just who they are in relation to Patrick. It was important. And good. Very good. I also spent a morning with Patrick's aunt (and cousins) up the road and that's something I've always wanted to do...but with 6 kids running around it's not always so easy to get into a good conversation with her. I'm glad I got to. I really love that whole extended family and I'm so glad I'm marrying into it. It's nice to know that I'll legally be "one of them" soon!
London:I hung out with Carmen and Rhys and it was wonderful. I like them very much. Because it was raining, Carmen and I spent most of a day lounging in my hotel room watching nothing tv and drinking wine and swimming. Also, that place we went where the pub was a house....that was good. Need to remember that name...
Peace River: the drive through Slave Lake and High Prairie to Peace River is beautiful. The trees, just newly bare, the fields full of bales and stubble and all the old abandoned houses stole my heart. I love it. I'm gonna drive it again for fun in the spring and this time, I'm taking my camera!
Calgary: The Wild Rose Brewery was fantastic. Went back twice because I liked it so much. Need to remember this and stop at it for lunch on my way through more often!
Vancouver: Hailey is another good friend that I hadn't seen in a while and got to see her life in Vancouver, meet her boyfriend Jon and remember why and how much I like her. I also really liked the Alibi Room when I went there for supper with Trixie. Definitely a place I'd like to go back to. I need to write that down somewhere so I remember it the next time I find myself in Vancouver.
Victoria: Staying at the Empress. Yessssss! $16 cocktails in the Bengal Lounge. Valet and porter service...walking around the inner harbour at night with no particular place to be. Beautiful! In particular I really liked "The Patch" where I bought some awesome new wood earrings, I liked "The Bard and Banker Pub" which has a really cool layout and a good "2-mile" beer taster and my encounter with Capt. Paddy and his pirate ship are among the best things about my trip. Also, the jacket I liked and tried on 3 separate times but made the responsible decision to leave it for someone else to love.
HWY 1 to Nanaimo: through forest to the edge of the ocean and back again, I loved this drive. I drive a lot on this trip and this 2 hour jaunt was one of my favourites.
Smithers: First of all, the butcher shop has the best venison and cranberry sausage. LOVE IT! Gonna try to pick up more today. Also, the Alpenhorn has better food than any restaurant I've been at west of Toronto....and I've been to a lot of restaurants west of Toronto in the past few weeks. My adventure hiking up to Twin Falls was pretty awesome too. Too bad I never made it. Guess I'll have to come back when the road is open sometime.
Kitimat: Seeing family I haven't seen in ages! Around the town, the Native Village was probably my favourite. Also, reading stories to nephews and a niece before bed was a favourite too.
Have two more days yet, but in 'heading home' mode already. I love seeing the country, but also can't wait for my own bed.
In general, things I have learned from my travels:
- Holiday Inn Express is a fantastic hotel.
- Four Points are also good but usually older....however they always have a restaurant attached and often have local craft beer on tap.
- Brewery's tap rooms are wonderful places....and some have excellent food....especially the small ones.
- Seafood is much better on the coast.
- ask for upgrades...hotels, airlines, rental cars, etc. You usually get them.
- Rent a vehicle with heated seats in the winter....and if you can, automatic start.
- Take a little bit of time, a drive around town or a minute or two of research before you choose a place to eat. There could be something really great around the next corner.
- Always bring a book...hard cover if you care about it, paperback if your luggage is already overweight.
- Use the work out rooms and hot tubs at hotels!
- Always start a conversation with the person standing in line next to you (you do a lot of waiting when you travel)...everyone has interesting stories and if you're lucky, you meet some really great people.
- Know that you made the right decision not to go have supper on a pirate ship by yourself, but let yourself feel sorry that you didn't.
- Never watch scary movies or intense crime drama when staying in motor inns by yourself.
- Always sit at the bar. Talk to the bartender, find out what places they like best in town. They know best.
- Try local beers, then go see the breweries you liked.
- Dress in layers. Always. Wherever you go.
- Eat when you're hungry...not when the clock says you should.
- Take snacks.
- 9 times out of 10, the history channel has the best programming. Why watch anything else?
- use your camera! Take it EVERYWHERE!