Monday, December 27, 2010

Oh Canada!

A special thanks goes out to Laura for getting up at the crack of dawn to make sure I was at the Cleveland Greyhound Station to catch bus to Buffalo, NY. This bus ride really wore on me even though it was only about four hours.  Again, I was happy to have someone waiting for me at the end of the line. My father and brother had taken me up on my invitation to join me for my final leg of this journey. My dad took a train to NYC and met up with my brother and then they both flew from NYC to Buffalo, NY.  The flight was actually cheaper and faster than any train they could find. 

We met up around 1:00 and drove straight to Duff’s – the establishment responsible for the creation of Buffalo wings. We. Ate. Too. Much. Another restaurant you must go to if ever in the Buffalo area.  Then we got in the car and drove two hours north to Toronto, ON, CA and checked in to our hotel right outside the city.  After getting settled we ventured the fifteen minutes to downtown to explore and find a good place to have dinner.  We followed Queen Street the majority of the way just taking in the sights and then wandered down to Chinatown and Kensington Market. It was freezing outside so our walk was cut shorter than it normally would have been as we found a crowded, Asian fusion restaurant for dinner.  We took our time enjoying appetizers and splitting entrĂ©es accompanied by hot bottles of sake.  Obviously this wasn’t enough so we had to find a place for dessert. Our wish was granted with a restaurant serving exclusively crepes, wine and beer. My kind of place! We ordered three crepes to share: nutella and banana, homemade applesauce and cinnamon, and rum and sugar.  

The next morning we got up very early to hit the road. We were headed south to Niagara and Horseshoe Falls.  On the way north to Toronto we had passed a number of wineries so we decided to visit a few of them on the way down south to Niagara. We started at Puddicombe Winery, a small family owned winery that is the official first stop on the Niagara Peninsula Wine Tour.  We had our first tasting at 9:30am and started with a unique white wine called Trillium (we ended up leaving with three bottles of this) and followed that with one of their famous fruit wines. After Puddicombe we drove to Kacaba, a more upscale winery known for its reds. We tasted three wines here, one of which had been voted the number one red in Canada. About five minutes up the road was Angel’s Gate Winery where we tasted four different types of wine.  This was my first wine tasting and I had a great time. We ate lunch at a local Pita Shop, which was nice and filling and then drove down to the Falls. 

As a treat I took my brother and dad on the Journey Behind the Falls self guided tour. We took an elevator down the equivalent of two stories and walked through tunnels to an outlook point and to two “portals” that took us about a third of the way around and behind the falls. One of the portals was completely iced over which means we couldn’t see the water but we could still hear it! The force of the falls is incredible, and they were only at half their power. In the winter half of the water is directed towards the power plant to create energy for Toronto. I need to go back in the summer to see them at full force.  We returned later that night to see the falls illuminated and, of course, find a place for dinner.

We left bright and early the next morning to make the eight hour trip home. We passed through customs with no problem and made a quick stop at the American side of the falls. The view was great but the Canadian side definitely did a better job of building up the area – the US side was a bit dingy and sad.  I’d suggest that anyone visiting the falls should spend the majority of their time on the Canadian side. 

The drive home was easy, and while Michael and Dad slept I had a chance to reflect on my trip and everything I had just accomplished.  And when they were awake I made them sing songs with me and play games.  We rolled into my parents driveway around five o’clock and I bid a fond farewell to this adventure, and with dreams of many more to come.

I'll be doing a few more "wrap-up" posts about my trip but I'll be resuming my artsy fartsy posting soon as well. 

Thanks for coming along for the ride guys, 

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