Published: January 19th 2007January 19th 2007
Toronto: The Raleigh Of Canada
We finished up at Boston and with a full days driving ahead of us to get to Niagara Falls, Well so was the plan. Gell started off driving out of Boston and onto the Massachusetts Turnpike to begin what should have been a six hour sojourn along a fairly non descript highway. About an hour or two down the road we pulled over to get fuel, to have Gell ask to swap drivers, before getting out of the car and blowing chunks all over the interstate (Surprisingly he wasn’t hung over). After a brief rest Gell returned to the car a pleasant shade of yellow. Sarah jumped behind the wheel for her first experience with the tortoise and we were on the way again.
Alas we only made it down to mile marker 100 before a “BANG” accompanied by a lot of blue smoke and a nice oil slick came as a death groan from the tortoise. We didn’t know it at the time but we had put a control rod through the oil pan. In layman’s terms we had cooked the engine and fired a metal chunk through the side of it. Needless
to say it was terminal. After calling AAA and them telling us to ring the RAC in Australia in the middle of the night WDST, we rang AAA back who then put us in touch with a toeing service. For a princely sum of $15 we got towed to a garage nearby and didn’t even have to pay toll (you need to look for positives). With the aid of the whole stranded tourist thing we managed to get the mechanic to stay late and put in a new engine for us in the next six hours. The folks of country Worchester were genuinely good folk.
We decided to put a few k’s between the tortoises demise and our final resting place for the night and continued to drive into the night finally halting at ever delightful town of Syracuse. For the first time we were checked for age at a motel. Apparently in Massachusetts if you are under 18 you can’t stay in a motel. Too bad if you have kids or if you cradle snatched a young’n, Go Figure….
Well day 2 of the tortoises newly replaced engine got off the marks without a hitch. Sarah flatly
refused to drive for fear of wrecking a second engine. Continuing to make up for lost time we made it up to Niagara without any further hitches. Being on the American side we decided against all advice we had received, to see the falls from the American side. The view itself was magnificent and you could fully appreciate the sheer volume of water that goes over the falls. We were later informed that the power companies up stream actually divert up to 75% of the winter flow for power generation. Unfortunately as is becoming the rule rather than the exception, regardless of all the “good” weather we are apparently bringing, most of the opportunities to get upclose and personal with the falls, ie on a boat or on the walk trails down the bottom and behind the falls were closed. (phew that was a long sentence, glad you made it).
At the border we took full advantage of duty free and purchased 2L of 100 Proof (50%) Canadian Club for what would be a steal in Australia, a full 34 Canadian dollars. We crossed the border without even a “Have you got anything to declare?” simply a “Can I
see some ID, and when do you intend to leave?” So much for border security. It would be harder to get them to search the car, than it would be to smuggle a purple elephant over the border. Surely getting back into the US than it was getting out.
Checking out the Falls from the Canadian side proved a somewhat more spectacular, if not more wet experience. You could see the full face of both falls, though got showered with all the spray. In season you could go behind the falls and all the way to the bottom, though given the time we pushed on to Toronto and surprisingly for us actually made it to the hostel without getting lost once. We went for a quick walk of the block and saw what would turn out to be the most happening parts of the city, all in an hour. The night ended with a second and final playing of our newly acquired board game Brewopoly. The game was made all the more interesting as our banker, who shall remain nameless Mr Stokes, drank 1/3 of a bottle of CC and could barely count, let alone deal out money.
The start of day 2 of Canada started off with a beautiful all you can eat pancake breakfast. OK, so it wasn’t great but it was FREE and ALL YOU CAN EAT, and that’s beautiful in my book. Turned out Stokes was sick as a dog and took himself back to bed straight after breakfast, never to been seen again for another 24 hours. We just pushed it aside as a case of Stokesy can’t hold his liquor. To pass the day as it appears you have to in Toronto, Gell, Sarah & Emma went on a more extended walk around the city. The CN tower through it being one massive antenna supposedly took the cake for the tallest manmade structure. After a trip up Younge St, the main shopping street and Queen St, another shopping street, we had pretty much circumnavigated the shopping districts and therefore the best Toronto had during the day. Upon returning to the Hostel we met up with more of the aussies that were there and formulated a plan to go to karaoke at the local pub that night. Seriously you meet more Australians touring the world, than you do in Australia.
no sight of one person in our touring party the nights festivities kicked off with the drinking of the rest of the bottle of CC and a bit of home made karaoke just to warm the vocal cords. All good fun leading to some fairly drunk Aussies. It was time to set out on the trek to the local Fox and Fiddle. Inside was going off with backpackers and karaokers. The Emma and Sarah sat at a table and continued drinking whilst Gell in his untold drunken prowess that only he possesses strategically dobbed them both in to share their dulcet tones with the rest of the crew. Upon being called up Sarah more than willingly got up but had to look for another partner as ½ got cold feet. Upon sighting Emma a quick word from Gell to the DJ had the DJ and conning Emma up to sing her song. Success, Operation Make Girls Sing had come to fruition and was proceeding better than expected. From here Emma and Sarah went back to what ever it was they were doing, whilst Gell embarked on the road to Foosball and Pool folk law. Needless to say there were mixed
results. On the plus side he did meet REAL Canadian females. YAY not tourists. Details from now on are hazy due to excessive consumption of alcohol, but the night did consist of wearing paper hats made from magazines on the table and singing the last song for the night at ~ 4am. A fun night thus ending with the sacred tradition of permanently borrowing glassware from the establishment, which would lead to some fun times the next morning.
Ahh day 3 the morning after…. It started the standard way, still drunk from the night before, all you can eat pancakes, and copious amounts of water to try and rehydrate from the festivities now gone. Half way through breakfast a very dishevelled and frantic Emma came in looking for the location of her jacket as well as an idea of what had happened the night before, both of which she had no recollection of. The latter was fairly easy. Most of the night was spent getting cracked onto by some Pom, (That’s what happens when you pike Stokes), culminating with her borrowing glassware and finally some strange knocks on the door from some random during what was left of the night. (Thanks to Stokes for that tidbit). As for the jacket no one knew more than even though it was sub zero temperatures, she was carrying it when we left. Some time later after a trip back to the pub and some dumbass waitress telling us over and over again, as if we didn’t understand her the first time, that “they cleaned the night before and it would be behind the bar if it was anywhere,” The jacket was relocated in someone’s room. NO WE HAVE NO FURTHER DETAILS. Believe me we would share.
Anywho as the day carried on the hangovers kicked in and most of the rest of the day was spent feeling sorry for ourselves. About 4:30 that arvo, never one to let a hard night get in the way of a drinking session Gell took one for the team and represented us at the local brewery tour. $5 all you could drink and you didn’t even have to go on the tour. That’s my kind of brewery, so it gets a free plug. The STEAMWHISTLE is an awesome brewery and has a real steam whistle that you can pull. If you do nothing else in Toronto go to the Steam Whistle and the Ice Hockey. Any who, conveniently when Gell & co got kicked out of the brewery (it had shut by this time) Stokesy had come through with the goods and had secured tickets to the Maple Leafs and Hurricanes ice hockey game.
A quick trip around the corner and we were there at the stadium. Somehow Stokesy had secured players tickets that were not utilised. The seats were on the 3rd tier at about the third line. (These are actually some of the better seats as you could see the entire rink without having the bench or boards in the way. After some fat wanna be singer who sounded like she was strangling a cat busted out the us anthem, She then started on the Canadian anthem. After the First line (Ohh Canada…) the entire stadium burst out in cheer, it was really rather strange, at least the Canadians had some country pride. Shortly after the cruel and unusual punishment inflicted by the anthems the real fun began. The game was awesome, much better live than it is on TV. You can actually see the puck live. The Maple Leafs went up by 1 goal after the first period. After a 20 minute break to zamboni the ice, the second period started and we were witness to a fade out from the Leafs as the Hurricanes launched into the lead. In the third period the Leafs rallied but were unable to score. Fights kept threatening to break out but the over zealous Refs kept breaking them up. The game ended with the Hurricanes coming out 4-1 winners after a cheeky goal after the Leafs pulled their goalie in the dying seconds. Overall it was a great night leaving us all wanting more.
The next afternoon we left Sarah, who was returning to Australia and set off towards Detroit. For the first time since we began this epic trip we finally had snow, about 1 hour out of Toronto. Whilst it was good to see snow, the unwanted side effect was that the snow was accompanied by temperatures of -12 degrees Celsius which as you can imagine was really really cold. Upon reaching the border the temperature had warmed slightly closer to zero. In the duty free shopping we were able to pick up a litre of Bacardi 151, which is 151 proof, about 78% alcohol, for the princely sum of 20 Canadian dollars. You gotta love duty free shopping. Crossing back into America, once again we were only asked for passports, without even being questioned. It appears that the borders are quite open nowadays. This easy crossing ended our first trip to Canada and this blog, till next time, in the words of Nelson Munce, smell ya later.