So I flew with BA from T3 to JFK, New York. I had a connecting flight with American Airlines from La Guardia Airport to Toronto, seeing as that was the cheaper option; by a good £350. I arrived JFK on time. However, had a 5 hour layover in NYC so decided to take the shuttle which drives through the city for some sight-seeing as opposed to my original plan of a yellow cab straight to the airport. It’s one of those ones where you think – do I take a chance and go into Manhattan and explore a bit of NYC or head straight to the airport so I don’t miss my flight to Toronto. I picked the sensible option.
So with a little bit of sight seeing, I head to La Guardia ahead of my departure time and I wait endlessly for boarding time which was supposedly for 21:00hrs to Toronto. At 21:00hrs, flight is pushed to 22:00, then again to 22:15, then 22:30, and then 22:45, then 23:10, then 23:40 then 00.15 and finally, we board!. Its me feeling like death at at this point as you can imagine! Each time, my BA app pushes a notification updating the departure time, I felt like throwing my phone at one of the attendants at the desk.
But I do not have anger management issues! So I held it together.
Laura, my beaut friend and reason for this trip was meant to pick me up from the airport and we had agreed that she shouldn't because we thought 22:00hrs (which was the original arrival time) was a bit late to be driving from Mississauga (where she resides) to Toronto airport when I could easily jump into a cab to her. Imagine if she actually came, how long she could have waited. Good call!
I dare say, American Airlines is by far the shittyest airline I have ever flown with and will ever fly with. What bothers me is I didn't have any choice in flying with them. It's their association with BA in the States. I think they sometimes take the piss because passengers are unable to claim compensation. The EU Aviation regulation laws stipulates that an airline will pay compensation to passengers when a flight has been delayed for over 3hrs. if they were part of the EU or the flights were fro or to EU, they would definitely up their game. It was interstate.
Anyway I arrive at 1:30am, clear customs and do baggage reclaim then head for a cab to Mississauga. I am in bed 2.15am chatting with Lau. Oh and this is me at Canadian Borders very jaded, answering questions like how long are you here for? What did you go the UAE for? (I whispered, to blow!...off some steam) What do you do? Nothing!, What was your granny's pubic hair like? I dont know! How long are you here for? (Forever!, no sorry- 9 days) Who are you staying with?- My shadows!!! Where do you work? I am a Russian spy! Where does your friend work? Shouldn't you know? What the actual f&*k?
Head out to breakfast at a place called Denise in Mississauga. Have I talked about my obsession for American breakfast? Mississauga is located south of the Ontario province and is one of the largest cities in Canada. It has a sub-urban feel to it and the houses are like modern cottage homes with massive space and life.
The weather was relatively warm, about 26°C. Laura and I catch up on everything seeing that I haven’t seen this sweetheart in 3 years after she left England. We had a great bonding moment. I learnt so much more about how amazing a person, friend and human being she is. Not that I didn't know anyway x
Its Friday, Laura’s sister, J, had a wedding reception party she needed to attend later that evening so Laura and I were tasked to baby sit the kids. I love a good evening of babysitting. Today was my first proper day of exploring Toronto. We head for breakfast at Cora's. Again, have I mentioned my obsession for a good American breakfast? Why doesn't London have more places where they serve American breakfast? From Cora's, I had to grab Canada's signature of Tim Horton's coffee and doughnuts!! Duh! We head downtown Toronto, first to Ripley's aquarium which was simply phenomenal and headed to the CN Tower, another mind blowing experience.
We decided to do the 360 restaurant for the experience. I would advise people to do this as opposed to the regular tours. I say this because our booking included complimentary access to the lock out and glass floor and it was fascinating. Lau posed in different positions on the glass floor for photographs. I didn't have the balls to even look at it. So the restaurant literally revolves in 360 degrees at 1.200 ft above ground level for a period 72 mins with magnificent views of Toronto city. We had a three course meal. The food wasn't exceptional but the experience was. We then went to the Toronto Railway museum and the Brewer industrial building for a quick use of facilities! We caught the train from down-town Toronto to Square one and Lau drove to Oakville (another amazing suburban town on the South of Ontario) where J, her sister resides and we baby sat whilst watching the recently released 'Made in Compton' and sipping on some red wine. It was a glorious day! I must add the views of Lake Ontario driving to Oakville was fantastic.
Woke at Oakville, J's hubby made us breakfast in Canadian style. We spent some time with the kids and the family and said goodbye. I am not sure we did much on this day. I think we drove back to Mississauga and just chilled at home, ordered in and grabbed a few bottles from LCBO! Canada's Liquor Control Board of Ontario!
You cannot find alcohol in any random grocery store in Ontario as you do in the UK. LCBO and only a few stores are licensed to sell alcoholic beverages!!! I wondered whether the English, Scottish and Irish could live in Toronto if access to alcohol was that limited!
We had breakfast at one of the most popular places in Toronto. This place is called Sunset Grill. I think for me, it was the 5 star breakfast experience - and funny enough great value for money!
Did I mention how obsessed I am with American breakfast? We then drove to Square One and took the bus with my 'Presto' which is the Canadian equivalent for an Oystercard. I wondered why these transport cards had food inferences attached to them. Oysters and Presto?? Anyway, Nous sommes allés au Musée royal de l'Ontario! I said that in French because it sounded really sexy and I try to be pretentious about speaking French but moreso speaking with a French accent in Canada. This would have been more appropriate if I was at the French speaking provinces of Canada.
So we paid for the special 'Pompeii' exhibition at the museum. A touch of Roman history was all we needed. It was an education! The traffic in Toronto was ridiculous so we decide to head back to Mississauga, have dinner and head home.
Highlight of my trip, we drove to Niagara! It was epic. We arrive our hotel. It was a family owners boutique hotel next to the Falls. I am not going to write much about this wonder of the world as people need to experience it themselves to understand how fascinating it is! Watching it was a surreal moment and I couldn't appreciate nature more. We buy some souvenirs, get some hot-dogs and soda! Niagara was scorching and then became colder almost after an hour, coupled with cold splashes from the falls with the clouds beginning to trail. We then head to Marine Land, nature park for both marine and land animals. Watched the Dolphins and the sea lions etc. Saw the deers. Oh dear, I exclaimed! No pun intended, the smell was awful! We couldn't do the rides due to fear of heights and speed. It was a full-on day so we head back to the hotel. Got some rest.
Hours later, we went to dinner at this restaurant recommended by the hotel manager. We made a new friend. The waiter who served us was handsome, talk and dark. His name is Jay - for Jason. We admired him while we had dinner and he was quite chatty with us. So we hooked up on face book and later hooked up that evening. Jay being a local of Niagara took us round town that night and we had a great time. The local pubs and bars were great.
We had walks round town and went for a late cuppa and wonton soup at a place called 'Country Fresh Donuts'. The history of this place;--- it is quite popular for its wonton soups and donuts and open 24 hrs. One faithful night, a drunken local drove into the restaurant and rammed into the walls, leaving it in crumbles. It had just reopened and we were glad to share a piece of local legacy with the locals there.Jay and Lau had soups. I grabbed a hot choc and a donut! Jay dropped us off at our hotel and the night ended.
We check out after breakfast at the hotel. Did I mention how obsessed I am with American breakfast? We drove from Niagara to (another highlight of my trip) The African Lion Safari!! Woohoo!! This place is epic. I lack adjectives to describe it. There was no animal on earth I didn't see or find there. We explored all the scheduled adventures except the elephants swims at 3pm. From the rail trip of scenic views of the jungle to the boat cruise to the coach trip into the main jungle to the animal shows. Words can't describe how fascinated we were but maybe another time I can blog about this experience.
Breakfast at Cora's again. Didn't I get to mention my obsession for American breakfast? So we head to the Black Pioneer Creek Village, an outdoor museum which exhibits a recreation of what Ontario looked like in the early 19th C. We did most of the homes of these Pennsylvanian German first settlers of Toronto. We went to the Masonic lodge where it was believed actual members of The Masons held their meetings. There were all sorts of features of barns, craftsmen, saddler's, farms, pubs, blacksmiths etc. Another fascinating place of interest in Toronto. We then went to St Lawrence Market, one of the world's famous food and vintage market. We bought bits and bobs and then had chocolate crepes with hazelnuts and cream. On our way home, bloody Ontario Provence Police (OPP) pulled us for not bloody stopping at the STOP ALL THE WAY sign! Wtf!! Our evening was an anti- climax!!! We got a bloody ticket!!!
Next day we had street food lunch at Square One Mall. Did a bit of shopping. I loved this mall btw. They totally had my style in most stores. We then head to the nail studio in Mississauga to have a bit of girl time- a little manicure and shellac application was a lovely little treat. We grabbed dinner at Mississauga and some cocktails. It's my last full day in Canada... I am nostalgic and Lau and I become emosh! I am struggling to say goodbye and so was she. I loved her even more...
Laura drives me to the airport at noon as flight at 3.15. We are both upset (good upset) and hug each other tightly. I flew via Chicago with another layover to connect with shitty American Airlines. Guess what? You guessed right! Another 5 hours delay on top of the 3 hours layover time. I nearly died!!! But we finally fly. I am jet-lagged upon arrival. I suffer withdrawal symptoms whilst returning to work. I dread this anti-climax/ holiday blues. Its hard... My time in Toronto was memorable. I miss Laura incredibly so...back home to England!
I will return to explore Canada again next year...Quebec, Calgary etc. I shall see my beautiful friend again. True friends are hard to find. I love this one so!
Written November 2015
Written November 2015