Tuesday November 13, 2018
I've finally got some downtime to do some blogging - I'm sick, presumably from the plague going around the office, and as the temperatures dip below zero this week, I'm expecting sickness to be a lot more common. Winter is definitely here, and although we've had a few flurries of snow, it hasn't quite stuck on the ground. Yet. That will happen very soon.
Three months have gone by since I last blogged. I've done so much... four of us went to Vancouver for a week in August, visiting Stanley Park, doing the Grouse Grind (My time was 1hr 20mins), rocking the suspension bridge at Lynn Valley, checking out Gastown, Chinatown, Granville Island and Kitsilano Beach, as well as the delightful neighbourhood at Hastings and Main. We took a day trip to Whistler and went up the mountain, which had stunning panoramic views, even in summer. We spent a day over in Victoria on Vancouver Island, where we visited the best botanic gardens I've ever seen, the Butchart Gardens, as well as the Craigdarroch Castle. There was a piano at the castle on the top floor, and a group from Hong Kong were fooling around on it... they were trying to play a song called Tong Hua, which happens to be the only Mandarin song I know how to sing, and coincidentally play on the piano. After they vacated the piano, I played the full song, to the amazement of the group, and everyone started to sing along - it was awesome. I managed to catch up with Caleb, Mary, Campbell and Linda, the four New Zealanders who migrated there last year, and it was great seeing what they thought of Canada and their experiences settling in to a new country.
There was the disappointing Toronto Burger Festival out in Vaughan, which was a sad attempt at filling the void that Wellington on a Plate left in my stomach. I had to wash it down with the Filipino Food Festival, where I tried balut for the first time... except, I don't think it was really balut, it just looked like a boiled egg without the duck foetus.
We went camping at the Elora Gorge near Guelph, which is famous for the tubing down the river, and I went for the Dovercourt Baptist Church retreat out in Muskoka, with its picturesque lakeside views. I went hiking around some magnificent parks in Ontario, like the Rockwood Conservation Area, the Devil's Punchbowl Waterfall in Hamilton (except there was no water because it hadn't rained in a while), and Dorset Tower and Algonquin Park with its brilliant fall colours.
I had few visitors; I caught up with Graeme, who was randomly in Toronto, Linh, who I hadn't seen since University, and Delwyn and Graham from my church in Wellington. Matt also visited me on Thanksgiving weekend from Cleveland, OH, which is a short five hour drive from here. We went to Allan Gardens, Scarborough Bluffs and Evergreen Brickworks, we went to a blind dining restaurant near the Village and we went for chimney cake twice.
Last week, we went to Tew's Waterfall, Dundas Peak and Webster's Waterfall in the Spencer Gorge Conservation Area, near Hamilton. It was quite the hike, what I thought was the route to the Webster's Waterfall parking lot was actually just a dead-end, but a magnificent view of the falls up close. Dundas Peak was pretty fantastic though, there's a couple of rocks jutting out over the cliff, making for some epic pictures overlooking the blanket of yellow trees in the gorge. We continued on to Niagara for a buffet dinner at the Fallsview Hotel Casino, where I ate too much, and then down to the Niagara Parkway to watch the fireworks over the falls. We walked to Dufferin Islands to see the light displays, then called it a night. The next day, we went wine tasting at the Konzelmann Estate Winery, where we had a four wine pairing with junk food! We also got to learn about the wine making process and the advantage the winery has from being by the lake, as well as how ice wine is made and why it's so expensive. We spent the afternoon walking around Niagara on the Lake before heading back to Toronto.
There's still lots of things to do around the city, but it's definitely time to bring out my winter jackets, gloves and thermals. I'm looking forward to going home to New Zealand for two weeks (where it's SUMMER) and seeing friends and family after a long absence from the country.