Our first few days in Canada

Exactly two weeks ago today, we landed in Toronto after a relatively pleasant if somewhat lacking-in-legroom flight from London. On board, I enjoyed a surprisingly tasty meal of generic meat in brown sauce and mashed potato. It was honestly about a million times better than it looks. And, as a bonus, about an hour before we landed, we were served a rolled up pizza in a box!

The plane food wasn’t all that bad

Once we landed, we were picked up from the airport by our friends Riley and Steve. We kind of organised our trip around their wedding date, which wasn’t anywhere near as much of an inconvenience as we made it out to be.

We stayed the first night in a hotel near their house in Toronto, and the next day they drove us down to Burlington, a town further down the shore on Lake Ontario and we checked into our place there. Our first few days with Riley and Steve served as a crash course in Canadian culture, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t experience a little bit of culture shock.

The hotel we stayed in on the first night resembled something out of The Shining

Everything here is bigger. It’s a cliché, but it’s true. The roads are wider, the buildings are taller, the rubbish bins look like they’ve lost all sense of human scale. Things come in larger package sizes than at home. This was all to be expected, but somehow it was still overwhelming.

In these first few days, we also received our first introduction to the Canadian institution that is Tim Hortons. It’s essentially their version of Costa and most Canadians are fiercely loyal to it. They sell doughnut holes known as “Timbits”  (unfortunately I didn’t get a picture) and we picked up a mixed box of 25 or so. They come in various flavours such as chocolate, apple, birthday cake (wtf?!) and soured cream. We were told that we wouldn’t be able to stop eating them but I only managed about three before entering a sugar-induced coma. However I do have an unusually low tolerance for sugar, I’m told.

We spent the next day or so being swept up into Riley and Steve’s wedding preparations, which they kept apologising profusely for but it was honestly quite a lot of fun and a great window into everyday Canadian life, and we really felt welcomed by Steve’s parents and Riley’s friends and relatives.

The wedding took place at a spectacular lakeside venue. The ceremony was due to be carried out outside on a wonderful balcony…

The splendid wedding venue

…but seconds after we arrived the heavens opened to torrential rain. I’m not sure I’d ever seen such an intense burst of rain before in my life, and in five minutes it was over! Fortunately, the venue staff were well-equipped with kitchen roll and came and dried all the seats so the ceremony could go ahead outside. The sun having re-emerged, the guests convened out on the patio and everything went off without a hitch.

We had a great time at the wedding, where alcohol was in free flow thanks to the open bar. We had our fill of beef and wine and then made our way home and slid into bed. It was set to be a great night’s sleep until the bride from another wedding party (there were four staying at the hotel that weekend) sauntered into our room at 02:00 in the morning as the hotel had double-booked our room! Luckily I’d put the latch on the door otherwise she would have been greeted by the sight of two hairy men fast asleep in bed and a load of wedding attire casually strewn over the floor.

Our route

I just finished the first map of our route showing our planned stops over our trip. As we go, I’ll upload a new map with and colour the line orange to show our progress. The first leg has already been filled out, when we flew down to New York last week.

The first leg of our trip down to New York

Setting off…

I’m just about to start the road trip of a lifetime across Canada and the US with my partner, who shall remain anonymous (let’s call him P). We’re gonna pick up a car in Toronto, driving first up to Montréal, Québec City and then through New Brunswick (which we’ll just pass through) to Nova Scotia. There, we’ll stay in a couple of cabins before heading back to Toronto.

Once we’re back in Toronto, we’ll switch cars (for top-secret reasons) and start our drive to the west coast. Our stops on the way will include Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay in Ontario, Winnipeg (from which we’ll make a detour to “New Iceland”) in Manitoba, Regina in Saskatchewan, Calgary and Banff National Park in Alberta, and Kamloops in Nova Scotia before ending up in Vancouver.

From Vancouver, we’ll head south down the west coast. In Oregon, we’ll stop in Seattle, Portland and Ashland. Then we’ll make our way to Eureka, California before driving down to San Francisco. After San Francisco our plans are not set in stone, but we need to get back to Toronto somehow with the car.

Right now we’re planning to go Salt Lake City – Denver – Kansas City – St. Louis – Chicago – Detroit – Toronto. We might shuffle around our plans for the first part of that leg, however, so we can make it to the Grand Canyon.

We’ve been on our trip for about two weeks so far. We started off with a wedding in Burlington, Ontario, which was a great initiation into Canadian culture. Then we spent a couple of nights in Toronto before heading to New York for a week. Last night, we landed back in Toronto and in a few days we’ll set off for Montréal. I’ll post about our trip to New York, including pictures, later on!