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Paula does Toronto

All good things must come to an end, which means I had to bid farewell to the cabin. I mentioned that at the end of my third day, we went to a comedy club. We met up with a bunch of Lindsey’s friends at Yuk Yuk’s for Emily’s birthday. Let me just say, it’s kind of weird seeing some of Lindsey’s friends in person after reading about and seeing pictures of them for years. I basically wanted to stare at Emily and Dawn all night.

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Anyway, there were several comedians. One of them was so terrible that I felt sorry for him. But, there was one comedian that was amazing. He made me laugh hard. He mentioned during his routine that he wanted to be picked up and carted off in to the street with people chanting his name. So at the end of the show (after chanting his name of course), we had to go say hi to him. And pick him up. At first he was like, “no, no, that would make me so uncomfortable.” But Lindsey was all, “you asked for it!” So this is him saying “no” but our arms are already out saying “yes.”

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And then we just went for it without his permission.

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Guys, if two lovely ladies want to pick you up after they’ve been drinking, you let them do it.

So that was a good time. Oh, and a weird thing about Canada: when you pay for food or drinks at a restaurant, you get asked “do you need the machine?” It took me two days to figure out what the hell that meant. Servers bring a machine to you if you want to pay with credit. In America, the server takes your card to their computer and brings it back after it’s charged. I gotta say, I like the way it’s done in Canada better. Your card is never out of your sight.

On our fourth and last day (sniff), it was my birthday so Evan made me a birthday pancake.

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Then their roommate spilled orange juice on it but I’m sure he did it out excitement for my birthday.

After breakfast, we took the subway downtown for a little sightseeing.

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We walked around China town and shopped for some “tang” tops.

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We stopped for a $6 mimosa (because that’s a bargain in Toronto) at a roof top bar.

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We went to an underground store that sold the best t-shirt ever created.

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And eventually, we made our way on the ferry to Toronto Island.

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Toronto Island is this weird mixture of half tourism/ half locals enjoying their day and it’s really easy to tell which is which. We were pretty hungry once we got there, so we enjoyed some of Lindsey’s least favorite pizza in the city.

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That was pretty much the only food on the island because the main restaurant was closed. To be fair, she told us it was her least favorite after we had eaten it. (Thanks?) I thought it was pretty good and made better by the best view from our picnic table, even though the weather overcast and chilly.

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After pizza, we walked around and checked out all the sights. Lindsey was super excited about a scrambler ride on the island that was featured in the movie Take this Waltz. So the boys hung out while Lindsey and I got our ride on.

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Lindsey also made sure they played Video Killed the Radio Star just like in the movie and then proceeded to serenade me the whole ride. So that was a treat.

A random American/Canadian difference I noticed: In Canada, public bathrooms are called washrooms. In America, they are restrooms. I’m sure one of you can use that information at some point, so you’re welcome.

After the ride, we found a petting zoo. With GIANT FLEMISH RABBITS. And BUNNIES. And GUINEA PIGS. And BABY PIGS. And LLAMAS. And GIANT CHAIRS. Basically my dream petting zoo.

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After the island, we hit up a German restaurant for dinner and drinks. The food was great and I was really happy to be off my feet because the puppies were barkin’. We did a little more exploring after that and ended up at El Catrin, a super fun and trendy Mexican restaurant, for MOAR drinks.

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Where’s Alan?

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Hubs and I both looooved this place and thought it was one of the highlights of our trip. I had a great time and it was fun exploring a new city on my birthday. At the end of the day, I had 23k steps on my Fitbit, so we were all dead tired and ready for bed.

One more picture or it didn’t happen.

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Toronto is literally the most diverse city I have ever seen. I was really surprised. I feel like there’s no way to see it all in just a few days but we covered a lot of ground in the short time we were there. Also, a BIG thanks to Lindsey and Evan for letting hubs and I invade their home and for being awesome tour guides for four days, even though it wasn’t their idea and they probably couldn’t have gotten out of it if they wanted to.

**Here is Lindsey’s post on the day if you’re so inclined.**

 

 

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Warsaw Caves

Yeah, I’m still talking about Canada. I was only there for four days, but man, we packed in a lot of good stuff. I have one more post after this and you’ll be free of my Canada talk until the next trip. Because I will totally go back.

On the third day, we drove from the cottage to the Warsaw Caves to do a little spelunking. I remember Lindsey posting about the caves awhile ago and thought it sounded interesting in a poop-your-pants-as-an-adult kind of way. When I told hubs about it, he was seriously down and it was the only thing he asked specifically to do the whole vacation. So creepy, dark, spidery, confined caves it was.

On the way there, we stopped at a store for headlamps which just happened to be near a very small sidewalk market. While Evan was on headlamp duty, Lindsey, hubs, and I walked over to the market to hunt down the infamous butter tart. All I have to say is holy crap, because butter tarts are legit and probably the best thing from the list that I got to try.

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So buttery. So tarty. My teeth hurt while eating it but it was totally worth it. My first baby shall be named Butter Tart.

We arrived at the caves, which are located at a conservation area about 45 minutes from the cottage. We checked in quickly had a short walk to the first cave where hubs had no problem being the first one in.

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I went last since I didn’t have a headlamp and also because CAVES. I got in there and was crouching to try to get into a larger open area. There were a lot of people in the cave and I could hear a lot of voices in the distance but it was really tight and confined so I immediately chickened out. I never knew I had claustrophobia but apparently I do. Also, I’ve seen the movies and I know what happens so I GTFO and waited outside the cave while the three crazies were inside smiling and taking pictures like you couldn’t die at any minute in there.

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While I was waiting, I read the brochure and found out that the fifth cave was a cave for wussies and that sounded good to me. So we skipped caves 2-4 for a more Paula friendly cave that wouldn’t freak me out except that it kinda did because you had to sit on a ledge and then drop down into it.

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Of course, I slipped and it hurt but once I got in there, it wasn’t so bad. I felt like I had to keep moving though because there were some really tight areas that I did not want to loiter in. At one point, hubs was waiting for a family to get out of the cave in front of him and I was sandwiched between two giant rocks behind him and I just needed to get into a more open area. He was able to move forward a bit for me but I don’t think it would have been pretty if he couldn’t. Eventually, I put on my big girl pants and was even able to smile for some pictures in the tiny little death cave.

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By the way, it’s all fun and games until you have to get out of the cave. Dropping into a cave means climbing back out. Or belly crawling 10 meters to another opening and NOPE. I’ll climb, thank you.

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I think this is me trying to get out. It doesn’t look that hard from above but let me tell you, that was not the case. Lindsey went first and got out of that cave like she was Canada’s Ninja of Parkour. Then, hubs is behind me saying, “Once you start, you have to commit” and Lindsey is outside the cave yelling, “Come on! you do Crossfit!” So yeah. Helpful. But I got out and we lived to explore another scary cave.

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Well, scary just for me because hubs was LOVING it. No fear with that one.

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After we were done with the caves, we went for a hike in the conservation area to find the giant kettle. Kettles are like big potholes that were formed when granite stones trapped in the river current spun around in place, grinding their way into the limestone. We saw a few smaller ones on the way to the big one. I had never heard of a kettle before so I thought it was pretty interesting to learn about.

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After the caves, we went back to the cottage to soak up some sun because the day was PERFECT. It was seriously like Florida winter. Sunny, cool breeze, 70°F.

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Or 21°C for you Canadians. Seriously, I never knew what the weather was there because everyone be all, “Fahrenheit what?”

I also got to enjoy the Evan’s famous cooking and it was a delight for sure.

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We had pork skewers and full disclosure, I do not like pork, but I liked those skewers enough to have two.

You would think this was the end of our day, but it was not. We ended up going to a comedy club that night that had one of the better and the worst comedians I’ve ever seen. So Canada representing both sides of the spectrum there. I’ll save that one for next time.

And of course, Lindsey already posted about the day so you can read her post here.

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Cottage in the Woods

The last we left off on my great Canadian adventure, we were in Niagara Falls. We left Niagara in the morning for Evan’s family’s cottage. If you read Lindsey’s blog, you know she’s all “Cottage! Cottage! Cottage! I love cottage!” so she was very excited to take us there. But first, we made a pit stop at Tim Horton’s. Tim Horton’s is the Dunkin Donuts of Canada and Timbits (their donut holes) were on my list of Canadian delicacies to try. In the great American/Canadian donut hole challenge, Tim Horton’s wins. By a lot. I also ordered an iced coffee and apparently that comes with a “sugar base.” In the U.S., you only get sugar in your coffee if you ask for it. I just took this as Canada’s first of many attempts to fatten me up.

We also stopped to pick up some booze along the way because cottages are for drinking. I thought I might actually die when I saw a bottle of Absolute is $27. That is madness! The same size bottle in Orlando is $14. Now I see how Canada can offer free health care, cuz you guys are paying out the ass for everything else.

We dropped off our things at the cottage and made a B-line for lunch at the Golden Beach Resort.

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The Golden Beach Resort is a cottage resort and it is kind of in the middle of nowhere so it is very quaint and…woodsy? I liked it. The restaurant there is small and homey and has a patio, and patios are important.

The shrimp flatbread sounded good so I ordered that for the table. And man, it was delicious. I could have eaten that for my meal. It was also served on a fish plate which is adorable.

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We also got (authentic!) poutine for the table. Lindsey was not going to let me leave Canada with our last poutine experience in my memory. It looks like a giant cow patty but it was delicious, and I’m not even a fan of gravy. Now I know what she has been talking about all these years. Poutine. It’s what dreams are made of.

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Those cheese curds melt and get all stringy and delightful.

I also got the fish and chips because Lindsey said it was the, “best fish and chips of her life” the week before on her blog. So, that had to happen.

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Very good. The best of my life? Probably not. But close.

After lunch, we went back to the cabin. The weather was a bit chilly and it started to rain, so we all took a nap on the couch. Not one couch. There were three, lest you think we just piled up. That’s when I knew Lindsey and Evan were our soul mates because I love a good rainy day nap. When the rain stopped, we hung out on the dock and drank while watching Evan try to unsuccessfully fix a boat motor. There’s nothing like drinking and watching someone else do manual labor.

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Once the sun went down, it got pretty chilly so Lindsey made us all look like lumberjacks.

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The most exciting part of the night was getting to see lightning bugs again! I haven’t seen those since I lived in Illinois. Also exciting: ketchup chips.

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These were on the list and Lindsey bought them before we knew the list existed, so she gets some extra Canadian points for that. I don’t really eat chips much and I took that bag out. I thought they sounded gross at first, but they have a little kick to them and are amazing. Why don’t we have them in America?

I’m not even sure what we did after that. I think there were games but we ended up just chatting all night and hanging on the dock for awhile to check out the stars. It was a really fun second day in Canada even though the weather wasn’t that (says Lindsey because I’ll take 55 degree weather any day).

You can also check out Lindsey’s post about the day and see what pictures I stole from her.

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Niagara Falls Fun

A few months ago, I decided I wanted to go on vacation to Toronto and decided that since Lindsey lived there, she should entertain me on that vacation for four days straight. When I told her about my plans, she said yes which was very exciting since I had only met her once before. Back in the blonde and black and white days.

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I’d like to think we took a shine to each other and knew it was a matter of time before me met again.

One thing hubs and I really wanted to do on our Toronto adventures was see Niagara Falls since I knew it was pretty close. I told Lindsey that we were thinking of renting a car and driving over one day when she was like, “hell no, we’ll take you!” So instead of flying into Toronto, we flew into Buffalo, NY so we could hit up Niagara first thing. We got a pretty good deal on a Southwest flight. We were in boarding group C but still managed to score a sweet window seat.

Enjoying that view.

Lindsey and her lover, Evan, picked us up at the airport. Hubs spotted them first, which was lucky, since they were enamored with an American snack machine instead of finding us. Once we got to the car, Evan leveled up our friendship by instantly offering us delicious maple cookies. I should have taken a picture of them, because they were part of my (very important) Canadian culinary adventure. But alas, I did not. Just know that they were delicious and maple and when you are in Canada, you eat maple dammit.

We drove maybe an hour to Niagara, where Lindsey had booked a sweet hotel room for us. This was our view from the room.

I really have to stop using my  phone to take pictures because that is some blurry crap. Also, this trip make me realize that I am just awful at photography so I have stolen many of Lindsey’s pictures because she is better than me and needs to teach me her ways.

Anyway, none of us had eaten lunch, so we dropped off our bags in the room and walked to place called The Secret Garden. This isn’t it, but this was along the way.

You’ll notice a stuffed parrot in the picture above. His name is Alan Barkin (because he’s a boy and we couldn’t name him Ellen, duh). He was rescued from a crane game and now he’s out living life. You’ll be seeing a lot of him from now on and probably a post dedicated to his exciting new life.

Ok back to lunch. We chose the Secret Garden because it had a patio and we all agreed we likey patios. My first order of business was to try a Canadian beer so I ordered a Steam Whistle, which was good.

I didn’t get a picture of my food, but I had a burger. When I ordered it cooked medium, the girl was like, “we only cook those one way.” And then Lindsey was all, “you get to choose how your burger is cooked in America?” Yes. Yes we do. I’m sorry to all you Canadians who only get to experience well done burgers. It makes me sad for you. Please come to America and have a burger that is cooked medium and thank me later. The burger was good but in a overly cooked kind of way. I also tried some of Lindsey’s poutine (also on my list of Canadian things to put in my mouth) and it was just ok.

Poutine is fries with gravy and cheese curds. This one had shredded cheese instead, and what tasted like canned gravy. No bueno. Lindsey assured me that it was a bad example of poutine and that I had to try it again. Fine, fine. If I must. While were on the food subject, I am completely convinced that Heinz ketchup tastes different in Canada. I feel like their version is more vinegary and America’s is more sweet. Hubs thinks I’m crazy but if I like the taste in America but not in Canada, there’s gotta be something different, right? Who’s with me?

After lunch, we walked over to the Hornblower, a boat that takes you up close to the American and Canadian falls.

Let me tell you, it is windy and wet down there but also beautiful and amazing to experience. Definitely a must do if you’re visiting the area. I think it’s only $20 which is like $1.50 in Canadian money or something.

After the boat, we walked around and checked out the falls for awhile. It was especially cool to see the water flowing over the edge of the falls. We tried to find a barrel so we could ride over, but no luck.

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Since Niagara is a tourist area, there are a bunch of gift stores everywhere. Hubs was especially excited to find Kinder eggs. They are illegal in the U.S. (you read that right) because the small toys inside are a choking hazard. Canada all be like, “let our children choke!” Hubs used to love these when he lived in Germany and he always talks about how he misses them, so once he saw them he was like a kid in a candy store. Except he was an adult in a candy store because we were actually in a candy store.

“Nutrition facts. Please contact us by mail.” I’m tempted.

After walking around all day, we needed to freshen up a bit at the hotel before we went out for dinner. And by freshen up, I mean we put on some perfume and called it good. We went out for drinks first and then to a place called Coco’s (also with a patio) and had some really good pizza and more drinks until we shut the place down. I’m absolutely certain I took more pictures at this point but I can’t find them so I guess it didn’t happen. #bloggerlogic

More walking happened after dinner and we checked out the falls at night, which are lit up with different, changing colors. Very pretty. I wanted to go on the nighttime illumination boat tour to see the lights up close but they didn’t run that tour on Thursday, which was a bummer but also a blessing. It was super chilly outside and being on the wet, cold boat probably would have sucked. At the end of the night, we checked out the casino where I proceeded to lose money that Lindsey handed me because I am gambling poison.

It was a really fun and busy first day in Canada.

You can also check out Lindsey’s post about our first day. She remembers things better than I do and takes more pictures. Smile

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