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> Starter Kit for Ontario, I heart Ontario
starlagurl
post May 7 2008, 09:54 AM
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Getting There
Getting to Ontario is easy. There are big airports all over the place, but it's probably best and cheapest to land in the Toronto airport. Ottawa, Windsor, Sarnia, London, Kingston, Kitchener and Hamilton also have airports. The Thunder Bay airport services the entire northern Ontario region (which is ginormous)

Getting Around
The easiest way to get around Ontario is by car, especially if you plan on visiting the smaller towns.

However, the cheapest way is by Greyhound or Coach Canada bus. If you are spending most of your time in the bigger cities, this is convenient and the buses usually always leave on time, and are very predictable.

You can also use www.pickuppal.com for really cheap carpools. I have found lots of success using this website.

Don't forget that craigslist.org and kijiji.ca also offer really great rideshare boards, although they are a tad disorganized.

If you are in Ottawa, there is a rideshare board, hosted by the University of Ottawa. Here's the link to that one: http://www.communitylife.uottawa.ca/en/rides/

You could also check the rideshare board on Craigslist for some last minute rides around the province.

Taking the Via Rail is also a lot of fun, but costs twice as much as the bus, and doesn't leave as often as the bus. It is a little faster, but I don't think it's really worth it.

What to do in Ontario

I've lived here all my life and I really love Ontario, there are tons of things to do.

Niagara Falls

Make sure you visit Niagara Falls (it's my home town, so I know all the tricks, message me if you plan on going there)
The best tip for parking in Niagara Falls: Park behind the restaurant/bar called Rumours Night Club, and tell the parking attendant you are going there. Whether you are or not doesn't really matter. This is the real insider tip, folks, parking prices in Niagara are ridiculous.

The Maid of the Mist is definitely not a rip off. It's a little pricey, but totally worth it. If you do anything in Niagara Falls, do this.

There are also some great wineries in the area, it's a good idea to check a couple of them out. Most of Ontario wines come from this humid and balmy part of the province.

A nice day trip from Niagara Falls is Niagara-on-the-Lake. If you like tea and crumpets this is your place. It's a throwback to the Victorian days and it's surprisingly un-plastic. Thing is though, you'll need a LOT of money to enjoy yourself thoroughly here.

Toronto

I also heart Toronto, a whole bunch. On weekends, most people in Niagara Falls LOVE to drive up to Toronto, crash at a friend's house and then drive right back to work on Monday.

The nightlife is fabulous, there are some great indie festivals there, like NXNE (North by Northeast) and Canadian Music Week.

The Toronto International Film Festival is also a great festival, but again, a little pricey.

I've also been to the off-beat theatre festival, the Fringe Festival, and I was not disappointed.

A new festival that just got started up a couple of years ago is the Virgin Festival. If you like rock music, do NOT miss Virgin Fest. It is sensory overload and you will be buzzed for AT LEAST two weeks after this jam-packed weekend on Toronto Island.

Places that I recommend you see in Toronto:
Royal Ontario Museum
Art Gallery of Ontario
CN Tower
Toronto Zoo (really great for kids)
Canada's Wonderland (outside the city, but also really fun, go on a weekday to avoid lines)

Places that I recommend you skip:
Ontario Science Centre (unless you have kids)
Bata Shoe Museum
Casa Loma
Hockey Hall of Fame (unless you are a sports fan, obviously)
Ontario Place (really, really sucks, unless there is a big concert there)

Toronto also has some great shopping, if that's your bag. Check out Queen St. W for clothes, lots of high fashion, and also lots of vintage wear. Whatever you want. The Eaton's Centre is a big deal, up on Yonge and Dundas. I guess you could check it out, but it's just got a bunch of chain stores in it anyway.

Chinatown is my favourite place for shopping, get yourself to Dundas and Spadina and get ready to find some cool stuff.

Eating in Toronto is easy, mostly everywhere you go is great, as long as it's not a chain restaurant. Please do not eat at a chain restaurant in Toronto. You have so much variety it's best to just go somewhere random. In Chinatown, you will find lots of authentic Chinese and Vietnamese food, try some of those places.

I don't have any specific places to recommend you go and eat, just try different stuff and you will find something great.

If you're not in Toronto during one of the above-mentioned festivals and you like the indie rock, go to the El Mocambo. It's been there forever, and there's always a great band playing. I still remember the time I just randomly showed up for a DJ Champion show and was completely wowed by the crowd's enthusiasm and the cozy feel of the place.

Ottawa

In 2001, I made Ottawa my new home. At first, I thought it was boring and I hated it. And now... I still think it's kind of boring and I still kind of hate it. Me and Ottawa have a love/hate relationship.

The things you should do in Ottawa, if you have the time, are in this order:

Parliament Hill (free tours daily in the summer)
The National Gallery of Canada (just incredible, message me if you want half price entry)
The Canadian Museum of Civilization (very informative if you know nothing about Canadian history)
Canadian War Museum (very impressive, but you need a LOT of time to do it justice, go here if you already have a basic handle on Canadian history, so you can skip the CMC and just go straight to the war stuff, which is more detailed)

Things you should not do in Ottawa (unless you really want):
Science and Technology Museum
Museum of Nature
Supreme Court of Canada
Royal Canadian Mint
Bank of Canada Currency Museum
National Aviation Museum (lots of cool planes, if you like that sort of thing)
Canada Agriculture Museum (mostly just a bunch of farm animals in a barn)
Ottawa Bytown Museum (interesting, but only if you are into the history of the city of Ottawa itself)

Skating on the Canal! If you are brave enough to come to Ottawa in the winter, GO SKATING ON THE CANAL. You can't do this anywhere else, so get off your butt and skate the ENTIRE THING. If you have space in your luggage, bring your own skates, because the rental fees are ridiculous.

Get around either on the bus (don't forget to buy tickets at a Quickie store before you get on) or rent a bike. There are amazing bike paths in Ottawa. If you rent a bike, it's worth it to ride up and down the canal and river system.

Festivals in Ottawa I highly recommend:
Ottawa Jazz Festival (love it, get drunk on the lawn and chill out to smooth jazz)
Bluesfest (incredible, dance all day and then go do it all over again the next day...for at least a week and a half)
Fringe Festival (off-beat theatre fest, just great)
Canada Day (If you are in Canada on July 1, MAKE YOUR WAY TO OTTAWA, definitely the biggest party in the country on that day. If you don't think you'll ever come back to Canada again, do not miss it for the world)

Festivals in Ottawa that are kind of boring:
Winterlude (freezing your butt off outside to look at ice sculptures, not my cuppa tea, however there is a very good outdoor free concert series. Nothing gets the crowd hopping like a little blizzard)
Tulip Festival (REALLY boring, honestly...the tulips are beautiful, yeah, but....you've seen one, you've seen 'em all, know what I'm saying?)

Shopping in Ottawa is not that great. Most people just go to Montreal to get their cool stuff. But if you have to, make a stop in the Byward Market during the summer. You'll mostly find junky stuff among the fresh produce being sold by local farmers.

If you're the outdoorsy type and need some gear for a camping trip, head to the Mountain Equipment Co-op in Westboro (Richmond Rd.). There's a little cluster of outdoors stores that grew up around the backpacker's haven.

Again, I don't really have any great recommendations for eating out. Most stuff that you find in Ottawa is mediocre at best. Again, please don't go to the chain restaurants, there are lots of local restaurants that are way better.

Nightlife:

My favourite haunts are Zaphod Beeblebrox and Babylon nightclub. If you're in a techno or house-y mood, head to Heaven. There are also small punk shows at End Hits sometimes, but you have to check http://www.punkottawa.com to find out when they are taking place. Capital Music Hall also has really good shows as well, but again, it's sporadic and you'll have to pay quite a bit to see these mediocre bands who make the detour between Montreal and Toronto to Ottawa.

I also like the Dominion Tavern, it's gross, but cheap. Pub 101, also on York St. is also really cheap.

Don't go to the Honest Lawyer. Period. I know it looks tempting, just don't, OK?


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starlagurl
post May 7 2008, 10:21 AM
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Rolling Stone
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Phew, I KNEW something was missing in the Canada forum, and this is it!

If you're going to any other place in Ontario, please leave a message on this forum and I'll write more about it.

These three places are the most visited places, and I've spent lots of time in all of them.

I've also spent lots of time across the province, so don't be shy. Want to know more about small towns? Just post, and I will reply.


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travellingjon
post May 7 2008, 07:40 PM
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Hey ! ranting2.gif
I loved the Royal Canadian Mint tour tongue.gif
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starlagurl
post May 8 2008, 09:14 AM
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What? It's a snoozefest...


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travellingjon
post May 8 2008, 10:26 AM
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Well, granted this is not the place to bring your 4 and 6 years old little cousins for a fun time, but all these gold coins pouring out in bags just in front of your eyes... Jeez, I wish I could reach out my hand and take some for myself...

Of course, I'm a coin collector too, it helps keeping awake smile.gif
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starlagurl
post May 8 2008, 10:29 AM
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Heh, I went last summer, and there WAS a couple of bored little kids there...one with the chicken pox...(at least that's what my friend thought she had and for a whole week she was imagining she had chicken pox too)


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kitkatgo
post May 8 2008, 12:24 PM
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How far is Niagra Falls from Toronto?


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starlagurl
post May 8 2008, 12:28 PM
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An hour and a half by car... 130 ish km

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&hl=en&...e=UTF8&z=10


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kitkatgo
post May 8 2008, 12:47 PM
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Oh, man...it looks SOOO close on the map. And trully it's not as far as I thought it was. But I don't think we'll be renting a car, dang it.

I guess Niagra Falls will have to stay on my to do list a little longer.


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cmatatall
post Aug 20 2008, 03:24 PM
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I just got back from Tobormory from spending a weekend at a cottage. What a beutiful place with lots of exciting things to do. I would recomend this place to anyone.
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starlagurl
post Aug 20 2008, 03:30 PM
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Tobormory, where exactly is that? I think I might have been there too. Did you write a blog about it? I'd like to read it.


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cmatatall
post Aug 20 2008, 03:38 PM
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No I have not written a blog yet. I am a little new to this. Anyways, it is about 4hrs north of London. It is located on the Northern tip of the Bruce Peninsula. Lots of fun things to do and see. I would check it out. Bring a sweater though.....it can get a little cool out.
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starlagurl
post Aug 20 2008, 03:44 PM
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Hmmm...ohhhhhhhhh welcome to the forums, cmatatall, Yes I google mapped it, I was mistaken, I have not been there. I've been camping in Goderich though. That was nice too.


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bipodx
post Aug 31 2008, 12:46 AM
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hi star gurl,
i want to come in canada and wanna have a ride for the whole canada on a bike, do u knoe anyone/ngo/bike club etc. who can sponsrod bike/gas/stay etc. ( i know am asking for too much) but thats my dream to visit the almost all the countries on a BIKE (Motorcycle)................tryin to find any sponsor.... do u know any................
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starlagurl
post Sep 2 2008, 10:45 AM
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I don't know about getting a free motorcycle, but you can get free accomodations at couchsurfing.com

Have you tried it yet?


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