Niagara Falls, Ottawa and delaying Europe

Trip Start Jan 09, 2004
Trip End Jul 14, 2004

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Flag of Canada  , Quebec,
Monday, May 31, 2004

It's the first of June and I'm not in Paris ! I'm still speaking French though, in Quebec. I was due to leave Canada last night, but when I returned from Ottawa to Montreal my housemates here had a weekend full of activities planned, which would have been impeded my my plans of a day trip to Quebec City, and Sunday afternoon departure.

I love Canada and I wasn't feeling ready to leave, so I took it all as a sign that I should put off Paris and stay an extra week. Less strain on my purse strings, too. So I've had a fun and relaxing weekend in Montreal, and tomorrow I'll start my extended trip up to Quebec city.

On Tuesday night in Toronto I got a call from Hayden (a fellow UofC Aussie student) to say he and Seb were back in Toronto, and planning to head down to Niagara Falls the next morning. On the spot I decided I would spend my last morning in Toronto on a bus to the legend of North American second marriage honeymoons. So the next morning I got up at an hour I'd nearly forgotten existed (and to think I used to start work that early in Australia!) to catch the bus to Niagara Falls. Seb piked at the last minute, but Hayden and I went, and it was so worthwhile!

I can't believe I wasn't going to see the falls while I was in Canada. If they were in South America or Africa they would be the type of thing that world-weary travellers brag about. Sadly, their placement smack-bang on the US/Canadian border, combined with the hideous monstrocities that are the casinos and honeymoon suite hotels in the township, have taken away the diginty and awe the falls deserve. It was by far the most amazing waterfalls I've ever seen and, (Great Barrier Reef excepted), one of the greatest natural wonders.

Hayden and I walked around for two hours marvelling and the sheer size and power of it. I definitely plan to go back one day and do the 'Maid of the Mist' up close boat tour, and behind the waterfalls tours and the like. If you're a young traveller in Eastern Canada don't discount Niagara Falls, despite the scorn of the local population. It was awesome.

After that fantastic last-minute experience I bussed back to Toronto and said goodbye to the Four Seasons, then got on another bus to Ottawa. I was expecting Ottawa to be about as entertaining as Canberra (eg. So boring you could cry), and was really stopping only to see my friend from Calgary Andrea, who recently moved there. The fact she lived in the national capital was a pleasant coincidence.

Staying with Andrea was the ideal follow-up to the Four Seasons in Toronto. It was equally as good, but for different reasons. Although Andrea's funky modest apartment may not be as luxurious as the Four Seasons, she and Tim's warmth and hospitality made me feel even more comfortable. Andrea picked me up from the bus depot at around 10pm and drove me home, where she and Tim had prepared a sumptious array of salads for late dinner.

On Thursday we wandered around downtown Ottawa rather aimlessly, taking in the sights and catching up. Ottawa is a very beautiful city, the Canadian parliament is much classier than either the US or Australian, I think. Andrea had to work for a few hours in the evening while I browsed through the National Gallery. We went out for Thai and then a few beers, then headed home. Bright and early the next morning I headed back to Montreal, and on arrival decided I would stay longer. A call to the ever-friendly Air Canada people changed my fly out date to this coming Friday.

Yesterday was free museum day in Montreal, (how could I not stay for that!?) and a beautiful day as well. So we wandered the streets between museums, looking at fine art, archeology, architecture and the like. Tonight I'm going to the 'Fringe For All', a pre-Fringe Festival do where about a four minute excerpt of each production is performed. Should be interesting. I would say resolutely that Montreal lives up to its repuation as the culture capital of Canada.

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