This is where it all starts: toronto this ...

Trip Start Sep 16, 2002
Trip End May 31, 2004

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Flag of Canada  , Ontario,
Tuesday, October 8, 2002

This is where it all starts: Toronto.

This is a very cosmopolitan city with a laid back atmosphere and a striking skyline. Walk down Yonge Street (the longest street in the world - 1200 km) and it is not unusual to hear Russian, Spanish or Italian being spoken as opposed to English. Apparantly they reckon 40% of the population of Toronto was born outside Canada. Its a great melting pot of cultures and its also very popular with the movie industry. This summer alone 33 blockbusters have been filmed in Toronto. So its a pretty lively place. And for all you shoppers out there, well you might find you are in your element here. There is an underground city of shops which saves you walking overground (good idea especially in the winter when temperatures plummet into the minus 20 degrees).

The most famous landmark in Toronto is the CN Tower. This is the highest free standing building in the world. When you get to the top there is this section of glass floor which you can walk on. Its only about 2 inches thick and can take the weight of several cars. Hence you get some people jumping up and down on it - which is always a good way to clear people off it. From the Tower you can see the Skydome. This is used for baseball and football games as well as conferences. It has this retractable roof which takes 20 minutes to open.

Spent a few days getting some more bits for the trip (digital camera - about two thirds the price of a camera back in the UK) and then decided to venture up north and see the wilder side of Canada. We drove 3 hours north of Toronto to a place called Algonquin Park. Here we would hike, canoe and hopefully see some wildlife. After the long drive we finally arrived at the cottage on the picturesque Round Lake. Thats one thing Canada is not short of...Lakes. Algonquin Park has around 200 lakes and lots of forest to get lost in. As we were late our group and guide had already gone for a hike, so we just spent time in the Log Cabin, drank coffee and contemplated a relaxing weekend....

After meeting our group which consisted of Danes, Australians and Italians we settled down and had our dinner. Chris our guide cooked the meal and filled us in on what we had to look forward to. While some of the sensible members of the group decided to head to bed early our cabin which consisted of our Danish friends (Pete and Chris), myself and my Dad decided to play cards and contemplate philosophical questions such as "idealism or realism" until the small hours. Probably something to do with the drink.

The following day after a cooked breakfast we took our canoes and headed out over the lake. There was a little breeze blowing which would later cause some of us major problems on the way back. We were told these winds were the top end of a Hurricane which was passing further south. But we headed out regardless towards the horizon. Now when you pair up with someone for canoeing its always a good idea to make sure you are not either married, a couple or just good friends. This is because the steering of the canoe becomes a rather large bone of contention. In other words you will probably fall out. Its always the other person who is causing the boat to move too late or not enough or in the wrong direction. Well we were no exception so it wasn't long before we were blaming each other for the steering of the canoe. This did not help when we arrived at a beaver dam which we had to paddle across at high speed. Instead of clearing it we capsized! While Dad was concerned about whether his cigarettes were still dry, I frantically checked my camera which I only purchased 2 weeks ago. Luckily the camera survived - the cigarettes didn't. So when canoeing ALWAYS choose a stranger to canoe with.

On the way back the wind had really picked up which made it even more physically demanding. It took us about an hour and a half to canoe the 3km across the lake. Luckily we avoided capsizing this time - although we came close. As we arrived back at the cottage the wind slowly died down and the lake returned to its original serene state. Isn't that always the way. After recovering we had our fish supper and Chris took us out for some Wolf Howling. This involves standing on the edge of the lake and you guessed it....howling like a wolf. As you do it on the lake it echos around for miles. If there is a lone wolf they will normally reply. When a wolf becomes ostricised from the pack they normally die of starvation as a wolf hunts as part of a pack not on its own. So when you howl they see it as a lifeline back into a pack. Unfortunately we did not get any wolf replies back (only people on the otherside of the lake replied with convincing howls).

Next day we went hiking in the surrounding forest. Along the way our guide pointed out many different varieties of fungus including a lobster mushroom which has the same colour and scent as lobster. This was the last activity of the weekend and although we were exhausted it was well worth it. A 3 day trip up here costs around 120 pounds and includes accommodation, food and all the activities. If you can take longer I would recommend it as there is alot to see up here.

Next stop Montreal and Quebec City....

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