Wednesday, August 31, 2011

wanderlust: Canadia

Nope, that's not a typo.  I feel like Canadians should live in Canadia.  Because if they lived in Canada they'd be Canadans, like people who life in America are Americans, not Americians, right?  C'mon, it makes total sense.

So, our vacation.  Our epic, long, exhausting, thrilling, wonderful family vacation.

We started with Niagara Falls, and headed around the northeast part of the continent in a wide loop, Canada first.  Niagara was...awe-ing.  My only wish is that it had been sunnier (we would have dried off faster...).

At first it was a little anticlimactic.  "Look, the waterfall.  Sweet."  But we rode the Maid of the Mist--a boat that takes you literally underneath the Canadian side of the falls.  We were soaked, and picture-taking was limited to say the least.  Seeing was limited for that matter, with all the water spray.

It has been consuming my mind for the past...long time that I absolutely must get into Canada before my younger brother.  My older sister had been out of the country before, but Grant and I had not, and I was determined to make that significant step before him.  Very discreetly I sat just slightly forward in my seat as our papers were checked and we crossed the border.  SUCCESS!

The next day we headed to Toronto.  I have unkind memories of Toronto.  It was just...a bad day.  We didn't really know where we were going, but we did see the CN tower, which was cool.

That night was a little better; we headed to a Toronto Blue Jays baseball game.  The Jays won, and we got to see a 3-run homer.  =)  Baseball is in my blood.

Also, taking pictures through your sunglasses can be rather entertaining.

The next day was also spent in Toronto, at a park called Ontario Place.  It had a water park/rides/music/other amusement and entertainment, and our family just kinda hung out there (and rode paddle boats.  and were weird.).

That evening we went to a beach on Lake Ontario in the nearby town of Coubourg.  Let me tell you, Lake Ontario is cold.

An incredible sand sculpture contest had just taken place, and so we were inspired to create our own sand art.  Tess was very proud of her creations.  Cassie was very...creative.

Grant, Brooke, and I kinda failed and making a dragon.  Our note to viewers reads "What are you, stupid?" (reference to this Julian Smith video) "It's a dragon, not a gator."

We left Ontario for Quebec and drove into the Montreal area, where we saw St. Joseph's Basilica and Parc de Mont Royale, both of which had pretty sweet views of the city and the St. Lawrence River.

Ohh, Montreal.  Our stay in this city was the best part of our trip.  Our family belongs to a Christian organization that networks families to host other families when travelling to save ridiculous amounts of money that would otherwise be spent on a hotel.  Well, the family in Montreal, the Bourgeaus...they were all wonderful.  They were French with broken English (and my mom's second language is French, so we managed hilariously), sweet, entertaining, and full of hospitality.  I love them.

We were able to spend one day relaxing at the Bourgeau's house (during a hail storm), and the next day we saw Old Montreal.  The river, Notre Dame de Montreal, ice cream, awesome Canadian skies.

Back at the Bourgeaus, Lucas (French, pronounced Loo-kah--the Borgeaus son) took us to see their three horses, which we ended up riding.  In a field.  In the rain.  It was beautiful.  Sam, Lucas' friend that stays with their family, did his imitation of a Texan accent for us, and mocked everyone's attempts to communicate in French and English.

By the way, in case you were wondering, our family does have its car moments.

Cassie, my mom, and I went to Montreal's botanical gardens, which were lovely.  Cassie didn't like them.  I adore flowers.

When we left the Bourgeaus after 4 days with them, we were all extremely sad.  They made our vacation 723 times better.  But we left for Quebec City [with Fronternac Castle!].

Old Quebec is, I believe, the only city north of Mexico that still has fortifications around it.  It was one of my favorite places to wander around in--so many quaint shops and caf├ęs.  Almost everyone spoke French, though a good number of people could manage in English too.

Can I just say how much I love the French language?  I do.  I wish I could speak in it more...I can understand what people are saying most of the time, but I can't say much myself.  Someone in Quebec asked me to take their picture in French.  Me: "...oui....okay..."  I was so proud of myself.  :P

Grant has some pretty priceless faces.

Anyway, there were more cool churches, good food, lovely views, and pretty buildings.  Plus a pretty sweet boardwalk.

Montmorency Falls are taller than Niagara, and beautiful too.  The sound of water is a happy one.

We visited an art museum (with statues of the Muses!) and several cute houses with art galleries and pretty landscaping.

And after that, my friends, we headed out of Canada for good.  It was good to back in the U.S. though, really.  As cool as the bilingual-ness is, it was good to know that everyone I spoke to in Maine would be able to understand me.  We drove and saw a couple rivers and a Mary Poppins view [Mary Poppins ended up being the theme of our vacation...there were kites and rooftops and, well, songs of course.].

Looking back, there were some crazy things that were significantly different in Canada (at least where we were).  For example, they buy their milk in bags.  BAGS.  And then cut them open like cereal packages, stick them in a pitcher, and pour.  Weird.  They also have French stop signs.

And there were blinking green traffic lights (we never really figured out what that meant...).  But the weirdest part was the creepy Canadian walking man.  He has FEET, guys.  Walking men in the U.S. don't have feet.  It's just...strange.

That was my condensed out-of-the-country experience.  It was awesome, all told.

Oh, I did I mention that Canadians (or some at least...) really do say "eh"?