Ontario Days

Trip Start Jun 12, 2012
1
33
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Trip End Oct 18, 2012


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Where I stayed
Rideau Heights Campground

Flag of Canada  , Ontario,
Saturday, August 18, 2012

Howdy folks,

It was a lazy start to the sightseeing on our second full day in Toronto and didn't leave the hostel until 11am. The internet access wasn’t great, which is a traveller’s worst nightmare. I sometimes think that internet access is as important to travel as eating dinner these days because there are so many online resources and everybody is connected through Facebook. I wouldn’t be writing an online blog if I couldn’t at least post the entries every week. Internet Cafes like pay phones are pretty much a thing of the past when every McDonalds, Starbucks and information centre offers free wifi. I think I would be lost travelling without it!

Jumping on the TTC Metro, we got out at Kings Station and walked to the St Lawrence Market located in Old Town. The market was in a pretty big building and reminded me of home with all the fresh fruit, fish and meats. It didn’t take too long to walk around it and soon we headed to the camera store. We had a quick look in at the St James Cathedral on aptly named Church Street along the way which had a very high spire and quite detailed stained glass windows. After some picking and choosing, Steffi bought a new lens to replace the faulty one she brought from Germany. She is a professional photographer and there is no point being on holiday if you can’t go snap happy! We walked down to Yonge Street and had a look at the Eaton Centre which is a large shopping mall. We weren’t feeling particularly touristy so we just had lunch and had a look around at all the shops.

City Hall was just around the corner, so we stopped by to take a look. The building seemed to be more impressive from the outside than the Provincial Government, however when we looked inside it was mostly just a working array of court hearing rooms. The stained glass window was quite nice though. As we were walking back to the hostel we passed through the Yonge-Dundas Square which is a really cool area with large billboards, a stage and TV screen. You felt like you were in the middle of the city here and it is a really good use of public space.

We went back to the hostel for a blueberry pancake dinner before returning to see a free concert which showcased two Indie bands from Ontario called Elk and Young Rival. The lead singer from Elk sounded like he was tone deaf and Young Rival were uninspiring. Nevertheless it was free and got us into the crowd. It was more interesting watching an Asian woman who was dragging a chair from one side to the square to the other so she could put her bag on it before trying to take photos on her iPad (not a good look) and dancing by herself. At least she got into the groove.

After enjoying our last hostel continental breakfast, we drove out of Toronto at 10am with a big driving schedule in front of us. We had to cover over 400kms with our destination being Ottawa: Canada’s capital city. We were soon on the highway heading east and made good driving before stopping to refuel and grab lunch at an 'On Route’ just shy of Kingston. It is probably a good time to compare the difference in highway systems between the US and Canada: even though most of the Canadian population lives within 300kms of the border, the difference in highways in measurable. Most highway speeds in US are from 65-75mph which is up to 120kph and when we were travelling on the Interstate 90 it was always a duel lane carriageway. Canada however, only has highway speeds of 100kph and don’t always have crash barriers. The US also has rest stops located every few hours along the highway where I didn’t see that. Having said all that, not even the US has On Route. Basically, if you want to fill up gas or get some fast food you have to pull off the highway into the nearest town or truck stop. But in Ontario, they have ‘On Route’ which means that you don’t even have to do that. It is open 24 hours and has a fast food court and petrol station as well, meaning you don’t even have to interact with the local population. Is it progress through streamlining or a local business killer?

We ended up bypassing Kingston which lies at the end of Lake Ontario. It was formerly the capital city before Queen Victoria thought it was too close to the American border and moved it to Ottawa. We did pull off the highway shortly thereafter onto the 1000 Islands Parkway which starts at the mouth of the St Lawrence River which drains Lake Ontario into the Atlantic Ocean. There are literally hundreds of tiny islands (with a few big ones) in the middle of the river and extends down the international border. We stopped to go for a swim and the water wasn’t bad at all.

We stopped at the Bridge to the USA where we got out and walked over towards Hill Island. We weren’t keen on paying $9.75 to climb the observation tower to look out over the river islands, but the view from the bridge was pretty spectacular anyway. Our last stop was at the Parks Canada Visitor Centre where there quite a few kayakers and boaters obviously out enjoying the scenery.

It was time to push on as time was getting away from us and we made the turn towards Ottawa. There wasn’t much to see and I didn’t have an exact map of the campground we were aiming for so we ended up in the middle of farmland where there was a McDonalds opposite a VIA Railway Station. We weren’t far off and set up at the closest campground to the city centre and just across the river from the airport. Man those jets are loud!
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