Port Angeles – Vampire territory

I am a Twilight fan, well I was when the movies came out. I know it’s a bit cheesy and for teenagers but the whole forbidden love thing, I think all girls/woman get sucked into that. Anyway, aside from the fact the films were based there I have also wanted to see the Washington Peninsula and Olympic National Park for its natural beauty too. 

Fergus, Ian and I had arranged to get 5 busses up to Port Angeles but as soon as we walked the short distance to the bus stop, Jen came running out announcing that her shift for the day had been cancelled so she would be happy to drive us up there. How lucky were we?!?

We said our goodbyes to the Bremerton crew and headed off up highway 3 towards Silverdale and the Hood Canal Bridge. Stopped for coffee and snacks before driving through Port Angeles. 

A short distance from Port Angeles is Crescent Lake which is a big lake the road travels alongside into the National Park. We stopped about halfway along at a lookout and explored the area and took some photos. It was an overcast morning and the tops of the mountains were covered in cloud but the views were still spectacular.

We carried on down highway 101 (the main highway in this area) towards Forks. We passed huge forest, and steep mountainous roadside cliffs. I wondered how some of the trees survived on the angles they were growing at! Soon enough, the land became flatter and consisted of farmland and replanted forest and we crossed the bridge into Forks. Twilight was set in the small town of Forks but was not filmed here. There is nothing to really see except a few Twilight inspired shops and ‘Bella’s truck’ at the information centre. But for me it was nice to visit. 

We stopped at the welcome sign so I could get a photo and wandered around town and had a toilet break and got some lunch. I bought a souvineer Swiss Army knife. You never know when you’ll need something like that up here!

We carried on and headed out West then South to Ruby Beach. We originally wanted to visit La Push (also from Twilight) but heard Ruby was the better of the two beaches. From the outset the scenery was stunning. The weather had cleared and the sun had com out for us as we meandered down the path to the beautiful beach. 

Ruby is a pebbled beach covered in vast amounts of driftwood ranging from fully grown trees to smaller bits the size of your hand. Scrambling over all that we gathered on the lower beach to take in the views. 
There are large rocky outcrops that have been separated from the beach after years of heavy wave action and smaller rocks jutting out of the sand forming odd shaped turrets. 

We wandered along around the first corner climbing, paddling (the water was freezing) and enjoying the now warm sun. I also built a pebble stack I was quite proud of.

On our way back to Port Angeles we dropped Ian off at a great camping spot along Elwah river where he was to camp in his hammock for the night. 

Jen then dropped Fergus and I off at Toadlily House, a place we had booked through AirB&B but was actually a pleasant little hostel. We found a lovely cool room upstairs and unpacked our stuff.

We headed down to the main part of Port Angeles for our first ‘fancy’ meal of the trip. 

Bella Italia is where Bella and Edward had their first date. Again, the movie is set here but sadly not filmed here. The restaurant is very nice though and it was clearly a very popular place. We had the Italian antipasto to start followed by Mushroom Ravioli for me (that’s the dish Bella had too) and a massive Pizza for Fergus. 

It was a lovely, romantic date night! Wandered home to Toadlily house and took photos of the sunset over the harbour.

The following day we rented a car for the first time during our trip witch was great, we felt so free!! (Although It started off a little rocky due to Ferg having to drive on the right and drive an automatic for the first time ever) 

We stopped by Safeway for breakfast then headed off around 10:30 to pick up Ian from his campsite. Carried along up the Elwha river road to Madison Falls, a smallish but pretty waterfall near where the road ends. Ian and Fergus disappeared up the hill for a better look while I looked around the area at the huge trees, river and mountain views.

We decided to then head for Sol Duc Falls which is past Crescent Lake to the West. The road winds up a heavily forested valley to a small clearing where there are washrooms, picnic tables and a car park we could not fit into so had to park down the road and walk up to the trail entrance. We hiked about .8 of a mile through the forest, over small creeks and past a log cabin to the impressive falls. 

The water cascades down the narrow ravine in 3 separate streams, some brave people were getting quite close, I only managed to get close enough to fill my water bottle up with fresh, clear as day mountain water which was so refreshing. Mountain stream water is the best! Took some photos from the many wooden bridges and lookout points before heading back to the car.

We stopped in Fairholm at the head of Lake Crescent and had our lunch overlooking the lake and the mountains. Fergus and I had salads and Ian cleverly made Sushi rolls with fried mushrooms (cooked on a gas burner) asparagus, cold rice, pickled ginger and wasabi. It smelled yummy! 

While he cooked, Fergus and I sunbathed on the jetty and watched he people swimming and the ducks with their young ducklings paddle about. It really was such a relaxing place. 

In the late afternoon we drove all the way back to Port Angeles and up to Hurricane Ridge which is the closest area of the park you can drive to from Port Angeles. The very windy road starts out at a gentle gradient and you wonder how the hell you are going to get up to the top but towards the top it gets steeper and a lot more windy. We stopped about halfway up to scope out camping spots and got a great view down the valley to Sequim and up the valley towards the Olympic Mountains.

The views kept getting more and more stunning as we neared the top and all 3 of us were more impressed at every turn and very thankful we were in such a beautiful place. Once at the top we parked up and walked past wild (but very tame) Deer and even a young fawn, very cute.

Had a look around the information centre and restaurant and took some photos of the views from the lookout which lookes directly over to the Olympic Mountains and Mount Olympus. 

We headed up a trail that leads up to the highest point of the ridge and passed through a grassy plain to get views to the North, we past old dead forest where a stag shelterd under a couple of old ski huts beside a disused button lift. We even saw some snow that hadn’t yet melted.

Further on it got steeper and the views got better. From up the top we got 360 degree views of the surrounding mountins right over to the ocean near Sequim and Port Townsend. 

Down below us was another trail leading over the various ridges into the distance and we noticed some sort of animal walking along the trail. After a bit of deliberation we realised it was a mountain goat and there were more right below us folks were taking photos of. We headed down and got more photos before heading down the ridge to the car. 

We headed down the hill just as the weather was closing in and the sky getting darker. We dropped Ian off just out of town in some bush beside a creek and said our farewells.

Went back to Toadlily house and had a couple of ciders while chatting to fellow travellers and watching one hell of a lightning storm. It was very unusual to have such storms in Port Angeles I was told. Had noodles with eggs, mushrooms, Spring onions and meat for dinner.

The following day Fergus took the car back and we had eggs and bagels for breakfast before heading down to explore Port Angeles town. Went to the Pier, a lookout tower on the dock and to a few shops in the town. Port Angeles is small and there is not a lot there to be honest. It seems like a place people stop for one night before going to Vancouver island or into the National Park. 

We chilled in the afternoon, had a nap and planned the next leg of our trip. During the afternoon/evening quite a few people arrived including Alex from the US who had been on the road for 2 months and was at the end of his trip, a Swiss guy who was going to stay a night before going hiking in the forest and another guy who had been biking around the country and was going to continue to do so for the foreseeable future and a bunch of Austrians.  

Cody, the owner of the Hostal and who flutters in and out from time to time doing washing or welcoming people invited us all to his birthday bonfire he was having at his home (beside the hostal) later that evening so we all went to Safeway for drinks and food. We had an omelette and salad for dinner and had drinks with the others and listened to them play the guitar, they were both very good. Joined the bonfire later in and chatted to Cody’s friends and listened to the folk band.


Bremerton/Seattle – A big surprise!

We discovered we were staying an hour outside Seattle during our plane ride ( very bumpy plane ride) to Seattle from Cleveland. We were a little worried because of the time it would take to get to Bremerton but we managed to pay $3 each to get the train from the airport to the city and then $8 to get to Bremerton from Seattle. It was a lovely ferry ride over the harbour and though the islands as the sun was setting. 

We got an uber to the house and were greeted Leah and Ryan who showed us around and introduced to us to their flat mate Alan and other AirB&B guest Jen. Ryan made me a whisky and Coke and we all sat around the bonfire chatting. 

On our first day Ryan very kindly offerd to take us out for the whole day to explore the area. We were so up for that as there is so much you miss out on travelling by bus and he is a local so has an abundance of knowledge of the area. 

We set off around 9 and stopped for McDonalds breakfast and then had a quick stop at a Marijuana shop for a look as it it legal in Washington. We carried on South on highway 106 to Skokomish where we visited Hunter farms which sold animals (Leah and Ryan’s rabbits were bought here), veggies, flowers, crafts and condiments. We tasted some amazing locally made ice cream and bought some drinks.

From Skokomish we headed North on highway 101 and then off road to the West through the forest to High Steel Bridge, a 685 foot long and 420 foot high steel bridge crossing the South Fork Skokomish River. It was a bit hairy to be so high up and the barriers were not exactly high either. A perfect Bungy spot! 

From the bridge we headed back out towards the water to Hoodsport. We stopped at Hoodsport Winery where we paid $5 to taste the amazing Blackberry, Blackcurrent and Apple fruit wines. Most of them I really enjoyed and the hostess was really friendly and knew a lot about the local area. 

After a few glasses of wine we needed something to soak up the alcohol so we stopped along the road a bit at Hamma Hamma Oyster company for some Oysters (and more wine). We sat by the outdoor prep area and chatted to the guy opening fresh oysters to serve people, he gave Fergus and I an oyster each as well.  We bought the Steamed garlic oysters and I had a glass of NZ Oyster Bay Sav Blanc and Fergus had a beer. What a great place. Right beside the water one side and forest the other. 

We got back on the road again a tad behind schedule so unfortunately missed a few things Ryan had suggested we do. Headed up to Finn River Cidery which was a lot bigger thank he winery and had a huge outdoor seating area and even a lady playing songs and singing. We did a cider tasting there and tried about 8 different ciders from apples grown right there on the orchard, most of them I really liked and the hostess was really knowledgeable and sweet. 

Headed further up and crossed the Hood Canal Bridge over to Port Gamble then headed back down South to Silverdale where we popped into Leah’s work.

Leah took Fergus and I to the Safeway to get some snacks and drinks and we returned to the house and had some drinks in the sun. Later that evening another AirB&B guest arrived to sleep on the futon. Ian, a 22 year old student from Melbourne. It really was a fantastic day out. Thanks Ryan!

 The following day was a lazy (hangover day). We went to a local cafe, Hi Lo Cafe where we had a brilliant breakfast served by really happy and friendly staff. It was a kooky place with a hippy vibe and you could even sit in a VW van and have your meal! Later on we just went to the shops and made soup for dinner and chilled.

On the Tuesday we set off for Seattle early in the morning. Got the bus down to the terminal and jumped on a ferry. It took an hour to get to the city and the ride was beautiful. All the stunning houses lining the shoreline, little islands and ships dotted around the place really reminded of home and the Otago Peninsula. 

Arriving in Seattle you could really smell the city and notice the crowds, this made me certain I had made a good choice in choosing to stay in Bremerton. We had seen enough cities and wanted to see more of the outdoors. We wandered around the Piers and then up to Pike Place Market Which was heaving with fresh produce, nik nak shops and people. Wanted to get some food in there but it was so busy we opted for a cheaper option further into the city.

After a lunch of Burrito Bowl which was yummy we got the Monorail over to the Space Needle. We didn’t go up as we had already been up a number of tall structures on this trip so missed this one. The surrounding gardens, building and sculptures kept us entertained for a while before we moved on to the Olympic Sculpture Garden and then to a Pierside Irish bar. After 3 drinks there we ran to get the 5:30 ferry back to Bremerton.

That last evening we went to the Safeway and got a bunch of meat and some drinks and Ryan cooked a BBQ. We sat around chatting and watching Ryan expertly help Ian how to put up his new hammock.

I had a lovely barbequed Ham Steak and salad roll and Fergus had sausages. Jen had returned and another one of Ryan’s mates also joined us. It was great for Fergus staying here as both Ryan and their flatmate Alan were gardeners so the boys were able to talk shop a lot. A really great night with new friends and similar to what we used to do back home during one of Fergus’s BBQs.

I throughly enjoyed staying with Leah and Ryan and really hope we see them again soon. 

Cleveland – a quick stopover

The bus trip to Cleveland was our longest yet, 11 hours. Changing in Pittsburgh and stopping off in various other places. The bus was a bit grim. The toilet stank but we had enough to room and slept a lot of the way. Can’t really moan for $67.

We arrived in Cleveland and and walked a block down to our AirB&B host’s office. She very kindly drove us drove us back to her lovely home in the Detroit Shoreway neighbourhood. 

After unpacking we headed out for Fergus’s birthday diner. Went to Banter beer & wine for a couple of drinks before going to XYZ for dinner. I had a huge Philly Chese steak and Fergus had a brisket. The food as amazing but as per normal, far too much of it. Went back to our comfy bed and slept well after a long day.

On our second and last day in Cleveland, Bobbi cooked a wonderful breakfast of poached eggs and bagels, coffee and juice.  We chatted the other AirB&B guest over breakfast. We then walked down to Edgewater Park on the shores of Lake Eire. Had a great view of the city from out on the pier where locals were fishing, took some photos before heading along the beach up to the road to make our way back to the house. Stopped in McDonalds for a snack on the way home. 

Packed our gear and Bobbi dropped us off at Cleveland airport for our flight over to Seattle.

Philadelphia – home of Rocky Balboa

We opted to stay a week in Philadelphia as we were exhausted from so much constant travel and walking we needed a couple of days rest. 

Our AirB&B was great, a 4 bedroom flat (the owner didn’t live there) we basically treated as our own. People came and went but we didn’t really see them. We cooked there and watched a lot of Breaking Bad during down times. 

Day 1.

We stayed about 20 minutes walk from the Museam of Art and the Rocky statue and steps. I totally forgot the movie was filmed here and was so excited to be there. We got a photo next to the statue first which is at the base of the steps to the right and not actually at the top where most people think it is.

Then walked up the famous stairs, it was far too hot to run but some people were doing it. The view is lovely, right up to city hall.

We then walked back up the hill to the Eastern State Penitentiary. This huge prison refined the system of separate incaseration and held some famous name such as Al Capone. A listening guide takes you around the wings and you hear stories from both prisoners and guards about life here back in the day. We spent a good 2 hours there and the old cells and corridoors are perfect for photographers.

After the Penetentiary we visited a bag called London Grill and had some food and stayed there until close talking to the locals and hearing about things to do in the city. 

Day 3.

Atlantic City!

We walked to 30th street station along the river and over a large bridge and got train tickets to Atlantic City which is a 2 hour ride out to the Atlantic Coast. Not a huge amount st see en route except views of the city skyline and small rural towns along the way.

Once there it’s just like Vegas or Surfers Paradise. Casinos, shops, restaurants, bars and tourists everywhere.

  We headed out to the boardwalk and straight to Bally’s beach bar. I had Malibu and pineapple, Fergus had a beer and we sat Outside in the hot sum watching the world go by. After about 3 coctails we moved to the bar and chatted to a couple of guys from Jersey.

After a few too many drinks we headed into the casino for a flutter. Didn’t do too well but I’ll not tell you how much we lost! Managed to miss the last train so got a bus back to Philadelphia at around 4am.

Day 5.

Got a cab into town after trying desperately to find a bus then the correct change for the bus. And went to a lovely traditional diner and had a massive breakfast (all food is huge in America!) then headed out to buy an Umbrella because it was pouring with rain! Headed into town to the Liberty Bell and checked that out quickly. Went to the information centre too and we’re going to get tickets to Independance Hall but you needed to go at a certain time and we would have had to wait 2 hours.

We then did some of the Mural walk and saw some amazing murals on the sides of buildings in the cute centre city neighbourhoods. 

We then made our way to the train station and jumped on the train to Highland Avenue along the Delaware river South of the city. Got off in a really dodgy area and went to a small bar and got some take-away beers. 

Arrived at the stadium and managed to find some Crystal Palace fans ‘tailgating’, where people attending the game can sit and drink and have a BBQ or food before the game. This should be totally allowed in Britain! Met a lovely couple from Philidelphia and some guys from Maine and had some drinks with them. Went in and got our seats and sat beside the 2 guys from Maine up the top of the Palace corner. The atmosphere was great and I especially loved when everyone sang the national anthems. We had beers, chanted and laughter all the way through the game. The sunset over the stadium was fantastic and we had a great view of the Commodore Barry Bridge.

We were even lucky enough to mee the Chairman of Crystal Palace! 

The guys very kindly paid for an uber for us all to get back to Philly and to an after game party an an Irish bar. Had some sliders and a drink and got an uber home.

Day 6.

We should have left on our 6th day in Philly but having waited at the Greyhound station for our bus we realised I had booked the bus to Cleveland from New Philadelphia and not actual Philidelphia!! Grrrr

So we had to pay $67 for a new ticket on the bus that left at 5:45am. 

We managed to get another night back at the AirB&B we had been at so went back there and unpacked. Went for a nosey around the park, Boathouse Row and the Museam of art near our house. It was really hot so spent the afternoon/evening watching Breaking bad and planning the next stages of our journey. 

We really enjoyed Philly and felt at home there, it’s a wonderful, historical city. 

Washington DC – The Capital of America

DC didn’t start out too good, the first thing we saw once off the train was a guy getting arrested. Then the bus driver (who clearly knew we wanted on her bus) didn’t stop for us so we had to get a cab to  our AirB&B. As we went through the the neighbourhood we were to be staying in we were a tad worried. 

But once we met our lovely host and his little baby daughter and saw the nice room we wound be in for the next 3 nights we felt a little better. 

We got a Smartrip card and put $10 on it to use the Metro. Same as an Oyster card and you can use it on busses too. 

First thing we did was head to the Whitehouse. It’s was bigger that I imagined yet quite far away from where you can view it. Their gardeners certainly do a good job though! 

We then walked down to the Mall where pretty much everything you want to see in the City is. It’s huge! It stretches for 1.9 miles from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capital Hill steps. That doesn’t sound that long but the days we were in DC the temperature was upwards of 33 degrees and the humidity was unbareable. Walk for 10 minutes and you are a sweaty mess. 

Anyway, we started at the Museaum of American History, an interesting place, (and air conditioned) with sections covering, money, the ocean and trading and ships to American cars.

Next we stopped at the sculpture garden where I dangled my feet in the fountain to cool off (yes, it was that hot!) checked out the various sculptures around and then headed off to the National Museam of the American Indian. We were disappointed with this place, there wasn’t much on show. 

Next we walked up past Capital Hill (disappointingly covered in bloody scaffolding) and the reflecting pool and back to our place for a cold shower.

On our second day, DC was hot also (folks has mentioned  heatwave) so we got out to the Lincoln Memorial early. What an impressive place this is, the statue of the old President is huge and looms over you while looking down the mall to Capital Hill. You can go inside and learn about all the incredible events that happened in this place such as the Martin Luther King Jnr speech.

From the mall we walked over the river and to another state to Arlington Cemetary. (Virginia) There are rows and rows and rows as far as the eye can see of white headstones marking the graves of soldiers who died at war. It’s a beautiful yet very sad place to wander around, some were so very young. We saw the Kennedy family plot here too. 

We then walked down to the famous US Marine Corps War Memorial. Every has seen this as some point in their lives, especially after 9/11 when a similar photo that was taken of the rescuers in the rubble. A very interesting lance and the memorial is a lot bigger that I always thought it was. 

The rest of the afternoon was spent in the huge air conditioned Air and Soace Museam back on the Mall. What an interesting place, great for children. We got to go inside the cockpit of a 747, read about the planets and the sun, saw the planes they used in the wars and on aircraft carriers, learnt about the first people to fly and saw an amazing short firm about black matter in the planetarium. Worth a visit.

All in all, DC was worth a visit but I’m glad we didn’t stay too long. The heat was just too much and I think we pretty much covered all the important sites to see. 

The Big Apple and a familiar face

New York, The Big Apple, prehaps the most famous city on Earth for the music, the movies, the people and all the iconic landmarks. When you arrive in New York you are instantly impressed with its size and presence, it almost says ‘here I am, come in and have a grand old time’ 

A short tale to start with…

We were really late arriving in NY so the ferry we needed to get from Jersey to Manhatten was closed. (We needed to get to Brooklyn) We asked a bunch of people leaving a restaurant how we get a bus across the bridge and after discussing it among themselves they said they would take us to the shuttle bus. Then they changed their minds and us and our big packs jumped in their 4WD and headed to their house. Once there they swiftly called an Uber for us. A lightning storm was about to hit and we made it into the uber just in time. The driver told us the man who paid for the cab’s name was Milo. After thinking about it and looking him up online we realised it was Peter Petrelli from the show Heroes!! Wow!!

Stuff we did.

  • The Empire State Building

Big queues but well worth it. The view of the city from the top is just amazing and you can spend all day up there watching the world go by. 

  • Statue Of Liberty Boat Trip

Again, a big queue to get on the boat but a great trip. We didn’t get off the boat as there were big queues to get back on but you get a great view of the statue from the water anyway.

  • 9/11 Memorial

Unfortunately we didn’t get to go to the Museam but we all know what happened there and the details. The fountains are a lovely place to reflect and the new World Trade Center towering over the site is a nice touch. You can also go up the top of that for great views of the city.

  • Times Square

Lights, lights and more lights. Cool area to pass through but very busy and touristy.

  • Chinatown & Little Italy

Chinatown is huge, and I mean huge! It goes on for blocks and blocks. We went to a small restaurant called Tasty Handpulled Noodles. Yummy food but it came out at different times. 

Walked through Little Italy and had an ice cream. A lively area filled with Itallian restaurants and bars.

  • Guggenheim Museam

Not really my thing but a very cool building.

  • Cycling in Central Park

We rented bikes from Central Park Sightseeing which was cheap, quick and easy. We got the bikes for 4 hours and cycled the whole way around Central Park on the bike trails and had a picnic lunch beside one of the bridges. 

  • 4th of July fireworks

We went down to Brooklyn Park to see these and got an OK view. We could also see the fireworks over the other side of the city. 

The best bit of New York was seeing our mate Frankie who recently moved there. A city always feels more welcoming when you know someone there. We spent an afternoon/evening in a few bars as well as going to the 9/11 memorial and Times Square with Frankie and also went to see the 4th of July Fireworks with her. 

I really loved New York and will return one day….I hope.

Niagara Falls – a big surprise! 

Both Fergus and I thought Niagara Falls was a smallish town that sat on each side of the falls. Yes it would be touristy but we had no idea to what extent at all! 
On arrival at the bus station in the old part of town the surrounding buildings And quietness told a different story to what we would find a couple of minutes up the road. 

 After settling in to our lovely 4 person mixed dorm in the HI hostal, we set off in search of the famous falls. A 34-45 minute walk later we found ourselves in a large, modern town with the spectacular falls down below. The falls are in 2 sections, the American falls and the Canadian horseshoe (the more spectacular of the two) We wanderd around, took some photos and bought a 24 hour WeGo bus pass. 

On the way back to the hostal we met Rosie from the UK and Cleo, her Canadian friend. They had worked together in Europe and now Rosie was here on a working visa. We had a few vodkas in the kitchen with another guy caller Wart from Belguim/Holland and then headed off into town. 
We headed up Clifton Hill which is a street full of Vegas style amusements, restaurants, bars, a casino, museums and a lots of flashing signs and people trying to get you into their restaurant or sell you their tat. What a surprise that was, we had no idea the street even existed!
After getting some very cheap Jack Daniels cans from the bottle shop we sat alongside the mini golf watching and cheering people on as they putted around the huge dinosaurs and fire breathing volcano. Chatted and had a few drinks.

After being moved on by the police we went to a sports bar for a drink and some shots and then to Tim Hougtons for a sandwich before descending into the kareoke bar whereRosie and I sang Livin’ on a Prayer. Havent done kareoke in years, it was so fun. We then went to the casino for a bit before getting a cab back to the hostal. 

We woke up feeling rough as hell but determined to get out and be tourists. Had a massive fry up at Dad’s diner beside the hostal and got the bus into town. Got our tickets to the Hornblower Boat trip and took an elevator down to the base of the cliff. We got our bright red ponchos and climbed aboard. 

The trip is amazing, a couple in a poncho in frount of the falls is one of those iconic things you have seen a thousand times before and when you are there yourself, actually standing in the mist of the falls getting soaked and listening to the thunder of the the falling water you can’t quite believe you are there.
After drying off we headed back up the hill and back to Tim Houghtons for a sandwich. We then went to the casino to spend the $20 ticket I had found in my bum bag from the night before. Spent a few dollars fluttering on the machines.

Our last stop on our tour of Niagara Falls was the Skylon Tower. Similar to the CN Tower but a lot older, it was built in the 70s and is not that tall for a tower but the view is amazing and it’s well worth a trip up. You can see way up Niagara River and goat island as well as the town on the American side of the falls. (The Canadian side is better – fact) The Canadina side of Niagara sprawled out into the distance and ever further you can make out the skyscrapers of Toronto across Lake Ontario. 

After getting a cab back to the hostel we did a bit of shopping and had mushroom noodles for dinner before settling in for an early night. 

Niagara Falls, we ❤️ u.


First stop, Canada’s largest city and the capital of Ontario. 

Toronto is a lovely city. The area we stayed in, Bloordale is West of  the city and used to be a rather tough neighbourhood but is now going through gentrification and has lots of independent shops, bars, cafes and a large mall nearby in Dufferin. The houses in the tree-lined streets are narrow, usually 2 or 3 stories plus basement, and all have cute little balconies and small front yards. The streets were quiet and clean but still had a friendly neighbourhood vibe to them. You feel as if everyone would know their neighbours.


The TRT (metro) will set you back $29 for a book of 10 rides. Torontos metro is tiny, in fact it’s only 4 lines so most things are quite a walk from a station. You get tokens the size of a 5c piece you either place in a box near the ticket station or in a turnstile. 

Things to Do

We bought a Toronto pass which allowed us entry to the cities main attractions and saves us about 48% if we visit all 5, which we did. 

Ripley’s Aquarium – big aquarium with large shark tank. Tanks are clean and colourful and there are a few touch pools as well. Well worth a visit.

Toronto Island – is a must do! $7:50 for a return ticket gets you over and there is  heaps of activities on offer once on the island. Bike hire, Kayak and canoe hire, swimming and heaps of eating places.  

CN Tower – The worlds tallest building up until 2007 is definitely worth seeing. It’s a bit scarey going up in the glass walled and floored elevator I must say. Once inside there is both indoor and outdoor viewing platforms and 2 restaurants. The views over the city, Toronto Island and Lake Ontario are just amazing.

Casa Loma – expect big queues to get tickets and a lot of people. This big stately home is on Spadina hill so when you go up to the higher towers you get a fantastic view of the city. There are big dining rooms, a beautiful conservatory, grand bedrooms, manicured gardens, workers quarters and a even a secret staircase. 

Toronto Zoo – be warned! The zoo is a long way from the city and it will take you at least 1.5 hours to get to. But once there there are so many things to see and the place is huge. You could easily spend a whole day there. 

I like Toronto, I think we may return…