Day 2 – Welcome to the prairies

Helped by several beers I slept very well on my second night, and woke up fresh and early the next day. Over the course of breakfast and the morning, as we headed towards Winnipeg, the landscape changed significantly, from the thick forest and lakes of Ontario, to the flat open plains of Manitoba. This change happened literally in about an hour!

Flat, very flat.

Flat, very flat.

Unfortunately during the night there had been a problem with a frozen set of points, so we were behind schedule when we arrived Winnipeg and had just half an hour for a quick pint before moving on deeper into the prairies themselves. Dominating the skyline at the station was the Human Rights museum, it would have been good to take a tour around, the building itself is quite striking. The weather had also vastly improved and we on the train were enjoying gorgeous blue skies.

Striking.

Striking.

Our progress away from Winnipeg was slow, as sadly we had a medical emergency on the train and were stopped for quite a while, whilst that was worked though. This then lead to crew hour issues, which had us waiting to pass a train with no crew, and making an extra stop to change drivers.

Waiting in Mellville.

Waiting in Mellville.

By the late evening we were moving again though, and the crew was working hard to make up time. Our next stop would be Saskatoon in the early hours of the morning.

Advertisements

Leaving Toronto and Day 1 – Traversing Ontario..

Keen to see my old haunts before I left, I took Michelle on a tour around downtown Toronto for my last day there. My train, The Canadian, wasn’t due to leave until 10pm that night, so we had ample time for several local pints in different places around the city, and we grabbed a few photos along the way as well.

Festive!

Festive!

Very Festive!

Very Festive!

Soon it was time for me to leave, and after a tearful parting of ways, I boarded my new home for the next few days. Almost immediately I was presented with champagne and canapés! This was turning out to be a very good choice of transport! The train itself is vast, with two large domes at the middle and end, where I’ll be spending most of my time, a dining car in the middle, several carriages for rooms, bunks, and seats. After getting to know some of my fellow passengers over several glasses of champagne and stuffing myself with free canapés, I retired to my bunk. It was exactly 6 months since I’d left the UK.

DCIM100GOPRO

After a somewhat patchy night’s sleep, I awoke to a superb “Transcontinental” breakfast, and after a wobbly shower I took a seat in the dome to take in the frozen Ontario scenery. The picture bellow pretty much sums it up, a vast wooded wilderness, criss-crossed with hundreds of lakes and rivers. After an entire 24 hours on the train we were still in the province of Ontario, and it was beginning to sink in that this country really is huge. We had a brief stop in the town of Hornepayne (population 1050), and it was the only time I’d had a signal on my phone all day, it felt incredibly remote.

Train living is actually pretty awesome, there’s lots of people who are as enthused about the journey as I am, the view is great, and the food is pretty awesome too! Next stop Winnipeg!

Last minute tourism, and preparations for moving West.

Winter arrived early in Toronto, again. A shock fall of snow on Halloween had everyone grumbling about last year’s polar vortex, fall not being long enough, and served as a ominous reminder to me that my time in Toronto would soon be coming to an end. I still had things I wanted to see, as did a few of us at Edgewalk, so me and a couple of friends Justin and Margo spent a day cramming in as many discount attractions in as we could, before we had to hand our CN Tower passes back in. In an 11 hour walking marathon across the city we visited:

  • Steamwhistle Brewery – for a brewery tour.

  • The Fairmont Royal York Hotel – for a special Mill Street honey beer.

  • The Hockey Hall of fame – for a selfie with the Stanley Cup

  • The Art Gallery of Ontario – for a run up their cool stair cases.

  • The Imperial Pub – for a good burger

  • Young and Dundas Square – for the lights, and colour.

  • The Second City – to see A Rebel without a Cosmos.

It was a hectic day but great to cross so many things off my list! Here’s some pictures:

Hoppy...

Hoppy…

Much sought-after...

Much sought-after…

Inside and Out!

Inside and Out!

As well as my tourism binge, I’ve also been cracking on with the climbing (videos soon to follow) and I did my first open air ice skating which was really fun. Slightly cold at -14! I also tried my hand at making my own spring rolls, thanks to Michelle’s dad!

In the final days running up to me leaving tomorrow, I’ve been mostly doing admin and trying to see everyone I’ve met. Edgewalk had a great end of season booze up, in which I managed to get humorously emotional, and I got an award for being “The Person most Excited about Snow!”. On Wednesday I enjoyed a meal with Michelle’s mum, who gave me a great new hat and socks. And today I made my last climbs with all my friends at Joe Rockhead’s and a couple from Edgewalk.

I’ll have mixed feelings as I leave Toronto tomorrow, I’m looking forward to boarding on Whistler’s famous slopes, but I’ve had a wonderful time here and have loads of people who I’ll miss when I’m gone. I’ll definitely be back in the new year.

Guelph and Niagara on the Lake

With fall in full swing, Michelle and I headed down to Guelph. Its a nice little town where Michelle spent her university days, and she was particularly interested in the university’s new griffon statue, as she’s a huge Harry Potter fan! We avoided the motorway on the way down to see the scenic Ontario country side.

Rolling hills...

Rolling hills…

Guelph itself is really nice, really leafy, with a hefty splash of English-ness. Even central London doesn’t have the density of English street names that this town does!

The names seem familiar...

These names seem familiar…

During the day we visited the university and wandered around the leafy main campus and arboretum. Fall was in full flow and we got lucky with the weather, so the colours in the trees looked great. The English name theme continued into the evening as we did a pub crawl around all of Michelle’s favourite pubs – The Woolwich Arrow, Baker Street and The Albion, much local ale was consumed!

He wants you to learn!

He wants you to learn!

The next day we headed back to Toronto and had a quiet evening to get over our hangovers, going to the cinema and having a great pizza. In the morning we went down to Niagara on the Lake for a walk around and a very nice cup of afternoon tea. The town itself is very quaint, with a sort of old western feel too it, many of the buildings have been around since the 1800s. We had our tea in the Prince of Wales hotel which put on a really good spread of waay to many small sandwiches than I can eat in one sitting. I also brought some really really good fudge, which I have been hungering for ever since. The only disappointment for me was that the weather wasn’t good enough to see back across the lake to the Toronto and the CN Tower, I’ve been staring at Niagara from the Edgewalk all summer so it would have been fun to take a look from the other direction.

September and more job success….

With winter coming, and working a ski resort being one of my biggest priorities for this trip, I’ve been planing my applications for some time now. Before I left the UK I’d assembled a big list of resorts from the internet (see below) and over August and September I’d sent out a few applications. To be honest my main interest was really only in one place, Whistler.

Many to choose from!

Many to choose from!

Miraculously after sending my application in, I had a phone interview, and then a face to face interview and a couple of weeks ago they sent me a job offer!! So my winter plans are now falling into place, and previous fears about being in the wrong place at the wrong time for a acquiring a job have now been allayed. Now I can start to plan my journey onwards across Canada, and I’ve opted to take the train. And after looking at the dates I’ll be making my way west in late November, to arrive in Whistler in time for the beginning of December. They’ve just posted a video of their first snow day!

What else have I got up to? I had the opportunity to see Bombay Bicycle Club the other week, which was really good. I don’t know much of their music so I was a bit lost for singing a long at the gig, but I’ve discovered some new music which is never a bad thing, and we had a great view from high up on a balcony.

The Opera House went mad! Photo by Michelle Gerrard!

The Opera House went mad! Photo by Michelle Gerrard!

As for Edgewalk, the season is warming down now so the days are easy, with us taking out smaller groups, which is great after a very hectic summer! In order to compensate for my slightly shorter week, I’m now picking up more shifts at Joe Rockheads, which works out pretty well. Also this means I’ve been working on my own climbing too, I’m pushing into V4- V5 territory now which is awesome.