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  • Canada November 2019: Part 1

    Thu, 28 May 2020 18:39:14 GMT


    I spent eight nights in Canada in November, four of which were on a train: I rode The Canadian from Toronto to Vancouver! However, first I had a day to spend in Toronto, or at least nearby…

    Niagara Falls

    I had two nights in Toronto but arriving late in the evening on Day 1 and needing to be at the train station early on Day 3 meant I just had one full day, and I chose to visit Niagara Falls that day, with it being a short train journey there and a somewhat less short bus journey on the way back.

    Having arrived at Niagara Falls train station, the falls themselves were about half an hour's walk away, and while there was a bus service I decided to walk. I think this worked out because most of the route takes you on a road alongside the huge gorge carved by the falls when it was further downstream.

    The sound of the falls becomes audible and just before reaching the set-off point for the boat tours they come into view. It was a beautiful day too, I think I lucked out with the weather which was pretty cold but apparently unusually clear skied for this time of year.



    A friendly Canadian guy saw me trying to take a selfie and offered to take my photo, which is lovely to have!



    There are actually two main falls almost next to each other: American Falls, which was on the far side of the river in US territory, and Horseshoe Falls, the one everyone actually thinks of, which is on the Canadian side of the river. At the risk of sounding like Subpar Parks, it was a little less tall than I had imagined, though still very impressive.

    "Look, Niagra falls," points the signpost person.




    The spray was going in an unusual direction that day apparently, with the effect that the falls were more visible than usual, and secondly that the visitor's centre right next to the falls was being drenched in spray! I walked into the spray, despite there being snow on the ground elsewhere, and I can't say I regretted it. There were rainbows everywhere and I enjoyed watching the people coming out of the visitor centre being confused that it has apparently started to rain. You could also see the water going over the edge, which was somewhat unnerving to watch.





    It was around lunchtime by that point, and the tourist centre prices were a bit much for me, and I didn't fancy walking into Niagara town main to find lunch, so I had a quick snack (as with any trip, I had plenty of Clif bars with me, though mostly in case the train journey was serving nothing I could eat (which turned out to be unfounded; there was a good vegetarian option at each sitting) and walked downstream (which feels like going uphill due to the deepening ravine; confusing!) to the sales booth for Hornblower Cruises, the Canadian version of Maid of the Mist. I was in two-minds about it originally but in hindsight I'm really glad I did it; the falls were good to look at from water level, we got the oligatory pink plastic ponchos and subsequent soaking from the spray (though less than I did from the top!), and got to briefly cross the international border on the water without having to deal with US customs. Plus, being off-season, it wasn't unreasonably crowded on board.



    The journey back was a little less exciting than the train journey; the train runs only a couple of times a day and the rest of the timetable is covered by a longer bus journey back with a change onto the trains for the last leg, though at least the bus station by the train station was well-organised. While I waited for the bus I made a snow angel and drew an iguana in the snow.


    Toronto

    It was dark by the time I got back but I still had time to go and see the CN Tower (though not climb it, but the wide angle lens I bought in the airport on the way out turned out to be useful for more than just the Falls!). Then I had a good Thai curry in the main station forecourt, and my first (Canadian) Tim Horton's doughnut. I also bought a SIM card in an attempt to secure internet access on the train journey; didn't manage to but in retrospect I'm glad I didn't because there was one passenger who was constantly trying to get signal and being rather pre-occupied with it. Much better to just enjoy it knowing I wouldn't be online for five days.



    One more night in the hotel and then up the next morning to catch The Canadian!


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  • Daily update, Wednesday 2020-05-13

    Wed, 13 May 2020 19:24:01 GMT

    I woke up early enough to have an insomnia walk this morning, but was too groggy to get out of bed, so didn't. I had nightmares about going outside and all the restaurants were full and people were everywhere and I was there just trying to do some shopping and failing to avoid contact with anyone.

    I had originally planned to go to Sainsbury's this morning but decided against it. I have frozen veg in the freezer so fresh veg can wait.

    I was also supposed to have had my (already once-rescheduled) laser appointment today. It was only for my chest but I was going to get some face booked in at the time. I need to remember to do so when they phone me to reschedule.

    At work I had my final sprint retro/planning session. One colleague in particular, the same who was particularly supportive about me coming out, said some nice things to/about me at the end. She's probably just a very nice sort of person, but I'm wondering if she genuinely wants to keep in touch after I leave.

    I'm watching Race Across The World, the second series of a BBC competition/documentary about several couples trying to get from Mexico City to the very south of Argentina, at ground level, on a budget of the price of an air fare. Last series had them going from London to Singapore and I think that was a bit more varied, but I'm enjoying this one so far and the Peru stretch in particular has piqued my interest. It might be a while before I can plan another holiday, but it's nice to have some ideas seeded.

    I watched the second half of an episode while using the cross-trainer, which worked for me and I'm feeling more awake than I have all day. Having "exercise" (code for anything that gets me physically moving, really, so gardening counts) on my daily todo list seems to be working so far. For the rest of the evening I'm going to read and relax.


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  • Daily update, Tuesday 2020-05-12

    Tue, 12 May 2020 21:10:37 GMT

    Couldn't blog, was reading Murderbot.

    I finished Martha Wells' Network Effect (Murderbot Diaries #5) this evening and there really isn't any other series/author at the moment that'll make me drop everything to read a book. As the first full-length Murderbot novel, this one took me more than just a single day to read, and I'm hoping it'll be a bit habit-forming. I was already half-way through T Kingfisher's Summer in Orcus at the moment, which is excellent but I'd fallen off the reading bandwagon, I think mostly due to having built the habit of reading on public transport, which has gone away.

    I got my four 04-in-04 stories up on fictionpress in addition to Dreamwidth, and posted a summary thread on Twitter.

    Spurred on by the prospect of getting some wild garlic, I took two walks starting at around 05:15 on (bank holiday) Friday and Saturday mornings (twitter thread, second thread). They were both to places I haven't been before, and though I didn't find any garlic, I felt they were worthwhile. I've still been waking up around five, but haven't got myself out of bed in time to go walking. Today, however, I did have breakfast at five, then whirlijigged at a faster-than-walking pace for ten minutes before going back to bed. Unfortunately the bin lorries woke me up early, so I don't have data on whether that would have worked for me too.

    Apart from that, it's mostly been online games with the usual suspects, bits of gardening, and not as much cooking as I'd like. I was intending to go out to get some fresh veg from Sainsbury's tomorrow, but I think I'll pass and use my frozen veg instead since grumbles about UK policy. I have at least found two places that have sold me yeast and baking powder respectively, so that pushes my stockpile back up to a comfortable level. Also in the post to me are some more seeds and a couple of face masks.


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