Niagara, Toronto and Ottawa

After the megabus from New York I arrived Saturday morning in Toronto and was impressed with how quickly I located the hostel. However, on arrival I found out that I'd messed up my booking, it was for the following Saturday and they had no beds tonight. Nor did any other hostel in the city. But the HI in Niagara did have space so I went back to the bus station and made my way there instead.

Niagara is a nice spot, but full of tourists, as you'd expect, so I took the standard photos and headed back to the hostel for a pleasant evening with a pleasant group of travelers.

Monday, Toronto
Explored the Toronto islands then off to the skydome to watch the Chicago White Sox at Toronto Blue Jays in the baseball. I think I like baseball, quite a good sport. After the 7th innings comes the 7th inning stretch. Nearly all the crowd gets to their feet and follows the lead of the mascot and cheerleaders in a spot of aerobics. I couldn't see it taking off at the cricket.

Some of the crowd around me took me under their wing and tried to answer some of my questions about the league. They were pretty much clueless, in a season of 200 games it would appear that regular fans just turn up for the odd game to enjoy the beer and the aerobics. The Blue Jays won after two extra innings so everyone was happy. As I left I saw a group of girls in I ♥ BJs t-shirts.

Chose to stay at the Ottawa backpackers which as luck would have it had filled up their main dorms so I was taken next door and had an apartment to myself. Bought a bottle of wine and a tin of ravioli and settled in for the evening. At 10pm a 47 year old called Andy who was originally from Ottawa arrived and took a private room in my apartment. We went to a restaurant together and Andy had some dinner whilst writing out two full pages of A4 recommendations for me of things to do in the area. After food Andy headed home and I found a lively bar with open mic music. A group of locals invited me to join them playing drinking jenga. One of the group, Sarah, seemed to like me (what does that prove? She's not blind), so we arranged to meet the next day to do a quick tour of Ottawa.

Went to the houses of parliament with Sarah, the main plan was to find the Cat Village, one of Andy's recommendations. Sarah had never heard of it which made me think it might not be real but after some inquiries we got there. It was everything I'd hoped it would be. Literally, all it was was one slightly crazy man poking a cat with a stick.
'How many cats are there?' I asked
'Six' replied the bearded man still poking the cat
'I heard rumour of a couple of raccoons too?'
'At night. They come for food but they don't stay here'
Sarah asked if she could pet the cat
'No, he's pretty mad right now. He'd probably scratch you' said catman
Well I'm not surprised he's mad, you're poking the poor bugger with a stick.
The Cat Village made me happy. This was a good day.

For those of you who are interested Sarah was a bit dull and young (18) so there was no romance. In fact she was too young to drink in Ontario so she was using her cousin's I.D. Her name was actually Julie. Julie wore glasses on our tour of the city. It turns out that she genuinely was a bit blind the night before.

Ottawa was good and so was having a bit of space in the apartment so I spent another couple of days there, visited museums and went for a 40km walk out to a park on the French Canadian side of the river. I took a stick for the walk. Her name was Sue but she was no Herman. Too arrogant and French, I left her by the road after the walk wondering if any stick could ever live up to the quality of my reliable old buddy, Herman the stick. It seems unlikely.

Up next, a 50 hour bus journey from Ottawa to Edmonton.