Happy CANADA Day!!!

Happy Canada Day to all my fellow Canadians! There are so many things about this country that are amazing. Seriously, I’m not just saying that! Canada is awesome! So today, I am sharing some of my favourite places and things about Canada. Hopefully it will inspire you to visit!

Toronto, Ontario

Home Sweet Home. Toronto is one of the country’s largest cities and acts as a major cultural hub. I couldn’t even begin to list all the hot spots and attractions available but to name a few. The Skydome Rogers Centre home to the Toronto Blue Jays! The iconic CN tower. Ripley’s aquarium. The Royal Ontario Museum. The Art Gallery of Ontario. See an Opera or a Ballet at the Four Seasons Centre. There is more! So much more but there isn’t room in this post. I’ll do a more fullsum and detailed post about Toronto eventually.

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Ripley’s Aquarium. Me & me stingray friend.
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That is the CN tower above our heads!

British Columbia

My only visit to BC took place over 8 years ago so my details are a bit rusty.. I was also traveling there for a choral festival so I spent most of my trip in a classroom learning music. But we did have the opportunity to visit the famous Capilano Bridge. It is basically a simple suspension bridge, except its 140 meters long and is suspended 70 meters above a river. Exciting & scary all at the same time! I definitely plan on going back to BC one day.

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The Capilano Bridge.

St. John’s, Newfound Land

St. John’s might be one of my favourite places in the whole world. It is by far my favourite place in Canada. The city was stunning. The eastern peak is the farthest east you can be in North America. The whole city smells like sea salt, theres hills all over the place. Quaint little houses. Everything is just so peaceful and calm there. Once again I was traveling there for choir and didn’t get to do half as much sight seeing as I would have liked but I did get to go whale watching!

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Niagara Falls

One of the world’s wonders. The falls and the surrounding area are beautiful. My most recent visit was in the winter so going on a wine tour was out of the question and everything was pretty frozen but still breathtakingly beautiful. Niagara on the lake is also home to the Shaw festival! A fantastic summer theatre festival that runs every year.

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The icy cold falls

The Stratford Festival

The Stratford Festival is my favourite theatre company. Located in (you guessed it) Stratford, Ontario this company started by presenting some of the best Shakespeare in North America. Now the festival (which runs from May to October) presents all sorts of theatre and musical theatre and it always unbelievably amazing. I try to get up there to see a show every year if I can.

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Alex & Mum at King Lear, 2014

White Christmas

Most of the time I hate the cold but it is always nice to have some snow at Christmas time and luckily Canada always has some snow and cold weather for us around the holidays (and long after).

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Cutting down the Folkes Family Christmas Tree

They let my Mama in!

Fun fact: My mum was born and raised in England! She moved to Canada when she was in her twenties, met my dad and never left. But it was only a year and a half ago that she applied for her Canadian Citizenship! It was a very exciting time for my family. She studied really hard for a long time and got 100% on her test. The best part was seeing her receive her certificate.

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Canadian Mama Folkes!

The Cottage

Our cottage is in Muskoka, the true north! It is amazing to be so close to nature all the time. Just a short hour and a half car ride and you are surrounded by trees and water and pure Canadian bliss. I prefer cottaging to camping because you get to sleep and pee indoors but you still get your fill of the great outdoors.

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The Best Part?

The people, obviously. The stereotype of Canadians being nice people exists for a reason. But I suppose I am slightly biased. But seriously, I love my home. I love Canada. Happy Canada Day, everyone!!! True. North. Strong.

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Canada Day 2010
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Tourists Guide to The World: Niagara Falls, ON – The Winter Edition

I know I’m a few days behind the times but today, I want to talk about Valentines day! I’ll give it to you straight: As a general rule I feel that valentines day is a materialistic holiday that puts all people (single, committed, in-between, ect.) in an awkward position.

Usually I actively avoid this fake holiday by holing up in my room with a good movie but not this year. For Valentines day 2015 I decided to embrace the love… of my best girl friends. I love Lucas more than anything and the way things are currently going I see a long and happy relationship for us but the reality is if things ever go south, I will always have my girl friends. So this year we decided to celebrate Gal-entines day (get it, girl + valentines…) together by going on a road trip to Niagara Falls!!

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Niagara Falls was the perfect destination for a girls weekend for a few reasons:

  • The Falls are only a 1.5 hour drive from Toronto
  • Between 4 people a hotel room is super affordable
  • Both nightlife activities and day-time activities are available
  • It is a Canadian location that is considered to be the “8th world wonder”

After writing Lucas an adorable card I jumped in the car with my friends & we were off! We checked into our hotel around 5:00 pm and unpacked our bags before going to dinner. We decided to drive to dinner which wasn’t the best call. The roads were incredibly snowy this weekend. I think the mist freezing as it came off the falls must have been a factor. It took us about half an hour but we eventually found a parking spot near an Italian-American Eatery called Vinny’s. The place as mostly filled with couples holding hands but that was fine with us. I got a pretty decent cream sauce pasta because you can never go wrong with cream sauce pasta.

10991453_10152818071363558_7508410349410884676_nAfter dinner we returned to the hotel to get dressed up for our night on the town. Unsurprisingly we all ended up in mostly black outfits. I think its a winter thing. It almost feels wrong to wear bright colours when there is snow on the ground. Then our first stop for the evening was Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville! You guessed it! This place makes super fancy Margaritas! We all ended up getting a blue one with a really long name that I can’t remember. Think blue slushy made with tequila and you are on the right track in terms of taste.

The next stop on the girls night adventure train was the casino! We went to Fallsview because it was the closest one within walking distance. That was important because it was way, way, way below freezing and it was super snowy. Personally, I was really excited about going to the casino. It’s not that I am super into gambling or anything, I’ve just never had the experience before. I suppose I think of visiting a Casino as a grown up right of passage.

1450891_10152818071658558_1682212219668897139_nSome Most people probably find this type of atmosphere overwhelming but I really enjoyed all the lights and colours. It added to the spectacle of the whole night. We decided it was probably best if we stuck to the slot machines since none of us know how to play card games and we didn’t want to waste anyone’s time. 10488109_10152818073568558_5290224871700860488_n 10991304_10152818073168558_9062101763379784123_n

Here is Karin and I playing on the slot machines! Apparently you aren’t allowed to take pictures in the casino but we didn’t get caught… hehehe. I played 15 dollars and sadly didn’t win anything. Stacey played 5 dollars and won $4.50. Mel played 5 dollars and made $6. And Karin was the big winner of the night, she played 10 dollars and won $25! As fun as it was I don’t think any of us will be returning to the casino anytime soon. There were some people there with cards loaded with money and they just sat there, plugged into the machine, pressing the button over and over and over again. To be honest it was quite sad and depressing if you really thought about it. But for one night out with the girls it was a lot of fun! 10013322_10152818073963558_5813145035181367157_n

After that we attempted to go to a nightclub for some dancing but it was last call by the time we got there. Time really does fly inside the casino. So we ended up back at the hotel around 3 am and then we ordered some cheese pizza. All in all it was a great way to end the night.

The next morning we had an all american meal at IHOP. Let me tell you something about IHOP. This is not something we have in Canada… I mean we do, beside the Falls but it is a very Americanized piece of Canada. Nowhere else will you find an IHOP. I was really excited for some Pancakes from the international house of pancakes but sadly I was sorely disappointed. Everything tasted extremely processed and unnatural. Next time I’m in Niagara I think I’ll stick with some all Canadian Tim Horton’s for breakfast instead.

After breakfast we went to the Falls! Despite the extremely cold temperatures I had a great time! The last time I visited the Falls I was only 5 and I have virtually no recollection of this trip. So it essentially felt like the first time for me. I think seeing the Falls in their frozen state was an interesting treat. The water was still flowing but there was a thick layer of ice covering the boulders at the bottom. Add the white mist and it looked like a magic potion that had bubbled up. The American side of the Falls had a lot more frozen chunks, whereas the the Canadian side seemed to be flowing more freely. You can’t really see anything that well in the pictures, but trust me. It was cool. 
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I definitely plan on returning in the summer months to see the Falls flowing in all their glory. Finally, our last stop was Clifton Hill!! This is where all of the entertainment attractions are. You know, restaurants, mini-putt, laser tag, wax museums, chocolate shops, ect. We didn’t have the money to do it all so we decided to do the thing that we can’t do at home. A wax museum! We went to MovieLand. So named because it was filled with wax recreations of movie stars. Not all the statues looked like their celebrity counterpart, but most of them still looked eerily real. Check out some of my Favourites below!

Well that just about sums up my valentines day weekend! How did you celebrate the day of love? With a S.O. or with friends? Share in the comments!

Sorry For Being So Canadian, EH?!

There is a long running joke that mocks Canadian’s for being too polite. Well, I’m sorry to say that I am not sorry for being polite (see what I did there…). I’m not entirely sure where this joke was started but if I’m being honest, its kind of accurate. I present you with some evidence!

Evidence A)

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Evidence B)

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Evidence C)

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These “Canadian’s are too polite” jokes come in many shapes and sizes, but the one in particular that I would like to bring attention to is the stereotype about how a pissed off Canadian gets vengeance by writing a strongly worded letter. I bring up this joke because I recently wrote a very Canadian letter, or email rather, to the transit company in my city. It was strongly worded and incredibly polite.

Here is the story: Essentially, I was expressing my concern regarding the transfer time between the train schedule and the bus schedule. You see, my commute to and from work is rather laborious. I take a bus, a train and I walk for about 20 minutes. When I am traveling at rush hour it’s no big deal, I read books in that time. However, when I take the late train home, say after working an event or something, the train and the bus schedules DO NOT match up. I’ll give you a scenario, the train pulls into the station at 9:46 pm, by the time I walk to the bus stop it is 9:48 pm. I check the schedule at the stop to find that the bus departed at 9:44 pm! In what world does that make any sense at all? I then find that the next bus isn’t until 10:30 pm! What? I have to wait 40 minutes alone, in the cold, at a dark bus stop for the next ride home?! This has happened too many times to count and I have spent way too much money on cabs because I wasn’t going to wait 40 minutes for the bus.

So naturally I did what any right minded Canadian would do, I wrote the bus company a strongly worded letter! To be honest I didn’t expect anything to come of it but it felt good to get my frustrations out. A few days following I got an automated response saying “Thank you for your email, blah blah blah” and I figured that was the end of that. But no! Today I received an email that was too good to be true! You have to see it to believe it!(Note: All personal details have been edited out for privacy’s sake).

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Are you reading this?! Yes, YES! My strongly worded letter made a difference! I made a difference! From now on (starting March 2nd) I will no longer have to wait around for the bus. No, now the bus will wait for me! All because of my polite, eloquent, strongly worded, oh so Canadian letter!

So friends, with that I urge you to be nice! Say Sorry! Let your inner Canadian roam free! You never how positive the outcome may be! True North Strong. 

oh canada

The Magic of a Good Deed

Today, I woke up to find that winter had a bit of a hissy fit last night. In fact, it is still having a temper tantrum all over the place. That metaphor kind of got away from me… 10665186_343358862502211_4665858284104106075_nbasically what I am saying is that it snowed a lot over night and it hasn’t showed any signs of stopping. My thoughts when I woke up this morning were something along the lines of:

Lucas’s mum thought it looked beautiful and I thought well yeah it is… when you don’t have to go outside. But I commute to work, so I did have to go outside. On a normal day I take a 30 minute bus and then I take a 30 minute train and then I walk for about 20 minutes. When you tack on waiting time (about 5 minutes for the bus and 10 for the train) it takes me about an hour and a half to get to work each morning.

IMG_4994On a not so normal day, like today when winter throws up everywhere, I waited 15 minutes for the bus, the bus then took over an hour to get to the train station, I then waited 20 minutes for the train and then the train took about 40 minutes. The only part of my commute that remained constant was my walk, which was 20 minutes of cold, wet snow blowing in my face. Seriously, I ask myself every year why I choose to live in this climate and then I remember that Canada is awesome.

So this morning when I got on the bus I promptly realized that I forgot my wallet… Yup. As if this day wasn’t already shitty. The bus driver was kind enough to let me ride for free but the train is not so nice. If you are caught without a ticket you are given a $200 dollar fine. A woman who rides the bus with me asked what I was going to do and I said “I guess I’ll have to take my chances”. As I waited for the train I felt a tap on my shoulder, the woman had purchased a round trip train ticket for me. I was so shocked and happy I could have cried. I profusely thanked her and offered to pay her back tomorrow and she smiled and said “don’t worry, it’s Christmas, pay it forward.” Seriously, the kindness that this woman showed me is above and beyond. Sure, it was a small gesture but it absolutely transformed my dreary, snowy day into a great one.

I decided that I am definitely going to pay it forward, so some time next week I am going to go to Tim Hortons (best coffee in the world) and buy some gift cards. Then I am going to give them out to homeless people in the city. Sure $5 dollars isn’t much to you and me but to someone starving, a meal could be a Christmas miracle.  So today I am urging you to also pay it forward.

Share in the comments! How are you going to pay it forward this holiday season?