Thursday, 5 July, 2012 Katie made us pancakes for breakfast and it was one of the first times for Nici to eat any! She really liked them I think. Afterwards and before we got packed and while I took a shower Nick gave Katie our little thank you gift, then we hurried to the busstation with our backpacks. We were wet when we arrived, omg it was so hot! This time the busdriver told us on time when to get off and we started our unsuccessful search for WiFi... Only accessible when you were checked in at a hotel. We had arranged to meet Eddie and Renee at the White Water Walk around noon. When we got there everybody just stared at us with our big packs and obviously put us into the "crazy people box" in their heads. We found Eddie and Renee up front in the long line and went to stand with them. On our way back, two other backpackers talked with us and they had been allowed to leave their packs upstairs, we on the other hand had to take them with us on the elevator and down stairs, through a tunnel and generally on the whole walk! We kept putting them somewhere and then exploring without them. Who would steal a heavy backpack, our valuables were with us at all times, so we climbed from the wooden walking planks right down to the water edge, right next to some of the world's most deadly rapids Wow, those rapids were a wonderful example for water's force! After being amazed by the water and being very hot, we took the bus for a long time to the flower clock. It is America's largest working clock, surrounded by thousands of little flowers - quite impressive! We took the bus off and we had to say a fast good-bye to our two Jew friends, since they were heading back to the hotel and out for a nice dinner and we had to go to the bus and trainstation to find a bus back to Toronto. We promised to keep them updated and to be careful Our lucky day? But we got to station, bought a ticket and were on the next bus within 5 minutes and then tadaaaa the air conditioner did not fully work!! No way lucky day, we were all dying in that bus, the driver along with us. Even though we sat in the very first row it was unbearable to touch anything and I felt like I was melting! I think I would rather have walked haha anyway, finally we arrived and fled into a cool Tim Hortons and then contacted Tyrone again. Since his street was not on our map anymore it took us a while to find him but then we did and spend the rest of the evening talking, listening to records on his nice recordplayer, we had a little bit a really good polish herbal vodka and after a reviving shower went to bed. What a hot day that had been! Adventures lie before us! :-D I am excited!
Wednesday, 4. July, 2012 This was our day at the falls. Our day to go out and enjoy this natural miracle, together with thousands of other tourists. And at the same time is was: Happy 4th of July!! A special firework show was going to he put on in the evening and we wanted to meet Katie for that. Nici and I got an adventure pass after being forgotten by the bus driver and walking a long ways to get to the falls - what is it, that bus drivers in Niagara don't like about us? :D. On our little journey we passed a place off the road where memorials for a boys death had been set up in a tree. Curious as always, I climbed the barrier and went to have a closer look and then followed a little path with Nici. This path led right to the edge of a cliff, looking down into the raving Niagara river. To our right we could see rainbow bridge and behind it, out first glimpse of the Niagara Falls crashinh, thundering down. What and amazing first sight! No, we did not het too close to the edge, who knows, maybe the boy fell down there, we were careful and enjoyed the peaceful view. The adventure pass included a boats ride to the horseshoe falls, a 4D movie, a journey to the side of the falls and a walk to some of the most dangerous and deadly rapids in the world. I enjoyed the boats tour the most, we had been first on the boat and therefore had got the best place on the boat - all the way in the front. The view was spectacular! Driving into the horseshoefalls obviously we got soaked (raincoats were provided) but the feeling, omg! Water splashing in your face, you hear the thundering of the water, you look up and see the waterfall close by! You have to have experienced it to fully understand the feeling. Anyway, while standing in line for the walk behind the falls, Eddie just started talking with us. His wife, Renee, and him were in line ahead of is and we really got along well and continued talking and joking and ended up spending the day together! We went to the 4D movie, then to a candy store and then out to lunch/dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe! Too generous of them, but by then we had become "buddies" and were talking like we had known each other for a long time. It has been a long time since I met people equally open, friendly, interested, knowledgeable and purely nice. How lucky we got, oh wow! We had planned to meet Katie at Starbucks at 6, problem: there is not only 1 Starbucks in Niagara Falls! 3 on one street, so how the hell was that going to work out? Leaving messages at the stores did not work, meeting her by chance an hour later on our way out of the Hershey's on the street, did work out haha. Who would have thought? So now we were 5 people walking the town, four of us exhausted from the hot day, our destination: the hotel. Eddie and Renee showered and we stayed in the lobby, using the pc looking for a way to get out of Niagara. Believe me or not, there is basically no way out! Our choices: take the greyhound bus for 10 hours to a city 2 1/2 hours away, take the train for 9 hours and pay a fortune or pay a fortune for renting a car... Great. We had basically decided on going to Buffalo or Toronto to continue from there, when Katie found an add of somebody looking for people to join him on his trip west and then south to Texas. Kansas was on the list so later on I called and we arranged to meet in Toronto the next day! We had been saved plus we got to.meet and travel again with a new person - lobe meeting new people! Tyrone is a elementary school teacher and a really nice guy, as far as I could tell from the phone haha. Before being back at Katie's place and calling Tyrone, we went to the roof of the hotel with Eddie and Renee. From there we could watch all the fire works going on everywhere! What a spectacular view - fireworks all the way from.Buffalo were visible and then the ones from Niagara started - Happy fourth of July ! Eddie drove us to the busstation and ended up taking us back home, since the bus did not come and he neither wanted us to wait for it nor walk the 10 minutes from the station to the house - too nice! He gave up his good parking place for us
Tuesday, 3 July, 2012 Before already saying good-bye to our fabulous host, we had breakfast and let him write into the little booklet. He went off to work and we started walking around the city, wanting to see China town before leaving with a bus around noon. Katie, our next couch surfing host, had accepted our request but we had not heard anything from her since. Since Toronto to Niagara Falls is a long distance call, the telefon booth wanted to steal 5$ a minute from us. No worries, we declined its offer We asked some people on the way for their phone and once were looked down at in a most demeaning way and got the harsh answer "no". I mean seriously? we offered to pay to use the phone and there is no way to run away with a backpack on your back, well, who cares. Other people were nicer and we tried calling but did not get an answer. On the bus we called from my cell and then again from the place we got pizza for lunch at Niagara. You would think that Niagara is town bursting of life, right? Well not at and around the busstation! It was like being in a goasttown, with nobody on the streets and most stores closed or for rent.. We found out later that that part of town was fairly far out and that the tourist area basically looked like an amusement park! We took a bus out to our host's place, who had told us how to get there on the phone, but unluckily were let off of the bus too early by a passenger and the driver! It was Tue correct street, no worries there, but we ended up walking it for about an hour, in the heat with out backpacks and a pizzabox (haha), until we got to the right house - out in Tue middle of nowhere! We were glad to have arrived. Katie was very friendly and had amazing stories to tell! We started talking after the family had finished watching a movie. The house was large but I would not live there... plus Katie does all the cleaning for everyone and that is basically impossible for one person. So, clean is something else. The cat and dog, Rara and Molly, were darling! They had put mattresses out for us and at night, Molly joined me at my feet. Cute, but very old, doggy. I need to work on my sleep sensitivity... my brain needs to go to sleep and not wake up at every noise or light :-D
Monday, 2 July, 2012 The busride through the night was bad. It could have been worse but better as well. The person next to Nici took half of her seat, mine snores and from behind I got the privilege to enjoy several hours of never ending bollywood music. In between I slept a little, waking constantly and realizing that I had almost killed some body part, which was numb from being layed on. Finally we arrived at 6.20 am in Toronto. The streets were deserted, except for many homeless people, mostly still asleep. We started walking the streets with our large backpacks and ended up spending a bit of time in a Starbucks before making our way to Drew's house. Not knowing what and who to expect, we both were nervous and stood a while infront of his door before ringing the doorbell. The worries were unneccessary! Drew is such a nice guy, the best guide ever and owner of a beautiful appartment. We had such a good time together! He took us on a tour of his city, showing us his favorite places and going into some stores, whereas most were still closed, due to Canada Day. After he had led to us spend money, we hardly had to convince him to buy a pair of shoes at a store he had wanted to avoid - it was a dangerous store, too many nice things! The clerks wanted Nici and me to start working for them afterwards haha All in all we walked about 14 km, stopping on our way in some deko stores, at Milestones to have a delicious lunch - too sweet, he treated us to lunch plus cocktails called belinis! - at a dogmuseum, where we saw a dog show and read stories of courageous dogs and cats, (Did you know there was a Hall of Fame for animals?!) and a breakdance show. Of course, highlights of the city such as their Times Square, the stadium, the port, large buildings, the TV and radio tower... were part of our tour as well. Earlier on we had bought a day pass for the street car, unfortunately, it turned out that Nici Mays had left it back at Drew's place, so when we wanted to take the streetcar back, we had to pay again... Things like that happen Back at Drew's apartment we were exhausted, relaxed and watched a movie eating watermelon - Avatar! I had never seen the movie and it totally blew me away. We continued our evening playing Rock Band, a video game. That was so much fun! Our band name is: The couch potatoes! (previously, Drew had said couch potatoe instead of couch surfing several times!) We ended our Jamsession with a round of crazy eights and then fell into bed. What an exciting day and what a positive first couch surfing experience!
Sunday, 1. July, 2012 our last day in Montreal. The last time I was going to see my friends for a long time. Antoine worked, we got packed and left the house around noon. Our first stop was to visit the other Antoine at his work - surprise visit! we spent some time at the store he works at, enjoying all the fun stuff they have. I also bought 2 French books, which he recommended. It was a nice visit Afterwards we went down town to the Jazz Festival, stayed there a little bit, looked around, listened to music and then took the metro to arrive exactly at 4 pm at Antoines hospital to pick him up. Again, it was an extremely humid and hot day, and we were grateful for The airconditioning inside the hospital. Back at the house, after a long and hot metro ride, we relaxed, packed some more, wrote cards and then had our last delicious dinner together. The meat eaters had something with meat and olives and I had greatly spiced tofu with other veggies etc. It was a very nice last meal, sitting outside, talking and enjoying the fact that we were all there. Nici and I had prepared some little thank you gifts and had them ready in a bag but the, let's call it ceremoby, was delayed, because Fred got up and started playing with a volleyball. I joined him and we played some soccer with the volleyball He shot at my goal, not scoring once! it was fun but hot, Nici, who had sat down next to the goal - very dangerous! Fred was better at hitting her than the goal - wanted to join in the game. She in the goal, Fred and I in the field, playing against each other. I won - 5 to 0!!! imagine that :-D Antoine was exhausted from the week and had slept before dinner and was now pretending to be one of his patients. He needs some time off to relax. We had desert and passed out our little gifts. Lucy had not wanted us to spent money on gifts but was very touched by our cards. They are just too good to us <3 I will miss them! Sophie came over and then Philip as well. We spent the evening together, talking, filling Phillip in on the events of the past week he had spent in Florida, and playing a crazy video game. Too soon it was time to leave and we said good-bye to René. I was sad to leave and looked back at the house from the car, thinking about the passed week and wondering when I would see it again. A short stop at the bank, a quick ride to the center of the city and we had arrived at the busstation. Everything went fast now, Justine joined us there to say bye, we got our luggage on the crowded bus and rounds two seats close, but not next to eachother. We then went back to our little group of friends waiting, Lucy had been at a concert and had ran from there all the way to the station. She was quite out of breath but I was sooo happy she still made it! When the bus driver told us to get on the bus, our hugs and little good-bye ceremony was done in fast forward. Oh, how I wish I could have had to seconds longer. Two more seconds to have been able to look everybody in the eyes, say how much I loved them and how Mich I enjoyed my stay. I just have to assume that they know :-)
saturday, 30 June, 2012 as a result of coming home too late the night before, I slept to long and by the time we had eaten, picked up, showered, done the puzzles in the newspaper, played some piano and got ready it was almost 1.30 pm. Lucy had offered, even though she had hurt her leg/joint, to join us on our planned bike trip to Vieux Montreal. bikes were ready, sunscreen on and water packed - off we were! It was extremely hot and humid and we were very grateful for the water fountain in two parks on our way. the bike path led us alongside the river, through industry and parks. once basically soaked and back on the bike, we were dry within 2 seconds! maybe that will help to imaginene how hot it was it probably took us around 45 minutes to get to our destination, where we ate a Cute Castard - a Beavertail. The Beavertail is a speciality and everybody adores it and did we! Don't worry, it is a sweet desert made of dough and a suggary topping - no real beaver had to die for it. Oh yes, it was delicious but vatal to our biking ability. it was really weird, we continued down a bit further to the chute lachinois and to a lovely outside market. the fresh pressed lemonade with apple, lime and something else helped me revive. My energy had been drained from my body and I swear that the pole I ended up hugging had not been there the second before! we cooled down in the market, watching people go by and talking about this and that. My behind hurt in the way back, it is not accustomed to racing bikes Again we stopped and the parks and arrived back at around 4.30, totally hot and exhausted after the 30km ride! First thing we did: change into a bikini and go swimming! Sophie came over as well and the Antoine, Nicole, her and I played Marco Polo together. For dinner we went out to the banquise, where Nici had her first Poutine - which she did not really like. Had there been more spices and salt, then, maybe, yes. We ate our food in the beautiful Park Lafontaine, which obviously ( fontaine = fountain ) has a large fountain in the middle of the lake, which is lit up at night and changes colors. the atmosphere can be compared with nights st the Aachener Weiher. the fireworks were watched from one of the bridges. thousands of people watched them, standing on the bridge, on the riverbanks. from our sport we could see how more and more people kept poring in from.all sides, as if the was a magnet pulling them towards the water. The fireworks themselves were a masterpiece. in beauty and technical nerdness! I enjoyed them Afterwards, there was a line outside the metro entrance to get inside! ( the stop itself is at least one large story deaper....) we decided walk to the next station, where Antoine and Sophie returned home and Nici and I continued to Berri Uquam to take the metro from.there to meet Justine, with whom we ended up going dancing at "la shop". - great place, one can play billiard etc and all drinks cost 2 doolars! We took the last metro back, after dancing, drinking and being talked to by some drunk girls. I said good night to Antonine for a last time in person upon returning and then fell into deep sleep
Friday, 29 June, 2012
I always wake up briefly, when Antoine gets up to go to work. By now he, when passing through our room, looks at the bed, expecting me to be waving, sitting or saying something.
Same thing this morning and back to sleep afterwards! Nici and I had a lazy morning and noon, being productive in the way that we booked our bus tickets to Toronto and to the Niagara Falls. For both places we have been accepted via Couch Surfing to nice people. We both are looking forward to this experience!
Around three, we left the house to pick up Antoine from work. There was no real reason for us to pick him up, but I (and Nici along with me) just felt like picking him up at least once. We met him outside of his hospital St. Luc and went to visit and family member. I knew her from last year, Nici obviously did not From her little apparment, one has a wonderful view over the whole city. You can see the river, downtown, the festival center or look down 16 floors to the street. For some reaso, both Nici and Antoine did not want to look down and Nici got all nervous when I did ... wierd haha Only 16 flights =P
BTW - I accept the challenge to climb something that high!
We went back to our little wooden house with Antoine, had dinner and I got ready to leave, since I was invited to Antoine F. (yes, a different Antoine) house. Nici was going to join us later in a bar. Intelligent me managed to miss the metro and because of a great bus connection, I was 30 minutes late. I hate that and was angry at myself, who knows me, knows that that is dangerous It is the worst kind of anger, anyway, I found my way to Antoine's house and we spent a nice hour in the garden, talking, with a glass of wine and him trying to teach me how to juggle (I am a hopeless case...). I really like the way their house is set up on the inside!
From his house I wrote Nici a message telling her when and where to meet us, unfortunatly, the auto correct from the Iphone confused me to such an extent that I wrote her the wrong time Instead of being there are 9:45, she thought she had to be there at 8:45 - I wrote the message around 8:40, go Nici, beam yourself across the city! Haha, I felt so bad when we met her and she said she had been waiting for 30 minutes and raced to get there... Not really my day.
Laura is in Montreal as well, she was an exchange stundent with me. It was her and some other friends we met to go to a bar with. Nici and I left them to sprint downtown to the Jazz festival. Lucy had given us some tickets and even though we had looked the person up and had not been thrilled, we went to check it out. Now I can say: "Hey, I have been to an indoor concert from the Jazz festival - what about you?" Yes, the saxophonist had great technic, but it was too electric for me. Nici was fascinated but we still left early and went back through the masses of people watching outdoor concerts and filling the little stoors on the streets.
We joined my friends again at the Bar Laurier, where the beer tasted terrible. We talked, watched a guy dance with the Jukebox and after the last metro had left, looked up how to get home with nightbusses. Antoine F. had offered us to stay at his place (around the corner!) but Nici wears contact lenses and has to put them into the special liquid. I did not get the chance to say good-bye really to my friends and ran in open shoes to get the bus, only to be let out of the bus at the wrong stop by the driver and then walk around the city for over 2 hours, meeting a guy from Osnabrück, taking 6 busses and walking through interesting neighbourhoods. I'd say it was an adventure! And as if that was not enough, we had realized at the concert, that we did not have a key with us. Upon calling Antoine, we did not receive an answer so we were kind of stuck. Still, we went home, hoping that we would be lucky. Btw, Antoines brother cannot be found on facebook, so we could not even write him a message.
We finally arrived after our little trip through Montreal and saw a light go off in the bathroom. Nici ran to the door to catch the person going up the stairs - too late. Fred was still up - yeahhhhhh - because the light in his room was still on. Lucky us? Well, his room is on the top floor, so we climbed onto chairs and knocked on his window with a broom - we already had tried throwing nuts (from the Hari Krishna people) - but were unsuccessful. I was quite tired and lay down on the swing-bench, watching Fred's window, when suddenly he started closing the curtain! We both jumped up, ran to the chairs, climbed up, almost fell, climbed up again and banged the broom at his window - no reaction. I swear, Nici kept banging for about 5 minutes - I held the chairs - until we finally saw a face at the window!! I celebrated that moment haha, Fred came down, opened the door and let in two relieved and tired girls. What a funny ending to the day but definitely an experience one has to have made once