It's the last week of November and I'm itching for an adventure. Luckily for me, a friend is in town visiting and he's eager to explore the sights of Canada. We decide to visit Niagara together, a touristy town I've been meaning to visit since my arrival a few months ago. Having read about this quaint little town and seen many of my friends post incredibly beautiful pictures of the Falls, I was pumped to go with him.
We start out first thing on Saturday morning at the Toronto Coach Station, where a fancy Greyhound bus picks us up and transports us to Niagara. Bare in mind, it's the middle of winter here and the weather ain't so good, but we decide to make the most of our weekend together. The bus journey flies by and before we know it, we're pulling up to a tiny abandoned bus station. I start to doubt myself, thinking we must have boarded the wrong bus back in the city. I feel like I'm starring in a new House of Wax movie as we exit the station and appear to be the only people roaming an empty town. We find a group of people and cluelessly ask for directions. This is when we realize that we're not actually in Niagara yet - we still have a 30 minute walk ahead of us before arriving to the kitsch old town.
My levels of excitement finally arise when I catch a glimpse of the Falls in the distance. The sky is pretty grey, it's raining, and it's absolutely freezing, but we make it in one piece! It was so worth the long trip to see this beautiful piece of nature. It feels amazing to be out in the open and beside the water again. I imagine Niagara Falls looks a million times better on a hot summer's day, but who cares, to me it looked great!
We make a pitstop at one of my favourite American restaurants, IHOP, otherwise known as the International House of Pancakes. IHOP is a traditional American style diner, serving up all kinds of flavored pancakes. I had my first experience at the chain about 5 years ago in New York, when my roommate and I ventured to the restaurant in one of the sketchiest areas of Brooklyn - it was SO worth it though and I've been obsessed ever since. I don't even need to look at the menu as I've already decided on my favorite - the New York Cheesecake pancakes, topped with strawberries and cream. My dad and I also indulged in these back in May when we were traveling around Florida, they are scrumdiddlyumptious.
Next up on our adventure is a trip to the Niagara Casino. I've never actually been to a casino before but this place is known for them, so why not? It's exactly what I expect, I feel like I've just touched down in Las Vegas. The lights, the sounds, and the clicking of buttons as people become engulfed in electronic money eating machines. I have to admit though, it's pretty fun, for about 30 minutes then I get bored and decide it's time to chill out at the nearest pub, Montana's.
After a refreshing mojito, we make our way back to the station where the Greyhound whisks us back to Toronto in no time. I find myself tucked up in bed by 9pm, ready to explore again the following day.
I wake up on Sunday feeling very festive and excited as Jonny & I plan to head down to the Distillery District to check out the Toronto Christmas Market. There's no denying that Christmas is just around the corner, the department stores have been thoughtfully decorated, fairy lights are illuminating the city, Christmas music is blasting from just about every speaker in the country.
The market reminds me of why Christmas is my favorite holiday of the year. I feel an incredible warmth and kindness from the crowds of people, the sound of the choir makes me feel peaceful and at ease, the scent of cinnamon and mulled wine reminds me of my home in Ireland.
Later in the afternoon I walk over to FRESH on Spadina to pick up a few cold pressed juices to power up for the working week ahead. I then call it a night and head home to rest up.
It was nice to see some more of the country, even if it was just a short trip, I'm full of ideas now of where I'll explore next. I have Banff, Vancouver, and Colorado on my mind. Let's see where my passport will take me next!