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2011 The Nightingale's Oddessy Our exchange year in Canada.

Nan and Pops visit

CANADA | Sunday, 5 June 2011 | Views [294]

Exciting fortnight - Our first International visitors

Yes, I’ve been slack and not updated the blog in the last two weeks, but in my defence I have two good excuses.

1: We have been very busy hosting our first overseas visitors and

2: Michelle has needed the use of HER laptop to complete reports that need to be in before the end of term. What a nerve. Lol

So settle back this will be a long one as I try and catch up on two weeks.

There has been a lot of excitement in the Nightingale household over the last two weeks as Nan and Pop (Michelle’s parents, Stephen and Roxley) arrived after their big Asian cruise. As is usual for all of their trips it has been very busy. Starting with their arrival at Toronto airport at 06:00 on Sunday morning, a quick trip back to Medland Dve for some breakfast and then changed and dressed to go out to Natasha’s 1st Holy Communion. Then instead of gathering a breath we dragged them down to Burlington Lakeshore to show them all the places we have been raving about. A word of advice for those planning to visit in the future, don’t expect to get any rest.

The following day Monday, was Victoria Day (Canada’s version of the Queen’s Birthday long weekend). So after a leisurely breakfast we decided to do some local sightseeing as the weather was a bit iffy. Not far from us is a conservation area, with the remains of an Iroquois Indian village, so that was our first stop. The remains of a number of First Nations Longhouses where discovered a number of years ago and from these the original village has been recreated. It was an interesting site to explore, even though it was raining. Also within the bounds of the Park is Crawford Lake a small glacial Lake with hiking trails through the forest surrounding it.

After leaving Crawford Lake we had intended to head to Mountsberg Maple Syrup village, but someone put the wrong address into the GPS and we ended up at Glen Eden ski slopes instead, which in itself was interesting as we got to see the same slopes that we had skied on earlier in the year without the snow. As is to be expected the slopes and trails that are so good to ski on in Winter now become a mecca for mountain bike riders and hikers in summer. Glen Eden even has its own beach!!! Not exactly white fine sands, but I guess in the height of summer a Lake with a manmade beach is better than nothing.

The rest of the week was spent relaxing, which for my in-laws means keeping REALLY busy and active!  Mind you, I think I may have run them into the ground on a couple of occasions. This week, we also got our first real taste of hot weather with the temperature getting up to the 30 degree mark, I even managed to get sunburnt on playground duty.

Thursday, we got rid of mom for the day. This will make her teacher friends jealous. Michelle was one of 5 teachers and 40 kids to venture to Niagara Falls for an overnight trip. The excursion included: a visit to Fort George (the site of one of the major battles between the USA and Canada in the war of 1812), a trip on the Maid of the Mist, dinner at the Skylon restaurant  overlooking  the falls, accommodation at the Days Inn and a trip to Marineland amongst other things and the best thing it didn’t cost a cent.

Friday it was our turn. Stephen, Roxley, Ryan, Tash and I all piled into the car and headed in the same direction. As with our other trips to Niagara the weather started out wet and overcast, but that didn’t matter as we were going to get much wetter as the day went on. First stop after locating our motel was to head into Clifton Hill and book our trip on the Maid of the Mist. For the uninitiated, the Maid of the Mist/Mists are a fleet of ferries that take tourists to the base of Horseshoe Falls, where you can get absolutely soaked. Before boarding the boat, you get issued a very fetching, blue garbage bag to wear, that is supposed to prevent you getting too wet. This would be the first of three we would collect over the weekend.

It certainly brings home the immense amount of water going over the falls and provides a very different perspective. Half a dozen boats do the trip from both sides of the border, each boat holding 600 people and making a trip every 15 minutes, gives a fair idea of how many people visit the Falls in a day and it isn’t even peak season yet.

After the boat cruise, the kids were given the option of Marineland or the indoor waterpark again, with them opting for the latter as the weather still was a bit wet (a wise choice as Mum texted later to say that a lot of things at Marineland were closed). So leaving Nan and Pop to do their own thing around the falls, the kids and I spent a couple of hours on the slides and in the pools. The difference between this time and when we were last there in January being, that it was Friday and kids were in school, so we virtually had the place to ourselves.

Late Friday afternoon we caught up with Nan, Pop and Michelle, after she had seen the Intermediates  safely on the bus back to Toronto, so we then all headed out for an early dinner and for Chelle Stephen and Tash an early night. Ryan, Roxley and I headed back out when it got dark to see the illumination of the falls and the fireworks. Though how you can call letting off one pyrotechnic every 15 mins fireworks, puzzles me!!.

Saturday morning pack up and head back to the falls. Parking the car next to Skylon Tower we came across our first live skunk!  It was grazing on the grass in the car park, so carefully making sure not to upset it, I was able to get close enough to get some photos. Never thought our first encounter with a skunk would be in a car park.  Heading down to the falls we ran into the CLEE crowd who also had a Niagara excursion on the same weekend. All of us then ending up on the Journey Behind the Falls. To go behind the falls entails putting on another garbage bag, this time bright yellow and being transported down to a ledge at the base of the falls and going through tunnels that come out at a portal directly behind the falls, this part being slightly disappointing as all you see is an arch with sheets of water in front of it. This however is more than made up by the location of the ledge and the chance to get some amazing photos.

Next on the schedule was a trip further down Niagara Gorge to the site of the class 6 rapids, allegedly the most dangerous in the world and the cause of a number of deaths both stupid and unfortunate, why anyone in their right mind would want to challenge these rapids is beyond me.

Back up to the Falls and an appointment with Niagara’s Fury, a 4D experience that includes a moving floor lots of flashing lights, sound, a full 360 degree movie screen and lots of water and yes another of those ubiquitous garbage bags. Having an inkling of what was coming I hung back as everyone went in to the theatre and stood towards the back so remaining dry, the rest however were somewhere near the middle and felt the full brunt of it.

By the time we finished there it was getting late so we headed off to the Niagara discount outlets for a quick shop (we don’t seem to be able to avoid them) then back to Burlington.

Sunday. Sue our neighbour dropped by with some information on an open day at Mt Nemo another conservation site on the Niagara Escarpment and part of the Bruce Trail. The escarpment rises up to 50 metres above the surrounding terrain and offers some great views and trails. It runs some 800 kms from Niagara on the Lake all the way up to Tobermory on the Bruce Peninsular and the Bruce Trail winds along the entire length, offering a good walk for those adventurous enough to try it. Again, we spent a couple of hours hiking and getting photos before relaxing back at home.

The rest of the week was spent kicking back with a couple of local sight seeing trips when I had the car.  Tash had EQAO testing for the first part of the week, (Canada’s equivalent of NAPLAN) so wasn’t able to take time off. Chelle and the kids did get to spend Friday with her parents, their last day before flying out to Hawaii.

So as I alluded to at the start It’s been a busy two weeks and as we get closer to the summer holidays it’s only going to get busier.  As usual, the next couple of weekends are booked, Michelle is frantically trying to get reports written and I am arranging our travel for summer.

Before I go, I’ll mention the Ice Hockey. It’s now the playoffs for the Stanley Cup. The finals being between the Vancouver Canucks and the Boston Bruins, neither team having won the Stanley Cup in recent memory. The finals are played over seven games between Vancouver and Boston. The first game was played on Wednesday night and it was a brutal affair the Canucks winning at home by scoring a goal in the last 19 seconds of the third period (each game has 3 x 20 minute periods). It’s hard to see both teams being able to keep up this pace for seven games if it goes that far.

Tonight it’s Boston at home. Go the Bruins!!! That’s going to get me deported. I’m a converted ice hockey fan.  

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