Well a morning of study was again in order for Thursday. But I did make a significant achievement. The first essay I’ve submitted in over 20 years, and who knows it might be as bad as the ones I submitted 20 years ago too! My day, as a few days have in fact started, started at lunchtime with a trip to the Art Gallery of Ontario.
In all truth, I was feeling quite drained and maybe some of this was the long day I anticipated the day after at Niagara falls. Our train would leave at 8.20 in the morning and not get back till after 8pm at night. I got to the gallery, in what I must admit was a pretty grumpy mood. I’d studied all morning and I suppose I just felt a little bit sad about things. At this point in time everyone should be feeling pretty sad for Claire because she was the one who was going to have to put up with me. In fact she pretty much always does an amazing job of it. I knew I was being a little snappy and short, and she just has this amazing patience and will ask what is wrong (it’s the psychiatrist in her) until I finally crack, tell her I’m grumpy and then everything is alright again.
I suppose when you think about it, these things only have power when you keep them hidden, when they are unsaid. And as soon as things are out in the open, everything is suddenly a lot rosier, the anxiety drifts away and what a few minutes ago felt tense is suddenly back as it has been. It’s a nice feeling letting go of things.
The art gallery was fun. I definitely have a new found appreciation of them since I met Claire, sometimes you feed off your partner’s enjoyment. How enthusiastic they are about things pulls you in. I mean I loved the baseball the other night and I know Claire isn’t a big sports fan, but I reckon she had an okay time because I was really into it. That excitement and passion rubs off.
Back to the gallery, we saw the Georgia O’Keefe exhibition, which was really good. She painted a lot of flowers and skulls from what I could see. She was an American artist, referred to as the mother of American modernism. Her work was nice. The skull stuff though, in my mind, was futuristic and probably something I saw in my university years on people’s walls but as fantasy stuff, not Georgia O’Keefe’s. If you want to check out some of her stuff, you can see it here: https://www.artsy.net/artist/georgia-okeeffe
We headed home and for once decided we’d actually eat in for a change, with a difference though! The supermarkets over here actually sell either pre-cooked food or hot food you can just take home and eat. I honed in on, you guessed it, a chicken schnitzel with some marinara sauce on top and to pretend I was healthy a few roast potatoes, carrots and other roasted veggies. Saying that, it was probably the healthiest meal I’ve had all holiday really. Tiredness is funny when it just hits you and however much you try to fight it off, sometimes the only way to deal with it is to give in to it and actually rest. I’m very bad at this, but as I get older, I’m getting better.
A couple of hours on the couch was enough. We went out again to the Ed Mirvish theatre to watch ‘Beautiful’ a play/musical about the life of Carole King. It was basically songs from start to finish, and most of them I knew. You don’t really think of how many songs Carole King wrote, but just think of One Fine Day (The Chiffons), Locomotion (Little Eva and later Kylie), Pleasant Valley Sunday (Moonkees), Will you still love me tomorrow (The Shirelles) and Up on The Roof (The Drifters) as an example of a few, there are many many more. Again Claire was really into it and dragged me into it. Her dancing in the seat next to me was encouragement enough!
We headed home, about a 30 minute walk across town to a nicely cooled apartment. That has been my strategy these last few days to make it as cold as possible when we go to bed, to help us sleep better. It worked a treat and I slept through until Claire’s alarm rudely awoke me the next morning at just after 7am!
As usual I stayed in bed until about 15 minutes before departure and then hopped up, showered, dressed and was ready. It’s a talent I’ve mastered over the years. We got to the station thinking we’d be early. In fact the queue was probably a 100 deep by the time we reached it. We queued for maybe 20 minutes before being let on what seemed a pretty empty train. It soon filled up though. The ride to Niagara was fairly uneventful. Not as eventful as the ride back but I’ll leave that story for later. Approximately 2 hours later we arrived at Niagara station. One thing we have noticed about Canada, is outside the major cities, the train stations seem a long way from civilisation. As we stepped off the train, we hadn’t a clue where to go or what to do. But thankfully unlike my childhood, we now have Google Maps!
A quick search and a bit of research online told us to head to Rainbow Bridge and we were off. About 30 minutes later, the falls came into sight! And what a view. There are basically two separate falls, the first one is completely on the American side and is pretty impressive in itself. The second, Horseshoe Falls, the most famous one, is 1/3 American, 2/3 Canadian and is quite awe inspiring. It’s just one of those things, that you’ve seen on television a dozen times but nothing quite gets close to actually being there. We took a thousand pictures (most of which are actually on Facebook!) and Claire even got to use her new selfie stick (which she got free with a bottle of wine!)
In my mind I didn’t quite understand how we could fill 7 hours there but in fact it was really quite easy. The walk to the falls took a good hour and a half, after numerous photo opportunities. We walked a bit further and explored some gardens just after the falls, where we saw our first chipmunk in the hot house. However, unfortunately we missed the photo opportunity so you’ll just have to trust me on this one. Chipmunks and squirrels are extremely similar but we were pretty sure with those strips running along its back that it definitely was one!
We then took the incline rail, basically a giant cable car up a sharp hill into the middle of the town (or really a series of hotels and casinos). A late lunch we picked up at a Lebanese restaurant just outside the casino and I had my first Shawarma. Which I learnt was basically a souvlaki or kebab! But hey if they call it a different name, I have to try it. Just gotta cross Beaver Tail off my list now and I’ll have the hat-trick!
A gelato followed, just because we’re on holiday and I’m sure I read somewhere you should have an ice cream everyday (I may have written that). We returned to the falls for a last few looks and I got asked by a couple to take a picture of them. I readily agreed and just to try and make them laugh, I asked what they’d like in the background, maybe the bridge? To which they replied ‘the waterfall’ without laughing. Well I thought it was funny.
The train ride home was interesting. We were maybe 30 minutes late leaving and during that time this guy was just pacing up and down the carriage and not just pacing the same distance, but varying distances constantly. And I mean he was passing my seat probably every 10 seconds. Finally as the train started to move he sat down. I then popped to the food carriage of the train to buy a couple of drinks and the women there with me stopped the conductor and let him know that this guy was acting very suspiciously. She was a little embarrassed to point him out, so I let the conductor know that I knew who she was talking about and I’d point him out. The conductor seemed to sort it and in spite of Claire and I expecting a SWAT team to step on the train at every stop, nothing happened and we got back to Toronto fine.
Dinner at home again because it was getting late and looking forward to a quieter day tomorrow.
Well Saturday, in spite of earlier plans of heading out to the Woodbine, turned into a rest day. Lots of study done in the morning, then lunch at the Amsterdam Brewery on the beautiful harbour front, followed by a bit of shopping before pizza and a couple of drinks at home. I did however finally get my taste of beaver tail!