Montage: June 2014

It’s a week late, but my latest video montage is up on YouTube!

This month found me settling into a bit of a ‘rut’ as I get used to living in this strange new environment (get used to? Psh, I’ll never be used to this crazy weather!), and being wrapped up in my studies and swing dancing classes.

With mid terms coming up in a couple of weeks and this term being more about baking and specialty skills rather than cake decorating (my strength), I am throwing myself into an intense study regime.

Wish me luck! This Diploma Programme seems like it will only get more and more intense until the end!

Just feelin’ a little homesick

I have been in Toronto for 2 months now, away from home for 3, and I am not ashamed to say I’m a little homesick.

While I am having a blast here, there are times when you feel awfully alone in a big city by yourself. Sometimes it’s when people don’t understand me because of my accent. Sometimes it’s because I’m the only person alone at an event. Sometimes it’s because I see photos of my beautiful nieces who are growing up so far away from me!

Can you hear my heart breaking?

Okay – enough of all that feeling sorry for myself. After two months, here’s a run down of what I’m missing the most about home and what I’m liking the most about this fine city of Toronto!

Things I am missing about Australia…

Expensive but soooooo worth it!

  • Vegemite easily accessible and at a normal price – $8.50 for a tiny jar?! C’mon! 
  • Chocolate frogs – No Canadians, they’re not just some magical thing from Harry Potter. 
  • Crispy M&M’s – seriously, what is up with that?! 
  • Beaches – why, oh why did I always take them for granted?
  • Cheddar cheese that isn’t bright orange – enough said.
  • Dry heat & not so cold cold- humidity is forever the enemy. 
  • All product labels being in english – French, why must you confuse me so? No, I didn’t want low fat cheese. No, I didn’t want gluten free pasta. I wish you would make your labels clearer!
Things I am liking about Toronto…
  • Not being considered ridiculously fair skinned – hello normality! 
  • Public transport – oh, the TTC is far from perfect but it’s a sure lot better than Adelaide Metro.
  • The Lindy Hop scene – all the swing dancing, all the time!
  • The  beautiful old buildings and cute houses – they’re just plain adorable. 
  • Self serve ticket machines at the cinemas – because when you go to a movie alone there’s a very high chance you do not wish to speak to anyone.
  • Anonymity – walking down a main road with the back of your pants completely undone and your underwear on display for all to see becomes slightly less embarrassing when nobody knows who you are. Slightly…
  • Peameal Bacon Sandwiches – the holy grail of bacon sandwiches!
Peameal Bacon Sandwich from St Lawrence Market
Of course, I have left out of this list the people I’m missing because clearly, my family, friends and that fluffy fur baby of mine are obvious. Cue more heartbreak.

This trip is halfway over – only 2 months left of the BGC Diploma Programme, and 3 months until I’ll be back knocking on Australia’s door begging them to let me back in. This time is flying by!

Look out Australia, I’ll be back before you know it!

Montage: May 2014

One whole month of living in Canada and attending Bonnie Gordon College is over!

Only three to go now – wow.

It’s been a crazy busy month and I have been flat out sharing my time between college, swing dancing classes, and trying to fit in a little bit of a social life and seeing some touristy sights.

I’ve fallen into such a routine that when it came to put together this months video I didn’t think I’d have anything interesting to share. I was incredibly surprised when I had to find a longer song to fit in all my adventures! I guess I’ve done more than I thought!

Here’s my latest monthly montage: all Toronto, all the time!

My first month in Toronto has been incredible. The occasional waves of homesickness are quickly beaten away by knowing what an incredibly opportunity this is!

Bring on month 2!

Winter, you big jerk!

When I left home, I left with an envelope in my suitcase.

This envelope came from my very best girl friend. On the front it read “For use on 28/4. You can open any date before then but not ’till you leave.” I wasn’t told what was inside.

I had known about this planned envelope for a while before I left and I gathered some clues which led me to one conclusion. The clues were as follows…

  1. It was a day trip. 
  2. It was taking place on Monday the 28th of April.
  3. I needed to be ready by 8am in flat shoes. 
  4. I was given a plastic poncho.
My conclusion: Niagara Falls.
Was I right? Yes, but it was still terribly exciting when I opened that envelope the evening before. We were booked on a day trip run by King Tours. We would be picked up that morning from my apartment and be taken to the tour bus. The tour would take us to a winery, then on to Niagara on the Lake before finally reaching the Falls. 
Could we be any more spoilt? I think not!
The day got off to an amusing start with me accidentally leaving my iPhone in the fancy taxi that picked us up in the morning (Don’t worry, it was handed to the tour company and I picked it up that evening. Darn it, no new iPhone for me!) and we were on our way through the city and then around Lake Ontario
First stop was Diamond Estates Winery where I was most interested in these teeny, tiny pinecones! I’ve never seen a pinecone so small!
Teeny tiny pinecone at Diamond Estates Winery
Then we headed onto Niagara on the Lake for some lunch. It was a very charming town. Curiosity resulted in a purchase of a red velvet cookie, however I was slightly disappointed. It wasn’t bad as such… it just wasn’t great either. At least it looked pretty!
Red Velvet Cookie at Niagara on the Lake
The town was full of beautiful flowers though, and these tulips were my absolute favourite. Swooooon.
Tulips at Niagara on the Lake
My favourite part of Niagara on the Lake though? The public toilets. I quickly rushed to them just before our tour departed, expecting nothing special – oh, how I was surprised! These toilets were in their own building. You entered through an automatic sliding glass door into a foyer featuring a drink vending machine. Once I entered the actual ‘washroom’ as they call it here, I found the entire place practically brand new, all automatic and entirely spotless! Ah-maaaaaaaa-zing! Surely I’m not the only one who appreciates a nice, clean toilet? Right? 
Then on to the Falls we went! Oh my goodness, how they were beautiful. The power of the water was incredible!
Niagara Falls!
We were booked to go on the ‘Maid of the Mist‘ boat (actually it’s “The Hornblower” from the Canadian side) however, due to this exceptionally long winter that Canada is having, there was still ice in the water! At the end of April – whaaaat?! Thanks a lot winter – you big jerk! So unfortunately the boat couldn’t run, but instead we got to ‘Journey behind the Falls’ down into tunnels that let us view the power of the water up close. It was amazing!
Ice at Niagara at the end of April – man, it must have been a harsh winter!
There was also a viewing platform at the bottom as part of the ‘Journey behind the Falls’ experience that allowed us to get a bit closer, and check out the ice!
A few hours were spent admiring the Falls, checking out the normal touristy gift shops, and buying postcards for our loved ones, and candy for ourselves (naturally). 
The bus home was a quiet one as the group was very tired from the day. Snoring was heard from all directions, and I must admit that even I dozed off for a few moments. Ahh, the benefits of not driving!
It was the most incredible day and all I can say is thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to the lovely Tamika for giving me this opportunity! 
Here’s one more photo of the Falls, just because they’re so beautiful.
Niagara Falls and Rainbow Bridge in the background – the US/Canadian border.

O Canada!

Holy guacamole, gosh gee whiz!

So much has happened since my last proper blog post that I don’t even know where to begin.

First things first; I have been in Toronto for over a week now. Whoaaaaaaaaaa!

I’m finally starting to get an understanding of where things are and how the public transport system works. It’s pretty simple, although I have caught the incorrect train a few more times than I would like to admit. You’d think it would be pretty simple – just east or west – but alas, with my sense of direction (or lack thereof) there were a number of ‘oops’ moments.

The apartment I’m staying at is in the perfect location, close to the subway with a bus stop 2 doors down and just a 20 – 30 minute trip to downtown Toronto. More importantly, just around the corner is Galaxy Donuts which have these babies for 90 cents. Thank you donut gods!

Hawaiian Donut from Galaxy Donuts on Keele Street, Toronto – yum!

The apartment itself is wonderful and homely (the washing machine even sings the same song as the one back home when it’s done – ahhh how comforting!) but more on that in a later post. Also more later on the cat who is currently snoring on my lap as I type this.

Over my first weekend in Toronto we explored a bit of the downtown area. Our group consisted of a mix of Canadians, Americans & Australians, which was interesting to say the least. Many sights were seen, places explored, and fun was had.

So two Americans, a Canadian and an Australian walked into a bar…

I won’t say yet that I’ve figured out my way around the city – oh gosh no! I will say however, that I am getting used to the subway and places are starting to look familiar as I wander around. Not familiar enough that I don’t need to rely on google maps though… and I still manage to get lost with that! Oh, why wasn’t I born with a sense of direction? Whyyyy?

While I took some time to warm to San Francisco, I have fallen in love with Toronto instantly. From first impressions the city seems like a lovely mix between the good parts of San Francisco and the good parts of Australian cities. I am not constantly fearful for my safety like I was in the US and that is very reassuring.

I am even getting used to the cold, although everyone tells me that very soon the heat will hit and I will die from the humidity. Or… you know, at least have crazy hair. Which is practically the same thing, right?

If you have any recommendations for places I should visit during my time here in Toronto (cheap, preferably! I am on a budget you know – geesh!) , please let me know!