Last month, we embarked on the biggest trip of our lives so far. We were away for longer, we spent more time in the air, and we travelled farther on land than we ever have. We also did it with more children – the Turtle endured his first airplane rides and he saw Canada for the first time.
We have family and friends in several different Canadian cities. We organised our trip so we could go to as many of them as possible. This turned out to be more tiring than we had planned for – but it was really nice to see so many loved ones.
Not part of Canada, but we spent 2 nights in China on the way. China Eastern airlines started flying direct routes between Shanghai and Toronto last June, and this route is much cheaper than all of the others. We opted for the longest possible layovers so we could sleep in between flights and do a bit of sightseeing!
Pudong airport in Shanghai, at night with jet lag and kids (also with jet lag)
The airport was nice inside and out
We stayed at this hotel, in-between terminals 1 and 2. We could have gotten a better deal if we left the airport, but the Chinese internet scared me.
Beautiful bathroom…glass door. This toilet was 100% visible from the rest of the hotel room
We woke up early (no choice: kids) and took the first Maglev train to the Bund before our next flight
First glimpse of China outside the airport: Trash.
I read that cars are deadly and crosswalks, traffic lights and turn signals mean nothing. We were careful, we survived
We asked this guy to take our picture, and he posed like this…
…so we took the picture ourselves
This is the Bund. We were there for 5 minutes before we had to turn around. Totally worth it to see a new place in a new country!
The flights from Shanghai to Toronto and back were brutal. On the way there we were delayed on the runway, so we had to contend with the kids for 16 hours. We only had overhead TVs, and the movies were not in English. Some of them had subtitles. There was a mystery meat sandwich that I can still taste, 6 weeks later.
Bruce county, Ontario
Our first stop was Wiarton to visit Bubbe. While we were there we rediscovered some harsh realities about what Canadians eat…they eat junk. Food prices are quite high, and restaurants serve (mostly) fried food in extremely large portions. Trying to find tasty, healthy food to eat for normal meals became a recurring theme for us, we totally forgot what to do without delicious rice at our disposal.
We spent our first night at the local town fair
This playground is…plastic. Not what we’re used to anymore
Mary and I went for a hike to the cliff where we got engaged 8 years ago.
The health value, the prices, and the inclusion of KRAFT DINNER shocked us
Tobermory is a beautiful harbour town 45 minutes north of Bubbe’s house. We like it!
The water at Tobermory looks nice, but it was too cold to swim
Sauble beach pulls thousands of tourists from all over every summer. We went twice!
The sand on the beach is packed down in most places, which is nice for parking, but difficult for play.
Though we were recovering from jet lag, our goals for our time in Bruce county were to spend quality time with our family while enjoying the area’s natural beauty. Bruce is a rural area that thrives on summer tourism – and we flew further than most of the other tourists, so we made sure to enjoy ourselves!
Montreal & Lachute, Quebec
We got a rare chance to see Grandpa, who flew from Mississippi to see us. We chose Montreal as our meeting place. It’s out of the way, but we both grew up there and we thought it would be nice to show the kids and eat GREAT food. We spent most of our mornings doing active things with the kids, visited restaurants that we all missed dearly, and we got lots of time with friends and extended family, too.
After we left Bruce county, we started driving around. We had to spend a day to drive to & from Quebec. It was far, but it was worthwhile. Montreal is my hometown, and I hadn’t been there for a visit in 3 ½ years – that’s too long.
Poutine (fries, cheese curds, gravy) is a local specialty. This is the best one, from Decarie Hot-Dog in St-Laurent. Don’t believe me? Prove me wrong. The chef said he remembered me from when I was a daily customer 10 years ago.
This park has wood. Much better!
We went to my uncle’s cottage in Lachute for a day. The water was too cold to swim AND it was raining…but that didn’t stop Grandpa.
Grandpa braved the cold. I was wearing a sweater.
Some desserts we picked out for an afternoon visit with the Bunny’s great, great aunt & uncle
Mary lounged on this VERY nice LaSalle lawn
Exterior stairs are a thing, I approve.
The famous Schwartz’s Deli, open 24h and always a line like this
We went across the street to the Main deli, which many consider to be tastier. Me? I’m not sure.
Rental bicycles in front of a cool wall mural
We picked up some bagels for the road from St-Viateur bagel shop.
This is westmount park, where Grandpa played when he was young
Canada was under construction while we were there, especially Montreal
It rained one day, so we went the the Biodome. This is a turtle. We tried to get a picture with our Turtle too, but one of them didn’t stay still….
Also, a sloth.
Montreal was the highlight of the trip for me. We really wanted to spend more time everywhere we went, but for me – this alone made the flights worthwhile.
Huron County, Ontario
We went to another rural area to spend time with Grandma. While we were there, we enjoyed a really, really big camping trip. Together, we were 29 people and 100% of Mary’s immediate family. The Bunny and the Turtle had 11 cousins to play with. We camped for 2 days using borrowed gear and we spent some more time at Grandma’s house afterwards. Her toy collection dwarfs ours, much to the kids’ delight.
The Bunny played in Grandma’s giant backyard often…and she did so without shoes! This was our attempt at embracing the culture
Our camping weekend began soon after we arrived. We kept the rain cover on our tent most of the time, it was a shame…because the view was great!
Almost sunset. I lacked patience so I went back to our campsite before the sky got any nicer.
The Turtle celebrated his birthday with his cousins, and the Bunny helped to make these muffins!
How do we plan a birthday party during a camping trip? Beach party!
We made huge bubbles for the cousins to pop – it was a hit
Big pizza gets its own seatbelt. This was for the Turtle’s party.
We took some time to visit the Bunny & Turtle’s Great Grandpa, we think he was happy to see us
Back to plastic… but this WAS a nice park.
Mary grew up in this house. It’s a farm house.
This is the farm part of the farm house. The cows were indifferent toward us.
Inside the barn…I was scared. It’s a creepy place!
Outside the barn, less creepy.
Huron county was a big change of pace – we did less than we had been doing. It was good to force ourselves to relax, and it was better for the Bunny and Turtle to enjoy more play time than they had at our other stops.
Kitchener, Waterloo, Iona, Vanastra & Dorchester, Ontario
We spent ⅔ of our travels with grandparents. We made many side trips to see friends as well. In total, we were welcomed into 15 homes, and we drove over 3000 kilometres.
The Bunny enjoyed playing with friends in this backyard
We slept at “the cats’ house” on 3 occasions. Our generous hosts made our overly ambitious Canadian travels possible by giving us somewhere familiar for the kids to return to after excursions
Barbecue is an American thing, but it’s very much a part of Canadian summer eating. Jon is the most skilled BBQ champion.
Jon’s delicious ribs, from the fire to our plates
Some Canadian sushi, featuring salmon, avocado, cucumber, shrimp tempura, tobiko, and sweet potato tempura
We CAN get curry in Kitchener! We will chase imports for the rest of our lives…
This was “our car”. The Bunny was sad when we returned it.
I was “trip A”. We got our money’s worth. I said we drove over 3000km, and we did – but some of those kilometres were in Bubbe’s car.
All of the travelling left us pretty tired. We wanted to see as many people as we could, but there were still so many that we didn’t get a chance to see. Some visits were as short as an hour! We learned that no matter how hard we try, we can’t see everyone.
Our visit to Canada was BUSY. We saw and did more than we probably should have with 2 little kids, but we did have a great time with our friends and family. This was a big trip for all of us.
Now, we’re happy to be back in the comfort of our home without suitcases, airplanes or anyone asking us to stop at Tim Horton’s. We’re ready for more adventures in Japan! Next stop: Probably the convenience store.