The 5am wake up after getting to bed at 3.30am was brutal, especially when we then had to face 14 hours on the train..
We were on time for the first hour then stopped in the middle of nowhere for about 80mins. The engine had died.. Helpful. We then started going backwards again not helping. They finally fixed whatever was wrong and we were moving again in the right direction. Now over an hour delayed..
Really nothing of interest to point out in the 6 or so hours after that.. We tried to sleep a bit, I read for a bit, watched some stuff on my laptop and generally tried to stop my ass from going to sleep..
We got to Niagara Falls and went across the border to the canadian side, and to customs. Here we were made to get off the train, with all our luuggage, we trekked right through the train and out the very end door, hustled into the customs office, had to line up get interrogated, stamped then had to walk out around the building, back in another door and wait 10 mins only to go get back on the same train again.. They held 3 people for questioning etc so we sat on an idle train for close to 2 hours before they finally let us get going.. Delay now up to about 2 hours... Again not much to add about the next 3 hours, I took some photos and ate to pass the time..
Finally arrived at Union Station, Toronto, Ontario, CANADA!
We ended up being about 55mins delayed so we had made up some time which was good. We were to be staying with relatives of Kat and Angela's, except she hadn't told them she was coming. She wanted to surprise them, though her brilliant plan was for us to go out and meet them and she would jump out etc, except Kat had never met these people before and of course I didnt know what they looked like.. In the end before Angela could hide they spotted her, which was kinda lucky because they didn't know what Kat looked like either, the only photo of her they could find was one from when she was 4, safe to say she has changed a bit.. Haha.
After (quite) a few profanities, everyone got hugs and were introduced to the family etc. We were greeted by no less than 7 people.. After all the excitement we piled into the car and went home. We were staying with angelas cousin, Teresa, her husband Glenn and their boys JD and Andy. We arrive home and got the house rules, those being that if you want something get it yourself, and to help ourselves to anything.. Glenn and Kat started on the beers, we all had a good chat, I crashed pretty early being 1.30am, everyone else called it a night about 3.
All the boys play ice hockey, so Kat and I got a lovely wake up call from Andy at about 6.30am he was banging 2 hockey sticks together, I was very tempted to grab one and take his head off but thought it probably wasn't the best first impression to make.. Andy thought he was hilarious.. He had threatened to do it the night before but i didn't expect him to follow through.. We got up around 8 after a very broken sleep and the wake up call, had some breakfast and headed out to see another cousin Dom.
Dom has crones disease. I'm not sure at all what that is but he had to be put in a home with the availability of 24 hour care, he is confined to a wheelchair so it became impossible for him to stay at home on his own.
Angela hasn't seen anyone for 5 years so she was very keen to see Dom, we arrived about 12 and stayed till 6pm or so, the whole family is Italian so most of the time they spoke in Italian so I felt pretty left out and had no idea what was going on most of the time.
I did make friends with a squirrel while I was there though.. We jumped back in the car, did a small tour of downtown toronto, then headed to Nona's for dinner..
I reckon there would have been 30 people at nona's for dinner, it was absolute chaos! Every time you thought that was all another family would arrive and this wasn't even half of them. We had dips and bread, then gnocchi, salads, other random stuff then coffee/tea and cake.. You almost had to roll me out of there..
Again everyone except me spoke Italian or at least understood it so there was a lot of yelling and general loud family antics playing out for the duration of dinner and I again had no idea what was going on.
We left and headed past the supermarket as Teresa needed milk. So weird, they buy it in bags, it's like a bladder of milk. So so odd, then you have to have a special jug to sit it in in your fridge and you snip off the corner to use it.. Weird. Since we have been in the US Kat had been looking for spray deodorant, and it just doesn't exist in the US, it's really odd what you can and can't get here.
We left andy with one of the aunts so Kat and I got a much needed sleep in Tuesday morning.
We waited for Teresa to get home from work, and then went to nona's again to see Dom and pick up Angela.
I had Spent all morning trying to gain access to my money. I have over $4000 in my savings account but to transfer money the stupid bank needs a phone pin and of course that gets sent to my Australian mobile number. Not so good when I'm in Canada. I called the international 'help' number, so they can give me a pin and process the transaction.. The help guy was an idiot, i told him straight away i was in a hurry because i was calling international and therefore it was costing me a fortune. He first proceeded to try to upgrade my account, set up some phone pin and something else.. Again I don't have time to mate. $15 phonecall later I hung up because he was the most unhelpful person ever. Basically the international 'help' number is just someone on the end of the phone to say 'sorry can't do shit' His solution to me gaining access to my account was for him to post a letter to my house in Melbourne, yeah because that is going to help me while I'm in CANADA!
I then tried to call Optus to put global roaming on my phone so l could receive the pin text while i was overseas, and my phone hung up half way through because I ran out of credit...
After we picked up Angela We ended up going downtown for the evening, all shops in the city stay open till 9 or 10pm every night and the big stores like wallmart are either 24 hours or close at midnight at the earliest. We headed downtown with Teresa, Glen and the boys, we had an early dinner then did a bit of shopping at this massive mall. While we were waiting for everyone else some guy proposed.. Not the most romantic spot, next to a crappy little fountain in a shopping centre..ah well she said yes so I guess that's what matters.
Angela was after coffee, and so the hunt began, wandering downtown we ended up at what looked like times sq only a 5th of the size, for summer they were playing movies in the square, that night it was saturday night fever. The hunt for coffee was abandoned, we got some icecream and went home.
On wednesday everyone again went to see Dom so after we had lunch I walked downtown. Didn't realise quite how far it was from where we were and also had no freakin idea where i was going. I didn't have a map, usually I would just use the maps on my phone but I also didn't have net access.. By accident I found out that all of the fedex offices have free wifi. So then everytime I walked past an office I borrowed some Internet and checked where i was. It was nice to have a look around Toronto because I feel like I spent 4 days there and didnt actually see anything.
Got the subway back to everyone, I can't believe how good it was and so so simple, every subway come every 3 minutes, they are clean and almost always on time.. I found everyone else and headed to nona's for dinner again. Nancy, another cousin, brought around pizza and cakes, and after a very long and tearful/emotional goodbye to eveyone we left. We ended up at wallmart to get train supplies and maple syrup, we made it home about midnight, packed our bags, Kat and Glenn had a couple beers and we went to bed..
Another 6.30am wakeup, the boys had ice hockey training this morning, so we said our goodbyes to the boys and they left for hockey and us for the train.
Sorry that this is such a super long and probably boring post, I just needed to get up to date otherwise i never would.. We are still on the train now, looking at about 20mins until we get to Penn station, NYC. Cab to williamsburg and early in bed I think.
I am going to sleep will tonight.
Tomorrow morning I will endevour to upload a post of some real photos as apposed to all the instagrams and photos off my phone..