Days 6, 7, 8 & 9: A Quiet Getaway

Apologies for the delay in getting these entries out, wifi and a fickle phone plan have caused a bit of an access issue.

This morning, after being knocked out for most of my first day in Canada, I was craving the fattiest, greasiest meal I could imagine, and when in Rome, do as the Romans do. Poutine. This was easier said than done, though, as I was up by 7am and the poutine places didn’t open until at least 11…

So we played the waiting game. Caught up on emails, chatted with some friends and then headed out on my search for the unofficial Canadian emblem.

After wandering into downtown Guelph, I noticed that the walk was significantly shorter than I anticipated and I still had 30 minutes until they opened, meaning it was time to do some exploring.

After a quick lap of Downtown, I decided to buy a book for some of my future travels, however going into a Canadian bookstore years after really sinking my teeth into any solid reading and without a plan as to what I might want to read left me absolutely clueless as to what might be a good read and what might be absolute shit.

I took a gamble on a book (I’ll let you know if it’s shit) and marched back onto my food-based mission.

Arriving at Pierre’s Poutine, it was obvious that I was the first customer of the day, but I wasn’t too phased by that. I ordered a Quebec Poutine from the top of the menu and then sat in awe at the mess of cheese curds, gravy and chips in front of me.

I wish I could say it was everything I wanted. I wish I could say it hit the spot perfectly, but that’s bullshit. I think if I was maybe 5 or beers deep, this experience would have been significantly improved, however with my sober state and apprehension, this was pretty disappointing, I have to say.

I wandered back out of town to my lodging, plonked myself on the couch and took in a baseball game.

A former Adelaide Bite alum that I had worked with many years ago was making his debut for the New York Yankees against the Blue Jays and managed to smash a two-run Home Run to put New York up at one point, but in the end, the Canadian team came out on top in a gripping contest.

Once my friend had returned from a day of golf, I was tasked with cooking turkey burgers because “You Aussies know how to barbecue, right?”. Sure, but do I know how to cook with turkey…? Apparently yes, they were pretty bloody good…

Following that, we decided a bonfire with some mates out of town was the perfect way to wind down the evening and immerse myself in colloquial Canada as well, so off we went and so ended day 6.

Day 7:

After not quite enough shut-eye on day 6, I woke up at 7am to head out of wifi range and onto what was sure to be the first of my ‘detached soul searching’ days on this whirlwind tour.

We piled into a car and drove two hours out of town down to a cottage on the banks of Lake Huron in southern Ontario. 
 This massive fresh-water lake stretched between Canada and Michigan and honestly, from looking at it, you’d think it was an ocean. No sign of anything across the water, waves lapping at your feet and a short stretch of beach between the cottage and the water.

After settling in, we headed to nearby Goderich to grab the essentials: Baked goods, beer and Tim Horton’s (honestly, you can’t go anywhere with Canadians without stopping in…)

The bakery we stopped at had amazing Crème buns, but the real one that grabbed my eye was a small concoction on one of the racks that I couldn’t help but want to try… A Maple Bacon Donut.

This donut was coated in a maple glaze, and just as you might imagine from the name, perched atop this glaze was one single strip of fried bacon. If I come back looking a little heftier, there’s only one thing to do. Blame Canada. It was phenomenal.

Once we’d grabbed our supplies, we headed back to the cottage made some lunch and waded out into the lake. A wander down the picturesque, yet diminishing beached of Lake Huron, my friend explained to me that the water had come in about 30 feet in the last few years and they’d lost so much of the beach they used to play on as children.

Each of the cottages had their own charm as we headed down, but fuck the water was cold. Way too cold for an Aussie to jump into…

We headed back along the beach until my friend remembered a spot he used to sit on as a child. A rock that was formerly about 20 feet out and protruded from the water, where you could put your deck chairs and relax. It was now completely submerged and he couldn’t spot it from in the water. Jumping up on land, I surveyed to water and spotted a calm, lighter patch in the small waves and directed him towards it.

It was the right spot, but when standing on the rock, he was now waist-deep in water, a drastic change from how it was.

Dinner was good old barbecued burgers and we then headed out to grab ice cream and the four of us found a mini-golf course still open in the middle of nowhere and decided to give it a crack. I can’t say any of us were particularly proficient at mini-golf, but it was certainly something to do to kill the time.

With a few nights at the cottage before returning to wi-fi and the world as a whole, it’s time for this guy to go introspective for the night and do some forward thinking.

Day 8:

Today was honestly just a really quiet day and I can’t really tell you any exciting stories. Just a quiet, detached day out on the lake with a couple of small-town visits and hot-tubbing, but nothing you haven’t heard about in the other days for this entry.

Day 9:

After a brief sleep-in, I headed into Goderich to visit a farmer’s market and briefly mooch off a cafe’s wi-fi. This was a lovely quaint little market in the centre of the town and stretching down a side street with all of the knick-knack one would expect to find on sale and it was absolutely gorgeous!

After sampling some local foods and picking up some choice purchases, we headed back to the cottage for a massive Canadian breakfast.

It was now time to say goodbye to the cottage and head back into Guelph for a family reunion that I’d somehow found myself with an invite to.

As soon as I got there, a croquet mallet was placed in my hands and the first event of the evening was on. I am shit at croquet, as it turns out.

A massive barbecue and a host of questions from the locals about Australia, what I’m doing in Ontario, whether or not I hate Guelph and the like, before we headed on to a quick party around the corner and then on to downtown.

We found a nice brewery that had just opened in town, Brothers Brewery, and stopped in to sample some of their best work with pretty decent success! After a few pints here, we headed on to an interesting bar called Pablo’s in which you can play arcade games while drinking cheap beers and watching a pop/punk cover band do their thing.

Following this, we grabbed a Poutine, which did not agree with me at all and stumbled home for a much needed sleep.

Tomorrow I am off to Niagra Falls to do the real tourist thing and then the following day will be my last in Canada for the foreseeable future, so I will look to make the most of it!

Matty Abroad.

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