Saturday, July 9, 2011

On the road again…after a brief interlude.

First order of business: photos uploaded to flicker, see the link on this page.

So, a week of R & R in Waterloo, catching gigs, going on a date (Ooooooo), celebrating Hana’s birthday, getting enormous bolts removed from tyres and subsequent punctures fixed, trying to not drive too much, celebrating my first Canada Day, the normal kind of stuff, I suppose.

Also, spent some time doing some very minor preparation for the next leg of my trip – Waterloo, Ontario to St. John’s, Newfoundland and back. Luckily, Smitch (Sarah Mitchell to her parents...actually just ‘Sarah’ to her parents, but they gave her the surname too, I imagine), my travelling companion-to-be, had made plans to (and I’m quoting her here) “tour-guide the shit” out the east of Canada on my behalf, and had a lists of places to visit, including friends and family with whom we could stay, thus saving money and hopefully having proper food cooked for us.

In return for this planning, all I had to do was transport an entire Dodge Caravan load of furniture out to Halifax, via the long way round, ready for Smitch’s move there later in August. Oh, and take a bunch of Dani’s stuff too. Suddenly my cavernous vehicle didn’t seem quite so cavernous. Poor Flash Harriette has never had so much shoved in her back door before. There was, in fact, barely room for my small day pack, which was all I could fit in of my own belongings. The suitcase I had been living out of to date had to stay behind. No matter though, no matter.

The first day of the trip was Sunday 3rd July, getting to Ottawa and Smitch’s sister and brother-in-law’s house by about 5pm. We had a lovely BBQ that evening, then I spent the next day exploring Ottawa, while Smitch caught up with her sister and twin nephews. Seemed like fair exchange to me.

From Ottawa we went north to Quebec, by-passing Montreal to leave it for when I come back later in the month, on my own, to catch some comedy shows at the Just For Laughs Festival.

Quebec is a really cool city. It has a modern CBD somewhere I guess (it must do, surely), but I never saw it. We stayed in a small hostel in the old part of town, which was all narrow streets, tall houses and market places. Very touristy, but in actually quite a tasteful way. Heaps of places to eat and drink, loads to see and watch, and basically a very pleasant place. The only snag was that now we atre in Quebec, everything is in French, and the further away from the border with Ontario you get, the less English is spoken. This required all my high school French to be dredged up from where I had buried it 2 years ago while trying to learn Spanish. I never thought I’d find myself having to take a stepping stone through Spanish to get to a French translation, but I found my default foreign language was Spanish every time!

French is slowly coming back to me by day 3, and its actually quite rewarding remembering some of this stuff, but it will continue to be a struggle, and I’ll be relieved when we finally get back to the English-speaking part of Canada.

The hostel in Quebec was quirky and quaint, the only drawback – and it turned out to be a massive drawback- was that we were sharing our dorm room with 3 elderly (80 years or so old) tourists from France. They seemed nice enough, and even tried to chat in French with us, not having any English between them, but as Smitch and I headed in to town to look around, I joked that they would be trouble later, as I predicted that all of them would snore and the old lady would be the worse of the lot. Little did I know that I was to be right on the money. It was the noisiest night on record, sleep was nigh impossible and, what broken rest we could get, was made more difficult still by the oppressive heat wave we had stumbled upon.

The next morning was a sluggish one, and the drive out to Ste Anne des Monts was all the more difficult for it. Still, Ste Anne was on the Gaspé Peninsula and our next hostel was on the beach and all rustic and palm-frondy. This was more like it. Our accommodation was a yurt, the other guests seemed friendly, what could go wrong here?

Unfortuntely, the ‘what’ that went wrong was the earlier in the evening, conveniently located beachside bar. After about 11pm it turned into a noisy, rowdy beachside bar and stayed that way, just outside our non-sound-proofed, canvas-sided yurt, until about 4.30am. So, that was nice. Strike two for a good night’s sleep.

Today, we continued our drive around the Gaspé, getting as far as Anse-aux-Os, a small villagey type place with, hopefully, a much quieter hostel. Although, I think it would take a small explosion to keep me awake tonight. Not only am I two nights of sleep down, followed by two days driving, but also we went walking along cliffs today and saw maybe half a dozen hump-backed whales between 100m and 300m off shore. It was pretty cool actually, and the extra excitement wore me out just a little bit more.

Gaspé is definitely a nice place. It was sold to us pretty hard before we came here, and maybe that was over-hype, a little bit, but only because I have been all around South America and live in NZ, so have seen more than my share of outstanding natural beauty. This is certainly getting up there, but it’s not going to be taking the belt home just yet. There is still tomorrow, though, so who can say what might happen then?

1 comment:

Alan Collett said...


I am very envious of the trip, sounds like your having a great time. So what happened with the girl from the dive trip? Or is that Smitch? I told you not choosing a vehicle that looked like a serial killers mode of transport would pay off. As a kiwi I will not be baited by your stirring antics about scenery as I have been lucky enough to have travelled the South Island. As your blogs are up to date we can assume your were not the poor individual killed by a bear in Yellowstone recently, your skinny ass would not have been worth the effort for a hungry bear any way. I will let the guys at work now you still exist when I get back off leave.


PS you will be cooking for weeks when you get back.