Our first few days in Canada

Hello and welcome to the first installment of our adventure!

Disclaimer first: writing was never my hobby or strong suit (that’s why I went on to study Maths – I know, please go ahead and laugh at me know…), and it will get all rambly. I also don’t have the time to go back and polish it again and again, especially as it goes out in both English and Czech versions… You can also expect loads of brackets and other stuff… So proceed with caution and at your own risk! With this out of the way, here we go!

Sunday 18th June

We got up early, and Honza’s parents drove us to Katowice Airport, where we had our flight to Frankfurt. We had a few hours to spend there, which was as well as the airport is vast, and the markings can sometimes be clearer. Nevertheless, we found our gate and waited for boarding to commence. 

We booked window seats 36 H and K (and yes, we sat down according to our initials) and promptly stuffed the complimentary blanket and pillow somewhere. The flight went on without much excitement (literally – the promised entertainment system was down for the whole flight), and there was a consistent layer of clouds pretty much the entire way. So, we didn’t get a peak of Canada until the very last minute. It was raining quite heavily, and it looked like the plane wanted to have a go with turning into a hydroplane on the touchdown. 

Customs and Immigration went well with a minimum of questions, and, more importantly, they didn’t seize my tea 🙂 Our bags arrived promptly, but we still missed the bus going to Halifax by a few minutes, meaning we had to wait for an hour. As it was still raining, we hadn’t seen that much going down to the city (and some of us were napping intermittently, I’ll admit that – it was around midnight back home already). After finally getting to our hotel (this involved another bus and finally an Uber), the bed siren call was unavoidable (it was about 3am “Europe” time, after all)…

Monday 19th June

At breakfast at the hotel, we realised that things are sweeter in Canada than we are used to (including baked beans, sweet corn, sausages, bacon, …). We left our bags at the reception and walked to the Customs office (about ~25 mins walk) to start the “van retrieval” process. Everything went smoothly, and we soon got another Uber to the port, where Drobek (for those who don’t know – our van) was waiting for us. Everything was in order, and we were pleased to say that no one seemed to go through our stuff.

Everything was looking up, so we picked up our luggage and started with errands. Our first one was to fill our propane tank (for cooking and heating), so we drove to Canadian Tire. Canadian Tire is a part garage, part general (incl. hunting, lights, car accessories, …) store but with little to no food. We parked Drobek in the parking lot in front and went inside to have a look. Well, once we got out, we haven’t found Drobek where we parked him… Even though the parking break was on, he decided to explore the wonders of Canadian parking lots without us, only to be stopped after about 10m by a 2012 Acura (Toyota)… Long story short: it seems that our parking break (that was checked and adjusted just before we left the CZE…) got looser, potentially because of the handling of the van on the ship, and it didn’t prevent the accident.

Police were called, but the other party was not present (the car was supposed to go to the garage just as this happened). We had to speed up our “get ourselves a Canadian SIM” plans (let me tell you – the Canadian shopping centres are _huge_) to call our insurance agency. _That_ call was taxing as well. Apparently, they are not ready for registration plates that don’t have one of the US states on them. Or for accidents that happen in Canada (“Can you spell Halifax for me? What state is it in?”). Once everything was sorted, we did some more shopping and promptly fell asleep in a Walmart parking lot – and yes, that’s allowed here, no 2h parking limits…

Tuesday 20th June

We are finally getting somewhere! Deciding to head to Toronto (and our Starlink) as quickly as possible, we left Halifax and Nova Scotia with a few other stops. We stopped at the Joggings Fossil Cliffs and had a lovely windy walk on the beach, where we found some fossils as well. No fossils left the beach, though – that’s prohibited.

Our other stop and a walk were on a bit of a detour, following the Acadia Scenic Drive. 

We finally stopped at a petrol station and stayed the night in the parking lot with another campervan.

Wednesday 21st June

We are stopping for a refreshing walk at the Grand Falls, in the town of … Grand Falls 😀 

And then we are in the Quebec province! So only French and don’t even try English. Surprisingly, we had better luck with English when speaking with the older generation… We stopped for another walk at the Parc de l’Ancien-Quai St-André, at the mouth of the St Lawrence River. At this point, the river is almost 20 km wide… 

Thursday 22nd June

On Thursday, we visited Quebec City. First, we had to climb hundreds of stairs to the Plaines d’Abraham. There is a big park up there, but we only explored a little as I had to find WiFi for my meeting. This task was made a bit more difficult by the Quebec festival, which was being set up there as there were sound tests. So we walked around the Citadel and down to the old city, finally finding a good enough internet in McDonalds. After meetings, we walked around for a bit more, trying to survive in the heat, before returning for the van and continuing on our way to Toronto.

Friday 23rd June

We made it to Toronto and our Starlink! A friend of Honza’s grandpa immigrated to Canada, and they were kind enough to receive our Starlink package. We chatted for a while before continuing our journey – this time towards Niagara Falls. Initially, we planned on sleeping somewhere before them and seeing them only in the morning. Fortunately, we made it that evening as well. At night, the falls are lighted by multicoloured reflectors and have a completely different vibe.

Sunday 24th June

We couldn’t leave without visiting the Falls during the day. And it was a great experience as well! Afterwards, we drove briefly before camping on a parking lot and trying to set up  Starlink.

Sunday 25th - Wednesday 28th June

We eventually relocated to the Earl Rowe Provincial Park and camped there. We managed to set up Starlink, I finished some work, and we caught up on some sleep. So much more to come!

That’s all for now, have a good one! (It pains me to write this instead of a “have a great day”, but you hear it here everywhere… )