Posted by: James Shannon | November 3, 2010

Dispatches from the Centre of the Universe: Exploring the Golden Horseshoe

After the alternator scare was addressed at Crappy Tire, Abed and I set out for the GTA, only 3 hours to the south of Parry Sound, Ontario.  Slowly, the traffic began to thicken around Barrie, and a third lane was added to the southbound lane. Shortly, we entered Vaughan and beyond was the city of Toronto, home to 4 million + people…

QEW, Queen Elizabeth Way, freeways, expressways, highways, Toronto, GTA, Greater Toronto Area, road tripCount ’em … that’s SIX lanes in the westbound express lane on the QEW, heading towards Hamilton!


Thanks to the help of my expert navigator, we pulled into the Hamilton neighbourhood of Westdale just after 1pm.  After 3000+ kilometres, the car looked a little worse for wear…

road trip, cars, dirtyJust a little dusty…


I set down my backpacks and relaxed.  It was gonna be a few days of being in the same spot, after being mobile for the last few days prior to this.  We went around Westdale and hung out with some of Abed’s college and high school friends; following this, we celebrated Miriam’s (one of Abed’s sister’s friends) birthday with pizza, cake and black currant wine (very very good!)

road trip, travel, family, Arabic, Jordanian, Irish, hospitalityHaving an incredible evening with Abed’s family: lovely people!


I retired to my bed shortly after this, as I needed to rest up for a full day of Niagara sightseeing.  Abed and I set out at noon the next day in the pouring rain, hoping that the views wouldn’t get spoiled by the foul weather.  Before we got to the big stuff however, I had some culinary fear-facing to do.  Before we had set out on this journey, Abed swore he would get me eating sushi.  I wasn’t dreading this day, but I was definitely curious of how it would go down.

sushi, Japanese food, food porn, food, hot pot, Jade Sushi, Niagara Falls, Ontario, travel, road trip The spread of food @ Jade Sushi in Niagara Falls, Ontario


To be honest, it was interesting: the raw fish wasn’t disgusting like I feared; some were quite tasty, others didn’t quite agree, and as hoped, the cooked stuff was awesome (especially the deep fried octopus and the hotpot meat (forget what it was).


With bellies filled to the bursting point (it was an all-you-can-eat joint), we set out to see the spectacle that is Niagara Falls.  To get to the viewing platforms, we had to pass through Clifton Hill, the most touristy section of road outside of the Vegas Strip.

Clifton Hill, Niagara Falls, Ontario, travel, road trip, tourist trapEmbrace the commercial horror that is Clifton Hill, ahhhhhhhhhhhh!

Great Canadian Midway, Clifton Hill, Niagara Falls, Ontario, road trip, travel Inside the Great Canadian Midway: Abed left his mark on another Buck Hunter machine!


We eventually made it down to the Fallsview area, where I got pics with the famous landmarks …

Niagara Falls, American FallsThe American Falls …

Horseshoe Falls, Niagara Falls, Ontario… and the Canadian Horseshoe Falls.  In this pic, I take after my mother, as my eyes are shut at the crucial moment!


The next morning, I planned to take off from Hamilton, with the eventual destination of Ottawa on the agenda.  I wanted to see a little of Toronto first however.  Abed had also wanted to show some of Hamilton’s 200+ waterfalls as well, so first thing, we went and saw Webster Falls.


We then got on the QEW and made it to the T Dot.  Now I didn’t have much time to see Toronto, so I did the quintessential Toronto landmark: The CN Tower.

CN Tower, Canada, TorontoDoes it get any more Canadian than that?

Toronto, Downtown Toronto, CN TowerDowntown Toronto from the observation deck

Toronto, Gardiner Expressway, CN TowerLooking West along Lake Ontario and the Gardiner Expressway

CN Tower, glass floor, TorontoMe and my duct-taped shoes standing perilously on the glass floor, thousands of feet up in the CN Tower



After dropping me off at the Tower, Abed departed my side, leaving me solo for the first time on this trip 😦  I jumped into my Blue Steed, and kicked off the next leg of my trip:  Onward to Ottawa, Our Nation’s Capital!



  1. Dude! Mariam is one of my sisters friends 😛

    • Oops! Correction made! 😛

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