Oh, Canada! and Other Stories

Despite the title this post actually begins in the beautiful Boston. You guys know how I feel about this place.

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Like last time we hit up my least favourite restaurant in the world, in a city full of epic Italian food. It was is an ice breaker, to say the least.

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We enjoyed many bevvies, hit up a beautiful little Irish pub and bonded with our new friends. Only ten of us were doing The Epic and the bus  was almost full again, so that meant myself and the family had 40 new people to get to know.

The next morning was a very wet Harvard tour with the cutest guide of all time.

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That afternoon I headed for another adventure, a solo feast on Hanover St, aka Little Italy. By chance I happened upon the beautiful little restaurant I ate at last year and headed back in to reacquaint myself with the lovely host Tony. We bonded over the Beatles and vintage cars while I ate my weight in Calamari Marinara, chased with Pinot Noir and espresso. Heaven!

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I followed that up by using every fibre of my being not to buy every manga and comic book in an awesome pop culture store and then wandered the fresh food market.

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Boston has my heart, but something incredible happened that night.

I have always wanted to see Salem. It’s known primarily for being the location of the Witch Trials. It’s a spooky little town about forty five minutes north of Boston.

We discussed it’s history and the devastation mass hysteria can cause before visiting the memorial to our fallen sisters. Their last words etched on the ground, it’s located next to the cemetery and gave me chills.

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My evening became even more magical when I was the only one who wanted Indian food. Stubborn and determined as I am, off I ventured. When I walked in to the restaurant I saw I could sit at the bar and eat surrounded by locals, so I did. After placing my wine order the lady next to me asked me about my accent. What proceeded was one hell of a meet cute. I met Rachel.

She’s just a normal lady, a friendly person, but with one of the warmest hearts I’ve ever encountered. Within seconds of talking to me she guessed my star sign. I found myself opening up about my life, friends, family and she did the same. We bonded over shared experiences, opinions and struggles as we clinked our wine glasses. We laughed at the cute waiter giving me the eye, and she told him firmly he was not to hit on me, embarrassing both of us, but making me feel incredibly safe.

As I shovelled chicken tikka masala in to my mouth she handed her card over and paid for my meal. I was absolutely blown away. She didn’t even know me. Money has been a constant struggle for me on this trip. That act of kindness made me well up. She just smiled and told me she knew I would do it for someone else one day. I really will.

We held each other close and she gave me some excellent advice: always carry a little umbrella in a bag big enough to conceal it, always carry a pen and change my drink to whisky ginger.

With one last cuddle and me declaring the Boston jumper I purchased that day would forever be my Rachel jumper, we parted ways. We agreed not to keep in touch, because what we had was enough. She told me she would have a wonderful night, having met me. I thought, I will have a wonderful life, having met you.

Human beings are incredible. Kindness is everywhere. Don’t be scared.

Also, Salem is a must see for any one of my spook loving friends.

~

The next day we heading up to the border, and because Braden is a legend we made one hell of a stop, Maine. I’ve driven through before, but this coastal heaven gave me a huge rush of love for my home. It’s spectacular rocks, waves and lighthouse gave me a moment of longing for our own gorgeous Margaret River Region. We are so lucky.

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We left the USA behind for a little while and made our way to our first Canadian stop, the spectacular Quebec City.

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This is my darling Tony and I Romeo et Juliet-ing in the restaurant on night one.

The place is so charming you could be in regional France. I mean just look at it.

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We tried our first poutine (it’s addictive) and wandered the little streets. Lou and I found some swings to play on. It was a perfect day.

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That night we had a pretty wild pool party.

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Next stop, a place in which I hold very fond memories, Montreal.

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This city has it all. She’s a hub of love. The gay district was vibrant, colourful and wild. The nightlife is epic. The locals are fun and friendly (and French speaking). I also got to spend my birthday here! The big two six.

Day one we waited for a thunderstorm to pass before jetboating the rapids and swallowing a lot of fresh water. Probably the most hydration I’ve had all trip.

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That night was mine! Hippie themed, of course, we glittered up and made our way to a bar with $2.50 drinks and that’s all I have to say about that.

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Actually, no it’s not. Here’s the highlights: commanding the Dfoor with my wand, sobbing alone at the bar because people were writing nice things on my wall, downing three beers, getting called homophobic because I don’t hate Muslims by a random local on the street (I swear people smell the lefty on me), an old rose selling man who looked like the crypt keeper kissing me, somehow navigating us to poutine and finally, leaving my purse in the restaurant and not realising until we got to the hotel. Thank God for the sweetest cab driver putting on the Beatles station for me to cheer me up while we went back to get it.

Once sober and a bit less emotional on my actual birthday, I had the best dinner ever, and then hit up the jazz festival. It was beyond expectation, crazy busy, full of beautiful people (men with long dark hair sharply dressed) enjoying great music. I won’t ever forget this day.

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Our final Canadian spot, and where we would spend Canada Day, was Toronto!

On our way we had a very important stop that involved an apple pie eating contest and me making a new friend.

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A few magical things happened while we spent three nights in this epic city. The first night we watched the Toronto Blue Jays lose.

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Then went to the huge bar I partied in last time with my Eastern Escapade friends, and I found this:

Be still, my beating heart!

Day two was a bit blurry thanks to this place:

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As is tradition. Crisp and yum as ever. We attempted to sober ourselves up with a delicious market lunch by the dog fountain.

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After all that excitement we giggled at dinner making up life stories for fellow diners and continued the laughs at Second City comedy show. Then, somehow, because I’ve got the stamina of an ox when I need it, a few of us ventured to a special spot known as the Lockhart.

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All was well.

Our last full day in Canada was perfection. It was her 150th birthday! We road tripped down to Niagara Falls for the day, which is always incredible.

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Decked in our patriotic best, we partied the night away, Canadian style!

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Apparently there were fireworks..?

And so, I’ll go out with a bang and leave it at that! We have the whole North to cover last, which will begin with, without a single doubt, my absolute favourite part of this trip.

For those wondering, I’ll be landing back in Perth on 21st July. So see you soon!

Harleigh Q

xo

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