Week 30 – Canada (Waterloo)

This week’s post is very painful to write. We have just completed our 5th consecutive day of bootcamp and everything hurts. We’re now paying the price for the last 7 months of travelling and eating, but in a way it’s very satisfying to be active again. I’m very envious of Anna’s determination to attend each day because I’m sure I would’ve stayed in bed this morning. Saturday morning is for sleeping after all! Bootcamp wasn’t our only goal for the week though, with the primary objective being to find a suitable car for our 3 month trip around USA and Canada. After 4 days of scouring through dealerships and endless searching online, we finally landed on something that we hope will make our road trip even more memorable.

Four full days of car browsing is quite an ordeal and if there’s a character flaw I still need to work on it’s the ability to make a quick decision. Anna stuck by me though and joined me on the quest as we explored different options and went on a thousand test drives to see what we liked. I think the main issue for me is that there are so many models here that I’m not familiar with, so I needed to explore our options. When we first decided to do this trip I imagined us in an American muscle car for our American road trip. On that basis we were targeting the classics like the Ford Mustang, Chevy Camaro and Dodge Challenger but only the v6 versions because the fuel bill on the v8’s would send us broke. The funny thing with the three different models is that they all shared similar traits where the exterior styling was beautiful but then the interior was a bit meh. Things like navigation or touch screen audio weren’t offered, on the v6 versions at least, but for models around 2013 we thought that was a bit poor. Driving them also highlighted that they weren’t designed for practicality with huge blindspots and poor visibility for parking. The Camaro even had this tiny useless boot (trunk) that wouldn’t even fit our bags, which is crazy for a huge car. The challenger was definitely my favourite but it was huge. We wanted a car that we’re both comfortable driving so the American muscle was out.

This moved us into the direction of cars with more practicality. Excited by the opportunity to buy something that I wouldn’t normally consider due to the short term we’ll own it, I picked out a collection of coupes and we went exploring. We test drove the Mercedes-Benz C250 & C350, Audi A5, Hyundai Genesis, Kia Forte, Hyundai Veloster Turbo, Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ. As much as I loved the luxury of the German cars they were stretching the budget a bit so the affordable options has too many kms or accident history. The Kia Forte and Veloster were nice enough but not really the sort of car that will make a memorable trip. It came down to the 2L turbo Genesis or the 2L Scion/Subaru which are the same car just badged differently. The Genesis really impressed us and the turbo made it very zippy, but when I test drove the Subaru with only 22,000 kms on the clock it was love at first drive. The thing really handles like a go kart and is fuel efficient because it doesn’t have a turbo. Anna was so surprised that I negotiated the deal and accepted on the spot. I guess I’d driven enough models to know this was the one. We pick up the car next Thursday which is very exciting. Now we have to work out where we’re going on the road trip. We’ll probably plan the first bit and then make it up from there.

It hasn’t all been about chores and completing goals though, as we’ve continued our trend of culinary exploration. We’ve been feasting on Polish meats, salads and sweets along with Canadian favourites like Tim Horton’s. We had a chocolate-chip cookie with a Nutella centre the other day, and yes, it was as good as it sounds. We also went to A&W for a root beer, onion rings and a jalapeño chicken burger, which seemed pricey compared to other burger places but was definitely worth it. To top it all off we went to Mandarin in Toronto which is an all-you-can-eat Asian buffet last night. It took 2.5 hours to drive there due to the Friday night traffic but fortunately it was the usual 1.5 hours to come home. We didn’t mind though because we were able to have dinner with Anna’s cousin Łukasz. When we met up with him in Kitchener last November he was telling us that his dream was to find a job and move to Toronto, so it was great to see that he made his dream come true. It sounds like he’s really enjoying all that Toronto has to offer.

Since Anna’s mother is educating me with all the different Polish foods, we thought that we should return the favour by introducing some Australian cuisine. With no Kangaroo being offered in the supermarkets here (and our limited cooking ability) we opted for something simple… the Aussie burger. Anna’s parents were a little concerned with the size of the colossal beast but they were impressed with all the different flavours crammed in it. Beef, bacon, egg, double cheese, lettuce, tomato, pineapple and of course beetroot with sweet potato fries on the side. Just writing this now I realised that I forgot to put onions on the burger but I think they were impressed anyway.

Last weekend was the Labour Day long weekend so the 4 of us went to the beach. I’m sure Australian readers are confused by this because we’re nowhere near the ocean, but here the beaches are on the lakes. We headed to Grand Bend which is a popular beach on Lake Huron and I was amazed at how busy the place was. The street leading down to the beach was lined with restaurants, bars and surf shops, which made me think of it as a mini Manly beach in Sydney. I guess the primary difference is that it doesn’t snow at Manly in the winter. I did laugh when I saw that they were selling surfboards at a lakeside beach, but apparently the lakes are so large that they get small waves that can be surfed. Deciding that it was too busy at Grand Bend, we headed south to a quieter beach for a nice afternoon of swimming and lounging around. Anna would say that the water was cold but I thought it was nice and refreshing. We finished the day off by stopping off for ice cream in waffle cones. Chocolate with peanut butter swirls… yum!

We’ve covered lots of ground this week but most of it was to visit car dealers, so not too much sightseeing to report. I’m really happy that we’ve sourced a vehicle and that we’re getting closer to heading off on this roadtrip. It’s going to be awesome.



Fail of the Week

Anna was very quick to put forward a suggestion for fail of the week… after test driving the Subaru and negotiating the sale, we then had to wait 20 minutes for the sales manager to approve the deal. Then we completed some paperwork and moved to the lounge area to wait for the finance manager. We waited for almost an hour and then all he did was try to sell us rust proofing and extended warranty. By the time we received our bill of sale it was 9:20pm and almost 2 hours after we entered the showroom.

Meal of the Week 

This week is a tricky one because I would say the Mexican chilli that Wanda made but we don’t have a photo. Therefore we’re going to be really modest and suggest our own Aussie burgers were the best for the week.

Aussie burgers

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