Week 31 – Canada (Waterloo)

Only two more boot camp sessions to go! We have taken possession of our Subaru BRZ and we’re now preparing for our 3 month North America road trip. Whilst I grumble and complain about the boot camp sessions, they are exactly what we needed to tone up a bit and improve our cardio fitness. Anna has done so well with the gym and went every day this week. Unfortunately I slept in on Thursday morning and missed it. I’m sure I would’ve lost weight as well if I wasn’t eating so much, but it’s just too tempting. Anna’s mum really has spoiled us with elaborate meals each day, and I show my appreciation by eating everything in sight. There’s not too much to report this week as we were busy doing adult things like organising insurance and money transfers. I even cleaned a bathroom yesterday which made me realise I haven’t done any housework in a long time.

Last Sunday we went for a drive to Elora with Anna’s parents to check out the gorge and go for a walk around the village. Close to the gorge lookout there is a staircase that takes you down to the river bed so we ventured down for a look and some photos. It’s no grand canyon but it’s still enough to get the heart rate going on the climb up. I was quite surprised by the number of horse drawn buggies on the roads on the 40 minute drive, but I’ve since learned that all the Mennonites go and visit friends on Sunday afternoons. Driving back after sunset we would’ve passed at least 10 buggies and even though they don’t have electricity in their houses, I was pleased to see that they had lights on their buggies. Trying to spot a black horse drawn buggy after dark would be very difficult and quite dangerous (I’m guessing they haven’t opted for airbags yet). We stopped at the nearby Kissing Bridge which is unique because it’s a covered timber bridge. It’s the last of its kind in Ontario and dates back to 1880. We walked across the bridge and I made the mistake of pointing out how many spiders were in the roof, because then Anna couldn’t get out of there quick enough.

When we were here in November we drove past the Region of Waterloo museum but didn’t have time to visit, so this time we went there with Zbyszek. The museum is focussed on the founding of Waterloo and the industrial successes of the region over the years. There was a special exhibit on the region in the times of WWI when the name of the town was changed from Berlin to Kitchener. This was due to the pressure from other parts of Canada who wanted to see the ties with Germany cut. The exhibits were quite interesting, especially the section that showed the changes in the typical household each decade from 1900. Seeing things like discmans and VHS tapes made me realise I’m old too. The museum also had the old steam train that serviced the area so naturally I had to climb on that.

We’re still surprised with the amount of construction that’s underway in Kitchener/Waterloo. The new light rail network that is being installed throughout the town centre is causing the most headache for residents with road closures appearing all over town. There are new apartment complexes being finished off and more underway. The most exciting project though is the new Costco which is due to open in October. It’s not even a 5 minute drive from Anna’s parents house. You could walk there but considering how big all the packages are, you’d never be able to carry it all home. The Waterloo region has high population growth forecast through to 2030, but much to Anna’s parent’s disappointment, I don’t think Anna and I will be part of the growth. Although never say never.

We went to the Starsky Polish store in Mississauga the other day and I was blown away by the size of the store and the range they carried. It was the size of a normal supermarket but full of eastern european goodness. The deli counter was over 100m long full of cold cuts, cheeses and smoked fish. Then there was the cake section… yum. Being a Polish store there were some surprising elements like the buckets full of pickled Herring (Śledzie) and a whole aisle of pick and mix chocolates.

I’m not sure who was more excited when Thursday finally rolled around. I was looking forward to collecting the car and Anna was excited about the prospect that once we had the car I would stop talking about it. No such luck I’m afraid! The more I drive it, the more I love it. I think Wanda nailed it when she pointed out that it reminds her of a little matchbox car. This car is definitely my favourite matchbox car at the moment. It has flaws like road noise, engine noise, stiff suspension over bumps and no arm rest, but it drives oh so sweet and looks awesome. I’m sure there will be other flaws that become apparent on the trip, but with the short term we’ll own it… who cares. I did breathe a sigh of relief when I tested if my suitcase would fit in the trunk, but I’d happily transfer all my clothes into a garbage bag just to have this car. Naturally I’ve spent the last few days fiddling with the car and researching bits and pieces. I’ve updated the maps in the GPS and played with all the technology. The only thing I’m not allowed to play with is the drift mode that turns off traction control and turns on sport mode. Anna says no!

The thing that I’m most happy about is that Anna likes to drive it (well so she says). If you drive it gently it drives just like a normal car with adequate vision in the mirrors and reasonable blindspots. Then if you want to put your foot down it’ll take off and cling to the road. I’m glad we went for this and not the big muscle cars. Being small it’s easy to park too.

I wasn’t the only one who received a toy to play with on Thursday. Anna took advantage of having a fixed address for a few weeks and ordered a new camera lens for her camera. The old one had dust and sand in it which were creating blemishes in certain scenarios, particularly with night shots. Considering we’ll be out taking sunset and night pictures in USA, we thought it would be best to sort it out now. The new lens has the same range as the old one but is a more advanced version that has super fast focusing and is silent. The kit we bought also came with a bunch of light and macro filters, so Anna has been playing around with these. We took the Subaru to Rockway Gardens to take some photos of the car with the new lens, but I think Anna was more interested in taking macro shots of the flowers. That’s OK because I enjoy that too. It seems like that’s the place to go in KW when you want to take portraits or wedding photos. There were 2 limousines there with 2 bridal parties having cringe photos taken.

We wanted to take the car out on Thursday night, so Wanda came with us to try Kitchener’s top rated sushi restaurant. It was very popular and we had to wait an hour to get in. It was an All You Can Eat restaurant so it was already a winner, but the food was excellent. The funniest part was when Wanda insisted on sitting in the back seat on the way home. The car is very low and the legroom is nonexistent so I was worried, but Wanda climbed in and out with no worries. It’s definitely a two person car though.

We’ll depart on Wednesday and start our next adventure with 4 nights in Chicago. That’s all we’ve booked so far, but we’ll just make it up as we go.



Fail of the Week
It was only the second day of having the Subaru and as I was driving to the gym I was looking out for a store. I spotted the road that the store was on but didn’t notice that the traffic lights changed to orange as I approached the intersection. By the time I noticed I was committed to the intersection, but it wasn’t a red light… I’d call it a very dark orange. I’m normally super careful so it was a good reminder to keep my eyes firmly on the road.

Meal of the Week
Definitely the Japanese restaurant Kinkaku Izakaya in Kitchener. Although the hour long wait was a downer, the food was the best Japanese food we’ve had in a long time. I even went as far as saying that I thought it was better than anything we had in Japan. They had a huge menu of Japanese delicacies like takoyaki and karaage, and then more mainstream things like sushi, sashimi, tempura… it was awesome.


4 thoughts on “Week 31 – Canada (Waterloo)

  1. Davo says:

    Another great blog. The car looks ver sporty and think you may have to have your seat all the way back. Love the steam engine and covered bridge. Davo


    1. Ben says:

      Yep you’re not wrong. The back of my seat touches the base of the back seat. 0cm of legroom!

      But you would love the handling of this car. It would be great on a race track.


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