Day of Reckoning 

Two days of blurred memories plus two more in relative non-action ended my 40 day trip to Ontario and Manitoba. There was a time when going anywhere had seemed unlikely with a sick kitty and so many changes to my itinerary. So, I did not make it to Churchill, New York or Newfoundland this summer; instead I had a great time getting to know Kingston without freezing, and visiting the one museum in WinnipegI had been wanting to see. I even put in a two night train trip.

Which is where I will start this last Canada 2017 entry. The day I was to leave started with a question mark. Just how late would my train from Toronto be? I departed Kingston without an answer. All I knew was that the smoke and fires in BC had caused a delay of at least three hours. It ended up being close to six. I had arrived at Union Station early enough to know I would most likely have a comfortable wait before the original departure time. That ended up being an excruciating time standing in line for three hours – after sitting for the first few I finally moved to where a line was beginning. I did not want to be at the end of a shifting line. A line that seemed to be in the wrong place. It was. Fortunately, I kept an eye on signs and eventually asked if all the relatively young passengers waiting were Canada 150 ticket holders. They were. Those of us who paid higher fares shifted over to a new line. I was 7th in line.


Back to the excruciating part. I choose to not sit on floors because it is difficult for me to easily jump up if necessary. This time I also had increasing swelling and pain caused by three very nasty mosquito bites from the previous night of sitting on the dock of the bay for dinner. Closer inspection showed another three bites on my foot with one not looking great. I did finally cave in and sat at a nearby seat where I could see my bags. Not that I was worried, by this time we were all looking out for each other. On more than one occasion it was suggested I really should take a rest. By 10:00pm the lines had become two writhing lines of humanity. The Canada 150 youth in one much longer line, and the rest of us. (Canada 150 was a one month $150.00 pass available to 1867 youth only for the month of July – crashed the system when offered, sold out in minutes) Via fed us sandwiches, cookies and bottles of water. Hurray Via! I was only still standing with that sustenance and sheer willpower by this time. 


Much of the actual trip was blurred with pain and probably an infection at the bite sites. I later found out that staph infections are common when bites are bad. I did have the Rx cream with an antibiotic in it that I carefully applied. When the commissary was open I also bagged ice. My leg looked so bad I ended up have two seats to myself the whole trip to Winnipeg. Also the corner seat in the small lounge area most of the time where I could rest my leg. I dozed a lot. First time I have not been very interested in the landscape slipping by. Of course, leaving Toronto at 2:00am did mean everyone was ready for sleep.
18 days later these three bites are still visible

This is the only note I wrote. Passed lovely Malachi – better known as Lake of the Woods, northern ON. Soon after the trees were scrubbier and many in stages of bareness or grey. Looked marshy out there and hot at 8:30am. Blue sky. Despite the AC it was time to leave the dome car as the sun beat down. 

The photos behind the fence were at a stop somewhere along the line, the paintings had seen better days. A sad tale of many rail stops now barely noticed.


We arrived in Winnipeg only three hours late, picked up time somewhere. I have never given Winnipeg a positive review. This time I can. I hopped on a bus, backtracked when I got off too late, found my hostel at the university and dumped my bags in the office – check in would not be until 4:00 (despite an email saying 3:00). I decided to head to the Forks for lunch and coffee. An email to my 90+ year old aunt ensured I would see her and my cousin the following day.  Still in pain I was checked in and in bed by 8:00. The next day my only plan was to visit the museum.

Canadian Museum for Human Rights

Opened in 2014, (to the best of my recollection it had been delayed) mere months after I had been in Winnipeg on a cross Canada trip, the admission was $18.00 for a full day with the option to leave and return is desired. I had to wait about an hour – they did not open until 10:00. That gave me the opportunity to take photos without people wandering into my view and makecsome observations. The entrance, especially once leaving when I discovered locked doors, made me think of a birth canal. The red sandstone, high wall that leads to the lower entrance was curved and seemed like a place of temporary comfort (versus what a birth canal is really like) before being expelled onto the walkway or into the museum itself. I doubt that was the intention. Inside did not make me imagine a womb.


There are eight levels. I opted to start at the Tower of Hope. They are not kidding when they say you “may not be comfortable…on the indoor viewing platform. Even the glass elevator ride was rather heart pumping. The 100 metre (23 storeys) tower and view was worth the slight vertigo I had. I quickly headed for the stairs. Each level widens slightly.


As I walked down to each level it became clear that I could not effectively describe each gallery without finding fault with who we, people of all walks, are. However, I did see promise for the future, not in the galleries, but in the people working and visiting.  As I watched one short clip in the Our Canada, My Story my eyes were drawn to a lower scrim hanging from a screen of information where I was sure I could see dancing feet. Peeping between the TV screen and the divider I saw a lone security guard moving with the fluidity of a dancer – he was practicing the Argentinian Tango. I was asked. He explained that dance is so much a part of his life he is sometimes unaware he does this. I forget where he was from, perhaps he did not say – his accent told me English is probably not his first language. Nor French. The juxtaposition was so perfect it had to be happenstance.

The architecture is impressive. The museum is a stunning building, despite it appearing to be the helmet worn by the little alien from Bugs Bunny. Inside is beautiful. Visitors generally start on the ground floor with the intentional focus of “a journey from darkness to light.” Only once was I ‘chastised’ for beginning at the top. I am sure the person meant well by telling there is so much more to see on the first three floors. I however think it is just as important to look back from the light to recall the darkness. Otherwise it can become too easy to be bogged down in what cannot be changed. That is the only problem I had, there were biases, there were many representations of dreadful lack of human rights, but there did not appear to be enough balance of that changing. Therefore, I focussed on the light – as seen in photos of the ramps I took.


I took a two hour break to visit with my aunt and cousin at the nearby Forks, I hope I am still as active at 92! Then admired some artists working on a piece slated for a parking lot of all things. It was time to repack for an early morning taxi. This was the end of my Canada 150. Ahead of me China and Vietnam were waiting.

10,000 , 11,000, 17,000, 6000 steps over the four days going home.
Day of reckoning – crunching the numbers.

Steps: 400,000 = 305km = 7.5km avg per day. I can live with that.

I took an extra $400..00 to cover Winnipeg expenses and beyond. I did not take careful records for about the last five days. The UWin Hostel was $160.00; I bought lunch at the Taj – a reasonably priced place downtown I like to visit whenever in Kingston, 40.00; food for the train trip (and a loaf of focaccia for my Daughter) maybe $20.00; a final Crave coffee because I wanted plastic cutlery, 2.50. Of course all of these numbers were figured out while on the train so I then had time to worry! All I needed was money for two days of meals, the sky train, bus and ferry and then fare for a bus home. I decided there was not much I could do until the station and so long as I had $100 left after the hostel I would be fine. Quick calculation indicates I spent on average $50.00 based on $2000 for expenses. I also had a direct flight to Victoria so only a bus ride home where my daughter met me at the stop to help carry things.

Last Days Kingston

A last Trolley Tour, still too hot for walking tour of the Royal Military College so I just enjoyed the ride. Also my last breakfast at Crave, yogurt and coffee. Later I would visit Sipp’s for a raspberry lemon mousse and coffee while sitting under the patio umbrellas and listening to a sole violinist playing at the corner of the Springer Market – not operating. I took my time before f slowly wending my way up the shady side of the now very familiar Princess St., stopping to window shop until I met my daughter and her husband for lunch. We did not know if we would have time to meet the follow no day before my train.
They suggested a place I had yet to try – Harper’s Burger Bar. I tend to stay away places that have Burger and bar on their name. I was assured I would be happy with the choice. The menu does indeed focus on burgers. Fortunately they have a slider trio that can be made up of three selections of their regular size choices. Only one could not be made as a slider; considering there were ten others to pick from I did not have too much difficulty. All were beef patties on tiny buns with ‘toppings’ top and bottom. I have never understood why cooks leave one half of the bun bare. I could not believe I did not take photos!
Lala Land: goat cheese, roasted red pepper, avocado spread, arugula, pesto mayo
Bleu: blue cheese, soya glazed ‘shrooms’, bacon, Kansas City BBQ sauce (no idea what makes Kansas City special)

Delicious: havarti, onion straws, avocado spread, more of that Kansas BBQ sauce

All with a small helping of zingy coleslaw. 

Although it sounds like a lot of food the meat equalled one burger. Everything was perfectly proportioned. That first bite absolutely divine! As were all the others. I loved the sliders, and May seriously consider searching for miniature buns for home if I ever have a yearning for a hamburger on a bun. Not that I ate the tops. The burgers were delicious, moist, garnished with superb ingredients, the buns with a smear of condiment top and bottom! (It really is an issue I have) Best of all, I could easily slide off the bit on the bun I did not want. 
My SIL paid, we were finished with enough time to walk my daughter back to work to say our final farewells before I headed to my other daughter’s car. I needed to walk off lunch as we were heading to Wolfe Island for dinner with her friend and family just days before they moved west. I should have hitched a ride.
We nearly headed over without them, we walked on only to realize their vehicle had been one of a few unable to drive on. Thank goodness the ferry had not already been cast off. The truck was parked, we waited an hour and all walked on instead. It was such a lovely evening that a vehicle was not necessary. We were also heading to Wolfe Island Grill again. Except we had a reservation – unlike many who were on the same ferry as us. Once again, lovely setting. Only drawbacks were the mosquito bites I found later that night and an inedible Caesar salad. I ate the chicken for the protein – which I said was good only to stop my D from worrying – it was so-so. Too bad, I had enjoyed my first visit to the island and WIG immensely just four days earlier.

Sunset from the dock of WIG

With time to wander a bit before catching the ferry back we walked towards the only hotel nearby where an artist was painting a giant mural on the side wall. Of course General Wolfe Hotel needed a large artist’s rendition of Wolfe. There were also sketched in pictures showing life on Wolfe Island. I will have to check it out next time I am in Kingston.

Last morning, I was of course all packed. We headed to town to hit the market where I bought some supplies for my train trip. Squeaky Wilton cheese, raspberries, a couple of treats. We even had enough time for a quick visit to say a final, final farewell to my other daughter. 
Sad to say, I was on my way, had to leave my little girls in Kingston town.
Still counting: 7.40 breakfast; 10.00 treat; 19000 steps

Bittersweet Au Revoir

June 30
We were ready to leave, our bags were packed. I had my usual early breakfast, took a roundabout walk to enjoy the quiet morning before the streets, sidewalks, alleys, restaurants and shops were crowded with people. Of course one of my goals was to get a coffee before cruelly waking my GS. I think I wore him out the day before – he did not want breakfast. I tend to leave early for wherever I am departing from so there was only a little time to stop anywhere on our downhill spiral. That was just up the hill from our hostel. Finally, real coffee! Coffee that I promptly attempted to spill over the table, me and the floor. Before I even tasted it. Fortunately I somehow caught the cup before losing all the contents. Desperation does wonders.
Perhaps I am being a bit dramatic, it just felt like we were walking in a spiral. We arrived at the train station with over an hour to spare before boarding. The spiral continued after the coffee. I wanted to take photos of the train station so put my bags on a nearby chair along with my sunglasses – that fell onto the floor. Picked them up, took my photos, caught up with my GS. I tend to find it difficult to sit still when in a waiting room. So I pace, or I change seats or check out stores. 

Other than the stunning entrance and hall the QC station is pretty small and only one small eatery was open. The great hall is so big, and high, my iPhone simply did not have the scope to take it all in. The stained glass on the ceiling was spectacular. I could not figure out what the shields at the top of the windows represented, then forgot all about it after what happened next. I gathered up my belongings, plopped them beside my GS and declared I was going for a walk. He had his music and games on his phone. Grabbed my small bag, went to pop my sunglasses on my head…no sunglasses. 

The cavernous great hall of the station

Let the light shine!

I searched my bags, the seats, the floor and where my GS was sitting. I retraced my steps. Asked a cleaner if he had picked up a pair and said where they were last seen. The only difference was the two chairs I had put my bags on were turned into the wall – no idea by whom. Asked at the large restaurant that appeared to be under construction. Nothing. I was devastated. These were not expensive, brand name glasses. Just a simple pair of wraparounds that originally had a string attached to them for easy removal when going from sun to less light. Except they were my mother’s, she bought them only a few months before she died and wore them on her walks with me or riding in the car. I kept them because they were so practical, but more for the sentiment. 

Although my mother did not travel out of Canada, besides some trips to the US, (after emigrating from England as a young teen) she and my father did hike and camp a lot, including a year crossing the country and back. She was keen to get her life back on track after my father died and she had been ill; walking was always part of her routine, buying the sunglasses was, for her, a step forward to wellness. I decided, after being sad, to think someone else is wearing the glasses while on an adventure. (I wore them on all my trips starting in November 2013.) We had a phrase in my family if things were not going our way, “It’s an adventure.” (From Charlie Brown of course) to which one of us more recently would invariably reply, “I don’t want an adventure, I want lunch!” (Direct quote from my, now 31 year old, daughter when she was 4). This day was also my father’s birthday – he would have been 82.

Perhaps losing my glasses in Quebec City was alright, my parents did visit there when on their trip. I am becoming a sentimental fool.

The trip back to Kingston was anticlimactic.
10.00 coffees & treat (latter for GS); 22.75 new sunglasses (so sad); 2.00 water on train

Last Days in Shanghai

Another daughter, at home looking after my cat, asked me if I had any plans for my last two days in Shanghai. My first response was find breakfast and coffee but otherwise I did not have anything planned. I had arrived at my hostel by 7:30AM. Although not happy with the room at least I had one that early in the morning. Which had me thinking Maybe I should do something for my last days. First, coffee. The lounge was open, I cheated and bought a cafe latte – time to deplete my CNY. Then to the streets for breakfast, always some great choices, and I was only a block away from my previous hostel (now clad in bamboo and mesh along with the rest of the block – still open though) so I knew where to go.

Then a bit of a wander, over the next two days I found a park I had not been aware of, walked up to Nanjing Lu in an attempt to find Jing’an Temple, took the subway to an Apple Store, despite hearing Apple is not in China, (there are at least three stores within walking/subway distance of where I was staying) to find out why my phone was not charging.Typical Chinese store though, there was rain dripping through the ceiling, onto one of the tables where people were sitting with their devices. Hurray, only needed a new cord, charged it long enough to visit some old haunts.

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I managed to get turned around and headed towards Yu Yuan, a tourist Mecca I always try to avoid. Once I was headed in the right direction, to a favoured Starbucks at Huai Hai Lu and Shaanxi Lu, many blocks away, I took my time to appreciate the architecture from 100 years or so ago that is still standing – not too many changes since my last time in Shanghai – window shopping, most items beyond my means, and enjoying a light, misty rain. Of course I stopped for a coffee, and shared a pretzel type treat with my travel companions. I have never seen these anywhere else.

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Then onto Xinle Lu where I hoped to check out three places I often visited when living in Shanghai. First, Frangipani, a fabulous salon for manicures and pedicures. While still at home I had checked online if they were still in business. All I found were men asking, “watch, your, bag?”, this was not a question nor a statement to take care. When living in Shanghai, more than any other city, the restrain of ‘watch, bag, DVD’ was common on Huai Hai Lu until the knock off market was shut down, and, it seems, street sellers forced to move on. Of course DVDs are no longer hawked, I have no idea what ‘your’ meant.

Frangipani did not seem to exist. On to an eatery loved by locals and foreigners for the past 20 years or more. I was looking forward to a plate of their white shrimp with dragonwell tea. Drats, closed. A look in the window seemed to indicate they are still in business. My final destination, was to Dragonfly Massage, the best massage parlour in all of Shanghai. At one time there was a Frangipani next door – not anymore. Dragonfly is still there, I checked out their menu, calculated my RMB, then bid a sad zai jian (farewell). I did not want to withdraw more money from an ATM. All I spent that day was money for my phone cord, coffee and street food and a questionable dinner at the hostel. I still had not managed to find the temple.

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Breakfast was an extremely thin, giant crepe, minus the French fluffiness, an egg broken, then scrambled on the crepe while it still cooked, topped with green onion, a minced vegetable that might have been dried, or lightly pickled, onion. The crepe was then folded in half, a sauce spread, a piece of deep fried bread (like a churro) placed atop, before the whole thing was rolled up, cut in half and bagged. I also found some tea eggs (cha dan). Heaven in street food. I eventually added a small carton of yogurt, all I needed was coffee.

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The coffee had to wait. I headed to the Bund via East Nanjing Lu, a large section of which is a walking street, usually crammed full of shoppers carrying high end purchases or window shopping. Get there early to see the street quietly waking up with fan dancers working on routines, grandparents playing with the one grandchild (how do four grandparents share one grandchild?), delivery trucks/ vans/motorbikes/ and bikes, businesses beginning to open with the the raising of steel doors and sleepy staff unlocking doors. (In many places staff still sleep onsite – I do not if that is the case with large companies). It all made the stroll to the Bund relaxing.

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The two tallest towers across the Huangpu River were shrouded in grey clouds, appearing like the tops of trees lopped off. The Fairmont Peace Hotel on my side of the river looks as grand as ever, once again, I made a promise to return for tea. If I can do high tea at the Empress every ten years then I can do tea in Shanghai -way overdue, I have never had tea at the Peace Hotel. I loved that I could look down East Nanjing Lu without my view of the Pearl Tower being marred by vehicle or human traffic. A rarity.

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On my way back to the hostel I finally stopped for coffee at a KFC – passable. I still had not decided if should attempt finding Jing’an Temple. I was working at spending my last 100CNY, not including my room deposit. The inclement weather made my decision for me. I returned to the hostel, a walk in the rain was a way to prepare for home. It was silly I could not work my way to the temple, I had been there only four weeks earlier! A wonderful excuse to return to Shanghai.

My bags were packed, I was ready to go. Home was on the horizon.