July Fourth 2016 Holiday Vacation

We drove to Canada for this mini vacation. This was my nth time going to Canada. We tried to do something different each time, and this time was no exception. However, the vacation we took deviated from our original plan.

The Experience

Day One – Friday, July the First, 2016

Last night, I baked a Honey Cake for this morning’s breakfast and we packed the leftover for snack. We departed around 10 am. It was raining. We passed Buffalo, New York, and drove to Lewiston, New York for a free Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant tour. Before the tour, we stopped at a McDonald’s for lunch. This joint was very busy though and I was happy to see it because I own its stock.

The tour was high tech and fun-filled with interactive activities.

Niagara River seen from the Visiting Center

Niagara River seen from the Visiting Center

Instead of visiting Niagara Falls and nearby scenery as originally planned, we decided to join the Hornblower Cruise on our way back home due to the weather. We passed the border and headed to Toronto. The speed limit of Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) was 100 km/hr, that’s about 63 miles/hr, but we saw cars zooming by.

Mr. Adventurer wanted to have dinner at a restaurant named Da Ya Li that specialized at cooking duck. And we planned to eat there as many times as we liked when in Toronto because it had very good reviews. We liked Bei Jing Duck so much while visiting People’s Republic of China in 2013. The restaurant was very busy. We ordered several other dishes as well. But the duck was way overrated at $30 CAD each. It didn’t taste so good as the ones we ate in China and was way smaller. We’ve decided not to go back again.

We drove to a T&T supermarket nearby to get some food for tomorrow since our hotel didn’t provide free breakfast.

Our hotel was O.K. but there’s a chemical air refresher odor once we opened our room door. It gave us an unpleasant feeling. The room had a small fridge which helped us a lot during our stay. The hotel pool was filled with chemical as well.

Hotel Lobby

Hotel Lobby

Day Two – Saturday, July the Second, 2016

After eating the pastries we bought last night, we left the hotel for Pacific Mall, the biggest Asian Mall in North America. Last time I visited this mall was five years ago. Not sure when we’d be back again. We walked around looking for pearl powder, my main purpose there. I don’t buy expensive name brand night/day creams that cost $50+, $100+, or even $200+ and they last maybe three months or less. I do add pearl powder to my cheap Walmart bought lotion though. The one I’m using right now is a big bottle of Vaseline lotion by Unilever. I have been watching UL for a long time, as soon as its stock goes down to the price I want, I’ll load it up. Recently I ran across an article regarding Nivea Q10 plus anti-wrinkle energizing day cream being effective and cheap. I’ll pay more attention on this German product next time visiting Walmart or Sam’s club. Finally, we found a shop that had pearl powder and I negotiated the price down a little bit. It still cost way more than years ago. Hopefully it would last me another five or more years.

We then walked to the food court and ate a little snack. There supposed to be an Ethnic Heritage Town on second floor, but we only saw more shops. Adventurer Jr. was looking for a t-shirt with some Chinese characters on it as souvenir. He didn’t find any he liked. Then we were lured into a t-shirt shop with an eloquent sales person. The t-shirts had nice design printed on good quality cotton. The white printed design changed to blue color under sunlight which wasn’t new to us because we bought even fancier color changing t-shirts five years ago when visiting Disney World in Florida. Adventurer Jr. picked one with a Tiger print. The Tiger was going uphill, which meant his life was going up, becoming better and better. Adventurer Jr. II wanted one with Dragon and Phoenix forming a circle, which meant auspicious. There’s nothing good for Adventurer Jr. III though (But we later got him his favorite Minion printed on 100% cotton t-shirt for less than $6 in Walmart). The price was originally $75 CAD each, but was on a special sale for $35 each per the sales person. It’s still outrageously expensive. But the design was unique and had good meanings and we weren’t sure when/where we’d be seeing them again. We gave a final price of $60 CAD for both, which still weren’t cheap for two t-shirts. He took it and Adventurer Jr. and Adventurer Jr. II happily changed into them at his shop. I sincerely hope every one of my boys will have a great live.

Mr. Adventurer booked an Escape Mission at 2 pm. There were similar games in the States but at a higher price. There were five small rooms to escape from one after another in one hour time limit for our game. I felt claustrophobic. The rooms were not well lit either. We only escaped from the first room without any help. We were close for the second room. We totally missed it for the third room. We were on the right track for the fourth room but couldn’t figure it out. We were clueless in the last room. All in all, we totally failed it. But it was a fun, mind opening experience.

Afterward, we had a late lunch in a small Chinese restaurant and packed the leftovers for dinner.

Before the day ended, we went to the T&T supermarket again. They carried tons of cooked ready to eat food. We got some pastries, sushi, noodles, milk, juices, and duck cooked in salt water. We all agreed that this duck tasted much better than yesterday’s at a much cheaper price.

Day Three – Sunday, July the Third, 2016

We headed to the beach at Bluffer’s Park after eating breakfast. The kids played with sand kit and water while I watched, relaxed and enjoyed the view.

Lake Ontario

Lake Ontario

The eroding Scarborough Bluffs

The eroding Scarborough Bluffs

Docked boats, reminded me of Lake Erie

Docked boats, reminded me of Lake Erie

We ate packed leftovers for lunch and continued of enjoyment of the beach afterward. It turned out to be the cheapest and serene experience of our trip even though the water was very cold. The kids recalled our experience in Cancún with tolerable water temperature.

After leaving the beach, we had a drive-through of the Toronto downtown. It took us a lot longer because many roads were blocked due to activities there.

Distant view of downtown Toronto

Distant view of downtown Toronto

CN Tower, I was on it more than ten years ago

CN Tower, I was on it more than ten years ago

Day Four – Monday, July Fourth, 2016

Today we were going home en route Niagara Falls. There were so many people for Hornblower Cruises. Mr. Adventurer had to skip the tour since our parking limit was only two hours and we definitely didn’t want our car to be towed. But he didn’t miss anything because he had seen it many times before as well.

American Falls and a peek of Horseshoe Falls

American Falls and a peek of Horseshoe Falls

American Falls up close

American Falls up close

Horseshoe Falls up close

Horseshoe Falls up close

The Cost: Would’ve cost $969.02, actual cost $669.02 including souvenir

1 CAD = 0.77 USD was the conversion rate I used, except the icewine which had a USD price. The exchange rate was going at 1 USD = 1.4 CAD earlier this year, it had dropped since then. I recall the times when 1 USD = 1.5 CAD and that were the best times to visit Canada.

Hotel for three nights: $100 x 3 = $300, cost us 0.

We’d have spent less had we brought our electric skillet, but we decided not to so that we could enjoy the food there.

  • Day One: $122.35
    • Toll: $4.5
    • Lunch at McDonald’s: $16
    • Diner: $95 CAD including tip and $10 CAD tax ($73.15 USD)
    • T&T Supermarket: $37.27 CAD ($28.7 USD)
  • Day Two: $309.75
    • Pearl Powder: $9.5 CAD x 9 + tax = $95 CAD ($73.15 USD)
    • Lamb Kabob: $10 CAD (7.7 USD)
    • Three Smoothies: $10 CAD (7.7 USD)
    • T-Shirts for Adventurer Jr. and II: $60 CAD ($46.2 USD)
    • Escape Mission: $40 USD + $10 CAD ($47.7 USD)
    • Lunch: $56 CAD ($43.13 USD)
    • Gas: $42.01 CAD ($32.35 USD)
    • T&T Supermarket: $67.3 CAD ($51.82 USD)
  • Day Three: $141.58
    • T&T Supermarket: $160.34 CAD ($123.46 USD)
    • Walmart: $13.03 CAD ($10.03 USD)
    • Parking: $7 CAD ($5.39 USD)
    • Hot dog: $3.5 CAD ($2.7 USD)
  • Day Four: $95.34
    • Duty Free Icewine: $23.95 CAD ($19.96 USD)
    • Parking: $6
    • Niagara Tour: Adults $19.95 CAD x 2 + Kids $12.25 x 2 + $8.36 CAD tax = $72.75 CAD ($56.02 USD)
    • Popsicles: $11.5 CAD ($8.86 USD)
    • Toll: 4.5

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