In Which I Meet My Pen Pal.

Hey-o.

In case you didn’t know, I have a pen pal that lives in London, Ontario. We were matched up through Ali over at aliinbloom.com through something she called Bloggers Offline. Marlee, my pen pal, blogs over at marleeandyou.blogspot.com.

Well, Marlee got married in the beginning of August and I was extremely honored to have been invited. Yeah, this post is long overdue. But anyways, here’s my recap of my trip to our northern neighbors. It’s long. I’m kind of sorry. But I need to write it down for myself. (And if Disneyland is the happiest place on earth, I’m pretty sure Canada is the friendliest) And shout out to all of those cashiers that helped me with Canadian coins… all so shiny… all so similar in size…

Day One: First Things First
My friend Olivia drove up from Cincinnati to come along and be my plus-one-road trip-buddy (there was no way I was going up there alone) and the trip North was pretty uneventful… until we were stuck in line to cross the toll bridge. It was 90* outside, very slow bumper to bumper traffic. And I look down and my engine nearly overheating. I mean, what do I know about these things?! But after a frantic call to my father and making it very clear that we could, in no way, pull off to the side of the road… we turned everything off and opened the windows. Yes, I’ve been told that having my air conditioning on was stupid… no I didn’t realize that. Anyways, we made it across the bridge finally and through customs with no issue. Changing my mindset from miles to kilometers was hard, but despite a missed exit, we made it to the house where we were staying with no big issues.

After dinner, the Murrays pulled out a large map (yes, map) of London circled some streets and places with a yellow highlighter and Olivia and I set out to explore. We took a stroll down Dundas street before heading home, catching some of opening ceremony for the Olympics and crashing into bed.

Day Two: Wedding Day (What a Day)
I woke up with some serious wedding jitters… not like I was getting married or anything. No, I was nervous about going and meeting Marlee! What if she didn’t actually want me to come? How awkward was this thing going to be? We left in plenty of time to pick up an iced cap from Tim Hortons (we were given strict instructions to try one) and some Timbits before heading to the wedding. We were complemented on our outfits as we left Time Hortons, reaffirming that Canadians are the nicest people ever.

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We got to the wedding way too early, but I hear from a window above where we are waiting, “Oh my gosh! It’s Kelly!” I turned and looked up too see Marlee + bridesmaids at the upstairs window. We exchanged little waves and my wedding jitters went wayyyyy down.

The ceremony was so sweet. And her dress!!!! SO CUTE. It was her mother’s wedding gown that she had altered… and added pockets, of course. She was beautiful! In-between the ceremony and the reception, we made some new friends with two sisters and enjoyed hanging out with them the rest of the afternoon.

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And after the bridal party + family were done taking photos, Marlee brought the photographer over to where we were chatting under a tree… and we finally got to meet each other!!!! 

meet-and-greet

“You’re really here!” and “You’re really little!” were two things I remember she exclaimed as she gave me a big hug. It was a very happy moment. I think we’d have fun together if we lived closer together… and you know, in the same country. Then we headed into the reception. I’ll skip the play by play for the rest of the wedding and give you some highlights:

  1. Marlee made all of the cupcakes and they were AMAZING.
  2. There was a candy bar and we learned that:
    • American Smarties = Canadian Rockets
    • Canadian Hershey Kisses are 1000x better than American
  3. After the toasts, Cory and Marlee said a few words… and I was thoroughly embarrassed when I was pointed out. (Thanks, Marlee.) So much for staying in the background! 😉
  4. I met Marlee’s friend (and bridesmaid!) Daniella!
    img_2721I heard a lot about her from Marlee’s letters so I was excited to meet her! I also set her up as a pen pal with my friend Morgen. And she told me where to find nice stationary while I was in the area. True friends. Daniella blogs hereMorgen blogs here.
  5. I really enjoy dancing at weddings.
  6. Marlee and Cory are just the cutest. 

Olivia and I both felt a little like we had just ran a marathon… well maybe a 10k. We met a lot of people in very little time and decided to head out. I knew that my neighbor back home (we were staying with his parents) told me to make sure I had poutine and his favorite place was in a mall near the wedding location… and so was the bookstore Daniella had recommended for stationary shopping.

So we wandered around the mall. Ate some poutine (french fries + gravy + mozzarella cheese curds). I took a photo, but it’s not really very photogenic. And got a much needed cuppa at David’s Tea. Seriously so friendly… and so, like the American millennials we are… we took a selfie with them.

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Next was Indigo… it was like Barnes and Noble… but with more stationary. We both gasped with happiness when the employee that led us to that wonderful area… she asked if we could do it again, because that was fun! We browsed for a looong time.

Then we headed back, shared stories with the Murrays, and headed out one more time to pick something up from Marlee’s house mom’s house (and no, I didn’t need the address, I’ve got that baby memorized by now). It was the sweetest bag (no pun intended) of maple syrup related items! (That was very Canadian of you 😉 ) I also got to chat with her mom a little bit more 🙂 But sleep was very welcome that night, although I didn’t want to go to bed and end such a wonderful day!

Day Three: Take Toronto by Storm
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We decided to explore Toronto on Sunday. We drove the the westernmost metro station and parked (free parking on Sunday! woo!) and for $12 we were both able to get day passes for the metro. More on that later.

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We started out by exploring the Distillery district. It was full of neat boutiques, galleries, cobblestone streets, and some cute cafes. We walked, shopped, talked to a milliner, and grabbed lunch + coffee. The rest of the day is kind of a blur. A blur of way too much walking, accidentally finding a mall, and extremely painful feet. The thing is… we were in the mindset of walking and stopping to see things… and also forgot we had metro passes. We walked 10 miles that day. Seriously.

Food highlights included: macarons (also the first time we were able to sit down in a very long time.), savory crepes for dinner, and a 30 minute wait for ice cream (which, while very Instagram-able was ultimately a bit of a let down).

food

We took the metro back to where we parked our car and headed back to London. I had to stop once to get coffee at (where else?) Tim Hortons on the way back. It was also there I discovered the Coffee News isn’t just in the USA.

Day Four: There’s No Place Like Home

We packed up, bid farewell to our kind hosts, and headed out. But before we left London we had to make two stops. One, to the grocery store to pick up some candy. Actually we went to get Hershey’s Kisses, but we picked up a few other things we didn’t recognize. Then, we made one last stop at Tim Hortons. I got an Iced Coffee, and I think that was my favorite drink that I tried. And a few more Timbits…so many kinds, so little time. We need some more Tim Hortons in the states. See: closer to me.

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Mr. Murray had given us a token to get us across the bridge, so we breezed through that pretty quickly, but the border took a little bit longer. When it was finally our turn, we figured out why…

What my neighbor had told me was very, very, true. The border is much friendlier when you are entering Canada… the Americans are really brusque on your way back in. But we made it back home despite having to go around Detroit because we missed the first I69 exit off of I94. But we made it. Safe and sound. And if you made it to the end of this post… I hope you are still safe and sound.

I had a blast in Canada. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to meet my pen pal and blessed to have such wonderful people with whom to stay. Like seriously, I asked them later if they accept grandchildren applications.

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