At the end of July, I met my brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephew in Canada to see family and enjoy summertime in our homeland of Southern Ontario. We spent the first several days in London, Ontario, the university town where my brother and I grew up, visitng with dear relatives and exploring old haunts. The charming Storybook Gardens and beautiful Springbank Park that surrounds it, were first on our list of "places we went as kids," that we both wanted to revisit and also show to the kids, especially my niece. My favorite part about visiting family is the sleepover effect, everyone waking up in the same place, walking around in PJs with cups of coffee, late night drinks and chats, and the ability to then just plop straight into bed. And I got a good dose of that by sharing a bed with with my niece and her stuffies for part of the trip.
We took a walk along the path from our old home to our old primary school, the majority of which goes along a nature trail through a neighborhood with a creek, which my grandpa called, "The Laughing Brook." It felt just as magical as I remembered. We also spent time with family friends, cousins, and their kids, and our beautiful Nana, who believe it or not, is in her 90s.
Must-dos also included frequent stops at Tim's (Tim Hortons), a visit to the downtown market, old churches, and a drive-by of Mission Services of London, the community organization that our Grandfather ran and expanded.
Before heading to Toronto, we stayed one night at the historic ElmHurst Inn in Ingersoll. Canadian gardens in the summer are the best, so we made sure to have a good romp around the grounds there to enjoy everything, including all the evergreens, which are my favorite.
In Toronto we stayed with my aunt and uncle, and besides lots of swimming, eating, laughing and snuggling with them and cousins at their beautiful home, we got out to the Royal Ontario Museum, spotted Keifer Sutherland on the street, and found a delicious and cheeky gem of a coffee shop called Sorry Coffee, pronounced /sore-ee/ if you're Canadian. Winky face. We also got to have Swiss Chalet for dinner with another Uncle, Aunt, and cousin, and make friends with adorable bi-lingual preschoolers on the neighborhood playground next to their lovely city townhouse.
After a lot of city and family time, we capped off our trip with a few days on Lake Erie in the quaint town of Port Dover. We cozied up in our sweet Airbnb cottage and its fairytale garden, played on the shore and in the water at the lake, walked the pier with ice cream, played put put golf, and had an early birthday celebration for my niece. I make it a priority to spend as much time as possible with my family, and I've been especially lucky to travel to see them thrice already since the year began. Travel is important to me, even traveling to familiar places, but sharing it with people I love is the ultimate.