Well i suppose having spent the last two months in Niagara without once writing anything i should really put something here so i can remember how crazy those months have been. On Feb 2nd i flew from LAX to Buffalo, connecting flights in JFK and then caught a bus from Buffalo airport to the greyhound station and then the greyhound to my Niagara. It took me almost 30 hours to get here but i got off that bus and knew i was home. Niagara has always had something which pulls me in – i cant explain it and i have no idea what causes it – i just know that i feel happy, content and safe here. Meeting back up with Mark was great and i was only to glad to be back to help out. It was def going to be interesting volunteering at the hostel and i had no idea what to expect. My first night back and obviously where else was i going to spend it but in the bar! The coolest bar in fact. I hadn’t slept since Friday night and was jet lagged but i was going to the bar. I was a light weight that night but hey i had a good excuse and over the next two months with the help of some great friends my drinking stamina would be 1st rate! That night i met Andy for the first time, from Armagh in Northern Ireland – and if you read this Andrew – ‘your ma’!! The three of us got on like a house on fire and these two guys are now ranked as some of my very great friends.
I’m not going to catalogue and write about every single night i have spent here because that would be something close to a thesis!! I will however mention a few of them to jog my memory and explain a couple of the more memorable. The days here settled pretty quickly with training on the desk with Mark, doing the housekeeping and then hanging out with the guys before heading to Queens. That was pretty much the routine and then Lindsey joined the HI team too and she (my beautiful fiancee – long story to be explained later) quickly became a great friend too.
Ok i think one of our craziest nights was me, Mark and Andy spending the evening in Queens, walking back home and then the two of them deciding that they wanted to go to the casino so off we went to Clifton Hill and spent until 7am in there – i won on roulette and discovered my favourite slot machine – ‘Fishies’ and also the Top Gun one is pretty cool with great seats and speakers in the headrest although im a proper ‘girl’ and messed up the bonus cos i couldnt fly the plane – its my fault i obviously dont play playstation enough for hand eye co ordination lol. Anyway the bad part came when trying to get a cab where our driver was weird and didnt know where he was going – Mark made a smart remark and the guy pulls over and refuses to take us any further. He gets out the car and yanks open the door on Marks side yelling and swearing at him. Andy is out the car on the other side and man this taxi driver is obviously blind there is no way i would take on these two. The funniest part was all the time having a go at them he then comes round and opens the door for me and helps me over the ice. This cracks the guys up as they cant believe it and so we have to walk back – its only a 20 min walk and we try to hail another cab and lo and behold who drives past and stops – only the same guy screaming at us!! But we get halfway and the bus pulls up so we catch that back and i head to bed at 8.30 in the morning – dirty stopout i know. Now everytime we see a cab we look to see if its cab 51 – i pity the day we spot him lol.
Ontario this year decided to have a ‘Family Day’ held on the 3rd monday of feb and a public holiday so Me, Linds, Mark and Andy decided to go to the casino for a buffet dinner. We got Peter to drive us which was an experience as we went about 10 mph down the River Road and bless him he is such a sweetie but we were killing ourselves laughing and he walked us into the casino having found a parking spot and we were pissing ourselves all the more out of confusion because we werent sure if he was planning on coming with us now normally we would love to have him but this was our family day. He headed off into the casino – im sure he has a lady he meets here – bless him the guys is in his 70′s lol. So we headed down to the buffet stopping only for Mark to have a blonde moment lmao. We walk past the shops and Mark has a thing for watches – he goes to take a closer look and BAM smacks his head on the glass window which he thought was further away than it looked. The poor shop assitant must have jumped out of her skin and us three couldnt walk for laughing so much – sorry Mark you aint ever living this one down. We had a great meal and then headed back to Queens for drinks afterwards.
One of the first big nights i remember is teaching the guys to play Kings with a bottle of vodka – jeez i hadn’t laughed so much in ages. Comments about spitting and swallowing followed and Andy kept getting confused about which game we were in and still didn’t get the point to the sky rule which only made us giggle more. Lindsey sucks at downing drinks and so we kept playing the fountain in which i got stuck after Andy – now this boy can drink and im impressed with myself that i could match him – yes it is a big achievement to me.
The next big night that i remembered was a Wednesday night (Feb 2oth) – Andy and I decided to order a bottle of vodka in from Dial A Beer – its great when its 20 below outside and the kind man brings you alcohol to the door. We love him oh yes we do. We proceeded to get very very very drunk so much so that i have video evidence of just how drunk Andy was – we learnt a new saying that night ‘your ma’ which is the greatest and most funniest insult you can say in response to anything. Andy thought it would be hilarious to play basketball on the court in our yard – one slight issue with this is the court was pure ice and bless him he managed to stay on his feet – his shooting sucks though – sorry mate but you only sunk like 1!! I was videoing this classic moment on my camera and trying to hold the camera still whilst Mark and I pissed ourselves laughing – my ribs hurt so much. The thing was Andy kept losing the ball and getting distracted looking for a bracelet but as soon as we said ‘where’s the ball Andy wheres the ball’ he would attempt to shoot again. Not something that can be explained well i guess but you had to be there.
That same week with a couple of hangovers we decided it was time to take back our bar once and for all – it was time to get rid of the Hillbillies and Crack heads. Yep its the weekly Friday night karaoke time. (Fri Feb 22nd) We had a huge turnout – well over 30 people and yes country music was suffering and the hillbillies were not happy – every time they sang a country song we hit back with the brit pop and rock music. I think though our rousing version of ‘We are the champions’ might have helped it along!! It was all going so well until a fight erupted – well they are hillbillies and in the process they stole Marks camera – but that was it – they are now banned from the bar RESULT.
Poor Debbie and Lindsey were always winding up Mark and Andy when we were outside smoking and they never learnt bless them that winding them up sent them into the snow – and this happened frequently – we had a lot of snow – so much that i would be happy to never see snow again!! And after 2 months i still cant walk on the icy roads – it must be a gene thing that all Canadians are born with although i never actually fell over – usually down to the fact that i had a firm grip on someones arm. I cant afford to go to the hospital over here ok!! The photos here are from Weds Feb 26th – well early hours of Feb 27th!)
Now it was all good and well when its snow but then inside the whipped cream came out and war was declared!! I rapidly escaped. The only time i got involved was when it was a water fight and ‘accidentally’ chucked a glass over Andy yes i was a little drunk – needless to say it became a battle with Mark involved and Andy threatening to chuck ketchup over me unless i poured water over Mark – so after waiting until the last possible moment i poured the tiniest amount over Mark and then he covered the both of us later with the contents of the kettle. Its why i love Niagara we just have so much fun, drink way too much and laugh a lot.
I was loving working Front Desk now and had settled into it quicker than i thought. Mark and I are very similar people and so we learn the same way which made training easy for both of us. I enjoy meeting so many different people who come and go in the hostel and have made some great friends with many. Nine times out of ten the people who make an effort to get to know us lot certainly take away some crazy memories.
We decided to take a few people down to Clifton Hill and into Boston Pizza for something to eat. (Sat Mar 1st) So Me, Andy, Linds and Debbie and then Josh, Emma, Eddy and a lovely asian girl whose name i have forgotten for the moment grabbed a table, and ordered food and enough alcohol to keep us going for a while. As it was Andy and I had to go back to the hostel – the two oldest there and we had forgotten ID – now age is 19 here but they ID everyone so we had to cab it back to the hostel pick up our passports and come back but at least the guys had ordered beer for us lol. I actually dont remember too much about this night for some reason but im sure one of the others will fill me in!!
A few nights later (Tues Mar 4th) Josh and Emma wanted to see the Falls lit up and then some of the others wanted to go to Nightmares – a haunted house museum here that there is no way on earth im going into. Anyways we got cabs there and for some reason the Nightmares was shut so we went into the bar next door the ‘Wild Mushroom’ and had a few beers. Andy and Eddy had been down to Clifton Hill a couple of days previous and had stumbled into the amusements by Boston Pizza and had won inflatable hammers and wanted to go back and test their strength on the Hammer thing and hit 100. Such boys but they wanted to go back so on the way there we went via the Casino and played on the slots there for a while – Josh and Emma went home as Josh is like myself and casinos – a bad bad mix. I was doing ok myself until i spotted the Fishies – well thats a lie i zeroed in on them almost as soon as i got in the door lol. We stayed for a while and then when we were bored of spending money we headed out to Boston Pizza and the amusements and racked up loads of coupons – the girls got bored easily – well after Debbie and I cheated at the kentucky derby like game but with cars – and scored loads more tickets – we headed back up to drink and left Andy and Ed with the tokens – and they came up eventually with prizes girls and bracelets for the girls and more bloody inflateable hammers for them. Kenn at this point was wasted so the girls took him home and Andy, Ed and I had a few drinks then headed up Clifton Hill in search of a place to eat. We found Dennys about half a mile down the road which normally would have been easy to walk but the roads were covered in a mixture of ice, snow and big clumps of balls of ice from the ice storm – walking was almost impossible and it was so cold that the boys hammers just kind of deflated when they got outside ha ha – no sexual crude reference there at all.
Josh and Emma left but as they left some of their stuff we know they will be back soon and it will be great to see them again and find out how the last month as been on the road – im especially jealous of the fact they went to the Bahamas. We celebrated Ed’s last day – forever known as Eddy Day and headed to kareoke night minus the hillbillies. It was kind of quiet and i got there late as i had been working. We had a good group minus my lovely Linds who was sunning herself in Mexico. But Mark had it made and sat a table full of ladies – Me, Debbie, Kim (another Brit), Evi and Nicky and two Irish girls who came in briefly to grab something to eat – Rada makes the best pizza ever! We decided to have a marathon on the kareoke and sang so many songs – everything from the Brit Pop movement – Chelsea Dagger and Bet you Look Good on the Dancefloor – which are bloody hard songs to sing apart from the choruses. Then we went down the german route and sang 99 Red Balloons and Amedeus which the guys sang in german – i passed on this. It was a great laugh and a cool night.
The thing Mark and I were most looking forward to was the return of the lovely Chopstick aka Bin from Shanghai. As it coincided with the weekend before St Paddy’s day we decided to make a triple celebration out of it – a welcome back to Bin, a welcome home to Linds and a surprise birthday for Des. I had to work the friday night behind the bar which was interesting and i was nervous to start with as havent been behind a bar in ages but its like riding a bike and it all comes flooding back – and the best part – you get tips in Canada – i managed to make like $50 in 4 hours which more than paid for my drinks that night.
I had to work the desk on saturday night so missed most of the party but Andy very kindly brought me food down to the hostel – thanks mate! When i finally got to the bar it had been bedlam – Mark had decided to propose to Bin (who was in on the joke by the way) Des looked like he was gonna have a heart attack and the locals went crazy!! It was a very funny night. My friend Martha had come down from TO as well for the weekend – i spent a very drunken new year with her sat in the same bar lol.
Monday morning dawned bright and clear and it was time to get our drinking heads on. Happy St Paddy’s day peeps – although for some reason over here they think its Patty which just cracks us up – to no avail did we explain that PADDY is short for Patrick not Patty. Oh well – Linds, Debs and I had fake tattoos and green streaks in our hair. We set off to the bar for 1pm and started the drinking – meeting up with Andy and Martha who both joined us. The day was mostly a blur of hanging out drinking and playing pool – Mikey and Andy played the rule where whoever loses has to lose their pants!! Always comical and especially so when they decided to walk into City Hall that was in a middle of a full council meeting with no pants. I can only imagine the faces of the people there lol. Heather and Kirsty joined us later on and Linds managed to catch up with the drinking when she finished work. The boys headed out to the strip club and us girls headed back for the hostel stopping by the thrift store where loads of toys had been left outside we each took one and then giggled when the cops drove by seconds later – oops. A very drunken day indeed.
Mark, Lind, Debs, Kirsty decided to go to Nightmares and took Richard( a Brit) with them. They rang me at to tell me to get over to the Wild Mushroom when i had finished and i was just finishing closing when two people tried to check in – feeling pity i let them in and got them sorted and in gratitude they drove me down to the Bar and then headed down to see the Falls. I arrived to find a table full of drunken people and it only got worse. The bar has this policy whereby they get people to sign dollar bills in red marker pen and stick them on the ceiling. We did that and then Mark decided to write on my chest with said marker pen – photos not yet up peeps!! It went even further downhill when they decided to play spin the phone and with only two guys and four girls it meant there was a lot of girl on girl action!! The people in the bar must have thought we were mental which yes we kind of were and then Kirsty decided she wanted to up the levels in the game. We headed back to the hostel and the game continued but in the form of Truth, Dare and Double Dare and a bottle of tequila – yes i can sense the groans now. Needless to say – what happened that night will remain only with the people who were there. Whats happened in HI Niagara stays in HI Niagara lmao.
Des arrived down midweek (Weds 26th Mar) with a couple of people Hannah and Ben who both volunteered at HI Toronto and Mark who had grabbed a lift down with them. The Toronto guys headed out for something to eat and then later on wanted us to go to the bar with them. It was an ok night but not a major story teller for once, but it did bring us the gift of Mark from Northern Ireland who is an absolute legend and he ended up staying in Niagara for a while. We took him to Kareoke on the friday night along with Sophia and Joe and Deborah came out with us. We were all sporting our new HI tattoos with different phrases – mine was HI Niagara Baybee, Linds was HI Niagara ROX and Marks was HI Niagara legendary. I had also had the arrival of my top from home so was all dolled up for the evening. Irish Mark also made an impression on the ladies especially Rada – she does like the attention from the boys that one!! It was a great night and a drunken one and lots of kareoke again and even Mikey and Andy with his newly shaven head joined us.
Not much has happened in the last couple of weeks – i have been stressing about visas and wondering how im going to stay in Canada. Debbie moved to Toronto as she couldnt find any work down here and then Mark and Linds had a couple of nights away in TO leaving me on my own for one night – the lovely Samantha came down to cover one of them as we had a group of 30 french teenagers in argghh. Needless to say i escaped to the bar that night!! Joe and Sophia came back for one night and so we had Joe and Sophia day which was cool – a night spent up the bar for once and a lovely rendition by them of ‘If i had a million dollars..’
Having to leave even for 2 weeks is killing me and i miss my Canadian family a lot. I love Niagara and cant wait to spend the summer there. Its gonna be awesome thats for sure!!